Big fun in Nelson

I spent two days and three nights in Nelson, graciously hosted by American expats Tom and Ann, who spent much of their lives teaching in “American Schools” across the globe, but have landed in Nelson. As one of the sunniest places in New Zealand, a lovely town of 50,000 on the northern coast of the South Island, and having a thriving art, food, and wine scene, many retirees choose to settle here. I can well see why.

Here’s where I am:

I was exhausted the night I arrived, and so after dinner I repaired to bed. I was appalled to find I’d slept till 11 a.m.: something I haven’t done in—well, I can’t even remember sleeping past 8 a.m. I must have been tired. That made our visit to the Nelson Saturday Market (a famous institution) a quick one.

It was a lovely market, and everybody selling stuff, from clothes to arts to food, is required to have made the stuff themselves. Here’s a seller of spices and condiments, all of which he prepared himself:

Local honey of many varieties:

The famous and expensive “mānuka honey“, probably the world’s most expensive honey (a small jar costs about $30 in New Zealand currency, with $1 NZ equal to about 70 U.S. cents. It’s made by bees that pollinate the local mãnuka tree (Leptospermum scoparium), native to Australia and New Zealand.

It’s delicious stuff, and is touted as having antibacterial and “healing” properties, but in fact has not been proven to have any such properties when consumed by humans. It commands a premium for these properties, but it’s sort of a scam. Nevertheless, it is delicious stuff: very viscous and tangy.

Bowls made from the local woods are gorgeous. While it’s forbidden to cut down any native trees unless you’re clearing land for a farm, you can use driftwood so long as it’s below the high tide line (or so I’m told):

Had I room to carry stuff and was not afraid of breakage, I would have bought some of this wood:

Like this one, with a lovely pattern:

From there we went to have lunch with 8 members of the Nelson Science Society at at the nearby Mahana winery specializing in Pinot Noir (the Pinots and Sauvignon Blancs from this region are spectacular. It’s almost harvest time so the grapes are covered with nets to prevent depredation by birds.

My lunch: New Zealand lamb (of course) with mashed potatoes, vegetables, and a glass of full-bodied Pinot Noir.

There was also a New Zealand equivalent to sushi:

Here’s Bill Malcolm, a retired botanist who had read my account of the Great Kea Hunt. He brought a picture showing him with a kea that had landed on his head (lower right). Keas, even in recent years, were once much more abundant than now, and it was easy to encounter them.

It’s a good thing it didn’t put his eye out!

Here’s a local bird called the fantail (Rhipidura fuliginosa). I photographed it through a window, and it’s a bit out of focus.

New Zealand currency is great: on one side is a famous New Zealander (here on the $5 bill is Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the first two men to climb Everest, with the mountain shown in the background). Coins for scale:

On the other side of every bill is an iconic New Zealand animal. This $10 bill appears to carry the Paradise Shelduck (Tadorna variegata):

Breakfast next day was at a small cafe in a garden center; an odd place for a cafe. But, as I’ve found in New Zealand, the food is uniformly good everywhere. Here’s my breakfast of French toast with baked banana and bacon. Yum!

We then repaired to the WOW Museum (the Museum of Wearable Art, which is combined with the Nelson Classic Car Collection). The first part of the Museum are arty costumes, all of which have been worn on the runway. This little number is made from wood:

A dress with faces in it:

Believe it or not, somebody can wear this and walk in it: there was a film clip of this moving Braque-esque sculpture:

I guess the wearer sees and breathes through the hole:

A sort of Vesalius costume:

And on to the classic cars, of which there are many. I’ll leave the readers to identify them:

I loved this tiny car:

The interior:

The two-cylinder engine; I’ve put a coin on it for scale. It’s a tiny engine!

A Packard police car for my friend John Hempel, who loves Packard:

One of my favorite cars, an old Pierce-Arrow:

The hood ornament. Oh, for the days of lovely hood ornaments!

And older Packard; the photo below it shows the hood ornament—the only glass hood ornament I’ve ever seen.

The glass rooster hood ornament:

A 100-foot sailing yacht moored in Nelson Harbor. Some extremely rich person owned this thing, which was registered in the Isle of Man.

Yesterday afternoon we spent a few lovely hours with Tom’s friend Roger, a fanatic about rock and pop music from the Sixties through Seventies. He has 13,500 records: all vinyl (45s and 33s), catalogued by both genre and artist. We discussed various forms of old rock, including “northern soul” (an English musical form) and “skiffle” (which influenced the Beatles), listening to samples as we talked.

Here’s Roger holding a rare Rolling Stone album, apparently worth several hundred dollars.

He also owns a full-sized 1958 Wurlitzer jukebox, which Roger bought at an auction. It’s 60 years old, and still works perfectly!

Tom and Ann, my wonderful hosts in Nelson. Thank you!

And here’s the B&B where I stayed Sunday night: a little treat before I travel on. My backpack is incongruous in such a room!



  1. Sastra
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    This trip seems to have everything. Plus sheep.

  2. Posted March 27, 2017 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    you are having lots of fun 🙂

  3. James Walker
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Nelson looks lovely. Next time I’m in New Zealand I want to see the South Island!

