Saturday, October 4, 2008
Along the way we saw some superb examples of NZ alpine plants and flowers.
It was a bit of a grey bleak day at first, so there weren't many good shots of the glacier, and as the glacier is retreating we didn't actually get that close. So I have included a picture of me to make up for it!
The weather cleared up on the way back, and we started to get some superb views of the mountains around, and the various glaciers. This one is high up on the side of Mt Sefton (3151metres).
We had a light lunch at a cafe in Mt Cook village, and then set off to Tekapo.
When we had arrived at Mt Cook, the tops had been a bit bare of snow, but the night of rain at campsite level, was a night of snow just a couple of hundred metres higher, and the tops were a picture on the way out of the Lake Pukaki valley.
At Tekapo, we visited the Mt John observatory. The main activity at Mt John is a joint venture between Nagoya University and several NZ Universities (Auckland, Canterbury, Massey and Victoria in Wellington) called the Japan-New Zealand MOA group (Microlensing Observations in Astrophysics). They use the gravitational effects of massive objects to detect planets around other systems in the Universe. We were given an excellent guided tour of the facility, and we had a cup of coffee and a cake!
The rest of the day was taken up with driving via Fairlie to Geraldine, where we had a meal of the most disgusting fish and chips ever. We had parked opposite the town's real fish and chip shop and not seen it, and ended up at a chinese takeaway. What a mistake!
We stayed in a cabin at the Mt Somner holiday park. Fairly cheap, but not up to much! Not a good nights sleep!
Monday, May 5, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
A relatively short drive to our first stop of the day, away from Hokitika to the south this time. We parked up at Okarito Township, a lovely little place about 15-20k off the main highway, about 120k south of Hokitika. It used to be a sea port of some importance in the early days of New Zealand, when the West Coast was the wild west of NZ. Its unreliable harbour which needed regularly digging out and blasting out put paid to that. Now the Okarito lagoon is home to the beautiful Kotuku, or White Heron, which only nests here in the lagoon. Another Kotuku, the Royal Spoonbill also nests here, and we have a colony of those near our home in Whitby.
So back to the car after a wonderful 9km or so walk, and off we went to go to Franz Joseph Glacier. Just as we driving past the lagoon, Lynn spotted a Kotuku fishing just off the shore, the first we had seen, but I didn't think to stop to get a photo!
We got to Franz Joseph at about lunchtime, so we stopped and had a cup of tea and shared an apple for lunch (OK, we had had some hot pork sandwiches whilst on the beach) and then set off to do some walking at the Glacier. We had planned to do something big, but the path to Roberts Point was closed because of land slips, so we just decided to do the walk to the Glacier face. We have done this a few times before, but as the Glacier is always changing, and the river changes course with every major rainstorm (which are common on the west coast) its a different walk every time!
It was a good walk as usual, it was nice to leave the tourists behind at the rope barrier beyond which only those properly equipped and experienced should venture. Didn't stop people in jandals (flip flops) walking up the face though! The obligatory photos were taken! Its difficult to show the scale of the glacier. I suppose it rises in the distance to about 2500-3000 metres. There's a chap in the first photo who is about 1 km from the face which may help give some scale.
We headed south to Fox Glacier in the car. It was a bit late to do another walk, so we found the campsite, which was very nice, good new facilities etc, pitched our little tent, went off and found a shop where we bought some frozen Lasagne and some veges for out evening meal, had dinner and a stroll and went to our sleeping bags. The sound of the Fox Glacier river a few hundred metres away was quite soothing, but the possum in the tree by our tent, that systematically destroyed the top half of the tree over most of the night, very noisily, was not soothing at all! I am too old for sleeping in small tents on thin foam mats!
Sunday, March 2, 2008
So off we went again, heading back to Hokitika to enjoy a nights rest, but on the way we decided to do a walk we had seen the previous day, when it was too wet to do it. The Blue Spur bushwalk is a DOC (Department of Conservation) path, so we weren''t expecting anything too difficult. The loop walk starts up a stream valley, up onto a ridgeline, where a path takes you through old mine workings. With the heavy rain the day before, the walk up the stream was superb, very wet and slippy. At the top, the bush was 'dripping' to say the least. As we walked around, various mineshafts and tunnels were seen, but the highlight had to be the drainage channels built to move water around the various workings. These were about 70 metres long, about 40-60 cms wide, and about 2.5 to 3 metres deep, and the track followed one of them from end to end. Now I am not a small person, and I was carrying camera gear and a daypack, so these were quite a squeeze! These photos might give you an idea. And finally, to crown it all, this NZ TomTit came to say hello, and follow us through the bush, eating the insects we disturbed as we walked. A fantail came with him, but he was too quick for me!
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Next, off to Greymouth to get Andrew sorted out. We met Rebecca, the administrator at the college, who despite being slightly hungover from a good Saturday night, was on top of things, and layed down te law to Andrew, Fred and another lad while showing them their rooms. The rooms were quite disappointing at first, looking bare and scruffy, but the room had a double bed, a TV, bathroom and fridge, as well as a wireless broadband connection, so life wasn't all bad!
As we had brought quilts and bedding for a single bed, we made a quick trip to the Warehouse for some bedding, and then to the supermarket for food and cleaning materials. The room looked quite nice once the bed was made.
We left Andrew to get to know people and explore Greymouth, while we went back to Hokitika to have a bit of time resting and thinking.
We went for a quick walk along the beach in one of the dryspells of the day, enjoying the fresh air and the howling gale! There are some very creative people in Hokitika, this was one of many examples of art we passed.
Finally, back into Greymouth to get a meal with Andrew, but he was a bit subdued possibly because of the travel, or the idea of living on his own, so after the meal, we left him to watch the Simpsons, and we went back to get a nights rest.
Monday, February 18, 2008
The main purpose of the holiday was to drop our son Andrew off at Tai Poutini Polytechnic in Greymouth, where he is starting an Outdoor Recreation course. This means we will not be seeing much of hime for the next few months, effectively he has left home. As he is the third and final child of ours to leave the nest, this means we are now "Suddenly Kids Independant" according to Brian from the Hokitika holiday park we stayed at. It sounds like he gets a lot of similar couples of a certain age taking 'SKI holidays'!
Anyway, this blog will be written as a number of posts, one for each day, covering the highlights of the trip, including all the lovely walks we found, and some of the 320 photographs we took.
Our plan was to spend 3 nights in Hokitika, making sure Andrew was settled in to his accomodation, and finding a few nice things to do in that area. We were then going to go further down the west coast to Franz Joseph and Fox Glacier area, including a planned walk at Okarito Lagoon. We then planned to use the Haast pass to get to Wanaka, to see what was available there. Out next destination was over the Lindis pass to Mount Cook, where we planned some more Glacier viewing for a couple of days, and finally back over the Arthur's pass to Greymouth, to do a final check on our son, before heading home. As the whole trip had to fit into 9 days, it was always going to be abit rushed.
We bought a new tent for the trip, just a two man pup tent, and planned to camp as much as we could after we left Hokitika, but were very aware of the West Coast and Southern Alps weather tendencies!
Ferries were booked back in December, and we were using the Bluebridge service, as we like the friendly way the ships are operated.
Thats the reasoning for the trip etc covered, let's get stuck in!