Sunday, February 07, 2016
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Today I arrived mid-morning, and it was already quite warm. The skies were blue, and the sun was gleaming on the water. I've come here other times when the cold wind has been whistling through the Gorge, and I have donned several layers of clothing just to leave the carpark- but not today.
I walked the Tawa Loop Track- which is rich in nikau palms.
There are of course many tall thick tawa trees- with a few purple berries showing on the ground at present- I hope kereru are eating some of those. And many tree ferns that sometimes stand with their frond patterns revealed in the light on a day like today.
But even on a track I know quite well, there are still surprises each time. Often it is the way the sunlight catches fern fronds or spiderwebs, that takes my eye. But today one special surprise was the way a fern leaf was reflected in the small moving stream. The photo doesn't really capture it- but the fern reflection was 'shimmering' as the water moved.
So that was today's walk. Next time the light and weather will make it a different walk, and I will meet different people along the track. But for today, I headed straight to the swimming pool after this swim, glad to cool down a little!
Thursday, January 14, 2016
I have arrived in Christchurch on the homeward leg now, so both my camera and myself are in wind-down mode. But here are a few last photos.
These are some of the water-lilies in the pond at the Cloud9 camping ground where I stayed, just north of Hokitika.
This morning I was up early for my drive back to Christchurch, and was surprised to catch sight of some weka.
I went to get my camera, and next minute a majestic Kotuku flew in and landed beside the pond. Breath-taking.
I didn't even try and take many photos of the mountains today: they are too immense for the camera.
Cloud hung low on the western side of Arthur's Pass, and then there was some light rain until Otira.
But from there on the skies were very clear, and the mountain views were beautiful. I just took this photo at Bealey's Bridge, not far after crossing the pass. I had gone from the Taramakau in the west, to the Waimakariri in the east.
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Today was a bit of a 'wind down' day, and I never ventured far from Hokitika, though I still seem to have a heap of photos! It was a drizzly rainy kind of morning to start with, which gave me an excuse to stay in my tent for far longer than normal, reading and dozing. Then I headed off into town to look at the shops, a 'first' for this holiday...
First place I passed was the Catholic Church, which catches the eye as you drive through, but it has actually been closed for several years because of the earthquake risk it poses.
As I walked down a street in Hokitika I noticed some random greenstone paving. If you've got it, flaunt it I guess!
I walked around a bit of the historic Quay, and saw the old Custom House.
And the bridge stretched across the river, wide like so many of these rivers with glacial origins seem to be in the South Island.
One shop I looked into was an interesting rock/ ironwork shop in the historic Bank of New South Wales.
I thought of you Michèle, especially when the owners told me that a man doing historic walking tours often brings people inside, and reads them an excerpt from the Luminaries.
Down on the beach I took a photo of the driftwood sculpture that everyone heads for. It's a clever social media strategy to advertise the town really!
By now the sun had started shining more, and I was too hot in my morning's choice of clothing. The advantage of camping is that I had alternative options in my car, then once changed I headed off for the Hokitika Gorge. For some reason I thought the gorge was only a few kilometres out of town, but it was nearly 30. But what great countryside the road passed through, with hills and clouds looming, and farms, and trees.
When I reached the village of Kowhitirangi, I saw one of the loveliest little churches I have seen, constructed of river stones.
I noticed a monument down the road, and assumed it was a war memorial - but it turned out to be a memorial to policemen and home guards who lost their lives when a local resident went berserk with guns.
Before too long I had reached the Hokitika Gorge which is magnificent. The first bit of the walk to a viewpoint is suitable for wheelchairs. There was also a sign answering my question- 'Why is the water so blue?' And it turns out the answers are glacial rock flour and ice...
The bridge moved a bit so was a trifle scary! Not long past it was another lookout and some very large rocks where you could look upstream on the river or back to the bridge.
