Saturday, November 3, 2018

IFTA New Zealand 2018

I admit to being lame and not publishing a blog post in almost a year. It's been a busy year with lot's going on, so I ought to make an attempt to get back in the saddle. (No promises.) Will start with a big deal, I was lucky enough to spend almost two weeks in New Zealand last February with the International Fruit Tree Association. Mostly I want to share with you a photo album I put together, but here's a (very) quick synopsis of my trip.

IFTA New Zealand 2018 attendees.

First stop Napier, on the North Island. I liked the public water pool/hot tubs after a long series of flights that spanned two days. One-day IFTA Conference to kick things off, intro to New Zealand apple production and some pretty technical production talks. Of course you know NZ is now famous for Jazz, Pacific Rose, and more recently Envy but don't forget Granny Smith, Gala, and Braeburn also originated in New Zealand! Two full days or orchard tours in the Hawke's Bay apple growing region. Many highlights including NZ Plant & Food Research (Future Orchard Production System), Prevar, and Rockit apples. Very technical and detail-oriented apple orchards, apple quality is key given the money is in export apples. We had a day off with guided activity options, I chose a bike ride along the coast and sheep country topped off by lunch at a winery. With wine of course! Made the bike ride into a stiff wind back to point of origin kind of onerous, but overall the day was a great one.

Public pool/hot tub beachside in Napier. Sweet.

After a short Island hop courtesy of a chartered Air New Zealand flight we landed in Nelson. Nelson is a rather cool place with a downtown filled with shops, bars and restaurants. Two full days of orchard tours in Nelson/Tasman Region. Again, highly technical apple growing, including Drape Net demonstration, 2D apple canopies, and grafting. Another day off with a group trip to Abel Tasman National Park. Choice of activities, I opted for Catamaran ride. Needless to say it was great. While in Nelson, I also caught a glimpse of the "Crux" aka Southern Cross constellation one evening.

Dr. Greg Lang. You think he is enjoying the Cat?
Departing Nelson on bus, destination Christchurch, we stopped in Kaikura. Again, choice of group activities, I went swimming with dolphins. Whoaa, that was an experience, wet suit and mask/snorkel, flippers and all. Whisked off back of boat, saw dolphins, whistled back on boat. Several/many times. Exhausting, ever seen the movie "Open Water?" Thought crossed my mind.

OK, one day of orchard tour out of Christchurch to Timaru Region, one orchard, M A Orchards, first (and only?) Honeycrisp planted in NZ in 2012. Large red apples being harvested, bound for North America. Of concern was some significant drop. Reflective fabric in place. Very interesting.

Bin of harvested NZ Honeycrisp, 7-March, 2018

Thanks to IFTA, all our NZ hosts and sponsors, and Onward Travel for making it all a pretty seamless experience with good orchards, good food, good company and entertainment, good scenery, good recreation. And to WSU's Karen Lewis who did two rounds of hosting over a period of a month.  Every stop/activity times two. She has special skill, knowledge, and stamina to be able to go the mile (kilometer?), and we all appreciated her presence many times over.

Karen Lewis, fearless leader. The end is near...
And be sure to check out the photo album here...

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