Wednesday, October 30, 2013

NZ - Ashburton Domain and Gardens

As were driving north from Timaru we came upon a steam engine that had just pulled a tourist train into the local station at Ashburton.

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By the way, steam engines are usually quite large in New Zealand even though they run on a narrow gauge of 3'6". They need to be powerful to cope with the hills and mountains.

By chance, right across the way was a beautiful park so we decided to take a break and explore.

With its temperate climate and usually reliable rain, plants appear to grow readily throughout the South Island. European plants also thrive as well as the native species.

So take a brief tour of this beautiful garden.

This industrial looking water wheel simply goes round and round and does not appear to power anything.

This splendid tree appeared to have a grave stone at its base.

It turned out to be a monument to Florence Nightingale and the tree was planted to commemorate her life's works.

Touchingly, the Florence Nightingale tree was not the only commemorative tree to be planted.

This is his tree.

When we travel, I do most of the work for these blog entries on a small lightweight Dell netbook. It has a small screen that really does not show colours all that well. I am looking forward to viewing these pictures on a bigger screen that can show vibrant colours.

NZ - the trains at Pleasant Point

It's not often that you get to ride in a Ford model T. It's only at Pleasant Point that you get to ride in a Model T that is a train.

The day was bright and clear with only a few clouds and we were finally able to see the Alps in the distance.

The Police car reminds me that we did not see too many of them or come across many radar traps. However NZ drivers don't break the speed limit much at all either on the open road or in the towns. Many of them tail gate however.

We presume Mount Cook is there somewhere. When you fly over the South Island you can see that there are thousands of snow covered high peaks.

The lady at the B and B had recommended that we visit Pleasant Point to have a ride on their steam engine and their Model T rail car.

It's actually a replica, the original was dumped.

Station platform.

Restored ticket booth.

It's fascinating to look at photos from decades ago.

St Mary's, the local Catholic Church. I noticed a wire fence around it and a little research found that it had to temporarily close because of earthquake damage. At dinner in Dunedin one night there was a discussion about earthquakes in NZ. A monster quake is due in the next 50 years that will cause enormous damage, particularly in Wellington. The quake is actually long overdue. Many of the older major buildings as well as houses in New Zealand cities and towns are built of bricks and mortar and will be severely damaged.

Conductor waiting for the train. There are quite a few volunteers who dress up for their roles.

We all know that the Wright Brothers were the first to fly in a motorized plane. However it is considered likely that Richard Pearse was actually the first. Some of the parts of his plane are housed in a display case. The link is interesting.

The rail car arrives.

Reversing the rail car on the small turntable.

The steam train arrives.

The steam engine is very small and was built in 1878 and runs on rails that are 3'6" apart. This gauge is standard throughout NZ and happens to be the same narrow gauge used in Queensland. It was cheaper to build with this gauge than the 4'8" standard gauge used in the USA and Europe. In a country with a small population and lots of mountains, cost of construction would have been a major issue.

We first boarded the rail motor and headed off down this straight track for about a mile to Keanes Crossing, the other terminus of this railway.

Bumpy ride in the rail car.

There was a turntable to reverse the rail motor and I volunteered to operate it. The driver was amused and then impressed at how I pushed it backwards with my backside. I was taught this technique for opening and closing the big heavy gates on the canal locks in England.

Lining up the rails.

The controls.

The terminus had sheds to house their various trains. This day it was being used as a market.

I presume they will be working to restore this engine.

Upstairs in the shed was an old radio station setup where a DJ must have worked years ago.

Old tubes (valves), capacitors and resistors. I use these when I build my amplifiers.

The fat 833C tube that is third from the left can be used to build a high powered amplifier such as this one. Typically it would use a voltage well in excess of 1000 volts DC which is both expensive and very, very dangerous. I am not tempted at all to use this monster.

We took the steam train back to the Pleasant Point station. They have done a magnificent job of restoring this carriage.

The steam train heading back up the track.


Signal box.

The small turntable at Pleasant Point. Just big enough for the Model T rail car.

The controls.

This was a fun outing. By now I was getting tired of driving long distances so ten miles out and back to Pleasant Point was very enjoyable.