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Mt Vesuvius Erupts, this day in history #travel

Mt Vesuvius erupted at midday on 24 August in the year 79AD. The cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were destroyed and thousands of Romans died during the eruption.

Quite a lot is known about the day and the aftermath since Pliny the Younger witnessed and wrote about the eruption. 14 – 17 feet of ash and pumice buried the city of Pompeii while mud and volcanic material devastated Herculaneum. Locals, who had escaped, returned later to salvage their belongings but mostly the cities were forgotten. It wasn’t until the 18th century when a well-digger discovered the ruins of Herculaneum. In 1748 a farmer found traces of Pompeii beneath his grapevines.

Mount Vesuvius remains active but hasn’t erupted since 1944. It is the only active volcano on mainland Europe.

Pompeii

Pompeii with Mt Vesuvius in background

Main street in Pompeii

The above photos were all taken at Pompeii.

Herculaneum

Herculaneum

Herculaneum

Herculaneum

Herculaneum and Mt Vesuvius in background

I enjoyed wandering around Herculaneum. It was quieter and less touristy with more to see. The volcanic mud preserved the buildings better than the ash did at Pompeii. The above five photos are from Herculaneum, and you can see Mt Vesuvius in the background of the fifth photo.

View from top of Mt Vesuvius

This is the view from the top of Mt Vesuvius. You can see how dense the population is in Naples. I’ve visited Naples three times and have yet to get a truly clear shot of the mountain. Every time I go, it’s hazy. Below you can see the crater plus me posing at the top.

The crater

Me at the top of the mountain

We caught a bus from Naples that drove almost to the top of the mountain. We walked briskly for almost an hour to get to the summit. If you’re ever in the vicinity, I highly recommend a visit to all three sites.

Rangitoto, Auckland. The Youngest Volcano #travel #newzealand

This year we’ve had lots of overseas visitors, which means we’ve been reacquainting ourselves with the sights around Auckland.

The city of Auckland is built on on a field of volcanoes, and Rangitoto Island is the youngest one – a mere 600 years-old. The island is pest-free (a big deal for our native bird populations) and is a short ferry ride from the central city.

The fascinating thing is that the silhouette of Rangitoto looks the same, no matter which part of the city you’re viewing it from.

Auckland_RangitotoFullView

Auckland_RangitotoDevonport

Auckland_Rangitoto

These photos were taken on different days, from different parts of the city.

We didn’t have time to do the walk to the summit, but if you visit Auckland for a few days, I highly recommend it since the walks are easy and the view back to the city is beautiful.

For more information on island walks and details of travel to the island check out the Rangitoto Govt site.

V is for Volcano

V

A volcano is a mountain or hill with a crater or vent, which spews out lava, gas and rock fragments from the earth’s crust. Volcanoes can be extinct (will never erupt again), dormant (might erupt again) or active (busy erupting).

New Zealand has many volcanoes. In fact, Auckland, our biggest city is built on a field of volcanoes. The old volcano cones are classified as dormant, meaning they could erupt again, but history has shown that the field is moving steadily north. The last eruption in the Auckland field occurred just over six hundred years ago when the island Rangitoto, a short ferry ride from the central city, erupted and formed into an island.

Rangitoto

This is the cone of Rangitoto Island, which is visible from many parts of Auckland.

Mt Eden

This is the crater of Mt Eden, which is not far from the central city of Auckland.

LakeTaupo

This is Lake Taupo, (area 238 square miles) which is in the center of the North Island. The lake is an old volcano crater, which erupted around 27,000 years ago to form the caldera. Around 1800 years ago, the eruption, known as the Taupo eruption, occurred. This was the most violent eruption to occur in 5000 years and was recorded at the time by the Romans and the Chinese. The present chamber of magma is around 6 kilometers below the lake. The trio of mountains in the background are all volcanoes.

Ngaruahoe

This is Mt Ngauruhoe, which is one of the three volcanoes visible across Lake Taupo.

Ruapehu

This is Mount Ruapehu, another one of the trio of volcanoes. Both Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe, plus the third one Tongariro are periodically active. Mount Tongariro erupted unexpectedly last year after 100 years of lying dormant.

And finally, our most active volcano – an island off the coast of the Bay of Plenty in the North Island.

White Island

I find volcanoes fascinating, although I suspect we won’t have much fun if a new volcano pops up in the Auckland field. It’s certainly not impossible.

