Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre


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Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Blenheim
April 23rd 2018
Published: April 24th 2018
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We spent all day Saturday (21st) travelling. We were up at 3.45am to be at the airport by 4.45am, the obligatory three hours before an international flight! Thank you Kerry for dropping us at Tullamarine in the middle of the night. We had to fly via Auckland because Qantas changed the flight to Christchurch so that it wasn’t going to arrive in Christchurch until after the flight to Nelson departs. That was no good for us because we really didn’t want to spend a night in transit - we just wanted to get from Melbourne to Nelson in one day. We had a couple of hours to kill at Auckland Airport and then we were able to complete our journey on a little plane - with propellers! - arriving in Richmond in time for dinner.

After dinner we got down to the main business of this trip - the first round of the 2018 Trans Tasman Card Challenge. For those not familiar with the history - Robin and Sandra were our next door neighbours for 27 years until they decided to return to NZ in their retirement. During those 27 years the four of us played cards regularly. For most of that time no record was kept of who won and who lost but, on New Year’s Eve 2012, we ceremoniously burnt the Bolivia pack that we had been playing with and put them in a container and The Bolivia Ashes were born.

For the next couple of years we continued to play at No4 and No6 Christopher Court, but in 2016 we played the first intensive Trans Tasman Challenge and the trophy has been in NZ ever since. There were no games in 2017 due to injury, but we are back in NZ now to try to win back the ashes and return the trophy to Australia. At the end of the evening, the first game of Jo had been won by Bernie and the first game of Bolivia was the Ashley’s!

Sunday was a very lazy day. After sleeping in we drove into Nelson where we went to see the National Geographic 50 Greatest Photos exhibition at the Nelson Provincial Museum. A - MAY - ZING! The photographs included the back stories to the incredible photographs which was fascinating. I was alternately inspired and discouraged. Some photos were truly serendipitous and I live in hope that one day I might be lucky enough to be gifted with a truly amazing ‘right place, right time’ sort of photograph. On the other hand the dedication of professional photographers who spend days/months/years planning and executing a Great Photo blows my mind. I guess that’s the difference between it being a job and a hobby.

Back in Richmond we had a late lunch and then caught up a bit more on our sleep - did I mention that it was a very early start yesterday?! After a delicious roast chicken dinner it was time for cards again. Tonight Robin won Jo and the Gaffneys won Bolivia. Two rounds down and it’s a game each of Bolivia. Bernie and I have to win if we’re to take trophy home with us. A draw would see Robin and Sandra holding on to the trophy until the next time we can schedule a trans Tasman catch up.

Today we finally did something touristy. We borrowed Sandra’s car and drove over to Blenheim to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Museum. We made our way around the WWI hangar first. There was so much interesting information to read about the exhibits it took us ages to make our way all the way around the first hangar. Sir Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit) is an aviation enthusiast so he has been instrumental in helping fellow aviation enthusiasts get this museum up and running. The exhibits include mannequins from Peter’s WETA Workshops in Wellington which really brings the museum to life. The mannequins from WETA are so incredibly lifelike. This section includes a moving diorama capturing the moments after the allies downed Baron Manfred Von Richthofen better known as The Red Baron

We had a quick bite to eat in the cafe and then continued into the ‘Dangerous Skies’ WWII Exhibition. This was also very interesting because it dealt with conflicts that we knew less about. Most allied countries war exhibits concentrate on the Western Front, but this exhibition included interesting details about the Eastern Front where the Germans were fighting the Russians. The ’Stalingrad Experience’ in the theatrette included some staggering casualty statistics for the Russians. I always thought the allied casualties were appalling, but the loss of life in Russia was much, much greater. The museum’s Pacific Memorabilia concentrated on the allied efforts to reclaim Burma from the Japanese to reinstate crucial supply routes to the troops involved in the Asian conflict.

Tonight’s card games: Bernie won Jo and we won a game each of Bolivia. The status quo holds!


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24th April 2018

Go Gaffneys!
We're barracking for you in the Bolivia Ashes - bring that trophy home! And enjoy the sightseeing too. Lovely to read about your latest travels while I'm stranded at home dreaming of holidays.
25th April 2018

Thanks for your support!
After a win on Tuesday night we have a very narrow lead. We are not counting our chickens yet though!
24th April 2018

Wishing you a happy holiday
I hope you have a great NZ holiday. I have fond memories of working for a time on a tobacco farm near Nelson. Lovely scenery and sunny days in that part of the world. The aviation museum looks very impressive.
25th April 2018

Thank you Joy
Hi Joy, lovely to hear from you. I hope retirement is treating you well? Gotta say - I love it. It will be even better when Bernie finishes work too.
24th April 2018

National Geographic exhibition 50 greatest photos etc
Hi Bernie and Tracey - saw the National Geographic Exhibition when it was in Tasmania a couple of months ago - agree it is full of wonderful pictures and the back storyies are fascinating. Enjoy your trip.
25th April 2018

Thanks Susan
Hi Susan, lovely to hear from you. We often think fondly of our chance meeting on Southbank. We’ll definitely make it back to Tas one day and need to explore your corner of the Apple Isle.
24th April 2018

Cards 4 Glory?
What a wonderful history of your card playing days ! And now you can continue the 'good fight/flight' - aka Trans Tasman Challenge. Hope you can bring those 'Ashes' home this time. Thanks for sharing Tracey; I do love your blogs.
25th April 2018

We love our cards
Hi Caroline, we certainly miss our regular card-playing buddies so we are binging on cards while we are here in NZ. Fingers crossed that we can bring The Bolivia Ashes back across the ditch with us.

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