  4. dabertini
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Scrumptious looking breakfast. Glad to see they are feeding PCC(e) well, for a fed cat is a happy cat.

  5. Don Quijote
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    When I lived in the UK there were many garden centers with restaurants in them.

    Also I am old enough to remember seeing bubble cars on the road. Iseters? and Heinkle? I believe.

    • gormenghastly
      Posted March 27, 2017 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      My aunt owned a bubble car, briefly, when she was in her early thirties. She’s 82 now. I remember being driven “around the block” in it when I was a small boy. Can’t remember how old I was 🙂

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted March 27, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Garden cebtres with cafes are common in NZ, though a fairly recent phenomenon.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 27, 2017 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      It’s a BMW Isetta. Unusual in ‘bubble cars’ (obviously!) in that the whole front opened as in the photo to get in and out. It was technically a four-wheeler but the rear wheels were so close together it must have handled like a three-wheeler – that is, very badly I suspect.

      And now look where BMW have got to!

      It’d almost be worth owning one to turn up to some swanky BMW Owners Club meet and watch the reactions…


      • darrelle
        Posted March 28, 2017 at 7:20 am | Permalink

        Reverse trikes handle much better than normal trikes but still not as good as a more typical 4 wheel configuration.

        And then there’s side car motorcycles. They really handle poorly. Although they are the funnest category to watch at the Isle Of Man TT. Those “passengers” are nuts.

  6. rickflick
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    So much to see! I thought I’d never go back, but my appetite has been whetted yet again.

  7. gormenghastly
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I love our currency too. Foreign money just isn’t the same.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 27, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      I still have angry feelings from when I worked in a campground in Canada in the 90s and Americans visiting would pay in American money and expect American money back as change but we were in Canada and didn’t keep American currency. They’d often throw it back to me and say, “I’m not takin’ any of that funny money” because they thought Canadian money was stupid for being coloured.

      I’m glad I since met nice Americans or I would have thought they all acted that way.

      • Harrison
        Posted March 27, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        American currency is slowly introducing many of the security features of other currencies. Our $10s are now yellow and our $5 is now pink. The real question is when or if we’ll make the switch over to tear-resistant polymers.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted March 27, 2017 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

          The real question is when or if we’ll make the switch over to tear-resistant polymers.

          “if” isn’t an option. They may delay, but eventually modern counterfeiting will force the US (and the rest of the world’s) currency manufacturers to drag themselves kicking and screaming into the 1990s. (Aussies correct me – did you start with the plastic money in the 90s or late 80s?)
          As of tomorrow. the UK is going to be starting a 6-month-ish change-over from the design of pound coin introduced in about 1984 to a new, bi-metal, dodecagonal design. Precisely because forgery levels have reached the problematical (reported as 3%, but my experience is lower ; it’s probably regionally variable). And that is with metal, where the raw material has a higher intrinsic worth than paper money.

  8. Derek Freyberg
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    The duck on the $10 bill is a blue duck (whio). A lot of the carved/turned native wood that you see for sale will be burl wood from stumps and even logs left in the ground when land was logged or cleared “back when”; there’s a minor industry in Northland in recovery of kauri, particularly, which is still in good shape even after 100+ years in the ground.
    That little car (WE QT) with the BMW badge is a BMW Isetta – it would be the UK version, built between 1957 and 1962. 300 cc engine.

    • Posted March 27, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      The Isetta is iconic in Germany, enough that even I know it. It was called “Knutschkugel” in common vernacular, which is also an interesting name. It’s a compound made from two words, colloquial kissing, “knutschen” (itself onomatopoeic), and globe/orb/ball, Kugel. That is, a “kissing-globe” which also gives an idea of the 1960s Zeitgeist.

    • Posted March 27, 2017 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      The Isetta inspired an urban legend about a parking lot attendant who was parking one for a customer. He drove it up to another floor of the parking structure and right up to the wall at the end of the parking place. Then he found out that he couldn’t open the door as it was too close to the wall. He also found that he couldn’t figure out how to put the thing into reverse gear. Supposedly it was several hours before anyone missed him and came searching for him.

      • Larry Smith
        Posted March 27, 2017 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

        That particular Isetta story may be apocryphal, but the assistant who worked for my father (a landscape architect) owned one back in the 60s. We three kids got into the Isetta one day, put it in neutral, and pushed it up against the wall. My brother put it back into gear and put on the parking brake, and then slithered out the front. My recollection was that he was mighty surprised when he came out of my dad’s office to go home!

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 28, 2017 at 2:10 am | Permalink

          There seems to be something about the look of Isettas that just invites that sort of silliness.


  9. Diana MacPherson
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    It looks like Tom and Ann have Paua shells at their threshold.

    I remember in the early 90s seeing Manuka honey in NZ for normal prices then the whole thing took off and it became expensive. At first, when I started seeing it in Canada, I thought it was just because it was imported, then was sad to see the price had increased everywhere.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted March 27, 2017 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      The price is outrageous. I remember when it was just honey too.