Do you have any volcanoes near you?

A Visit to Akaroa, New Zealand

In February hubby and I took a cruise from Auckland to Sydney on the Diamond Princess. I love New Zealand. Even though I live here, I’ve done a lot of travel, and my country of birth compares well with most countries.

One of the stops was Akaroa, which these days—since the earthquake at Christchurch—is the main port of call for cruise ships. The previous port of Lyttelton sustained extensive damage.

Akaroa is surrounded by hills and used to be a volcano. One of the walls broke, letting sea water rush in to create the existing harbor.

Akaroa Harbor

This photo shows the entrance to the harbor where the sea breached the volcano.

The area was settled by French and many of the streets have French names. It’s a small town—a very charming one. Each summer the population swells since it’s the perfect place for a summer holiday.

While we were there, hubby and I went dolphin watching to see the rare Hector dolphins. They’re a small dolphin and their fins look like Mickey Mouse’s ears.

Akaroa Dolphins

This is me on board the dolphin boat before leaving the wharf. If anyone visits Akaroa, I totally recommend this company. The owner and his family have been in the area for generations—five, I think he said from memory. He’s very knowledgeable about the area and the fauna.

Murphy Akaroa Dolphins

This little cutie is Murphy who works onboard the Akaroa Dolphin boat. His task is to look for dolphins and he does an excellent job. If you see him run to the side of the boat, follow because there will be dolphins!

Hector Dolphin

Hector’s dolphins are extremely rare and are only found in New Zealand. The dolphins were a bit shy on the day we went out, but we did see a small pod.

Akaroa Township

This is the main part of the township. There are a few shops, some very nice cafes and restaurants plus the usual amenities such as supermarket, butcher, and church. On the day we visited there was a market at the church and I purchases a really pretty cameo-type pendant.

Fish and Chips

There is also an excellent fish and chip shop. Guess what we had for lunch?

Akaroa from Ship

This is the view from the ship after our day ashore. As you can see, it was beautiful weather and our day was memorable. If you’re ever down this end of the world, do put Akaroa on your must-visit list.

Road Trip: Auckland to Wellington

the van I haven’t done the trip from Auckland to Wellington for a long time. Yep, I was excited about the prospect of a trip South. We picked up the van we had to drive to Wellington the night before. It’s a little van with vinyl seats and not much leg room. Mr. Munro complained the van didn’t like going fast. He had trouble coaxing it past 100km per hour, which is our speed limit. After little sleep (we had a phone call at 2.00am – highly uncivilized if you ask me!!) we hit the road at six-thirty.

It turned out that the van wasn’t too bad for leg space and a towel stopped the problem of sticking to the vinyl seats. The van loved going up hills, which was a bonus, but on the down side it also loved to guzzle gas. We had to stop three times to refill during the eight hour drive.

The weather was beautiful, without a cloud in the sky. The iPod worked well and we drove with the windows down and the music blaring – well as much as Mr. Munro lets the music blare. He’s a fuddy-duddy that way!

We stopped at Lake Taupo, which is the biggest lake in New Zealand, and supposedly the site of the largest volcanic reaction the world has ever seen. You’ve probably heard me mention Taupo before. I like it very much and have some wonderful memories of family holidays spent there as a teenager. I pointed out the street where my mother received a parking ticket and where we went to the movies. The lake was flat calm and the trio of mountains were visible across the water. That’s unusual so we took photos.

Lake Taupo

We drove down the Desert Road and managed to take some great shots of the mountains. The Desert Road is mostly tussock, but parts of it are very sandy. During winter this stretch of road is often closed due to snow and ice. The NZ army do a lot of their training here before troops are sent overseas. The terrain is certainly challenging, and while it’s very pretty, I wouldn’t want to be there in the middle of winter.

Mt Ruapehu

Ngauruhoe from the Desert Road

The rest of the drive was through farm land before we hit the coast and the sea. The pohutukawa trees seem to flower later down here. The trees were ablaze with scarlet flowers. Pohutukawa flowers always remind me of Christmas. We drove into the central city of Wellington and found our serviced apartment without any problem. It’s very central – just a brief walk away from most of the tourist spots. We can even see a sliver of the waterfront from our balcony.

View from our apartment

I’ve done a lot of travelling, and I think a person would have to go a long way to see better scenery. New Zealand really is a pretty country, not that I’m biased or anything.

Do you enjoy road trips? When and where did you take your last road trip?