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New Zealand - North South and the bit in between - 2014

OZDUCK

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As the Trip Reports forum is still, unsurprisingly, pretty quiet I thought that I would post another 'historic' TR.

We booked a trip to NZ in October/November 2014 after Air New Zealand announced a sale. On the way there we travelled in Y but on the way back we had our first taste ever of a more upmarket international cabin by booking Premium Economy. Our flight Perth - Auckland was on a pretty much brand new B787 in the 'All Black' livery. I had booked the "Works Option" which included the seat, checked baggage, meal and drinks. I also paid extra for Exit Row seats. All up it cost $462 each for this leg. This flight was before my AFF days so no pictures of the seat or meals etc. The entire flight was at night so no scenic views either.

This was my first flight on Air New Zealand and on a B787 and unfortunately neither impressed us much on this leg. (The return leg in Premium Economy was in contrast an excellent experience.) As many others have noted, the 9 seat abreast versions of the B787 has very squeezy seats but with the Exit Row seats at least we had plenty of legroom. The other thing that bothered me was how noisy the plane seemed. I had read plenty of articles about how the B787 was super quiet. Perhaps it was because of our location just behind the wing but there seemed to be continuous annoying mechanical noises throughout the flight. The F.A's were ok but not at all memorable and the meal was a poor one even for International economy. It was pretty much a basic dull pasta dish with an accompanying'salad' that was just a combination of onions and capsicums with a oily dressing. My wife found it inedible. The return flight's meal in PE was 100% better.

We only spent a couple of days in a fairly overcast Auckland so we didn't take many photos. I had a strange feeling in Auckland that I couldn't quite figure out for a while and then it hit me. It just didn't feel like I was overseas. Most of the banks and shops were familiar, the accent was also familiar and even the cars looked the same.

Anyway enough talk, on with the TR.

We stayed in an apartment near the Auckland waterfront - Celestion Waldorf Apartments (now the Nasuto Celestion Apartments). It was in a good location and the staff were excellent as they checked us in at about 07:30 and upgraded us to a huge two bedroom apartment. I felt at home as the Customs House was just up the road and the sight of the staff wandering out in uniform for coffee at the local cafes took me back to my 'working' days.

The view from our windows

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That day we took a ferry across the harbour to Devonport.

Looking back at the CBD with the ferry jetty in the foreground.

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We then walked up to the North Head Historic Reserve.

We passed some nice 'traditional' wooden houses on our way up the hill.

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I am pretty sure that this was an 'old' America's Cup yacht doing sailing tours

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There were nice views out towards the ocean

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The "Disappearing Gun" on the headland. Installed in 1887.

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That evening we went out for a walk on Queens Wharf

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OZDUCK

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The next day was a bit nicer and we wandered a bit more around the city, especially around the recently refurbished area near the Viaduct Harbour.

Looking back at the CBD across Viaduct Harbour

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The Auckland Harbour Bridge

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ASB North Wharf Complex

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After a, too short, stay we then picked up our Hire Car. We used Apex Car Rentals as they were one of the few companies then who would let you keep the same car when crossing over the Cook Strait. Also, we saved a fair bit of money by renting a 2010 Toyota Corolla rather than a newer one. Even better, their depot was only a short walk down the road from our hotel. It cost NZ $1,488 for a 25 day hire including the ferry crossing. I paid a pretty small amount extra for 100% insurance coverage.

As always you have to make choices when booking a holiday and in our case we chose to spend more time on the South Island rather than heading north from Auckland. So we set off for our first stopover on our car trip - Otorohanga and the Glowworm Caves.
 

OZDUCK

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Otorohanga - Glowworm Cave.

The spiral ramp down into the cave

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Inside the cave. It was a bit nerve wracking in parts as the guide impressed on us that there was something like a NZ$10,000 fine if you damaged any of the 'veils' etc and they were often very close to the pathway.

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The only slightly usable shot I got of the glowworms. My camera just didn't have the low light ability to get a good shot.

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This is a 'stock' photo of the boat trip you take inside the cave.

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Exiting the cave

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OZDUCK

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Around Otorohanga

Our deluxe accommodation. Perfectly fine for a 2 night stay.

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The owner of our cabin suggested we take a day trip to Kawhia on the west coast. It sits on a large bay.

Overlooking Kawhia Harbour. This day trip gave me my first experience of the windy roads in the NZ backwoods.

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Looking across the bay at the hills we had driven over.

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I had probably the best Fish & Chips of my life here. The fish had just been unloaded at the town jetty that morning.