      Although there are no proven benefits from eating it, it has been successfully used to treat wounds that haven’t healed using conventional treatment. When I worked at Waikato Hospital there was a nurse using it on a diabetic man’s leg ulcer and having excellent results. The ulcer had previously been resistant to treatment. That was several years ago and I don’t know what progress there’s been since. There are properly documented studies though.

      • rickflick
        Posted March 27, 2017 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        Here’s a paper exploring the use of honey as a treatment for wounds. It includes the NZ variety in the references.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted March 27, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

          Thanks Rick. 🙂

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 28, 2017 at 1:47 am | Permalink

          So, can they isolate the compounds responsible and produce them under chemically controlled conditions? I’m just not that happy relying on a bunch of insects (quite aside from the exorbitant price).


          • Richard Bond
            Posted March 28, 2017 at 4:14 am | Permalink

            I believe that it works by killing bacteria through osmosis. White granulated sugar would probably work just as well, but would lack the woo factor.

            • Siggy in CR
              Posted March 28, 2017 at 7:59 am | Permalink

              Here in Costa Rica they have a similar folk remedy using honey from a stingless bee called a “mariola” locally. Supposedly it has a similar effect on superficial infections. Strangely enough, the effect is species specific, honey from other species supposedly isn’t as effective. I’ve tasted mariola honey and it’s not particularly sweet compared to normal honey bee honey. It has slight acidic component and an off taste to my palate. That leads me to believe that there may be more at work than simply dehydrating the bacteria.

          • rickflick
            Posted March 28, 2017 at 6:28 am | Permalink

            Not sure if the chemicals are easy to manufacture. Perhaps they could pass a law to make the insects wash their hands before starting work.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted March 28, 2017 at 7:15 am | Permalink

              I just read that paper you linked. If honey is as valuable medically as it suggests, there’s no way people should be casually _eating_ the stuff. That’s as irresponsible as dosing cows with antibiotics.


              • rickflick
                Posted March 28, 2017 at 8:16 am | Permalink

                Yes, the bugs in our gut that are not welcome could evolve resistance to the stuff and then they could wreck havoc with our digestion. I suspect, though, that the bees are always coming up with new antibiotics to defeat our mutual enemies(thank you science). Otherwise they would have succumbed long ago.

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted March 28, 2017 at 6:17 am | Permalink

      To add to the scammy nature of manuka honey, I have read somewhere that the amount of honey sold as manuka around the world greatly exceeds the actual production of the stuff!

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 28, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink

        That would be alternative manuka, then. 😉


  10. tomh
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    I grew up with beekeepers who touted the antibacterial properties of honey, and indeed it seems to be true. From the NIH ,”A large number of in vitro and limited clinical studies have confirmed the broad-spectrum antimicrobial (antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antimycobacterial) properties of honey,”

    • Posted March 27, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Honey is not so effective as an antibacterial when it comes to botulism. Infants should never be given raw honey due to the risk of botulism.

    • nicky
      Posted March 27, 2017 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      The ancient Greeks used honey, vinegar and wine to clean infected wounds. Their anti-bacterial properties have been well tested now.

  11. GBJames
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I remain jealous.

    • darrelle
      Posted March 27, 2017 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      Uh huh.

  12. Monika
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    The tiny car is a BMW Isetta (
    It’s commonly nicknamed Knutschkugel (snoggingball) in Germany.

  13. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    my reaction to this post is something like wide-eyed and jaw-open wonder

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 28, 2017 at 2:15 am | Permalink

      Same here! 🙂

      Thanks, Jerry!

  14. allison
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Can anyone identify the wood in Jerry’s third “wood” photo (the “lovely pattern” photo)? I ask because the instant I saw it, it brought back memories of my family’s 1974 Chevrolet Impala, which had that same pattern along the dashboard and the interior door handles. As a child I saw a myriad of little faces in the pattern. Did our “American-made” car have “parts” from New Zealand?

    • Randy schenck
      Posted March 27, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      I cannot id the wood but what you may have seen in the chevy impala was birdseye maple. Just a guess but I can’t imagine using real wood in the 74. Maybe looked like wood?

      That car collection would be a fortune, especially considering where it is. That 1950 Studebaker, wow. I remember long ago my parents car was a 1955 Studebaker champion. We had a bad wreck in it in 1957.

      • darrelle
        Posted March 27, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        The 1950-1951 Studebaker Commander is one of my favorite “classic” cars. An uncle had a 1951 and a 1956. The ’56 was fine, but no match for the ’51.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted March 27, 2017 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

          My first car was a 1951 Dodge 2-door coup. Of course that was in 1966 but the car had few miles on it. I only gave $150 for the car then but I’d give much more now.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted March 28, 2017 at 4:19 am | Permalink

      My 1934 MG PA Midget has a dashboard veneered in burr (burl in US) sequoia, which was presumably imported from the US, so perhaps that’s what was used on the Impala.

  15. Posted March 27, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    So has anyone driven any of those cars in one of those costumes while listening to any of the records? (Listening to a record in a car being an exercise in danger – to the record!)