I started driving back to town, but saw some signs that led towards Lake Kaniere by an upper route. The first bit of the route was sealed and ran past farmland and towards hills. After yesterday's tour I was very aware that a major fault line was probably running not too far from where I was...
I ended up on a narrow, winding gravel road that ran through native forest. But there was nowhere to pull over for photos! The road I was on eventually arrived on the northern side of Lake Kaniere.
So, the end of my holiday is nigh upon me. Tomorrow I will drive up Arthur's Pass on the road back to Christchurch, then after a couple of nights with friends, I will head for Picton and the ferry home. Thanks for keeping me company on the journey!
This morning in Franz Josef it was overcast. In the days when it was possible to do a guided walking tour, I had been lucky enough to walk onto the glacier. But today I was only doing a shorter walk before I left town. At Peter's Pool you can get a great reflection of the glacier apparently, but not today - it was more mysterious and hidden.
As I hit the road north I found I had many questions in my head about how the landscape was formed- were features glacial, or from earthquakes? Both as it turned out.
Just before I hit Whataroa, I saw a sign for "Alpine fault tours- exposed." I decided to check it out, and as it happened there was a tour leaving in about an hour. So I grabbed breakfast, then donned my sturdy shoes...
I had never heard of it before, but the alpine fault has been exposed in this area. The grinding of the Australian and Pacific plates trends upwards here, and with erosion from above, the actual fault line has been exposed. This is of great interest to scientists both nationally and internationally.
You can see the outcrop quite clearly that shows where this is occurring- it's the greenish line of 'rock'.
When you get closer, you find that the green stuff is a mish mash of very finely ground material. It has been the stuff that was sitting getting ground up at the plate boundary. It looks solid, but when you touch it, you find it is very friable, and falls apart easily.
After that fascinating tour, my thoughts turned to my own family history. In Ross there is a church that dates from the gold rush days in the 1860s. My great-uncle John Riordan was parish priest there until he died quite young, and he has a beautiful headstone in the Ross cemetery erected by parishioners.
After setting up in a lovely wee camp ground just north of Hokitika, with a lily pad pond,
I set out for Kumara, a gold-mining town where my maternal family hails from.
There, the Theatre Royal Hotel has been exquisitely restored.
And the woman behind that has also been active getting historical plaques erected, of a ver high standard. There is one for our Payn-Scettrini family. I found that seeing it there, and reading it, moved me to tears.
I visited the old home my grandparents and uncle lived in, then found family graves up in the Kumara Cemetery. If it rains as forecast tomorrow (and Coast rain can be torrential!) at least I have done those things.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
I'm on the homeward stretch now. Had to choose between spending more time exploring Central Otago, or having a quick look at family-related places on the West Coast, and the Coast won.
I remember taking the Haast Pass road many years ago when the section beside Lake Wanaka was metal, narrow, and somewhat scary to drive along. But it has all been well upgraded since then.
I loved seeing the heads of both Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka. Both seemed so peaceful and atmospheric. First, a photo of Lake Hawea:
Now the head of Lake Wanaka, with just a few fishermen around.
It was a day with lots of little walks to waterfalls, as I passed from the dry eastern side of the Main Divide to the west coast. Here's one with a man standing on a rock to give you an idea of how tall this waterfall is.
With fine weather, it seemed no time at all before I was on the West Coast,
and I enjoyed seeing the Haast a River grow as I moved down the valley. The Haast region gets such high rainfall, it was a surprise to see the river so 'gentle'.
Here it is at the Gates of Haast, constrained by big mountain rocks.
Just a little side issue- I loved the look of this trunk that has been cut down.
Today the river was so gentle I could easily stand under a bridge where it flowed.
And at another beach it has obviously become the thing to do to write on white rocks, mostly with black vivid so it seems, and leave them piled up on the bank above.
I have arrived at Franz Josef for the night, and when I hit here I wasn't sure if I could get my tent up before the rain arrived.
But now the skies have cleared somewhat, and you can get a glimpse of the Southern Alps.