Thursday, August 28, 2014

A few days in the South Island of New Zealand Part 3

The next morning I drove and climbed up to a view of the Franz Josef glacier. It has retreated a lot since I was last there in 1973.

I took a short walk to a small pond known as Peter's Pond which had great reflections.

I drove south to Fox Glacier where we use to camp on the school trips I led in the early 70's.  I went out to Lake Matheson.  I did not remember it as being such a long walk from the road. However the views were well worthwhile. New Zealand's highest mountain Aoraki (Mount Cook) is in the 2nd view.

I took a quick look at Fox Glacier, also much smaller than in 1973.

Then I drove further south to Knight's Point.

There was a monument to the opening of the road and I discovered I first drove along it (in a bus) just a year after it opened in 1965.

After lunch in a hotel at Haast, I headed over the Haast Pass. It is lower than Arthurs Pass.  Here is a view of the Haast River valley.

The Pass is only open from 8am to 4pm since the terrible landslide that killed 2 tourists last year. I was held up for about 15 minutes at one spot where the repair is continuing.

As I reached Lake Hawea, the shadows were lengthening.

I stayed the night in Wanaka.  I had pre-booked the motel as it was Saturday night and Wanaka is in a ski area. Otherwise I would have stayed longer on the coast after being delayed on Arthurs Pass. I will have to return.

Sunday morning, I took some photos of Lake Wanaka from the town. All my previous visits have been in summer.

Then I drove home across Central Otago. This view was taken from the road as I approached Ranfurly about 125 km from home but much closer as the crow flies. 

I could still see snow on the Rock and Pillar Range not far west of me when I looked yesterday but we had another snowfall just a week ago after I arrived home

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A few days in the South Island of New Zealand Part 2

I left Darfield the next morning and it was not long before I was climbing into the Southern Alps and over Porters Pass. It was fine although there were dark clouds to the south and a haze ahead.

There were patches of snow on the ground.

I stopped to take a photo of the Waimakariri River.

Not long after, as I approached the township of Arthurs Pass, it began to snow. Road signs said snow chains essential and there were some cars stopped in the carpark while the drivers fitted them. Along the road was a line of trucks waiting for the road to clear.

Instead of stopping half an hour for morning coffee, I went to the motel where I stayed several years ago and booked a room. Even though it was just after 11am, I was given a room and I settled in to read my novel.   About 1pm I walked half a kilometre to the shop for some lunch and, while there, the snow began to bucket down. These photos were taken as a I walked back.

and my car outside the motel.

The trucks began to move soon after as I think the wind had moved from the south west to the south east so the western side of the pass cleared while snow was falling heavily in the township on the east. I did not leave until the next morning 22 hours after my arrival.

I stopped at the lookout

I had 2 reasons for my hiking stick. 1 to make sure I did not slip on the snow and 2 to fight off the attack by Keas who thought my car aerial and windscreen wipers would make great fun.

Here is a similar photo someone else took at the same spot which gives a  clearer picture of these intelligent but annoying birds

The rest of the day and the next three were in brilliant sunshine. This is not often the case on the west coast.

I headed for Hokitika where I had originally planned to stay overnight.

The town is famous for its greenstone or pounamu and the town clock is a feature.

I headed inland to the gorge which is also a brilliant green.

I took a half hour walk including a swing bridge over the gorge.

I took this photo on the road to the gorge.

Returning to the town, I walked along the river and looked back at the very long bridge and alps

I wish I could have had longer, especially in such wonderful weather. Hokitika has 2,901 mm (114 inches) of rain a year falling on an average of 172 days.

I drove south to Franz Josef stopping at Lake Mapourika and a view of the winter sun.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A few days in the South Island of New Zealand Part 1

I have just spent 5 days driving in the South Island. Although not that far from home, I did drive over 1300 km. Many months ago I booked a night in Christchurch to hear the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra play Mahler's 9th Symphony. The NZSO regularly comes to Dunedin but they were not playing the Mahler here and I love Mahler.
I also wanted to visit the lower West Coast where I had not been since the 1970’s and see the Mountains in winter. I sure managed that.

We had snow in Dunedin down to sea level the Friday before so I hoped it would be relatively fine. I was wrong. I left Dunedin early on Tuesday as snow was forecast but had fine weather all the way to Christchurch. During the performance there was hail on the roof of the Basketball stadium (no concert halls have been rebuilt since the earthquake). It was raining when I came out but my motel was only about 8 minutes walk away although the ground was covered in ice.
The next morning I went into the city and it is very depressing, some rebuilding but lots of empty spaces now carparks and road and footpath construction everywhere. I had coffee in a coffee shop I use to visit to but there were only constructions workers there. There were very few people in the city partly I guess due to it being winter.

I had not really been into the city since the quake. I have passed through the airport several times and driven on the western bypass. In March 2012 I drove my sister up to the airport and drove her around the city but was too busy trying to get through the traffic to see much myself.  This time I left my car at the motel and caught the bus into the city. I went to the old cathedral

and visited the new cardboard transitional cathedral.

There is some great artwork on the city walls amongst the reconstruction.

Look closely at this photo to see what is art work

Then in the afternoon I drove about an hour west to the town of Darfield at the foot of the mountains. It was near the epicentre of the first quake in September 2010.

Friday, August 08, 2014