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted March 27, 2017 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      (Listening to a record in a car being an exercise in danger – to the record!)

      Didn’t some … I think “nerd” is an appropriate epithet … engineer a non-contact device for playing vinyl records a few years ago. In fact, it’s bubbling up out of the depths of my braincell, and I think the target was to record and (audibly) archive) thinks like Edison’s original wax-cylinder recordings, so contact was verboten.
      Knowing the … nerdiness of some audio-crossed-by-vehicle nerds, I’d be bloody surprised if there wasn’t an ultra-fi multi-thousand folding note non-contact record player for the four-by-four off-roader of your choice. With solid silver power cables for the amplifier (yes, I have friends like that).
      [Music] “All the highest notes, neither sharp nor flat
      The ear can’t hear as high as that!”

      And over to Mr Haggis for the rest of the verse.

      • hugh7
        Posted March 28, 2017 at 1:41 am | Permalink

        You’re thinking of Flanders & Swann’s “Song of Reproduction”:

        High frequency range,
        Complete with auto-change.
        Flanders: All the highest notes neither sharp nor flat,
        Swann: The ear can’t hear as high as that.
        Flanders: Still, I ought to please any passing bat,
        Swann: With my high fidelity.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted March 28, 2017 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

          That the one.
          Still looking for an Armadillo opportunity.

      • darrelle
        Posted March 28, 2017 at 7:26 am | Permalink

        Not solid silver, solid gold.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 28, 2017 at 8:08 am | Permalink

          Solid gold would be cheap compared with some of these products.

          (Oh, and I believe the correct term is ‘interconnects’. Nothing so vulgar as cables should be allowed to sully the purity of the reproduction…)


          • darrelle
            Posted March 28, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

            Holy Smokes!

            I love music and like very nice stereo equipment, but I’ve never gotten into the audiophile craziness. Even my pride & joy B&W DM640 speakers are fed by simple, though moderately heavy gauge, copper wire purchased from Radio Shack by the foot.

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted March 28, 2017 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

              Even my pride & joy B&W DM640 speakers are fed by simple, though moderately heavy gauge, copper wire purchased from Radio Shack by the foot.

              Wot no jump leads?
              (Not sure if the term is the same in EN_US. These 160A babies, for example. Probably the heaviest-duty cable readily available. I’m not sure that most people would be able to carry, coil, or uncoil kilo-amp cable. Or source it, either.)

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted March 29, 2017 at 1:59 am | Permalink

                If you travel on the Underground you can see such cables running alongside the tracks. Just hack a few yards out of one of those (wearing insulated gloves, for preference) and it should be just about adequate to power yer audiophile sub-woofer. Maybe even the ones that yoofs fit in their cars.

                (But seriously, the battery leads on my old Cortina – that carry the full starting current – I made up from cable that I bought at Dick Smith – who of course sold consumer electronics / audio gear and not car accessories. Gods know what DS’s other customers used it for…)


              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted March 30, 2017 at 6:38 am | Permalink

                Speaker cable for starter leads.
                That is entirely believable – and one I shall file under “things for whipping audio nuts with”.
                (I used to carry a length of 4-core signal cable with a twisted wire strand armour, with about 6 inches of the armour exposed from under the PU environmental protection. This was when I always had at least one raw trainee. I called it the “logger encourager”, and the wound it would make on pallet wood was … encouraging. All in jest, obviously.)

              • darrelle
                Posted March 29, 2017 at 9:48 am | Permalink

                Ahh, nope. That would be funny as hell to do though. No, I mean plain 12 gauge stranded copper wire. The only thing “fancy” about it is that the insulation is clear so the copper color is revealed. I thought it looked nice.

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted March 30, 2017 at 7:10 am | Permalink

                Copper is a very pretty metal. Prettier than gold, IMHO.
                Malachite geopr0n.
                Azurite geopr0n.
                Under the reflected-light microscope, it’s minerals are very pretty too. Buggers to differentiate though : a maze of wiggly little sulphides, all similar.

              • darrelle
                Posted March 31, 2017 at 7:17 am | Permalink


                Nice links. Looking at those samples sort of rekindles my old rock collecting urges. Starting at about 5 and up through late teens I collected rocks and accumulated quite a nice collection. About 75% was self found. I had several nice fossils as well.

                Unfortunately I lost my rock collection. It was one of those things that I left at home when I went off to university and by the time, years later, I thought to retrieve it, it was gone. My parents moved a few times during those years and probably got rid of it during one of those moves.

                I can imagine the collection a person in your profession could accumulate over the years.

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted March 31, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

                When I was university-hunting, I had a salutary lesson. I was being entertained in one of the PhD labs between department tour and interview, when a couple of the PhDs came in late. Their excuse was that the roof-space of their rented house had collapsed into the living area from the weight of rocks which had accumulated there.
                Warning noted. Strengthen roof joists.
                I’m actually fairly restrained. Compared to some. But the wife still complains.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted March 29, 2017 at 5:18 pm | Permalink


                That’s what my speaker cables are, too. (Speakers are Wharfedales, by the way, with a couple of Yamahas that seem to ‘fill in’ the midrange a little. Not rubbish, but certainly not ‘audiophile’ 😉

                The relevant thing is, I think, that speakers have 99.999% of the influence on the sound. The amp and cables, so long as they’re adequate, have .001%.
                As any charts of frequency response and distortion will tell you.


