We will be "wintering" in New Zealand for the next 3 months; the first 5 weeks will be on the South Island.
The South Island has had more than it's share of earthquakes in the last few years. The most recent serious one occurred on November 14th of 2016.
It's epicenter was along the route we would take to get to our first destination in NZ, the Kaikōura Peninsula. State Hwy 1 goes along the coast from Christchurch to the Kaikōura Peninsula; it was closed, so we had to take the Inland Road.The Inland Road would take us to some of the earthquake damaged areas: Waiau, Mt. Lyford and Kaikōura.
Kaikōura is a small village that sits on the east coast of the South Island. In Maori, Kaikōura means meal of crayfish. The European founding of Kaikōura began in 1842, when a whaling station was established here. The whalers soon turned to sheep and dairy farming when the whale numbers rapidly decreased. Now things things have come full circle; the mainstay of the local economy is tourism, specifically whale watching.
As we pulled into this town, it was evident that damage from a 7.8 earthquake in Nov. of 2016, followed by mudslides and flooding from Cyclone Debbie, have taken their toll. We drove by place after place that had a "no vacancy" sign up; as we would later discover, the "no vacancy" was related more to structural damage than occupancy. Construction, temporary metal fences around property, and signs warning of unsafe structures, were common. The motel we stayed at had buildings cordoned off secondary to structural damage. This pretty area has been hit incredibly hard!
We took the Kaikōura Peninsula Walk; it is mostly a clifftop walk that affords views of both sides of the peninsula.
Fyffe House is a colonial whaler's cottage that was built by the first settlers in Kaikōura. It was built in 1842; it is unusual in that it's foundation was literally built upon whale vertebrae. It is the town's oldest surviving building, and it serves as lasting reminder of it's whaling heritage.
The rocky shoreline along the Kaikōura Peninsula.
The terraced appearance of this hill at Point Kean is supposedly man-made. The Seaward Kaikōura Range can be seen in the background.
From the beach looking back at Kaikōura.
Kean Point has a colony of fur seals. The males tend to hangout by the parking lot, but the females and cubs stay closer to water.
🐄 Along the Inland Road (to and from Kaikoura) we made several stops; some were planned and some were not!
There is an official day for moving dairy cows in NZ called Gypsy Day. Between May 31st and June 1st, sharemilkers move their entire dairy herd to another farm. They also move their equipment and families. Sometimes the move is by truck, or if the distance is just a few miles, it can be done by the method we encountered when leaving Kaikoura. We drove amongst these dairy cows for 5-6 miles, not sure how far they were actually being moved.
As we would find out while driving around the South Island, this is a common sight in NZ. Deer are not native to NZ, but they were released, mainly in the Southern Alps, for sport. Since the late 1800's, their numbers have grown rapidly, and by the 1950's, they were considered as pests. The government had the deer killed, and the venison was exported. It proved so successful that the farmers began capturing the deer and used them to start deer farms. NZ is the largest supplier in the world of farm raised venison. I think these are red deer; they are the most popular kind to raise.
Traveling the Inland Road (to and from Kaikoura) requires patience. Although the construction stops were frequent, the wait time was usually minimal, especially considering the task at hand. First, there was extensive damage from the Nov 2016 earthquake centered near here, and then there was additional damage from the flooding that occurred because of Cyclone Debbie.
The Mount Lyford village is actually part of a small ski resort that is located along the Inland Road. As we drove up one of the mountains here, we passed by several log homes. It is here that one of the 2 deaths from the recent earthquake occurred. Evidently, a log cabin fell in crushing it's occupant. We explored Mary's Track and also took the Chrystal Lake Walk.
This light green moss was growing in abundance along the trail to Chrystal Lake.
We walked on Mary's Track above the village of Mount Lyford.
Waiau is a small town of approximately 300 residents along the Inland Road; it was the town nearest to the epicenter of the Nov 2016 earthquake. Numerous buildings in the town had to be demolished.]
The Cob Cottage was built around 1870; it was constructed out of clay, straw, and tussock. It served as a museum but it was destroyed by the earthquake.
The Waiau riverbed and the hills above Waiau.
Hanmer Springs is a small resort town that got it's start because of it's nearby hot springs. It is ironic that an earthquake caused the hot springs to appear, but despite the epicenter being 12 miles away, the area had only minor damage. The experts believe that the rupture took the path of least resistance; this was northeastward toward the coast. We made a short stop here on our way to the Lewis Pass.
The Waiau Ferry Bridge, over the Waiau River, is near Hamner Springs. This is typical of a lot of the bridges we would encounter on the South Island...high, narrow and with one lane. This bridge has been in place since 1887; the original was blown away by a Norwest wind. The bridge was not damaged by the recent earthquake.
Just down from the Waiau Bridge we had this beautiful view of the mountains and river.
The rivers on the South Island generally have wide river beds. Especially if they are downstream from glaciers, they have frequently changing channels and often a braided appearance.
Murchison is called the Whitewater Capital of NZ. The Buller River and the Matakitaki River meet here; there are five other rivers close by. It got it's start as a gold rush town, but it was almost totally destroyed by an earthquake in 1929.
The Commercial Stables building in Murchison was built in 1890. It is NZ's oldest timber stables; it now houses a vintage store.
It seems like a lot of the small town churches on the South Island look similar to this one.
The Six-Mile Hydro-electric Scheme was created in 1929 to supply power to Murchison and the Six Mile Valley. The dairy farmers were able to switch from steam to electric engines, and the town had its first electric lights. This is believed to be the oldest power station still in existence on the island, but it hasn't been used since 1975.
Our first encounter with traps was along the Six-Mile Matakitaki walk. It is common to have the following animals trapped in NZ: stoats, rats, weasels, ferrets, and possums ( the AU variety). None of them are native, and they have caused several native birds of NZ to be at risk for extinction.
These young lancewood trees have a distinctive appearance with their narrow spiked leaves.