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We went to the Otorohanga Kiwi House to see Kiwis. Which we did but they were impossible to photograph because of the darkened conditions in their habitat. However we did see some other birds.

Kakariki (red-crowned parakeet)

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Kea

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There was also a Tuatura

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OZDUCK

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We then headed off to Rotorua

For some reason I was surprised that there was thermal activity in the centre of town.

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Ohinemutu - "It is a living Māori village and the original settlement of Rotorua"

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Rotorua Museum - formerly the Bath House

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One night we went on an organised tour to a tourist Hāngi at the Mitai Maori Village

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To be honest the meat tasted a bit 'stewed'.

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OZDUCK

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With a number of options available we chose to go to the Waimangu Volcanic Valley. It is "the world’s youngest geothermal valley" and was formed by an eruption in 1886 that killed around 120 people.

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In the park you can go for a cruise on Lake Rotomahana. Before the 1886 eruption there were two small lakes here but the changes caused by that eruption led to the formation of a large lake of 8 square km.

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There is plenty of thermal activity around the edge of the lake.

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OZDUCK

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We now headed off to Napier passing through Taupo on the way.

Huka Falls just north of Taupo

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Jet boat - seemingly compulsory on all NZ rivers in scenic areas

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A sign near a Geothermal Electricity plant just off the road to Taupo - just for RooFlyer

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The skies over Taupo and its eponymous lake were filled with low grey clouds and sweeping rain showers so we spent little time there and headed on to Napier.

I think that most people on here are aware of the 1931 earthquake and the subsequent rebuilding of the city in an Art Deco style. I went to Napier to see the architecture so there will be lots of photos of buildings. But first a few general ones.

Vie from the Bluff Hill lookout in the city - looking north-west. This is the way we came into town from Rotorua

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Looking out south over the main part of the town

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Clive Square in the centre of town. First established in 1854. The carillon was donated by Rothmans in 1974. Probably working on the premise that if they can't kill you with carcinogens they can at least send you mad with tinkling bells.

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The innocuous looking pond in the centre of the park

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Until feeding time comes around and the flesh eaters come out!

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OZDUCK

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Now for the architecture. We did a guided tour of the town centre and it was well worth the modest cost.

Firstly, a nice statue in the main street that gives a nod to the Art Deco era

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Some shopfronts

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The Napier Municipal Theatre, beautifully restored inside and out.

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The foyer of one (?) of the buildings

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The former Ministry of Works Building

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OZDUCK

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Back to the statue. If you look above the shop sign for Blue Illusion you can see that 'she' is looking at a matching bronze dog in the window.

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Some more of Napier

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The old Public Trust Office building is not Art Deco. It was built in 1922 in the Classical Revival Style and while damaged it was repaired after the quake.

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The Napier Soundshell - 1935. Originally designed to also act as an outside dancing area.

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The Tom Parker Fountain

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Other waterfront fountains

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craven morehead

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Was due to spend Easter in Auckland. I'll be heading back over as soon as we're allowed and will most likely spend a few weeks instead of days. NZ really is a beautiful country and so close to Oz. Looking forward to the rest of this TR.
 

OZDUCK

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So on we went south to Wellington.

View of the city from Mt Victoria - with a bit of sun glare

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Looking the other way, over Evans Bay with the airport on the right

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A closer look at the (in) famous runway at Wellington Airport. We drove out past it and the traffic coming back into town was horrendous. We ended up parking and having a walk along the beach for an hour to let it clear out.

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The waterfront with the self propelled steam crane vessel Hikita, built 1926, in the foreground.

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We used the Cable Car to go up to the Botanic Gardens

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The view down the tracks

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I am pretty sure this is part of the "Australian Garden"area. The whole hilltop is beautifully curated.

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Me doing an exotic dance

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What I was actually trying to achieve. The time recorded on the photo shows that the sundial was pretty accurate.

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OZDUCK

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More Wellington

Cuba Street and the famous Bucket Fountain. Aficionados of the TV series "Wellington Paranormal" will know that it is actually a 'hellmouth'. https://www.reddit.com/r/TheBucketFountain/comments/a1i8sb
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I always love to have a ride on one of these. Unfortunately, the network was closed in 2017. It was the last commercial Trolley Bus service in Oceania. This depot was just across from the Beehive.

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The Old Government Buildings. They now house the "Victoria University of Wellington's Law School". Built in 1876 of Kauri, now a completely protected timber. It is the largest wooden building in the Southern Hemisphere. I thought that it was also the world's second largest wooden building after after Todai-ji in Nara but that is apparently incorrect.