              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted March 30, 2017 at 6:43 am | Permalink

                Well, that is what “adequate” means for an amplifier. Pick a level of THD you find acceptable for whatever signal processing task you’re at ; buy (or design & build) an amplifier with that performance over the desired range. Even for someone with no interest at all in audio, I’ve had to do enough signal processing to understand the physics.

              • darrelle
                Posted March 31, 2017 at 7:32 am | Permalink


                Oh amplifiers can have a large negative impact on sound, but it isn’t very difficult to build an adequate amplifier. Same for pre-amps, DACs and what-not. But, yes, I agree that the speakers are the key component.

                I do think it is important to match the power output of the amp to the capacity of the speakers correctly. Correctly in my book meaning that the amp should be a bit more powerful than the speakers are rated for. Admittedly that is only really desirable if you like to play your music loud. If you never crank it up it doesn’t really matter.

                A lot of audio equipment is designed to embellish or exaggerate the sound. I don’t like that. I prefer equipment that changes and adds nothing so that it is all up to the recording. Admittedly that’s not so great when the recording sucks, but these days all the good old stuff gets remastered.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted March 28, 2017 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

          You obviously know a higher-grade of audiophile money-pit than I do.
          I remember one evening conversation when the fool (in sense of “soon to be parted from his money”) was asking my opinion on several thousand beer-vouchers price of “mains voltage stabiliser”, intended to remove “mains hum” from the supply (and by implication, output) of your high-ticket amplifier.
          Leaving aside my suspicion that someone capable of designing a power amplifier with an output down into the tens of Hertz would probably know enough to build in sufficient stabilisation to the power-supply parts of his amplifier, I outlined the 50-valuta “Mains-No-Hum-Um” power filter : a suitably chunky constant speed motor ; a suitably chunky flywheel (with child-finger-proof guards, as there were sprogs about) ; and a suitably chunky DC generator. He thought I was performing urinary surgery, which I was not.
          There are some very peculiar people in the “high-end” audio world. Symptoms of oxygen starvation, perhaps?

          • darrelle
            Posted March 29, 2017 at 9:46 am | Permalink

            Yes indeed. They are indistinguishable from reiki crystal, homeopathy, etc. proponents. The same malady just different subjects. Have you heard the one about how ultrasonic frequencies make the music sound better?

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted March 29, 2017 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

              Here we are, also from

              I think this one wins:
              The CD lathe which ‘bevels and trues the edge of CD’s to reduce laser reflection and vibration.’

              Have these people ever reflected that CDs are *digital*? Any cheap-as-chips DVD drive can read megabytes of data off any old DVD without getting one bit wrong, as the MD5 checksum confirms. Sheesh…


              • darrelle
                Posted March 30, 2017 at 7:31 am | Permalink

                Yeah. I think that one probably is a winner.

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted March 30, 2017 at 6:39 am | Permalink

              See Flanders & Swann lyrics upthread. Keep the bats happy!

  16. Posted March 27, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Some of those woods look like some desserts I’ve seen from time to time! 😉

  17. Diana MacPherson
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Maybe the wood is kauri? Like old trees that have fallen down that you’re allowed to use the wood from?

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted March 27, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      A lot of stuff is made from reclaimed kauri and rimu, which are both very beautiful woods. I have furniture made from both. I’m not sure what’s in the close up picture – I don’t know wood well enough to tell without seeing the real thing – except it’s too fine-grained to be kauri or rimu. It might be beech.

      • John Frum
        Posted March 27, 2017 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

        Does anyone know the wood used in the large bowl/plate top right in the first photo of wooden objects?
        I have one almost if not identical that I bought at a local weekend market here in the Northern Rivers of NSW. The guy said that he made all of them himself so I guess it would be wood that is found in both NZ and Australia.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted March 28, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

          I can’t be sure without seeing the real thing, but it might be kauri.

          • rickflick
            Posted March 28, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

            We were told that a lot of Kauri wood used today comes from dead trees often dug out of sediments. They are mined for the special qualities it has. The live trees are probably protected in all locations. It was initially used for such things as making ship’s masts because it grew strait with good grain. It was fairly wiped out except for a few spots – one of which is about 50 miles north of Auckland.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted March 28, 2017 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

              That’s correct.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted March 28, 2017 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

              Kauri – as a species – was by no means ‘wiped out’ by the logging. Almost all the big trees were logged (and since it’s very slow-growing and the ‘giants’ are a thousand years old, it will be 900 years before the young trees reach that size again). But in the Waitakere Ranges just west of Auckland I could take you to fifty kauri thickets where the young kauris are spaced within feet of each other.

              So as a species it would have survived the logging just fine.

