Archive for the ‘Work’ Category


Saturday, October 24th, 2015

Just over a week ago I had my first flight on one of Air New Zealand’s new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner’s. I had been at a conference in Sydney and flew out back to Auckland mid morning on the Friday. On some flights on this sector AirNZ use long-haul Aircraft, so 777-200/300, or Dreamliner, even though it is a short-haul flight. Just so happened I was on a Dreamliner. On these trans-Tasman and Pacific Islands short-haul routes Air NZ have basic ‘Seat’ and ‘Seat + Bag’ non-changeable options and ‘The Works’ and ‘Works Deluxe’ which are changeable and include food and entertainment in the price. The latter two options put you towards the front of the plane and ‘Deluxe’ guarantees an empty seat next to you on the single aisle Airbus A320. On the Dreamliner, ‘The Works’ puts you at the front of Economy, or in Premium Economy, and ‘Deluxe’ puts you in Business Premiere. I was on a ‘The Works’ ticket, changeable in case of a change of plans which has happened a few times, but I had an Elite short-haul recognition upgrade which bumped me into business. I normally fly long-haul from NZ, so it was nice to be able use a short-haul upgrade for a change. As a frequent flier, you can select your seats online in advance rather than just within the 24 hour online check-in period. So, my first flight on a Dreamliner was in seat ‘1A’.


The Business Premiere seats were developed for the 777-300 and then also used in the 747, now out of service with Air NZ, and 777-200 when they were overhauled, and now the Dreamliner. They don’t fit the Dreamliner as well as the other aircraft as it is seemingly a narrower body. Very comfortable nonetheless. Despite being called ‘Works Deluxe’, it is in fact the full Business Premiere service from long-haul. You get linen, crockery, metal cutlery, attentive service and food developed by Peter Gordon and his team – he has 2 or 3 restaurants in both Auckland and London. So, a 3 hour flight was more like a long lunch in a good restaurant, with fabulous food and excellent NZ wines. So, if you’re planning a trans-Tasman or Pacific Island flight with Air New Zealand, I recommend you check out which aircraft are available and book accordingly for a very pleasant experience over the regular bus trip in an appropriately named short-haul Airbus.


GPS Tracking Gannets at Cape Kidnappers

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Cape Kidnappers, only a few kilometers from Havelock North, is home to the largest mainland breeding colony of Australasian Gannets, sula serrator. The colony is within the Ocean Beach Wildlife Preserve and this organisation are interested in knowing more about the ecology of the gannets. They will buy µGPS GPS trackers, but this is a new product and to give them confidence Sirtrack provided two trial units to prove there effectiveness. I headed out to assist a PhD student, Steffi, from Auckland University who is studying the foraging ecology of this species at the Cape and another colony on an island off Auckland. I was there to share the users experience with the technology and, where necessary assist in the setup, deployment and recovery of the devices. This provides invaluable feedback to improve this and all products and specifically address any deficiencies in the manual for the µGPS. It was convenient for Steffi as she was alone this week and it takes two people to handle the gannets, one person has to hold the head with one hand to control the potentially lethal beak and the wings with the other hand to avoid any damage, especially in the almost constant blustery conditions conditions at the Cape.

Looking across the Plateau colony at Cape Kidnappers.
The plateau colony at Cape Kidnappers.

Flying gannet against a typical Hawkes Bay sky.
A gannet flying above Cape Kidnappers.

A gannet on final approach. Can be beautifully controlled, or not…
Final approach, committed, could be perfect, or head over heals.

A pair of gannets in courting display when one partner returns.
A courting display as one partner returns.

A close-up shows the striking markings and colours of the head and shows one of the large and incredibly effective eyes.

A gannet preening.
A gannet preening shows some more of the stunning coloration.

A gannet collecting grass for nest lining.
The gannet won and scored some grass to line its nest.

Holding a gannet with a newly attached µGPS taped to a couple of tail feathers.
A gannet with a µGPS taped to a couple of its dozen tail feathers. The bird will carry the device for just a day and then give us a new window into where these beautiful birds forage.

Gannets feeding next to the Black Reef
A load of gannets feeding next to the Black Reef.

Auckland Island Pigs

Thursday, June 21st, 2007
Sirtrack supplied new technology GPS/Argos collar and harness mount transmitters to DOC (Department of Conservation, New Zealand) for tracking feral pigs on the Auckland Islands. Unfortunately these failed to operate correctly despite the fact that almost identical technology is still functioning fine on other species elsewhere. I was nominated to travel down to the Auckland Islands with DOC to ensure that the replacement transmitters were correctly configured and tested before deployment, assist in the catching and attachment and to help recover as many as possible of the malfunctioning units.


We sailed from Bluff on the Clan McLeod …


… a thirty hour passage. We arrived just after dark with no idea if the helicopter had managed to fly down that day or not.

As it happened the helicopter had arrived, so it lifted our gear and the drums of helicopter fuel to our land base on Enderby Island.


Our accommodation was the sea lion research station, normally only used between November and February – very comfortable.
There were possibly as many as a hundred southern right whales breeding in Port Ross, the sheltered inlet at the Northeast corner of the archipelago.


Lots of shy mollymauks flying around. Big birds! Very majestic.


One of the largest breeding colonies of yellow-eyed penguins is on Enderby Island with no cats or pigs to bother them. Here’s a picture of a penguin flying – sort of.


More to come…