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The staircase

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Corridor

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Some views through the windows, complete with reflections, of The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. This is a fabulous museum but the gremlins that attacked and deleted my German photos also seemed to have removed a lot of New Zealand photos as well - especially those of the museum exhibits.

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Oriental Bay and Freyberg Beach.- named after the VC winning General.

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OZDUCK

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Crossing the Cook Strait on our way to the incredibly scenic South Island.

Luckily the weather gods were kind and the strait was pretty calm. I have had far rougher trips to Rottnest Island. My wife didn't even get seasick so it was very placid.

Our Ferry

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Leaving Wellington

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Looking astern at the entrance we used to Queen Charlotte Sound

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Company travelling up the sound. This is a very attractive part of the ferry trip.

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Another ferry outbound from Picton

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Picton

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The Ferry Berths

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OZDUCK

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From Picton we headed along Queen Charlotte Drive to Nelson. This was a very pleasant drive.

Looking back up Queen Charlotte Sound from above Picton

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Ngakuta Bay

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Our first view of snow covered peaks on the South Island. Being West Australians we couldn't help but stop and take photos of this exotic sight.

My wife took this photo of me taking the photo below

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Coming into Nelson

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Nelson - looking up towards Christ Church Cathedral

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Looking the other way down the main street. Nelson seemed to have a vibrant cafe and restaurant culture. We had our first taste of a WhiteBait omelette there.

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Looking back down Tahunanui Beach in Nelson at the houses on the hillside. They get a lovely view across the water.

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Because of their experiences with earthquakes they take them pretty seriously in NZ. They are even attached this to a kids play castle.

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OZDUCK

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While in Nelson we took the chance to visit the Abel Tasman National Park on the other side of Tasman Bay and do a bit of a hike on its "world-famous coast track ". As was the case with most of the National Parks we visited in NZ the paths were well maintained.


An old wrecked vessel on the mudflats along Tasman Bay - it seems to have disappeared on the current Google Map photos.

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Apple Tree Bay. I went for a swim here - the water was 'refreshing'.

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Proof of a swim. My black shorts drying on a convenient branch

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Coquille Bay

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There are Water Taxis to take you between the various bays and islands

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Plenty of kayakers also paddle along

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OZDUCK

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Then we headed off to the west coast on New Zealand at Hokitika

This lead to our first encounters with single lane bridges on many of NZ's main roads

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Including ones with railway lines on them as well

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Then you have roundabouts with railway lines through them

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We made it safely to Hokitika

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Our first day there we went to Hokitika Gorge and its turquoise waters fed by the glaciers

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Another well maintained track through the ferns in a National Park

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This photo is unfortunately out of focus but I had to show this machine. It is powered by something like a lawnmower motor and with its caterpillar tracks is obviously very useful for moving heavy loads through the forest

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OZDUCK

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We took the scenic way back to our motel.

Firstly we had to shoo a completely unafraid Weka away from our car.

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Then we stopped for a look at Dorothy Falls

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The road was not exactly wide

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The shores of Lake Kaniere

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There is a small settlement on the lakeside. Once again we couldn't resist the sight of the snow capped mountains.

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A nice picnic spot by the lake.

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A beach near Hokitika. Almost every beach we saw in this area was covered in timber like this. I assume the heavy rainfall washes it into the rivers and out to sea and it then washes ashore.

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A view of Greymouth Harbour, north of Hokitika. It is the largest town on the West Coast of the South Island with only around 14,000 residents. The white water shows why there were so many ships wrecked trying to enter the small harbours on the west coast of New Zealand's South Island. To quote "the entrance to the Grey River has two notoriously dangerous sandbars; an inner and outer bar."

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The harbour itself

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OZDUCK

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Hokitika itself is not a particularly photogenic town and has a population of around 3,000. It is a centre for polishing of greenstone (pounamu). My wife has never really liked the stone and the prices were not very special so no purchases were made.

The main street

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And now, here is a section especially for drron. In the late afternoon the landlady at our Motel suggested we go to Sunset Beach, right on the edge of town, as there was going to be a good sunset. She was right.

Whitebait fishermen

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There was a small viewing platform on the beachfront. Plenty of people were down having a look and fishing.

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As always seemed to be the case - timber and waves.

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I believe that I captured the 'green flash' in these unretouched photos.

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Afterglow

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drron

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I'll pass that as a green flash.Have seen it a few times but never appears in the pics so you have done very well as Mr.Grace would say.
 

OZDUCK

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I'll pass that as a green flash.Have seen it a few times but never appears in the pics so you have done very well as Mr.Grace would say.
It is certainly the only time I have captured anything close to it.
 

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