              The big and devastating threat – and it threatens young and old kauris alike – is Kauri Dieback Disease, a fungus that was only identified in 2008. It must have mutated from something, otherwise all the kauri would have been dead centuries ago.


              • rickflick
                Posted March 28, 2017 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

                We had to cross a shoe cleaning solution entering the site of Kauri and stay on the wooden trail. An attempt to keep the fungus from killing of the stand north of Auckland. Let’s hope these beauties survive for future generations to stand in awe of.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted March 28, 2017 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

                Those shoe-cleaning stations are probably more about public education than real effectiveness. (Nevertheless I do faithfully squirt my feet with the magic liquid in the squirty bottles provided. I presume it’s not toxic to feet.)

                The signs also say “Stay on the trail and off kauri roots” which prompts me to ask “How?” since in some locations – immediately around said sign – kauri roots are everywhere across the track, you’d have to levitate to avoid them.


              • rickflick
                Posted March 28, 2017 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

                Our site had a boardwalk all the way in. No roots.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted March 29, 2017 at 12:38 am | Permalink

                Sounds like a much smaller stand of bigger trees, then.

                This was taken on Maungaroa Ridge in 2009 (before the fungus really got going):

                and this on Winstone Track a couple of years ago:

                The sign says, in part, ‘Please stay on the track and off kauri roots’.



              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted March 29, 2017 at 12:41 am | Permalink

                And yes most of the trees in both photos are kauris.


              • boggy
                Posted March 29, 2017 at 2:28 am | Permalink

                The disease is Phytophthora agathidicida so must be closely related to Phytophthora infestans which causes the potato blight and the Irish famine of 1825.

              • rickflick
                Posted March 29, 2017 at 5:46 am | Permalink

                Blame the damned Irish! 😎

  18. boggy
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    The pic of the engine after the Isetta shows a steam engine. No spark plug and eccentric operated valve gear.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 27, 2017 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      I was going to note the same. The cylinders have no finning for air cooling and the red ‘rods’ (which are far too light to be actual conrods) are probably activating slide valves under the flat green cover between the cylinders. The actual connecting rods appear to be missing from the engine, though I think the crossheads can be seen sliding in the black cast channel-shaped frame behind the cylinders.

      An Isetta engine is apparently single-cylinder, picture here:


      • boggy
        Posted March 28, 2017 at 6:31 am | Permalink

        The engine is from a Locomobile steam car of about 1900. Steam car enthusiasts are like creationists and flat earthists, that is, not like us.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 28, 2017 at 7:24 am | Permalink

          Thanks. Presumably (guessing wildly) the missing connecting rods drove direct onto a cranked back axle?

          (For the benefit of other readers – boggy’s comment refers to the engine depicted in the photos at the top of the page, not the Isetta engine immediately above his comment. WordPress is good at creating confusing layouts).


    • Siggy in CR
      Posted March 28, 2017 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      Thanks for explaining that. I was looking at the engine wondering how it worked. As it looked nothing like any internal combustion engine I’m familiar with.

  19. barn owl
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    The glass rooster hood ornament is beautiful and fascinating, so I had to find out more. Most of them were made by Lalique and are worth a small fortune nowadays:

    I particularly like Reynard and Hibou. 😉

    Thanks for sharing photos of your adventures, PCC(E)!

  20. Paulo Augusto Franke
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Cannot thank enough for these funtastic NZ trip reports.

    Beats doing it myself, for real, by many miles, hands down…

    Keep the NZ news coming !

  21. Posted March 27, 2017 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    I am sorry about the miserable weather Jerry. (Even though I suppose it’s not really my fault :- ) The worst summer in 30 years is over but its malignant presence still lingers…

    Bill Forster

  22. Posted March 27, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    I love NZ Currency, it is worth pointing out that on the other side of that $10 note is the picture of a suffragette (Kate Sheppard). Not sure how many national currencies have that on them.

    • Posted March 27, 2017 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      Well, we’re supposed to get Harriet Tubman on the twenty here in the US, though that may fall through in today’s political climate. And we had Susan B. Anthony on an unsuccessful late-70s early 80s dollar coin.

      But y’all got Ernest Rutherford on the twenty, so I have to concede your money is cooler.

      • Gayle
        Posted March 27, 2017 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

        Rutherford is on the $100. As seen in this bank ad from 1995

        (oh my god – savings interest rates were 7.5% back then!)

        • Gayle
          Posted March 27, 2017 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

          It’s a funny ad – worth watching!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 27, 2017 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

      NZ recently ‘updated’ its banknotes. They kept the old designs but just re-drew them. The new notes are slightly more ‘plastic-y’ and slightly brighter than the old ones.

      Just personally, I like the change.

      Here’s a comparison:

      I notice the Queen has aged (on the $20 note) but none of the people featured on the other notes have changed at all. This is presumably because they’re all dead, whereas Elizabeth is still alive, which I suppose is definitely some compensation.

      There’s even a propaganda website about them if you’re into that sort of thing:

      They all have birds on them but none of them are keas. For shame!


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 27, 2017 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      Oh, and just to nitpick (how many times can I contradict PCC before I get myself thrown off this website?) the mountain in the background of the $5 note is not Everest, but Mount Cook (which Ed Hillary also climbed, of course).


      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 27, 2017 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

        I should add that Everest is not dissimilar in its general shape.

        The view of Mt Cook on the note is quite well-known (in New Zealand), it’s as seen from the main highway just east of Pukaki village looking north across the lake. (‘Mt Cook from Pukaki’ in Google Images brings up many views. Sadly Streetview went through there on a slightly misty day so it doesn’t show it).


    • hugh7
      Posted March 28, 2017 at 1:52 am | Permalink

      To be strictly accurate, Kate Sheppard was a suffragist: she worked (successfully) for women’s suffrage through conventional means, not civil disobedience. They petitioned Parliament and foiled the then Prime Minister, Richard Seddon.

      The particular reason she is there is that New Zealand claims to be the first country to give women the vote. According to Wikipedia, Corsica, Pitcairn and the Isle of Man (countries?) were earlier.

      • hugh7
        Posted March 28, 2017 at 3:20 am | Permalink

        In her honour, the pedestrian crossing lights around Parliament show her as the walking figure. (Those around the red light district show a famous madam, Carmen [né Trevor Rupe]).

        • HaggisForBrains
          Posted March 28, 2017 at 4:32 am | Permalink

          I just love that! What a wonderful country.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 28, 2017 at 5:31 am | Permalink

          Wellington seems to have a quirky sense of humour. Our recent mentions of Nikau palms reminded me of something I saw on the Wellington waterfront – Wellington library is held up by a colonnade of steel ‘nikau palms’ – except the last few seem to have escaped and head for the waterfront unencumbered.


          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted March 28, 2017 at 5:40 am | Permalink

            (try again)


            • HaggisForBrains
              Posted March 29, 2017 at 4:01 am | Permalink


        • Gordon
          Posted March 28, 2017 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

          That’s my office right behind the light. The 4 floor wooden building used to house the entire civil service.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 29, 2017 at 12:52 am | Permalink

          A link to the Carmen ones:


          • HaggisForBrains
            Posted March 29, 2017 at 4:03 am | Permalink


      • Posted March 28, 2017 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

        [facepalm] thanks for the correction

  23. jrhs
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    I guess I can at least make some French toast with baked banana and bacon for myself tomorrow morning.

  24. Gayle
    Posted March 27, 2017 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    If you take the bus from Nelson to Picton the driver will probably tell you the story of the town of Havelock as you go through it. In the 1800s all plans for new buildings had to be drawn up and approved in England. The plans were then sent to New Zealand for building. It so happened that Havelock asked for a new Post Office at the same time that Havlock North (a different town, in the North Island) asked for a new church. The plans were duly confused and Havelock to this day has a Post Office that looks like a church! (and vice versa).
    You’ll also see a lot of the Marlborough sauvignon blanc on that route, with the windmills that are not there to generate power but are instead powered to generate wind to keep the frosts off the vines in winter.

    • John Frum
      Posted March 27, 2017 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

      A windmill that generates wind?
      What will they think of next.

    • Posted March 28, 2017 at 3:32 am | Permalink

      I was in Havelock tonight eaying mussels. I’m being driven to Picton tomorrow so I’ll ask if we can see the Post Office!

    • hugh7
      Posted March 28, 2017 at 3:51 am | Permalink

      That church post office story sounds apocryphal to me. Churches were planned and built locally by and for their congregations (my grandfather built one in Dipton). Post offices were built by the Government.

      But it is true that some buildings, such as Christchurch Normal School (destroyed by the 2011 earthquake) were designed in the Northern Hemisphere with south-facing windows to catch the sun, and were bitterly cold here. And Wellington was planned in England with no respect for elevation, so that some streets, such as Dixon St, turn into flights of steps. Isn’t something similar true of San Francisco?

      • hugh7
        Posted March 28, 2017 at 3:55 am | Permalink

        ^church <-> post office

      • Gayle
        Posted March 28, 2017 at 5:08 am | Permalink

        Well, it was a story by a bus driver (and I can’t verify it by online searching), so who knows. There would have been a lack of qualified architects in the new colony at that time though, so I could well imagine it being done from England.

        • hugh7
          Posted March 29, 2017 at 1:41 am | Permalink

          I was in a bus from Seddon to Christchurch in 2002, and after an hour of country music just loud enough to be annoying but not loud enough to listen to, the driver began a non-stop commentary full of figures. Referring to the Southern Alps, he said “Scientists say they are 45 million years old but I believe they are 6000 years old.” When later he said certain trees were planted 20 years ago, I restrained myself from adding “- but I believe they were planted three days ago.”

          Google Earth shows the Havelock Post Office building is still there, but looks only somewhat like a church. I can well believe that a 19th century Post Office would be built in Victorian Gothic style, but recreated in wood, as many of our churches are. In Wellington, the prime example is Old St Pauls – worth a visit.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted March 29, 2017 at 2:05 am | Permalink

            That’s very odd. You don’t find many fundies here, certainly not ones who will gratuitously admit it, for fear of being laughed at.


            • hugh7
              Posted March 29, 2017 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

              I just told the story to cast doubt on the voracity of bus drivers.

              • Diane G.
                Posted March 29, 2017 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

                Not to mention their veracity.

              • hugh7
                Posted March 29, 2017 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

                An old interwebz malapropism, of the likes of “teh” and “cow orker”.

              • Diane G.
                Posted March 30, 2017 at 12:48 am | Permalink

                Oops! Thanx, new one for me, though did know the others. 😀

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 28, 2017 at 6:57 am | Permalink

        “And Wellington was planned in England with no respect for elevation, so that some streets, such as Dixon St, turn into flights of steps.”

        Happens everywhere. ‘Paper Roads’ are notorious.

        In the Waitakere Ranges west of here, there are dozens of them, including one – Latrobe Track – that goes straight up the face of Karekare waterfall. That would be par for the course but just recently some genius from Auckland City has erected a ‘Latrobe Track’ street sign on Lone Kauri Road pointing straight across the bush towards the waterfall on the alignment of the nonexistent road. (I suspect it was supposed to be erected at the other end of the track, which end does actually exist).


  25. Posted March 28, 2017 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    My hometown! You lucky bugger. Minor irrelevant fact: the guy that turns the wood displayed in your pictures is Dennis Mapley. He ran a commercial cleaning company in Nelson in the 1980s and employed me through all my uni holidays.

    Not so keen on Nelson being too widely advertised though. NZ is being overrun by tourists but Nelson remains off the beaten track for most. Hope it stays that way.

    Put Golden Bay on your Bucket list.

  26. hugh7
    Posted March 28, 2017 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    In Māori lore, the fantail is a bird of ill-omen because it laughed when culture-hero Māui was trying to defeat Death.

    Māui planned to enter the vagina dentata (of obsidian and greenstone [nephrite jade])of the sleeping Great Lady of Night, Hine Nui te Pō (aka Death) and exit her mouth, thus reversing the normal course of events. Here’s Anthony Alpers’ version (macrons added):

    “Māui at first assumed the form of a kiore, or rat, to enter the body of Hine. But tātāeko, the little whitehead, said he would never succeed in that form. So he took the form of a toke, or earthworm. But tīwaiwaka the fantail, who did not like worms, was against this. So Māui turned himself into into a moko huruhuru, a kind of caterpillar that glistens. It was agreed that this looked best, and so Māui set forth, with comical movements. The little birds now did their best to comply with Māui’s wish. They sat as still as they could, and held their beaks shut tight, and tried not to laugh. But it was impossible. It was the way Māui went in that gave them the giggles, and a moment little tīwaiwaka the fantail could no longer contain himself. He laughed out loud, with his merry, cheeky note, and danced about with delight, his tail flickering and his beak snapping. Hine nui awoke with a start. She realised what was happening, and in a moment it was all over with Māui. By way of rebirth he met his end.”
    (Maori Myths and Tribal Legends, Reed 1964)

    • boggy
      Posted March 28, 2017 at 6:45 am | Permalink

      The fantail is often encountered when walking in the woods. It is an insectivore and follows people closely as they dislodge insects from branches. The theory is that they followed moas originally but humans perform the same role now.

      • darrelle
        Posted March 28, 2017 at 7:37 am | Permalink

        Bee catchers do that too. They catch a ride on anything that will let them, from ostriches to elephants, to take advantage of the insects the larger animals disturb out of the grass into the air.

  27. Hempenstein
    Posted March 28, 2017 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    Fantastic! Packards on WEIT! Thanx for these (thought I’d already posted this but it doesn’t seem to have made the passage. Perhaps embargoed at customs).

    The police car is a ’51 – ’52s are nearly identical but have no hood letters. Other details, like no teeth in the grille, tell that it’s a “junior” model with a 5″ shorter wheelbase (which doesn’t sound like much, but it is. Below that is I think a Humber, and below that is a lovely yellow Auburn. (Do yourself a favor and visit the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in Auburn IN (NE corner), sometime!)

    The other Packard is about a ’28 (last year for drum headlamps, which in Swedish are called karamellburk – candy tin. The hood ornament is an aftermarket accessory for the well-heeled, probably by Lalique.

    Below that is a yellow ’50 Studebaker.

    And on the Pierce-Arrow, you’ve taken a shot of the famous “Archer” radiator mascot.

    The red coupe – the first car pic – is a lovely ’39 Ford DeLuxe – what I like to call a pure organic design.

    And since seeing this earlier I am informed that “Reportedly the largest collection of Packards in the world.” is in NZ, on the north island.

  28. Nobody Special
    Posted March 29, 2017 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Apologies if this has already been said; the glass hood ornament is French, made by arguably the greatest of all art-deco glass-makers, Rene Lalique. He produced a wide range of these ornaments (the falcon is a joy) in the 1920’s, and the cockerel is currently worth in the region of £2000-2500. Some of them had a coloured bulb set into the base to illuminate the ornaments at night.

%d bloggers like this: