A Travellerspoint blog

Rangitoto Island and Waitakere Ranges Regional Park

Day Tripping

There are a lot of great day trips you can take from Auckland. Two that we liked were the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park and Rangitoto Island.

Waitakere Ranges Regional Park

This park is located on 39,500 acres, and it can be accessed about 15 miles west of the Auckland CBD. The ranges here are covered in rainforests, and there are high cliffs with several beaches intermingled. There are 5 reservoirs in the mountains; they supply approximately 25% of Auckland's water. It rains almost twice as much here as in Auckland.

We took what is called the "Scenic Drive" along a good portion of the length of the Waitakere Ranges. We stopped at the Arataki Visitors Center, Piha Beach and to it's south, Karekare Beach.

Piha

The Pūkeko (purple swamp hen) is looking for food in the Piha Stream

The Pūkeko (purple swamp hen) is looking for food in the Piha Stream

The 'Story of the Eel' footbridge links the Piha Domain, with South Piha Beach, and the famous Lion Rock. It was designed by a local artist; it celebrates the short and long finned eels that still live under the bridge, in the Piha Stream.

The 'Story of the Eel' footbridge links the Piha Domain, with South Piha Beach, and the famous Lion Rock. It was designed by a local artist; it celebrates the short and long finned eels that still live under the bridge, in the Piha Stream.

The Lion Rock as viewed when entering Piha Beach. To see the lion shape, you have to view it from the side. There is a climb part way up the rock; it starts at the tail and ends at a grassy point at shoulder level. The upper portion was closed after a rock slide several years ago.

The Lion Rock as viewed when entering Piha Beach. To see the lion shape, you have to view it from the side. There is a climb part way up the rock; it starts at the tail and ends at a grassy point at shoulder level. The upper portion was closed after a rock slide several years ago.

Karekare

This black sand beach is called Karekare Beach. It is here that some of the scenes from the movie 'The Piano' were filmed. Holly Hunter, Anna Paquin and her piano, first landed on this beach in the film.

This black sand beach is called Karekare Beach. It is here that some of the scenes from the movie 'The Piano' were filmed. Holly Hunter, Anna Paquin and her piano, first landed on this beach in the film.

The walk between Karekare Falls and the Karekare Beach, follows this stream.

The walk between Karekare Falls and the Karekare Beach, follows this stream.


Karekare Falls is located at the western end of Waitakere Ranges Regional Park

Karekare Falls is located at the western end of Waitakere Ranges Regional Park

The Arataki Visitors Center in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park

The Arataki Visitors Center in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park


This view from the Arataki Visitors Center looks over Lower Nihotupu Reservoir and Symonds Bay.

This view from the Arataki Visitors Center looks over Lower Nihotupu Reservoir and Symonds Bay.

I really need to count how many times he has been framed on this trip, or better yet, how many times he has refused!

I really need to count how many times he has been framed on this trip, or better yet, how many times he has refused!

Rangitoto Island

We could see this coned shaped island from the window of our Auckland apartment; one day we decided to take a short ferry ride out to see it.
Rangitoto is NZ's youngest volcano; after a series of eruptions, it emerged from the ocean approximately 600-700 years ago. The island is about 3 1/2 miles wide; it is connected to Motutapu Island by a causeway. Rangitoto is made of lava fields and forest; and Motutapu is rolling pasture land.

Rangitoto is a scenic reserve; since 2011, it (along with Motutapo) claims to be pest free. This means that they have removed cats, rats, stoats, possums and hedgehogs. Now that the pests are gone, they have re-introduced several kinds of birds, and there are now over 200 species of plants. It has the largest Pohutukawa forest in the world.

These baches (holiday beach homes) were built on Rangitoto in the 1920's and 30's for private use. By 1937, further building on the island was prohibited. There were once 140 baches, but now only 34 remain; basically, once a lease ran out, it was torn down. Now that the historical significance is more apparent,  at least for now, the remaining baches will stay.

These baches (holiday beach homes) were built on Rangitoto in the 1920's and 30's for private use. By 1937, further building on the island was prohibited. There were once 140 baches, but now only 34 remain; basically, once a lease ran out, it was torn down. Now that the historical significance is more apparent, at least for now, the remaining baches will stay.


From the Rangitoto Wharf, it takes about an hour to climb to the summit.

From the Rangitoto Wharf, it takes about an hour to climb to the summit.


The whole Island is made up of piles of these lava rocks. If you venture off the trail, the rocks are filled with cobwebs.

The whole Island is made up of piles of these lava rocks. If you venture off the trail, the rocks are filled with cobwebs.

There is an array of stuff you can see growing on the lava rocks here.

There is an array of stuff you can see growing on the lava rocks here.

Kirk's Daisy is an example of a NZ shrub that is at risk/declining but it was re-introduced on the island.

Kirk's Daisy is an example of a NZ shrub that is at risk/declining but it was re-introduced on the island.


When I reached the summit of Rangitoto, I had several feathered friends. Evidently they have grown used to the visitors sitting on the benches here to have their lunch. While I was trying to get a picture of this chaffinch, a wax eye sneaked into the picture.

When I reached the summit of Rangitoto, I had several feathered friends. Evidently they have grown used to the visitors sitting on the benches here to have their lunch. While I was trying to get a picture of this chaffinch, a wax eye sneaked into the picture.

The wax eyes were especially friendly.

The wax eyes were especially friendly.


The view from the summit of the much larger island of Motutapu. This is one of the oldest islands in Hartaki Gulf. It is believed that the Maori were here when the last big eruption of Rangitoto took place. During WWII a causeway was built between the two islands.

The view from the summit of the much larger island of Motutapu. This is one of the oldest islands in Hartaki Gulf. It is believed that the Maori were here when the last big eruption of Rangitoto took place. During WWII a causeway was built between the two islands.


From the summit, this is the view of Devonport in the foreground and the Auckland skyline in the background.

From the summit, this is the view of Devonport in the foreground and the Auckland skyline in the background.

The view of Rangitoto is from the ferry heading back to Auckland.

The view of Rangitoto is from the ferry heading back to Auckland.


Our ferry back to Auckland from Rangitoto Island.

Our ferry back to Auckland from Rangitoto Island.

Posted by Charedwards 23:11 Comments (0)

The North of the North

Cape Reinga...Where Two Oceans Collide

Mangonui

Mangonui is a fishing village located in Doubtless Bay; the other resort towns along the Doubtless Bay coast are Cable Bay, Coopers Beech, and Taipa, After an uprising in Russell, Mangonui became NZ's second capital.

We had hoki and shark ( marketed as lemon fish) at the World Famous Mangonui Fish Shop.".

We had hoki and shark ( marketed as lemon fish) at the World Famous Mangonui Fish Shop.".

It's a chippery!

It's a chippery!

For the resident cormorant, it was feeding time at the Mangonui Fish Shop.

For the resident cormorant, it was feeding time at the Mangonui Fish Shop.

The Mangonui Harbor.

The Mangonui Harbor.

We spent the night at Coopers Beach; it is located just down the road from Mangonui. We saw these rocks at Coopers Beach.

We spent the night at Coopers Beach; it is located just down the road from Mangonui. We saw these rocks at Coopers Beach.

Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga is at the very top of NZ's North Island; it sits at the end of the Aupouri Peninsula. While it's not quite the Northern most point of NZ (North Cape is further north, but it's a scientific reserve not open to the public), Cape Reinga is certainly at the end of the road. It was first sighted by Abel Tasman in 1643.

For the Maori, Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Reinga) is one of their most sacred sites in NZ; it marks the place where the spirits of the dead come to return to their traditional homeland.

This is the view looking out from the Cape Reinga Lighthouse. The area of turbulence that you can see here is created by the colliding of the Tasman Sea on the left and the Pacific Ocean on the right.

This is the view looking out from the Cape Reinga Lighthouse. The area of turbulence that you can see here is created by the colliding of the Tasman Sea on the left and the Pacific Ocean on the right.

This view is to the east of the lighthouse; it looks at the Pacific Ocean and Spirits Bay. Clinging to the rocky point here is a single 800 y/o Pohutukawa tree (sometimes called the Kiwi Christmas tree secondary to it's red flowers); the Maori believe that the spirits of the dead go here to descend on this ancient tree to the underworld. They believe that those spirits eventually return to the Maori homeland of Hawaiki.

This view is to the east of the lighthouse; it looks at the Pacific Ocean and Spirits Bay. Clinging to the rocky point here is a single 800 y/o Pohutukawa tree (sometimes called the Kiwi Christmas tree secondary to it's red flowers); the Maori believe that the spirits of the dead go here to descend on this ancient tree to the underworld. They believe that those spirits eventually return to the Maori homeland of Hawaiki.


The Cape Reinga Lighthouse is one of NZ's iconic landmarks. Completed in 1941, it was the last watched lighthouse built in NZ. It became fully automated in 1987; it has not been manned since then.

The Cape Reinga Lighthouse is one of NZ's iconic landmarks. Completed in 1941, it was the last watched lighthouse built in NZ. It became fully automated in 1987; it has not been manned since then.

The Tasman Sea, as viewed on the path to the Cape Reinga Lighthouse.

The Tasman Sea, as viewed on the path to the Cape Reinga Lighthouse.

90 Mile Beach

After we left Cape Reinga, we followed 90 Mile Beach down the west coast . It's actually only 60 or so miles, but when the missionaries first traveled here, they made a miscalculation. They thought that their horses could only travel 30 miles per day, but in actuality, on the sand, it was only 20 miles. So three days of travel was 60 miles instead of 90...makes a good story!

Looking to the west, Cape Maria Van Diemen is at the northern tip of 90-Mile Beach. Close to the shore is Motuopao Island; it was the original site of the lighthouse, before it was moved to the Cape Reinga point.

Looking to the west, Cape Maria Van Diemen is at the northern tip of 90-Mile Beach. Close to the shore is Motuopao Island; it was the original site of the lighthouse, before it was moved to the Cape Reinga point.


Along 90 Mile Beach, we stopped at the Giant Te Paki Sand Dunes. We walked on them, but a lot of people were using sand boards for sand surfing.

Along 90 Mile Beach, we stopped at the Giant Te Paki Sand Dunes. We walked on them, but a lot of people were using sand boards for sand surfing.

This is our "mean machine" pretending to drive on 90 Mile Beach.  If you have the right vehicle and knowledge, you can drive the whole beach.

This is our "mean machine" pretending to drive on 90 Mile Beach. If you have the right vehicle and knowledge, you can drive the whole beach.

Hokianga Harbor

The Hokianga Harbor sits between a north and south head; it is often referred to as Hokianga Heads. Most Maori in NZ trace their ancestry to the discovery and settlement of this harbor. More than a thousand years ago, this is where Kupe ( the Polynesian explorer and navigator) and his people first landed.

The Hokianga River enters the Tasman Sea here. On the left side of the harbor is the South Head; this is where we took a walk.

The Hokianga River enters the Tasman Sea here. On the left side of the harbor is the South Head; this is where we took a walk.


The right side of the harbor ( North Head) is completely different; it is composed of huge sand dunes.

The right side of the harbor ( North Head) is completely different; it is composed of huge sand dunes.


Walking on the Aria Te Uru Heritage Walk above the Hokianga Harbor.

Walking on the Aria Te Uru Heritage Walk above the Hokianga Harbor.

Kauri

A little further south along west coast, we stopped at the Waipoua Forest to see some of NZ's largest Kauri trees. Nearby there are ancient buried Kauri forests; they are estimated to be between 40,000 to 150,00 years old. From 1870 to 1920, gum digging was a major source of income for the Maori and the settlers of the the Northland. By 1890, there were an estimated 20,000 gum diggers; however, the Northland region was not the only gum digging location in NZ.

Kauri gum is really the fossilized resin or sap from the Kauri tree; the older it is, the more valuable it is. It had many uses, but it was mainly exported for use in varnish. It was Auckland's main export in the second half of the 19th century.

Today, Kauri dieback disease has become a problem; it is a fungus-type disease whose spread can be reduced by cleaning shoes and avoiding the Kauri roots.

The bark on some of these Kauri trees is so pretty.

The bark on some of these Kauri trees is so pretty.

Tane Mahuta is the "Lord of the Forest,"and the largest remaining Kauri in NZ. It is around 2000 years old, 168 ft tall, and it's girth is 45 ft.  I know my picture doesn't make it look that large, but this is one impressive tree.

Tane Mahuta is the "Lord of the Forest,"and the largest remaining Kauri in NZ. It is around 2000 years old, 168 ft tall, and it's girth is 45 ft. I know my picture doesn't make it look that large, but this is one impressive tree.

]Tane Matua Ngahere is called the "Father of the Forest," and he is though to be 2500-3000 years old.. He is not nearly as tall as Tane Mahuta, but his girth is larger, at around 54 ft

Tane Matua Ngahere is called the "Father of the Forest," and he is though to be 2500-3000 years old.. He is not nearly as tall as Tane Mahuta, but his girth is larger, at around 54 ft

Waterfall Chapel

On the last night of our driving trip around the North Island, we stayed on some farmland, at a settlement called
Maungatapere. One of best things about this location was that we were allowed to walk around on the neighboring farmland. We were able to visit a waterfall that sits in the middle of a field, and a little chapel that the farming community built to overlook this waterfall.

The view from inside the Waterfall Chapel, looking out at the waterfall.

The view from inside the Waterfall Chapel, looking out at the waterfall.

Waterfall Chapel is hidden away in the trees.

Waterfall Chapel is hidden away in the trees.

A side view of the waterfall from outside the chapel.

A side view of the waterfall from outside the chapel.

This waterfall is on private land, so you have to have permission to see it. I don't know if it has a name.

This waterfall is on private land, so you have to have permission to see it. I don't know if it has a name.

Posted by Charedwards 15:19 Comments (0)

Whangarei and the Bay of Islands

The Tui Retreat

It is probably no small coincidence that one of my favorite places to stay in NZ was at a location with "Tui" in it's name. In Whangerei, we stayed out in the country; the cute little cottage was named Tuis Retreat. I have driven Greg crazy ( more than usual) by trying to get a good picture of a tui. The tui is my favorite NZ bird; they are beautiful, intelligent and I love to hear their amazing repertoire of "junk" sounds.

Tui

The tui is a member of the honeyeater family; this means that it especially likes the nectar of certain kinds of flowers. Flax nectar is one of it's favorites, but a tui may also follow seasonal flowers and fruit around the islands. It has two voice boxes; this allows it to make such varied vocalizations. A tui does sing songs, but it also likes to copy other birds, humans, and animals, and then for good measure, they throw in all these grunts, coughs, wheezes, and just about any other sound you can imagine.

From a distance, the tui looks all black with a little white at the neck. Depending on the light, they are actually blue, green, and bronze; they have 2 white curls of feathers at the neck.

From a distance, the tui looks all black with a little white at the neck. Depending on the light, they are actually blue, green, and bronze; they have 2 white curls of feathers at the neck.

Nectar is a tui favorite; this is a common pose for getting that nectar.

Nectar is a tui favorite; this is a common pose for getting that nectar.

A tui will fluff out it's feathers to try to look bigger and more intimidating. While this tui hadn't reached a full "fluff," it was busy making all kinds of warning noises.

A tui will fluff out it's feathers to try to look bigger and more intimidating. While this tui hadn't reached a full "fluff," it was busy making all kinds of warning noises.

A great place to stay.

A great place to stay.

The grounds around the Tuis Retreat were filled with plants, flowers, and fruit trees. We saw it in the winter; I can imagine how nice it must be in the other seasons.

The grounds around the Tuis Retreat were filled with plants, flowers, and fruit trees. We saw it in the winter; I can imagine how nice it must be in the other seasons.

Whangarei

Whangarei is the biggest city in the Northland Region (basically, anything north of Auckland) of the the North Island; at around 56,000, it is the only place large enough to be considered a city. The Whangarei Harbor is known for yachting, and the "town basin" is the name given to the yachting marina and its surrounding restaurants, shops and museums. The walkway around the town basin is called the Hātea Loop.

Town Basin/Hātea Loop

On the Hātea Loop, we saw the following:

On the way to Bream Bay and the Tasman Sea, the Hātea River runs through the center of the town basin..

On the way to Bream Bay and the Tasman Sea, the Hātea River runs through the center of the town basin..

The Clapham National Clock Museum claims to have the largest collection of timepieces in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Clapham National Clock Museum claims to have the largest collection of timepieces in the Southern Hemisphere.

Te Kakano is the "seed" of the Hundertwasser Art Center and Wairau Maouri Art Gallery project.  This "seed" sculpture was built so that the forms and finishes they plan to use on the Hundertwasser Art Center, could be tried out on a smaller scale. It will be the only Hundertwasser Art Center in the Southern Hemisphere; since the original opened in Vienna, there are 30 art centers in the world.

Te Kakano is the "seed" of the Hundertwasser Art Center and Wairau Maouri Art Gallery project. This "seed" sculpture was built so that the forms and finishes they plan to use on the Hundertwasser Art Center, could be tried out on a smaller scale. It will be the only Hundertwasser Art Center in the Southern Hemisphere; since the original opened in Vienna, there are 30 art centers in the world.

The official name of this bridge is the Matau ā Pohe Bridge, meaning "The Fish Hook of Pohe." Pohe was the Māori chief who greeted the first Europeans to ever visit this area. A center section of the bridge lifts up to accommodate boat traffic on the Hātea River.

The official name of this bridge is the Matau ā Pohe Bridge, meaning "The Fish Hook of Pohe." Pohe was the Māori chief who greeted the first Europeans to ever visit this area. A center section of the bridge lifts up to accommodate boat traffic on the Hātea River.

Mt. Parihaka sits on the northeast side of Whangrei. This view shows part of the town basin and the Whangarei Harbor. From this view, I think the Matau ā Pohe Bridge resembles a plane landing on the river, more than the two fish hooks it is supposed to represent,

Mt. Parihaka sits on the northeast side of Whangrei. This view shows part of the town basin and the Whangarei Harbor. From this view, I think the Matau ā Pohe Bridge resembles a plane landing on the river, more than the two fish hooks it is supposed to represent,


This kōhatu  (stone) carving anchors the Mt. Parihaka lookout. One of NZ's largest Māori Pā (fortified villages) was located on this mountain.

This kōhatu (stone) carving anchors the Mt. Parihaka lookout. One of NZ's largest Māori Pā (fortified villages) was located on this mountain.

Whangarei Falls sits a few miles above the town basin. At night, when it was quiet, we could hear the falls from our Tui Retreat.

Whangarei Falls sits a few miles above the town basin. At night, when it was quiet, we could hear the falls from our Tui Retreat.

We walked to Whangarei Falls by way of the AH Reed Kauri Walkway. After going through a small kauri forest, the walk folllowed the Hātea River to the falls.

We walked to Whangarei Falls by way of the AH Reed Kauri Walkway. After going through a small kauri forest, the walk folllowed the Hātea River to the falls.

Whangarei Heads

One day we made the 25 mile drive to Whangarei Heads; it sits at the head of the large Whangarei Harbor.

At the end of Whangarei Heads,  lies the 3 mile long Ocean Beach and on this day, a couple of rainbows.

At the end of Whangarei Heads, lies the 3 mile long Ocean Beach and on this day, a couple of rainbows.


We passed by Mount Manaia on our way to Ocean Beach. By Maori legend, the five rocky outcrops on Mount Manaia, are people who were struck by lightening and turned to stone. Mount Manaia is actually one of several remnants of volcanic action that overlook the Whangarei Harbor.

We passed by Mount Manaia on our way to Ocean Beach. By Maori legend, the five rocky outcrops on Mount Manaia, are people who were struck by lightening and turned to stone. Mount Manaia is actually one of several remnants of volcanic action that overlook the Whangarei Harbor.


Toetoe grass is common all over NZ.

Toetoe grass is common all over NZ.

Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands consists of a large harbor that contains 144 islands and numerous inlets and peninsulas. Some of the islands are lived on, some are farmed, and some are reserves.The area was named by James Cook when he visited in 1769. Fishing in the Bay of Islands, was made famous by the author Zane Grey, in 1926; in addition to being a western author, he was also an avid fisherman. He wrote a book about the uniqueness of NZ's game-fishing.

The Bay of Island's smallest and perhaps most infamous town is Russell. It was once known as the "Hell Hole of the Pacific" in it's whaling days, but it was also NZ's first seaport, it's first European settlement and it's first capital.

We walked around this historic town, and we also visited Flagstaff Hill. Flagstaff Hill had 4 flagstaffs chopped down by the local Maori, in protest of British rule, before the current one was erected in 1858. The lookout here provides great views of the Bay of Islands.

This view is from Flagstaff Hill; it looks out on a small part of the Bay of Islands.

This view is from Flagstaff Hill; it looks out on a small part of the Bay of Islands.

This view from Flagstaff Hill looks over Russell and across the the Bay of Islands toward Paihia.

This view from Flagstaff Hill looks over Russell and across the the Bay of Islands toward Paihia.

Christ Church is the the oldest existing church in NZ.  The Maori and Europeans had equal rights of burial, thus it has so many significant settlers, sea captains, missionaries, and Maori leaders buried here.

Christ Church is the the oldest existing church in NZ. The Maori and Europeans had equal rights of burial, thus it has so many significant settlers, sea captains, missionaries, and Maori leaders buried here.

This Morton Bay Fig tree was planted by a customs keeper sometime between 1870 and 1886.

This Morton Bay Fig tree was planted by a customs keeper sometime between 1870 and 1886.

Hone's Garden in Russell, NZ...I thought this was a cute wall...it's actually the entrance to a pizza restaurant. Ha

Hone's Garden in Russell, NZ...I thought this was a cute wall...it's actually the entrance to a pizza restaurant. Ha


I included this photo because we have seen a lot of things along the road ( especially in AU), but this was our first encounter with pigs roaming wild.

I included this photo because we have seen a lot of things along the road ( especially in AU), but this was our first encounter with pigs roaming wild.

Posted by Charedwards 19:04 Comments (0)

We're Headed North

Mount Maunganui, Karangahake, and the Hibiscus Coast

Next, we headed to the Bay of Plenty Region; NZ's fifth largest city (Tauranga) is located here. The Port of Tauranga is NZ's largest export port. The Harbor Bridge connects Tauranga to it's most popular suburb, Mount Maunganui. Mount Maunganui sits on a peninsula at the southern end of the Tauranaga Harbor. The "Mount," refers to both a small beach town and a huge lava dome.

The water tower at Mount Maunganui.

The water tower at Mount Maunganui.

Mauao is the Māori name of the volcanic cone that sits at the end of the peninsula.

Mauao is the Māori name of the volcanic cone that sits at the end of the peninsula.

The beginning of our climb up the "Mount" started here.

The beginning of our climb up the "Mount" started here.

The Port of Tauranga is located on the west side of the peninsula. During our climb up the "Mount," we saw this ship leaving the harbor and heading out into the Bay of Plenty

The Port of Tauranga is located on the west side of the peninsula. During our climb up the "Mount," we saw this ship leaving the harbor and heading out into the Bay of Plenty

Main Beach sits at the base of the volcano; it runs south to Moturiki (Leisure) Island. Moturiki Island is connected to the beach by a man-made bridge. Although it was quiet when we were there, it is one of NZ's most popular beaches.

Main Beach sits at the base of the volcano; it runs south to Moturiki (Leisure) Island. Moturiki Island is connected to the beach by a man-made bridge. Although it was quiet when we were there, it is one of NZ's most popular beaches.

Karangahake Gorge

After leaving Tauranga, we drove through the beautiful Karangahake Gorge; it is located at the base of the Coromandel Range. We stopped at Karangahake; this old gold mining site is located where the Waitawheta River meets the Ohinemuri River. The mining heritage sites around Karangahake, date from the 1870's to 1950's.

We walked along part of the Karangahake Gorge, but mainly we followed the trails through the nearby Waitawheta Gorge. The trails follow gold mining tunnels, tram tracks, swing bridges and the two rivers and their respective gorges. Our favorite was the Windows Walkway; this one takes you through gold mining tunnels with "windows" blasted through the rock. These old "windows" serve to provide great views of the Waitawheta River and Gorge.

A swing bridge over Waitwheta River.

A swing bridge over Waitwheta River.


The colorful rock walls of the Waitwheta Gorge.

The colorful rock walls of the Waitwheta Gorge.

If you look closely, you can see the multiple "windows" blasted through this rock face. On this part of the journey, along the Windows Walkway, a flashlight is a must.

If you look closely, you can see the multiple "windows" blasted through this rock face. On this part of the journey, along the Windows Walkway, a flashlight is a must.

We walked through old mine shafts like this on the trail.

We walked through old mine shafts like this on the trail.


The Waitawheta River, coming out of the gorge, near where it meets the Ohinemuri River.

The Waitawheta River, coming out of the gorge, near where it meets the Ohinemuri River.

Hibiscus Coast

As we headed north of Auckland, we initially stayed at Orwea Beach; it is at the beginning of a short stretch of beach, along the Hauraki Gulf, called the Hibiscus Coast.

We saw these coral trees still in bloom, in a park along the Hibiscus Coast, but not too many hibiscus..

We saw these coral trees still in bloom, in a park along the Hibiscus Coast, but not too many hibiscus..

Couldrey House is a historic Victorian-Edwardian family home along the Hibiscus Coast.

Couldrey House is a historic Victorian-Edwardian family home along the Hibiscus Coast.

This might just house  a permanent resident of the Hibiscus Coast.

This might just house a permanent resident of the Hibiscus Coast.

Puhoi

Puhoi is a small village that was established in 1863 by immigrants from Bohemia, an area that is now the Czech Republic. Initially 83 immigrants settled here; each adult was given 40 acres and each child 20 acres. The number eventually grew to 200.

The Bohemians here were all Catholic; in 1881, they opened this church dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. They chose this name because the first settlers arrived here on June 29th, the date that the feast for Saints Peter and Paul is usually celebrated.

The Bohemians here were all Catholic; in 1881, they opened this church dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. They chose this name because the first settlers arrived here on June 29th, the date that the feast for Saints Peter and Paul is usually celebrated.

A couple of homes in the Puhoi village.

A couple of homes in the Puhoi village.

Waipu Caves

We drove out to the middle of nowhere to find these caves on some farmland. They are free, and you can explore at your own risk. The area has the same limestone/karst topography that us Missourians know so well. There are glow worms here if go back far enough; however, we were not prepared to wade through all the water to do so.

The main entrance to the Waipu Caves.

The main entrance to the Waipu Caves.


We just got to peak at this first cavern, as we didn't bring our gum boots and torch ( as the NZeder's would say).

We just got to peak at this first cavern, as we didn't bring our gum boots and torch ( as the NZeder's would say).

The farmland near the Waipu Caves.

The farmland near the Waipu Caves.

Mardsen Point

NZ's only oil refinery is called Mardsen Point Oil Refinery; it is operated by Refining NZ. We stopped at the nearby beach, and we also went to the oil refinery visitor center. This spot was chosen for a refinery because it is near a population center, has a deepwater port, and is a relatively low earthquake risk.

From near Mardsen Point, this view looks across the bay at Whangarei Heads.

From near Mardsen Point, this view looks across the bay at Whangarei Heads.

This is a model of the Mardsen Point Oil Refinery. The crude oil shipped here for refinement, supplies about half of NZ's gas needs for cars; however, most of it's jet fuel, diesel fuel and bitumen (for road surfacing) is produced entirely here.

This is a model of the Mardsen Point Oil Refinery. The crude oil shipped here for refinement, supplies about half of NZ's gas needs for cars; however, most of it's jet fuel, diesel fuel and bitumen (for road surfacing) is produced entirely here.

Posted by Charedwards 14:59 Comments (0)

Eastland to the Center

Volcanoes, Waves, and Waterfalls

Napier

Napier is located on the east coast of the North Island. The town was devastated by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 1931; it was rebuilt with several Art Deco buildings. The architecture is very nice, but we probably enjoyed the waves the most.

The Marine Parade Sound Shell is one of the best examples of Art Deco in Napier.

The Marine Parade Sound Shell is one of the best examples of Art Deco in Napier.

The waves here were massive; I guess it must be a regular occurrence, because they built a viewing platform so you can safely enjoy them.

The waves here were massive; I guess it must be a regular occurrence, because they built a viewing platform so you can safely enjoy them.

This was on the City of Napier building.

This was on the City of Napier building.

Pania of the Reef is a figure of Māori mythology, and serves as a symbol for the city of Napier.

Pania of the Reef is a figure of Māori mythology, and serves as a symbol for the city of Napier.

The 1904 William Blythe Memorial Fountain at Clive Park.

The 1904 William Blythe Memorial Fountain at Clive Park.

Mahia Peninsula/Onenui Station

The Mahia Peninsula is a remote area on NZ's east coast; it sits between Poverty Bay and Hawke's Bay. At the distal end of the peninsula, a portion of the Onenui Station was purchased by Rocket Lab. A few weeks before we arrived, they had their maiden rocket launch from here. It was a big story on the news, so of course, we wanted to see how close we could get to it. We're not sure if we took the wrong road or if we got as close as we were allowed to go. Nevertheless, it was an interesting journey across the huge Onenui Station; the road was frequently narrow and hugging a cliff, but all the cows on the road ensured no one would be speeding along in the other direction.

We drove along the coastline of the Mahia Peninsula until we reached the large Onenui Station.

We drove along the coastline of the Mahia Peninsula until we reached the large Onenui Station.

This was the view that we had as we climbed up along the coast and worked our way across the Onenui Station.

This was the view that we had as we climbed up along the coast and worked our way across the Onenui Station.

When we got to the final gate, on the Onenui Station, this was our view of the area that Rocket Lab is using as a satellite launch base.

When we got to the final gate, on the Onenui Station, this was our view of the area that Rocket Lab is using as a satellite launch base.


On the way to the Mahia Peninsula, we saw these dark sand beaches, tons of driftwood, and the peninsula's white cliffs in the distance.

On the way to the Mahia Peninsula, we saw these dark sand beaches, tons of driftwood, and the peninsula's white cliffs in the distance.

Gisborne
They like to say in Gisborne that they are "the first city in the world to greet the sun each morning;" the town sits at the eastern most tip of NZ. Another "first" happened here; this is the place that Captain James Cook landed in 1769, on his first trip to NZ. The area was not settled by Europeans until the 1850's; almost half of the population here is Māori.

Gisborne sits on the north side of Poverty Bay. It was named Poverty Bay by Captain Cook, because he was unable to get the supplies that he needed here. It is actually a very fertile area; there are vineyards and several types of fruit and vegetables are grown here.

The town of Gisborne as viewed from Kaiti Hill. There are three rivers that meet here, and eventually flow out into Poverty Bay.

The town of Gisborne as viewed from Kaiti Hill. There are three rivers that meet here, and eventually flow out into Poverty Bay.

This is the area where Captain James Cook first landed in NZ. From this port, a high volume of logs and other wood products are exported.

This is the area where Captain James Cook first landed in NZ. From this port, a high volume of logs and other wood products are exported.

Waioeka Gorge

Upon leaving Gisborne, we had a pretty drive through the Waioeka Gorge. The road follows the Waioeka River
for about 30 miles between Gisborne and Opotiki. We passed through just in time; there was a major slip the next day that closed the road for a few days.

We followed the Waiokea River through the Waiokea Gorge. This is the longest river in NZ at 264 miles.

We followed the Waiokea River through the Waiokea Gorge. This is the longest river in NZ at 264 miles.

This is the historic Tauranga Bridge; it is one of only two harp suspension bridges left in NZ. It was built to link the farmland, in this part of the valley, with the outside world; however, the farmland here didn't produce enough to make the settlers efforts worthwhile. A lot of the farmland has been allowed to regenerate.

This is the historic Tauranga Bridge; it is one of only two harp suspension bridges left in NZ. It was built to link the farmland, in this part of the valley, with the outside world; however, the farmland here didn't produce enough to make the settlers efforts worthwhile. A lot of the farmland has been allowed to regenerate.

We also made a stop to pick mandarins.

We also made a stop to pick mandarins.

Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo is the largest lake by surface area in NZ. It is in the caldera of the Taupo Volcano, and there are hot springs, geysers, and steam vents in the area. It also has NZ's most visited attraction, the amazing Huka Falls. We visited the falls in the late afternoon, on a cloudy, rainy day, so my pictures don't really capture how pretty this waterfall is. It is different than any other waterfall that we have seen on this trip, and it is hard to believe that this is the same Waiokea River that we were following earlier in the morning.

The Waikato River drains Lake Taupo;  it then narrows from approximately 300 ft. to 50 ft. before entering  this shallow ravine of volcanic rock.

The Waikato River drains Lake Taupo; it then narrows from approximately 300 ft. to 50 ft. before entering this shallow ravine of volcanic rock.


At Huka Falls, the plunging water picks up masses of tumbling air bubbles, giving it this pretty color and also it's name.  Huka in Māori means foam.  The sign here says this about the color: Ice-Blue...Snow-White.

At Huka Falls, the plunging water picks up masses of tumbling air bubbles, giving it this pretty color and also it's name. Huka in Māori means foam. The sign here says this about the color: Ice-Blue...Snow-White.

The McDonald's in Taupo has a sign out front calling it "World's Coolest McDonald's. "  It states it was chosen from 34,000 plus restaurants.

The McDonald's in Taupo has a sign out front calling it "World's Coolest McDonald's. " It states it was chosen from 34,000 plus restaurants.


Trout fishing is very popular in the Lake Taupo area; if you catch a brown or rainbow trout, you are allowed to eat it, but no trout can be bought or sold in NZ. If you show your fishing license, a local restaurant will cook it for you.

Trout fishing is very popular in the Lake Taupo area; if you catch a brown or rainbow trout, you are allowed to eat it, but no trout can be bought or sold in NZ. If you show your fishing license, a local restaurant will cook it for you.


Tongariro National Park

The Tongariro National Park is the oldest park in NZ; established in 1897, it is the fifth oldest NP in the world. It is located a few miles south of Lake Taupo; the park land surrounds three active volcanoes. Mt. Ruapehu is the North Island's tallest mountain; it had it's last major eruption in 1995-1996. Mt. Tongariro is a volcano complex with at least twelve cones; Mt.Ngauruhoe is the youngest, largest, and most active cone, but it has not erupted since 1975.

Whakapapa Viilage sits on the western side of Mt Ruapehu (barely visible on the right). Pictured here is the Chateau Tongariro; it was built in 1929.

Whakapapa Viilage sits on the western side of Mt Ruapehu (barely visible on the right). Pictured here is the Chateau Tongariro; it was built in 1929.

Tawhai Falls is located close to the Whakapapa Village in Tongariri NP.

Tawhai Falls is located close to the Whakapapa Village in Tongariri NP.

The entrance to the Tongariri NP Visitor Center.

The entrance to the Tongariri NP Visitor Center.


We had glimpses of the three major mountains in Tongariri NP, but most of our views were about like this one of Mt Tongariri.

We had glimpses of the three major mountains in Tongariri NP, but most of our views were about like this one of Mt Tongariri.

Posted by Charedwards 21:34 Comments (0)

Whanganui and Wellington

On the Road to the Capital

Whanganui

Whanganui sits on the west coast of NZ's North Island; it is at the point where the Whanganui River flows into the Tasman Sea. It is one of NZ's oldest settlements. It claims to be home to the largest arts community in NZ, even a Glass School (which we visited).

This is the view from Durie Hill; itl looks down at the Whanganui (town and river).

This is the view from Durie Hill; itl looks down at the Whanganui (town and river).

When the town of Whangnui started spreading up the hillside, they built the Durie Hill Elevator. Opened in 1919, it is the only public underground elevator of its kind in NZ.

When the town of Whangnui started spreading up the hillside, they built the Durie Hill Elevator. Opened in 1919, it is the only public underground elevator of its kind in NZ.

This is the street level entrance to the tunnel; we used it when returning from the Saturday Market that was taking place along the Whanganui waterfront.

This is the street level entrance to the tunnel; we used it when returning from the Saturday Market that was taking place along the Whanganui waterfront.

This is the 650 ft. tunnel that leads to and from the Durie Hill Elevator.

This is the 650 ft. tunnel that leads to and from the Durie Hill Elevator.

Foxton

Foxton is a small, somewhat run down town that we stopped at before getting to Wellington. It is unusual in that it was founded on flax, instead of the typical coal or gold. A couple of things I found interesting there were:

The old Maori graves, in the park, were decorated with these flax flowers.

The old Maori graves, in the park, were decorated with these flax flowers.


The sign on this store in Foxton was too funny...having part of the word  "antiques" missing, made it even better!

The sign on this store in Foxton was too funny...having part of the word "antiques" missing, made it even better!

Wellington

Wellington is the world's most southern capital city; it has been the capital city since 1865. The urban area is around 405,000, making it the second biggest city in NZ. It sits between the Rimutaka Mountains and the Cook Strait at the south-western end of the North Island. It is very windy here, sometimes referred to as "Windy Welly."

Rugby

In NZ, where rugby rules, the national rugby team is called the All Blacks. For a month in June and July, the British and Irish Lions Rugby team toured NZ ; since they hadn't been there for 12 years, it was a big deal! The Lions played three test matches against the All Blacks, and they also played another seven games against other NZ teams. The games were played all over NZ, and a large contingent of Lions fans came on vaca to follow the team around. A game was going on in Wellington against the All Blacks on the first day we were there. The next day, as we walked around downtown, it was the Lion's fans with a smile on their faces. The end result of the three test matches was a tie; since the last game was a draw.

This poster was made to advertise the two games played in Wellington. The British and Irish Lions had games against the Hurricanes, a NZ Super Rugby team, and the All Blacks, the NZ national team.

This poster was made to advertise the two games played in Wellington. The British and Irish Lions had games against the Hurricanes, a NZ Super Rugby team, and the All Blacks, the NZ national team.

The Hiilary Shield was created in 2008; it is given to the winner of NZ vs England rugby match. It was displayed with various other NZ rugby cups that we saw as we walked around the waterfront.

The Hiilary Shield was created in 2008; it is given to the winner of NZ vs England rugby match. It was displayed with various other NZ rugby cups that we saw as we walked around the waterfront.

The New Zealand Parliment Buildings

One of the first things we did in Wellington, was to go on a tour of the Parliament House. It sits on the Lambton Quay, along with the Beehive, the Parliamentary Library, and the Bowen House. All four of these buildings were built at different times, the result being a complex with "little aesthetic or architectural coherence." Yeah...that might be an understatement!

In this case, the oldest, is the prettiest. This is the Parliamentary Library; it was built in 1889.

In this case, the oldest, is the prettiest. This is the Parliamentary Library; it was built in 1889.


The Parliament House was meant to be built in two phases, but only the first was completed. It has the debate chambers for the House of Representatives, the Speaker's office, and the visitors center. NZ has no senators.

The Parliament House was meant to be built in two phases, but only the first was completed. It has the debate chambers for the House of Representatives, the Speaker's office, and the visitors center. NZ has no senators.


The Beehive was opened in 1979, on the land that was supposed to be used for the second phase of the Parliament House. It houses the Prime Minister (Bill English) and his cabinet. As you might of guessed, it's design has been controversial since it opened. It is unique, that's for sure!

The Beehive was opened in 1979, on the land that was supposed to be used for the second phase of the Parliament House. It houses the Prime Minister (Bill English) and his cabinet. As you might of guessed, it's design has been controversial since it opened. It is unique, that's for sure!

The Bowen House has the government support staff. The Wellington Cenotaph (Wellington Citizens' War Memorial)  is in front of it.

The Bowen House has the government support staff. The Wellington Cenotaph (Wellington Citizens' War Memorial) is in front of it.

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Te Papa is the national museum and art gallery of NZ. It sits along the waterfront on reclaimed land. Of course, it is near a major fault line, so it was built to withstand a major earthquake.

Gallipoli: The Scale of our War is the special exhibit that will be featured at the museum until 2019. "It is the story of the Gallipoli campaign in WWI as told through the eyes and words of ordinary New Zealanders who were there." The detail, achieved on each of the eight figures featured, is amazing. I would say, it has to be one of the more impressive exhibits that we have seen.

Te Papa means "our place." This impressive building was completed in 1998; it has a south Pākeha (European) face and a north (Maori) face.

Te Papa means "our place." This impressive building was completed in 1998; it has a south Pākeha (European) face and a north (Maori) face.


Lottie (Charlotte) Le Gallais is one of the real life war participants who was reproduced at 2.4 times her actual size. She was a military nurse from Auckland; she served on the hospital ship Maheno. She is shown receiving the unopened letters that she had sent to her brother, back. They were stamped KILLED RETURN TO SENDER.

Lottie (Charlotte) Le Gallais is one of the real life war participants who was reproduced at 2.4 times her actual size. She was a military nurse from Auckland; she served on the hospital ship Maheno. She is shown receiving the unopened letters that she had sent to her brother, back. They were stamped KILLED RETURN TO SENDER.

Another person featured is Lt. Colonel Percival Fenwick; he had been a surgeon in Whanganui and Christchurch, after emigrating to NZ from England. He was among the first group of NZeders to land on Gallipoli, on April 25th,1915. His despair is shown as he leans over a fatally wounded Canterbury infantryman, Jack Aiken.

Another person featured is Lt. Colonel Percival Fenwick; he had been a surgeon in Whanganui and Christchurch, after emigrating to NZ from England. He was among the first group of NZeders to land on Gallipoli, on April 25th,1915. His despair is shown as he leans over a fatally wounded Canterbury infantryman, Jack Aiken.

This view looks across the Oriental Bay/Lambton Harbor (which is a part of the huge Wellington Harbor) toward the Jerningham Head. On the right side of waterfront is the huge Te Papa Museum. Around 100,00 NZeders served in WWI, most departed from the Wellington Harbor. About 18,000 died in or because of their service in the war.

This view looks across the Oriental Bay/Lambton Harbor (which is a part of the huge Wellington Harbor) toward the Jerningham Head. On the right side of waterfront is the huge Te Papa Museum. Around 100,00 NZeders served in WWI, most departed from the Wellington Harbor. About 18,000 died in or because of their service in the war.

Wellington Botanic Garden

We took the Wellington Cable Car, up the side of a hill, to the 60 acre Wellington Botanic Garden.

This view from the Botanic Garden, is of the cable car track and the Wellington CBD/Harbor. In the distance, is the Hutt Valley; this is where we stayed while in the area.

This view from the Botanic Garden, is of the cable car track and the Wellington CBD/Harbor. In the distance, is the Hutt Valley; this is where we stayed while in the area.

This Andrew Drummond sculpture, is simply called the "Listening and Viewing Device."  It was made to take advantage of the high winds in Wellington by swaying and making it's own music. You are also encouraged to stand inside and listen.

This Andrew Drummond sculpture, is simply called the "Listening and Viewing Device." It was made to take advantage of the high winds in Wellington by swaying and making it's own music. You are also encouraged to stand inside and listen.

A winter view of the Wellington Botanic Garden.

A winter view of the Wellington Botanic Garden.


The Wellington Railway Station.

The Wellington Railway Station.

The Buzzy Bee is everywhere in NZ.

The Buzzy Bee is everywhere in NZ.

When leaving Wellington, we traveled through the Rimutaka Range. At the top of the pass, we stopped at the Rimutaka Crossing Memorial.

When leaving Wellington, we traveled through the Rimutaka Range. At the top of the pass, we stopped at the Rimutaka Crossing Memorial.

This 2015 memorial commerates the 60,000 NZ WWI troops who made crossing between the military camp at Featherston and Wellington between 1915-1919.

This 2015 memorial commerates the 60,000 NZ WWI troops who made crossing between the military camp at Featherston and Wellington between 1915-1919.

Posted by Charedwards 00:35 Comments (0)

We're on the North Island

New Plymouth and Mt Teranaki

After spending five weeks on the South Island, we will be spending the next seven weeks on the North Island.

A few differences from the South Island:

The North Island of NZ has three times the number of people.
It has lots of volcanoes.
It's weather is warmer.
It has less "dramatic" scenery.
The Maori population is mainly on the North Island.
The capital Wellington and the largest city Auckland are here.
The highest mountain on the North Island is Mt Ruapehu at 9176 ft. It is the only mountain on the North Island with a glacier.

New Plymouth

We stayed a couple of days in New Plymouth; it is located on the west coast of the North Island. It has black sand beaches, a large port, and a great view of Mt. Taranaki. We spent several hours exploring the area; we walked on the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway from the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge to Port Taranaki.

The Te Rewa Rewa Bridge spans the Waiwhakaiho River; it was opened in 2010 to further extend the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway. It was positioned to frame Mt Taranaki, which is a sacred mountain to the Maori.

The Te Rewa Rewa Bridge spans the Waiwhakaiho River; it was opened in 2010 to further extend the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway. It was positioned to frame Mt Taranaki, which is a sacred mountain to the Maori.


The Te Rewa Rewa Bridge is said to resemble a whale skeleton or a breaking wave.

The Te Rewa Rewa Bridge is said to resemble a whale skeleton or a breaking wave.

The conical shaped Mt Teranaki is about 30 miles from New Plymouth. Yes, it looks like Mt. Fuji; I read that it has been used as a "double" in at least one movie..

The conical shaped Mt Teranaki is about 30 miles from New Plymouth. Yes, it looks like Mt. Fuji; I read that it has been used as a "double" in at least one movie..


"Light on the Land" sits along the Coastal Walkway; it was created by a local artist in 2016. The sculpture was made to reflect the sea, the land, and the sky

"Light on the Land" sits along the Coastal Walkway; it was created by a local artist in 2016. The sculpture was made to reflect the sea, the land, and the sky

These rock stacks were really good, especially considering the wind and waves.

These rock stacks were really good, especially considering the wind and waves.

We encountered this entertaining sign along our walk.

We encountered this entertaining sign along our walk.

This is the Port of Taranaki with the Paritutu Rock on the right side.

This is the Port of Taranaki with the Paritutu Rock on the right side.


The Wind Wand is a sculpture by the artist Len Lye that is located along the Coastal Walkway. The red sphere lights up at night, and the wand which is made of red carbon fiber tubing , can bend at least 65 ft in the wind.

The Wind Wand is a sculpture by the artist Len Lye that is located along the Coastal Walkway. The red sphere lights up at night, and the wand which is made of red carbon fiber tubing , can bend at least 65 ft in the wind.


In 2015, the Len Lye Center opened in New Plymouth; it is the first gallery in NZ to be devoted to the work of one artist, Len Lye. The artist was born in Christchurch, but became a naturalized US citizen. He is known for his work with film and kinetic sculptures. The new building was added onto the already existing Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. It is made of curved stainless steel and concrete; it is supposed to resemble a theater curtain.

In 2015, the Len Lye Center opened in New Plymouth; it is the first gallery in NZ to be devoted to the work of one artist, Len Lye. The artist was born in Christchurch, but became a naturalized US citizen. He is known for his work with film and kinetic sculptures. The new building was added onto the already existing Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. It is made of curved stainless steel and concrete; it is supposed to resemble a theater curtain.

Puke Ariki is described as "the world's first purpose-built, fully integrated museum, library and visitor information center."

Puke Ariki is described as "the world's first purpose-built, fully integrated museum, library and visitor information center."

I thought St. Andrews Presbyterian Church was the prettiest church we saw in New Plymouth.

I thought St. Andrews Presbyterian Church was the prettiest church we saw in New Plymouth.

Egmont National Park

Mt. Taranaki/Mt Egmont sits in the center of the park; it was established as a national park in 1900.

This is the Dawson Falls Visitor Center at Egmont NP. From New Plymouth,  the smaller Fanthams Peak, on the left, is hidden.

This is the Dawson Falls Visitor Center at Egmont NP. From New Plymouth, the smaller Fanthams Peak, on the left, is hidden.

Dawson Falls is a 60 ft. waterfall in Egmont NP. There is a small power station here that is "one of the oldest continuously operating power stations in the world."

Dawson Falls is a 60 ft. waterfall in Egmont NP. There is a small power station here that is "one of the oldest continuously operating power stations in the world."


The trail to Dawson Falls is through what is sometimes referred to as a "goblin forest."  There are lots of tiny waterfalls; we walked through rimu and kamahi trees covered with moss and lichens.

The trail to Dawson Falls is through what is sometimes referred to as a "goblin forest." There are lots of tiny waterfalls; we walked through rimu and kamahi trees covered with moss and lichens.

We saw this replica of an Aotea canoe in the town of Patea. It commerates the settlement of the Taranaki region by the Maori and their travel from Hawaiki to NZ. Hawaiki is a mythical place that Polynesians believe their people originally came from, before spreading across Polynesia.

We saw this replica of an Aotea canoe in the town of Patea. It commerates the settlement of the Taranaki region by the Maori and their travel from Hawaiki to NZ. Hawaiki is a mythical place that Polynesians believe their people originally came from, before spreading across Polynesia.

🥝The Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park🥝

We stopped in Otorohanga to see our first kiwis and some of their feathered friends. We knew we could not leave NZ without seeing their famous national bird. Since kiwis are shy, nocturnal, and endangered, we figured this was our best option. Kiwi House has three of the five species that are native to NZ. They have been breeding Kiwis for release to the wild since the 1970's.

We saw this white-faced heron at the Otorohanga Native Bird Park.

We saw this white-faced heron at the Otorohanga Native Bird Park.

The New Zealand falcon or kārearea is New Zealand's only falcon.

The New Zealand falcon or kārearea is New Zealand's only falcon.

This Cape Barren Goose is native to AU, but our first sighting was here.

This Cape Barren Goose is native to AU, but our first sighting was here.


The kiwi house is kept dark and of course, no pictures are allowed, so this is the best I can do for a picture! This "stuffed" variety is a brown kiwi; it is one kind of kiwi found at the Kiwi House.

The kiwi house is kept dark and of course, no pictures are allowed, so this is the best I can do for a picture! This "stuffed" variety is a brown kiwi; it is one kind of kiwi found at the Kiwi House.

Temple View

On our way to New Plymouth, we stopped at this small Mormon community on the outskirts of Hamilton. In 1958, when the temple opened here, it became first Mormon temple built in the Southern Hemisphere.

Situated on a hill, the Hamilton New Zealand Temple overlooks lots of farmland. It is a very pretty setting.

Situated on a hill, the Hamilton New Zealand Temple overlooks lots of farmland. It is a very pretty setting.

Posted by Charedwards 15:32 Comments (0)

Christchurch...Chch

A City in Transition

Christchurch is the third largest city in NZ, and it is the largest city on the South Island. It is also NZ's oldest established city, often called it's most "English" city, but with the demolition of so many historic buildings, some of it's history is sadly disappearing. However, it is reinventing itself in other ways...certainly a slow process!

In September of 2010, a 7.1 earthquake damaged buildings and infrastructure in Christchurch, but caused no loss of life. Approximately six months later, on February 22th, a 6.3 earthquake would leave the CBD virtually flattened, thousands of homes destroyed, and 185 lives lost. The Canterbury Television Building (CTV) was where most of causalities (115) occurred. The NZ government report would eventually determine that part of the reason for so many deaths and building collapses, was because of already existing structural damage from the 2010 earthquake. While there were certainly many reasons, they seem to have concluded that several of the buildings shouldn't have been occupied or left standing after the 2010 earthquake.

I'm going to refrain from filling this whole blog with earthquake related stories, but it certainly would be easy to do so. That being said, I will start with a few examples of how the city is responding to the series of earthquakes/aftershocks that have happened here.

Christchurch Art Gallery

When the Christchurch Art Gallery reopened in 1995, after five years of earthquake related closure, a piece of neon art work was added. The British artist Martin Creed had used the phrase in previous artwork, but what could be more appropriate for this city in light of recent events. I will use a quote from the art gallery which says:

What, after all, could be more perfect for Christchurch than this bold assertion of relentless optimism, laced with the unspoken anxiety that hope might not be enough?

At night, this neon artwork lights up one side of the Christchurch Art Gallery.

At night, this neon artwork lights up one side of the Christchurch Art Gallery.

The Christchurch Art Gallery was reopened in 2015.

The Christchurch Art Gallery was reopened in 2015.

Cathedral Square

The city planning for Christchurch involved placing the large Anglican Christchurch Cathedral in Cathedral Square and building around it. Several of these original buildings were destroyed during the 2011 earthquake. So when the CBD was reopened to the public, 2 1/2 years after the 2011 earthquake, what to do with the most iconic church in Christchurch, became a very controversial question. Guess what! it still is...6 1/2 years later.

Two of NZ's leading artist were invited to create artwork that would encourage people to once again visit Cathedral Square. A couple of the additions included: a plant covered whare and a hoard board fence with geometric designs. I suspect one of the biggest draws ( despite their best efforts) is still the ruins of the cathedral.

The Anglican Christchurch Cathedral was completed in 1904; it has survived multiple earthquakes This last time, the main damage was to the west side of the the church which included the tower and spire. The church favors building a new cathedral, but there has been a public campaign and a government offer to rebuild the old one. They have tried a negotiator and even the courts, but as of now, the decision will be made by the church hierarchy in September of 2017.

The Anglican Christchurch Cathedral was completed in 1904; it has survived multiple earthquakes This last time, the main damage was to the west side of the the church which included the tower and spire. The church favors building a new cathedral, but there has been a public campaign and a government offer to rebuild the old one. They have tried a negotiator and even the courts, but as of now, the decision will be made by the church hierarchy in September of 2017.

This view of the partially demolished church serves as a background for two of the artwork projects designed temporarily for the square. The little plant covered building is called a whare; it is a Maori hut that serves as a gathering place. The other art project is the hoard board covered with geometric designs, which was placed on a hurricane fence. This fence serves as a barrier to all the construction projects in the area.

This view of the partially demolished church serves as a background for two of the artwork projects designed temporarily for the square. The little plant covered building is called a whare; it is a Maori hut that serves as a gathering place. The other art project is the hoard board covered with geometric designs, which was placed on a hurricane fence. This fence serves as a barrier to all the construction projects in the area.

A close up of a side of the whare which was constructed from scaffolding.

A close up of a side of the whare which was constructed from scaffolding.

The Chief Post Office building (no longer a post office) survived on Cathederal square with minimal earthquake damage.

The Chief Post Office building (no longer a post office) survived on Cathederal square with minimal earthquake damage.

The tram coming from Cathedral Square.

The tram coming from Cathedral Square.

The Canterbury Museum

We liked this museum so much that we went there twice; I can safely say that this is the first and only time we have done so on our whole trip. At this point, we are pretty much "museumed out!"

The Canterbury Museum opened in 1870. After the earthquake, It remained structurally sound, and there was very little damage to the collections inside.

The Canterbury Museum opened in 1870. After the earthquake, It remained structurally sound, and there was very little damage to the collections inside.

A favorite inside the Canterbury Museum is this exhibition showcasing over a 1000 paua (abolone) shells. The shells are part of a collection that adorned the walls of Fred and Myrtle Flutey's home in Bluff,  on the bottom of the South Island. After Fred ran out of room for his collection, they started putting them on the walls of their home and inviting visitors in to view them.

A favorite inside the Canterbury Museum is this exhibition showcasing over a 1000 paua (abolone) shells. The shells are part of a collection that adorned the walls of Fred and Myrtle Flutey's home in Bluff, on the bottom of the South Island. After Fred ran out of room for his collection, they started putting them on the walls of their home and inviting visitors in to view them.

The Flutey's passed away in the early 2000's, and their grandson loaned some of the contents of their home to the museum. The museum created the Flutey's actual living room from pictures. Over a forty year period, more than a million visitors came to their actual home in Bluff. I guess that doesn't compare with how many people have seen the collection at the Canterbury museum in a much shorter period. It's a great story of Kiwiana!

The Flutey's passed away in the early 2000's, and their grandson loaned some of the contents of their home to the museum. The museum created the Flutey's actual living room from pictures. Over a forty year period, more than a million visitors came to their actual home in Bluff. I guess that doesn't compare with how many people have seen the collection at the Canterbury museum in a much shorter period. It's a great story of Kiwiana!

One of the most recognized items of Kiwiana is the Buzzy Bee toy. It is NZ's most famous toy. It was first designed and produced in NZ in the 1930's.

One of the most recognized items of Kiwiana is the Buzzy Bee toy. It is NZ's most famous toy. It was first designed and produced in NZ in the 1930's.

In1850, a group of almost 800 Canterbury Pilgrams came to Christchurch. Dr Alfred Baker, a surgeon and photographer, was on the first  arriving ship, the Charlotte Jane.  In order to get ready for the fast approaching winter, the common type of home to build was this V- hut. The home shown above is modeled from pictures of Dr Baker's first home. It was built using an extra sail from the Charlotte Jane, raupo (cat's-tail), and planks from packing crates.

In1850, a group of almost 800 Canterbury Pilgrams came to Christchurch. Dr Alfred Baker, a surgeon and photographer, was on the first arriving ship, the Charlotte Jane. In order to get ready for the fast approaching winter, the common type of home to build was this V- hut. The home shown above is modeled from pictures of Dr Baker's first home. It was built using an extra sail from the Charlotte Jane, raupo (cat's-tail), and planks from packing crates.


[The Canterbury museum claims to have "the largest and most diverse collection of Antarctic memorabilia and photographic images in the world." Christchurch has been the 'gateway to Antarctica' for expeditions and scientific programs for many countries since 1900.

The Canterbury museum claims to have "the largest and most diverse collection of Antarctic memorabilia and photographic images in the world." Christchurch has been the 'gateway to Antarctica' for expeditions and scientific programs for many countries since 1900.

Hagley Park

Hagley Park is a 400 acre park that was created in 1850's in central Christchurch.

The Peacock Fountain is next to the Canterbury Museum and overlooks Hagley Park. However, this view of the fountain looks at the Christchurch Arts Center; it is actually 23 buildings (from the former University of Canterbury) that are being restored after the earthquakes.

The Peacock Fountain is next to the Canterbury Museum and overlooks Hagley Park. However, this view of the fountain looks at the Christchurch Arts Center; it is actually 23 buildings (from the former University of Canterbury) that are being restored after the earthquakes.

The entrance to the Central Rose Garden, a part of the Botanic Gardens at Hagley Park.

The entrance to the Central Rose Garden, a part of the Botanic Gardens at Hagley Park.

The Avon River

The Avon River meanders throughout Christchurch; on our walks we would cross it multiple times.

The Avon River meanders throughout Christchurch; on our walks we would cross it multiple times.

A memorial arch was added to an existing bridge over the Avon River in 1923. It was named the Bridge of Rembrance. It is dedicated to those who died in WW1 but also serves as a memorial to those who have participated in all conflicts since. It cost 6.7 million to repair after the earthquake.

A memorial arch was added to an existing bridge over the Avon River in 1923. It was named the Bridge of Rembrance. It is dedicated to those who died in WW1 but also serves as a memorial to those who have participated in all conflicts since. It cost 6.7 million to repair after the earthquake.

About town

The Victoria Clock Tower was used to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

The Victoria Clock Tower was used to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.


Passing Time, by Auckland sculptor Anton Parsons, sits in Wilson Reserve, at one of the entrances to the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology. The winding form was inspired by the Avon River, and each year is represented from the CPIT founding in1906, to the date of installation in 2010.

Passing Time, by Auckland sculptor Anton Parsons, sits in Wilson Reserve, at one of the entrances to the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology. The winding form was inspired by the Avon River, and each year is represented from the CPIT founding in1906, to the date of installation in 2010.

We met "Lass" when leaving the Saturday market. She is mostly a bearded collie, but I can't remember what the other breed mentioned was. We fell in love with this Scottish gal.

We met "Lass" when leaving the Saturday market. She is mostly a bearded collie, but I can't remember what the other breed mentioned was. We fell in love with this Scottish gal.

An organization called Gap Fillers has created several small, sometimes temporary, entertainment areas throughout Christchurch.  Super Street Arcade is an outdoor arcade game system; it is called the world's first giant, outdoor arcade game. For this game, the city's orange construction cones are used as the target instead of aliens etc. Too funny!.

An organization called Gap Fillers has created several small, sometimes temporary, entertainment areas throughout Christchurch. Super Street Arcade is an outdoor arcade game system; it is called the world's first giant, outdoor arcade game. For this game, the city's orange construction cones are used as the target instead of aliens etc. Too funny!.

The Christchurch City Council building.

The Christchurch City Council building.

Posted by Charedwards 14:57 Comments (0)

Back to Canterbury

Lake Tekapo and the Banks Peninsula

After leaving Aoraki/Mt Cook NP, our final stop in the Mackenzie region of NZ's South Island would be at Lake Tekapo. Next we headed across the Canterbury Plains to the Banks Peninsula. This peninsula is just outside Christchurch; it would be the final stop on our driving trip around the South Island. We would then settle in Christchurch for an extended stay.

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is an alpine lake which is fed by a river that originates high in the Southern Alps. The first sheep station in the Mackenzie Basin was started on the south end of Lake Tekapo in1857. Lake Tekapo Village is a resort area of around 350 people ; it developed near the site of the first homestead. The Waitaki Hydro Scheme has one of it's eight power stations near here. In the 1930's, workers came to Lake Tekapo to start working on the power scheme, and the village finally started to grow.

In my opinion, Lake Tekapo is about as pretty as it gets.

In my opinion, Lake Tekapo is about as pretty as it gets.

A close up of one the mountains on the east side of a Lake Tekapo; this range is called Two Thumbs.

A close up of one the mountains on the east side of a Lake Tekapo; this range is called Two Thumbs.

The Church of the Good Shepherd was built in 1935 as a memorial to the pioneers of the Mackenzie region. It is an interdenominational church that looks out over Lake Tekapo and  the surrounding mountains.

The Church of the Good Shepherd was built in 1935 as a memorial to the pioneers of the Mackenzie region. It is an interdenominational church that looks out over Lake Tekapo and the surrounding mountains.

This bronze sheepdog statue overlooks Lake Tekapo. Dedicated to all sheepdogs of the Mackenzie region, the tribute on the plaque partially reads "without the help of which the grazing of this mountain country would be impossible."

This bronze sheepdog statue overlooks Lake Tekapo. Dedicated to all sheepdogs of the Mackenzie region, the tribute on the plaque partially reads "without the help of which the grazing of this mountain country would be impossible."

At Lake Tekapo, the Southern Alps are as far as the eye can see.

At Lake Tekapo, the Southern Alps are as far as the eye can see.

Mt Dobson

Mt Dobson is located about half way between Queenstown and Christchurch. It has a ski area, and it is one of the closest places to ski from Christchurch.

We had this view of Mt Dobson for several miles on our way to Ashburton.

We had this view of Mt Dobson for several miles on our way to Ashburton.

Ashburton

Ashburton is about 50 miles south of Christchurch; it is in the middle of the Canterbury Plains. Situated between the Rakaia and Rangitata Rivers, it is hard to believe that this was once a dry "tussock" covered area without any trees. Irrigation has changed that, now the area has lots of agricultural and pastoral farming. The town is laid out around two central squares; I thought the weird part about this layout was that the railway and main highway run right through the center of town.

The Baring Methodist Church was damaged by an earthquake in 2010. This is a common problem in NZ; beautiful old churches are damaged and sit for years waiting to either be repaired or torn down. They don't want to get rid of the historic churches, but they can't afford to fix them either.

The Baring Methodist Church was damaged by an earthquake in 2010. This is a common problem in NZ; beautiful old churches are damaged and sit for years waiting to either be repaired or torn down. They don't want to get rid of the historic churches, but they can't afford to fix them either.

Love Me Tender was created by a well-known Christchurch sculptor in 1994 and placed in East Baring Square in Ashburton a couple of years later. Evidently it was considered somewhat controversial to have a "risqué" sculpture on the square.

Love Me Tender was created by a well-known Christchurch sculptor in 1994 and placed in East Baring Square in Ashburton a couple of years later. Evidently it was considered somewhat controversial to have a "risqué" sculpture on the square.

The Legion of Frontiersmen Memorial is also at the East Baring Square.The frontiersmen were a group of local scouts/guides existing throughout the British Empire to help the British army  ( in this case in NZ ). They suffered heavy causalities especially in WWI.

The Legion of Frontiersmen Memorial is also at the East Baring Square.The frontiersmen were a group of local scouts/guides existing throughout the British Empire to help the British army ( in this case in NZ ). They suffered heavy causalities especially in WWI.

Banks Peninsula

The Banks Peninsula was originally an island formed by two volcanic cones. The peninsula has two large craters which form the Lyttelton and Akaroa Harbors. The peninsula starts a short distance from Christchurch, on the other side of the Port Hills; you can go between the two by traveling through the Christchurch-Lyttelton Tunnel or by going over the Port Hills...we did both. This tunnel is 1.2 miles long; it links Christchurch to it's sea port which is at Lyttelton. The route over the Port Hills takes you through the interesting Victoria Park.

Akaroa

Akaroa has the distinction of being the only French settlement in NZ. Thinking that this area had been purchased from the Maori, several French colonists arrived here in 1840. The French had hoped for a sovereign colony, but British magistrates had arrived on the HMS Britomart a few days before to claim it for the British. The settlement by the French went ahead but under British rule.

The view from Summit Road looking down at the Banks Peninsula. The town of Akaroa is on the far left side.

The view from Summit Road looking down at the Banks Peninsula. The town of Akaroa is on the far left side.

Another view from the Summit Road of the Banks Peninsula.

Another view from the Summit Road of the Banks Peninsula.


This wharf at Akaroa looks out onto French Bay.

This wharf at Akaroa looks out onto French Bay.


St Patricks' Catholic Church was built in 1864; two earlier Catholic churches here were destroyed. Little timber churches like this were common in small NZ communities; they were cheaper to build. The first recorded Catholic mass on the South Island was on the Akaroa foreshore in 1840.

St Patricks' Catholic Church was built in 1864; two earlier Catholic churches here were destroyed. Little timber churches like this were common in small NZ communities; they were cheaper to build. The first recorded Catholic mass on the South Island was on the Akaroa foreshore in 1840.

The popularity of Sir Edmund Hillary is obvious...he is everywhere!

The popularity of Sir Edmund Hillary is obvious...he is everywhere!


An old cannon at Britomart Reserve in Akaroa. Although this cannon is not from the HMS Britomart, it is similar to one that would have been used.

An old cannon at Britomart Reserve in Akaroa. Although this cannon is not from the HMS Britomart, it is similar to one that would have been used.

The view from the Britomart Reserve looking toward the Akaroa Lighthouse

The view from the Britomart Reserve looking toward the Akaroa Lighthouse


As we headed toward Christchurch, we passed by Governor's Bay. This view looks toward Turtle Island; it is hard to believe that just around the corner is the busy port of Lyttelton.

As we headed toward Christchurch, we passed by Governor's Bay. This view looks toward Turtle Island; it is hard to believe that just around the corner is the busy port of Lyttelton.

Victoria Park

Victoria Park opened in 1897 on the Port Hills above Christchurch. A visit here provides panoramic views of Christchurch, the Southern Alps, the Canterbury Plains, and Pegasus Bay.

We were also curious about the park after watching a Peter Jackson movie called Heavenly Creatures. This 1994 movie had an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay but didn't win. It would be over 15 years before the NZ producer/director/writer would become famous for The Lord of the Rings trilogy and later the Hobbit trilogy.

The movie is based on the fascinating story of the 1954 murder of Honora Parker by her 16 y/o daughter Pauline Parker and Pauline's close friend, the 15 y/o Juliet Hulme. The murder took place on a pathway in Victoria Park. The girls were found guilty of murder and each served five years in prison. Around the time of the movie's release, it was revealed that Juliet Hulme had changed her name to Anne Perry. Anne Perry is a well known English mystery writer. A pretty shocking thing to find out after reading several of her books over the years.

This is a living memorial to the soldiers of the Nineteenth Infantry Battalion and Armored Regiment; it was dedicated in 1953 at Victoria Park. It is unusual in that part of the memorial involves trees. There are four plots of "19" trees; each plot has a type of tree that is native to a country in which the men of the Nineteenth served in WWII.

This is a living memorial to the soldiers of the Nineteenth Infantry Battalion and Armored Regiment; it was dedicated in 1953 at Victoria Park. It is unusual in that part of the memorial involves trees. There are four plots of "19" trees; each plot has a type of tree that is native to a country in which the men of the Nineteenth served in WWII.

The Sign of the Takahe is the largest of four roadhouses built in the Port Hills above Christchurch. It was planned by the conservationist/ politician Harry Ell and built between 1918 and 1948. The building has been closed since the February 2011 earthquake, but repairs are near completion. It has been a restaurant and functions venue.

The Sign of the Takahe is the largest of four roadhouses built in the Port Hills above Christchurch. It was planned by the conservationist/ politician Harry Ell and built between 1918 and 1948. The building has been closed since the February 2011 earthquake, but repairs are near completion. It has been a restaurant and functions venue.

New Brighton

After going through the Christchurch-Lyttelton Tunnel,  we followed the coastline to New Brighton. This is a coastal suburb about five miles east of the Christchurch CBD. This picture shows the beginning of New Brighton Pier that stretches 1000 ft. out into the Pegasus Bay. Also pictured is the the library and clock tower.

After going through the Christchurch-Lyttelton Tunnel, we followed the coastline to New Brighton. This is a coastal suburb about five miles east of the Christchurch CBD. This picture shows the beginning of New Brighton Pier that stretches 1000 ft. out into the Pegasus Bay. Also pictured is the the library and clock tower.


The New Brighton Pier is under repair secondary to earthquake damage. It is still accessible, but both cosmetic deck/rail repair and seabed level repair of columns are expected to continue for months.

The New Brighton Pier is under repair secondary to earthquake damage. It is still accessible, but both cosmetic deck/rail repair and seabed level repair of columns are expected to continue for months.

Posted by Charedwards 14:10 Comments (0)

On the Road to Mt Cook

Marbles, Mountains, and a Twizel

After leaving Dunedin, we first traveled up the Otago Coast and then headed inland to Mt Cook.

Moeraki

On Christmas Day of 1836, six Maori and six Europeans landed on the beaches near the current site of the village of Moeraki. Their purpose for coming here was to found a whaling station. When looking down the beach, they must have wondered what all the mysterious "marbles" scattered there were.

An old "MO" gal on an even older "MO"eraki Boulder.

An old "MO" gal on an even older "MO"eraki Boulder.


There are around 50 (mostly symmetrical) boulders of varying sizes on this beach. With coastal erosion more will eventually show up.

There are around 50 (mostly symmetrical) boulders of varying sizes on this beach. With coastal erosion more will eventually show up.

In case you ever wondered what a Moeraki boulder looks like inside, this is it!

In case you ever wondered what a Moeraki boulder looks like inside, this is it!

We went to the hill overlooking Moeraki for this view of the village and the shoreline. The Moeraki Boulders would be just out of view on the right side of this picture.

We went to the hill overlooking Moeraki for this view of the village and the shoreline. The Moeraki Boulders would be just out of view on the right side of this picture.

Following the Waitaki River

This stop was mostly worthwhile because of this interesting rock formation. The holes are filled with birds. This was an area that provided shelter for the Maori. There are Maori drawings here but for a variety of reasons they are really hard to see.

This stop was mostly worthwhile because of this interesting rock formation. The holes are filled with birds. This was an area that provided shelter for the Maori. There are Maori drawings here but for a variety of reasons they are really hard to see.

The Takiroa Maori rock drawings were sketched by a European in 1852, making them one of the earliest archaeological recordings in NZ. The drawings are faint; some were removed years ago for museums etc. before that was a big no no.

The Takiroa Maori rock drawings were sketched by a European in 1852, making them one of the earliest archaeological recordings in NZ. The drawings are faint; some were removed years ago for museums etc. before that was a big no no.


A look at the mountains near Duntroon, as we followed the Waitaki River toward Kurow.

A look at the mountains near Duntroon, as we followed the Waitaki River toward Kurow.

The Waitaki Dam near Kurow, was the last dam built in NZ using manual labor (a pick, shovel, and wheel barrow). Seven more dams on the Waitaki would follow; this one is is touted as the first to be built without diverting the river's natural flow.

The Waitaki Dam near Kurow, was the last dam built in NZ using manual labor (a pick, shovel, and wheel barrow). Seven more dams on the Waitaki would follow; this one is is touted as the first to be built without diverting the river's natural flow.

These little houses sit across from the Waitaki Dam. They were built for the staff working on the Waitaki Dam in the 1930's. There is also a lodge here; all are now used for accommodations. The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail is the longest continuous ride in New Zealand; this is a popular place to stay when on that trail.

These little houses sit across from the Waitaki Dam. They were built for the staff working on the Waitaki Dam in the 1930's. There is also a lodge here; all are now used for accommodations. The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail is the longest continuous ride in New Zealand; this is a popular place to stay when on that trail.

One of the lakes formed by a dam along the Waitaki River.

One of the lakes formed by a dam along the Waitaki River.

Twizel
Twizel was built in 1968 as the base for the Upper Waitaki Power Development Scheme. It was set up in the Scandinavian style; it was quicker to walk than drive to the center hub. It was supposed to be a temporary town that would revert back to farmland when the hydro project was completed. In 1983, when the project was ending, residents were successful in saving the town. It is now a small alpine village known for being the gateway to the Aoraki/Mt Cook area.

The land on which Twizel was built was part of a large sheep station named Ruataniwha Station. Lake Ruataniwha sits by Twizel; it was completed in 1982 as part of Waitaki hydroelectric project.

The land on which Twizel was built was part of a large sheep station named Ruataniwha Station. Lake Ruataniwha sits by Twizel; it was completed in 1982 as part of Waitaki hydroelectric project.

A bird sculpture in the center of Twizel.

A bird sculpture in the center of Twizel.

A Euclid dump truck that was used in building the dam, is on display in Twizel

A Euclid dump truck that was used in building the dam, is on display in Twizel

Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park

Mt Cook is NZ's tallest mountain at 12,218 ft, and the Tasman Glacier is it's longest glacier at almost 17 miles; both are located in the Aoraki/Mt Cook NP. The park was established in 1953 and covers about 273 square miles.

On the way to Aoraki/Mt Cook NP, we stopped at this Lake Pukaki<br />vista for our first real look at Mt Cook and the surrounding mountain ranges.

On the way to Aoraki/Mt Cook NP, we stopped at this Lake Pukaki
vista for our first real look at Mt Cook and the surrounding mountain ranges.


Hooker Track

A beautiful view looking up the Hooker Valley toward the Mueller Glacier and Mount Sefton.

A beautiful view looking up the Hooker Valley toward the Mueller Glacier and Mount Sefton.


This is the first suspension bridge you cross when hiking along the Hooker Track (over the Hooker River).

This is the first suspension bridge you cross when hiking along the Hooker Track (over the Hooker River).

This is the glacier milk stream that flows from the Mueller Glacier.

This is the glacier milk stream that flows from the Mueller Glacier.

Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier Lake Tracks

Although this small lake is referred to as one of the Blue Lakes, as you can see...it really isn't! The name was appropriate in the mid 1800's when the lakes were still fed by the the Tasman Glacier.  Eventually the glacier receded and stopped filling the lakes; they are now rainwater fed, and the algae has changed the color to green

Although this small lake is referred to as one of the Blue Lakes, as you can see...it really isn't! The name was appropriate in the mid 1800's when the lakes were still fed by the the Tasman Glacier. Eventually the glacier receded and stopped filling the lakes; they are now rainwater fed, and the algae has changed the color to green

.

The Tasman Glacier Lake where it empties into the Tasman River.

The Tasman Glacier Lake where it empties into the Tasman River.

This memorial has the names of those who have perished in the Aoraki/Mt Cook NP.

This memorial has the names of those who have perished in the Aoraki/Mt Cook NP.

These narrow one lane bridges are all over the South Island of NZ.

These narrow one lane bridges are all over the South Island of NZ.

[bMt Cook Village[/b]

A long distance view of the Mt Cook Village; Mt Sebastopol is in the background.

A long distance view of the Mt Cook Village; Mt Sebastopol is in the background.

This Sir Edmund Hillary statue is in front of the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Center at Mt Cook Village. Sir Edmund Hillary's first great mountaineering achievement was climbing the south face of Mt Cook. The slopes here were the training ground for his climb of Mt Everest and his Antarctic expeditions. The center opened in Jan of 2008, just 3 weeks before his death.

This Sir Edmund Hillary statue is in front of the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Center at Mt Cook Village. Sir Edmund Hillary's first great mountaineering achievement was climbing the south face of Mt Cook. The slopes here were the training ground for his climb of Mt Everest and his Antarctic expeditions. The center opened in Jan of 2008, just 3 weeks before his death.

The view of Mt Cook from Mt Cook Village.

The view of Mt Cook from Mt Cook Village.

Posted by Charedwards 16:54 Comments (1)

Dunedin

Edinburgh of the South

We spent a couple of days in the southeastern city of Dunedin. A few things about this pretty area on the South Island include:

🔹The name Dunedin is Scottish for Edinburgh. Sometimes Dunedin is referred to as the Edinburgh of the South.
🔹In 1848, a Scottish settlement was started here; for the next 50 years thousands of Scots immigrated to Dunedin.
🔹For about the first 50 years, it was the largest city in NZ. Gradually the population drifted north toward Auckland.
🔹It has a population of around 127,000; 22% are university students. It is the second largest city on the South Island and the 6th largest in NZ.
🔹There are several hills that surround Dunedin and dominate the skyline; they are actually remnants of a volcanic crater.
🔹It was built on the riches of the gold rush, thus it claims to have one of the best collections of Edwardian and Victorian architecture in the Southern Hemisphere

Mount Cargill

Mt. Cargill is a few miles north of Dunedin; from the lookout here we had a panoramic view of the area. Below, the first 3 pictures show part of the 13 mile long Otago Harbor.

About 6 miles in from the mouth of the harbor is Port Chambers. This is the actual deep water port. Also shown in the background is the beautiful Otago Peninsula, plus a couple of the small islands that sit between it and the mainland.

About 6 miles in from the mouth of the harbor is Port Chambers. This is the actual deep water port. Also shown in the background is the beautiful Otago Peninsula, plus a couple of the small islands that sit between it and the mainland.

This is the mid section of the long waterway that separates the Otago Peninsula and the mainland.

This is the mid section of the long waterway that separates the Otago Peninsula and the mainland.

The city of Dunedin sits 13 miles from the mouth of the harbor, at the point where the Otago peninsula and mainland meet.

The city of Dunedin sits 13 miles from the mouth of the harbor, at the point where the Otago peninsula and mainland meet.

The University of Otago

The University of Otago is NZ's oldest university ( established in 1869), and it is the South Island's largest employer.

The Water of Leith runs through the University of Otago campus.

The Water of Leith runs through the University of Otago campus.

This large University of Octago building houses a rec center and the Plaza Cafe. Attached to the back of the building is the multipurpose Forsyth Barr Stadium. Known locally as the 'Glass House' secondary to its resemblance to a horticulture hothouse, the stadium's home team is the professional rugby union team the Highlanders.

This large University of Octago building houses a rec center and the Plaza Cafe. Attached to the back of the building is the multipurpose Forsyth Barr Stadium. Known locally as the 'Glass House' secondary to its resemblance to a horticulture hothouse, the stadium's home team is the professional rugby union team the Highlanders.

We got out of the rain, and we had a great cup of hot chocolate at the Plaza Cafe.

We got out of the rain, and we had a great cup of hot chocolate at the Plaza Cafe.

Southeastern City Center

The Dunedin Railway Station rates right at the top of our list of pretty rail stations that we have seen on this trip.

The Dunedin Railway Station rates right at the top of our list of pretty rail stations that we have seen on this trip.


The architecture inside the Dunedin Railway Station is described as Flemish Renaissance.

The architecture inside the Dunedin Railway Station is described as Flemish Renaissance.


The Dunedin Centograph is located in Queens Gardens; this war memorial was built in 1927 from Italian marble.

The Dunedin Centograph is located in Queens Gardens; this war memorial was built in 1927 from Italian marble.

Victoria shows up again...this time in Queens Gardens.

Victoria shows up again...this time in Queens Gardens.


This is the Cadbury Factory and Cadbury World. Cadbury came to Dunedin in 1930 to join with a local biscuit (cookie) maker to produce NZ's first milk chocolate bar. A year later came NZ's own Jaffa candy (orange ball with soft chocolate inside) which are said to be NZ's favorite candy. So when it was announced early this year that the plant was closing and moving operations to AU, it has been quite the blow to the city. The Cadbury World attraction will remain open and expand into the factory space.  With potentially 350 people losing their jobs by next year, the headlines are filled with "bitter chocolate" comments.

This is the Cadbury Factory and Cadbury World. Cadbury came to Dunedin in 1930 to join with a local biscuit (cookie) maker to produce NZ's first milk chocolate bar. A year later came NZ's own Jaffa candy (orange ball with soft chocolate inside) which are said to be NZ's favorite candy. So when it was announced early this year that the plant was closing and moving operations to AU, it has been quite the blow to the city. The Cadbury World attraction will remain open and expand into the factory space. With potentially 350 people losing their jobs by next year, the headlines are filled with "bitter chocolate" comments.

The Chinese Garden in Dunedin.

The Chinese Garden in Dunedin.

Toitū Otago Settlers Museum

We have been to a ton of museums, but I have to say that this was one of my favorites. It is especially good considering that it is just a regional museum. This museum has been around in some form since 1898, making it NZ's oldest museum. Now a newer building is attached to a former bus station; it takes up a large portion of the block across from Queens Gardens.

This portion of the Art Deco building was once the entrance to the  NZ Railways Bus Station; now the whole building houses the transport wing of the Settlers Museum.

This portion of the Art Deco building was once the entrance to the NZ Railways Bus Station; now the whole building houses the transport wing of the Settlers Museum.


A large jade stone or Pounamu at the Settlers Museum.

A large jade stone or Pounamu at the Settlers Museum.

The 'Maori Girl' is a former whaling boat that has been restored for the Settlers Museum.

The 'Maori Girl' is a former whaling boat that has been restored for the Settlers Museum.


These Pink and Blue Books were created to document the local Maori (Kāi Tahu) ancestors who were alive in 1848 when the tribes original land agreement with the Crown was made. When the claim was finally settled in 1998, any Maori wishing to benefit had to prove he/she was descended from a person listed in these 2 books.

These Pink and Blue Books were created to document the local Maori (Kāi Tahu) ancestors who were alive in 1848 when the tribes original land agreement with the Crown was made. When the claim was finally settled in 1998, any Maori wishing to benefit had to prove he/she was descended from a person listed in these 2 books.

Octagon

The Octagon is an eight sided inner city plaza in Dunedin. It sits on an incline with a paved area on the lower half and grassed terraces on the top. The main public and private buildings were placed around the Octagon.

With St Paul's Anglican Church in the background, this Robert Burns statue overlooks the Octagon. The poet's nephew was one of the founders of Dunedin.

With St Paul's Anglican Church in the background, this Robert Burns statue overlooks the Octagon. The poet's nephew was one of the founders of Dunedin.

A newer addition to the Octagon, this 1928 Regent Theatre could seat 2,000 people. It has been refurbished, and now it is mainly a venue for concerts.

A newer addition to the Octagon, this 1928 Regent Theatre could seat 2,000 people. It has been refurbished, and now it is mainly a venue for concerts.

A few more stops about town

Baldwin Street is said to be the world's steepest residential street. We barely noticed the climb, as visited with a local who was getting his exercise by walking up the hill backwards.

Baldwin Street is said to be the world's steepest residential street. We barely noticed the climb, as visited with a local who was getting his exercise by walking up the hill backwards.

Here we are at the top of the "World's Steepest Hill." Every year this hill is the site for the Cadbury Jaffa Race  and the World's Steepest Street Party. I was sorry to miss seeing the 25,000 Jaffas that are rolled down this hill for charity each year.

Here we are at the top of the "World's Steepest Hill." Every year this hill is the site for the Cadbury Jaffa Race and the World's Steepest Street Party. I was sorry to miss seeing the 25,000 Jaffas that are rolled down this hill for charity each year.

Speight's Brewery was founded in Dunedin in 1876. There are Speight's Ale Houses all over NZ. The brewery has a popular ad campaign that is based on the "Southern Man."

Speight's Brewery was founded in Dunedin in 1876. There are Speight's Ale Houses all over NZ. The brewery has a popular ad campaign that is based on the "Southern Man."

The walls of several old warehouses, factories, and commercial buildings have murals in Dunedin. This was one of my favorites.

The walls of several old warehouses, factories, and commercial buildings have murals in Dunedin. This was one of my favorites.

Posted by Charedwards 23:22 Comments (0)

Fiordland National Park

The Journey to the Milford Sound

After leaving Queenstown, we traveled to the Fiordland NP in the southwestern corner of the South Island of NZ. We were headed to the Milford Sound for a cruise out to the Tasman Sea. We found that this was one of those days where the journey to the sound was just a rewarding as the destination.

Some of our stops along the Milford Road included:

[bKeas[/b]

This quote from Kea Conservation Trust explains the situation better than I can:

Named by Maori for the sound of its call, the kea (Nestor notabilis) is endemic to the Southern Alps of New Zealand and is the world’s only mountain parrot. These sociable and highly intelligent birds are well adapted to their harsh environment. Unfortunately, the traits that kea developed for survival, their curiosity and omnivorous appetite, have created conflict with humans over the last 150 years. Persecution and predation have sorely depleted numbers and, with only a few thousand birds remaining, the kea is a Nationally Endangered species

Keas like being around people, stealing objects, and eating rubber. We thought this kea must be looking for bugs ( there were none), but a local told us that they frequently go after rubber. This is a juvenile kea, as it still has the bright yellow colouring around the eyes and nostrils (cere). As the kea get older, the yellow slowly disappears, and a dark colouration appears around the nostril and eyes.

Keas like being around people, stealing objects, and eating rubber. We thought this kea must be looking for bugs ( there were none), but a local told us that they frequently go after rubber. This is a juvenile kea, as it still has the bright yellow colouring around the eyes and nostrils (cere). As the kea get older, the yellow slowly disappears, and a dark colouration appears around the nostril and eyes.

Initially, we were the only car at this  Mt Tutoko lookout. When we returned to our car, this trio of young keas were waiting for us. I know they can be destructive, but we found them delightful!! I'm not sure if any member of this trio was involved in an incident at  the Homer Tunnel (pictured below) that occurred in Nov of 2016, but I would like to think that they were! It seems that construction cones kept appearing in lanes of the road by the tunnel. Video cameras later revealed that the keas were moving the cones...often several cones...several times. I think they just wanted the cars to stop, remember they are very sociable and smart!

Initially, we were the only car at this Mt Tutoko lookout. When we returned to our car, this trio of young keas were waiting for us. I know they can be destructive, but we found them delightful!! I'm not sure if any member of this trio was involved in an incident at the Homer Tunnel (pictured below) that occurred in Nov of 2016, but I would like to think that they were! It seems that construction cones kept appearing in lanes of the road by the tunnel. Video cameras later revealed that the keas were moving the cones...often several cones...several times. I think they just wanted the cars to stop, remember they are very sociable and smart!

The Homer Tunnel cuts under the Darren Mountain range at the Main Divide (Homer Saddle). It's completion connected Te Anau/Queenstown to the Milford Sound. Construction started in 1935, but it was not completed until 1954 secondary to avalanches, flooding, and WWII. The tunnel stretches for 1.2 km through solid granite; it even has It's own annual Nude Tunnel Run. The race is for 1.2 km, and only running shoes and a torch are allowed.

The Homer Tunnel cuts under the Darren Mountain range at the Main Divide (Homer Saddle). It's completion connected Te Anau/Queenstown to the Milford Sound. Construction started in 1935, but it was not completed until 1954 secondary to avalanches, flooding, and WWII. The tunnel stretches for 1.2 km through solid granite; it even has It's own annual Nude Tunnel Run. The race is for 1.2 km, and only running shoes and a torch are allowed.

Mt Tutuko is the highest peak in the Fiordland NP.

Mt Tutuko is the highest peak in the Fiordland NP.

It was a "frosty" on this early morning trip to the Milford Sound.

It was a "frosty" on this early morning trip to the Milford Sound.

The Cleddau River has created "The Chasm" which starts here.

The Cleddau River has created "The Chasm" which starts here.

A continuation of the chasm can be seen on the other side of the viewing platform.

A continuation of the chasm can be seen on the other side of the viewing platform.

A view of Darran Range as seen while walking to "The Chasm."

A view of Darran Range as seen while walking to "The Chasm."


Yes, it is!

Yes, it is!

Milford Sound

The Milford Sound is a fiord in the southwestern part of the NZ's South Island. It, along with the Doubtful Sound, and the Dusty Sound, lie within the Fiordland NP. We picked the Milford Sound to visit, as it is the only one accessible by car.

A map of Fiordland NP.

A map of Fiordland NP.

From the shore, we had this view of Mitre Peak before our cruise on the Milford Sound.

From the shore, we had this view of Mitre Peak before our cruise on the Milford Sound.

The beginning of our cruise through the Milford Sound.

The beginning of our cruise through the Milford Sound.

The Alpine Fault is the longest active fault in NZ; onshore it extends some 400 miles from Blenheim to the Milford Sound. This fault line is where the Pacific and Australian plates "collide and scrape past each other." The last earthquake along this fault line was exactly 300 years ago...so it is considered the biggest threat.

The Alpine Fault is the longest active fault in NZ; onshore it extends some 400 miles from Blenheim to the Milford Sound. This fault line is where the Pacific and Australian plates "collide and scrape past each other." The last earthquake along this fault line was exactly 300 years ago...so it is considered the biggest threat.

The point where the Milford Sound opens up into the Tasman Sea.

The point where the Milford Sound opens up into the Tasman Sea.

The boats cruising the Milford Sound like to stop under the Stirling Waterfall.

The boats cruising the Milford Sound like to stop under the Stirling Waterfall.

Here, the mountains vary from fully vegetated to almost bare rocks.

Here, the mountains vary from fully vegetated to almost bare rocks.


We went Orange!

We went Orange!

Te Anau

Before visiting the Milford Sound, we stayed in the small town of TeAnau; the accommodations are very limited at the small settlement near the Milford Sound.. Te Anau sits on the eastern shore of Lake Te Anau. This is the largest lake on the South Island, and the second largest lake in NZ. It is also the largest in the country by water volume, reaching to depths of over 400m in places.

A seaplane at Lake Te Anau.

A seaplane at Lake Te Anau.

A lakefront glass chapel at Lake Te Anau.

A lakefront glass chapel at Lake Te Anau.


This is a picture of an island located in Lake Te Anau that was taken early evening.

This is a picture of an island located in Lake Te Anau that was taken early evening.


There are warnings about this "attractive but poisonous fungi" in the parks.

There are warnings about this "attractive but poisonous fungi" in the parks.

Presidental Highway

After leaving the Fiordland NP we headed to Dunedin. As we traveled along State Highway 1, we came across a 25 mile section known as the Presidential Highway. The name was approved by the NZ government in the late 1990's, as it connects the towns of Gore and Clinton. It was raining so all I got was this picture of Gore.

Gore is known as the 'Brown Bass Capital' of the world. It is also the official country music capital, hosting New Zealand's Gold Guitar Awards. It should come as no surprise that it's sister city is Tamworth, NSW in AU.

Gore is known as the 'Brown Bass Capital' of the world. It is also the official country music capital, hosting New Zealand's Gold Guitar Awards. It should come as no surprise that it's sister city is Tamworth, NSW in AU.

Posted by Charedwards 17:54 Comments (0)

Queenstown and Surrounds

Looking for Paradise

Queenstown sits on the north shore of Lake Wakatipu in the south-western alpine region of the South Island. It is surrounded by the Southern Alps, and it is often referred to as the 'Adventure Capital of NZ'. This resort town recently overtook Auckland as least affordable place to buy property in NZ.

We traveled the Crown Range Road over the mountains to get to Queenstown. We left town by way of Gibbston Valley, following the Kawarau River through the 'world's most southern wine growing region.'

The Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge was built in 1880. We stopped here to view the bungee jumpers and this beautiful river.

The Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge was built in 1880. We stopped here to view the bungee jumpers and this beautiful river.

In 1988, the world's first commmercial bungee jumping business was started on this bridge.

In 1988, the world's first commmercial bungee jumping business was started on this bridge.

The view from the Crown Range lookout is of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.

The view from the Crown Range lookout is of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.


A view of the Crown Range Road, as it winds it's way down to the Arrow Valley just above Queenstown.

A view of the Crown Range Road, as it winds it's way down to the Arrow Valley just above Queenstown.


Bob's Peak overlooks Queenstown; there is a gondola ride that takes you to the top. During the daylight hours, there is a steady stream of paragliders leaving from here.

Bob's Peak overlooks Queenstown; there is a gondola ride that takes you to the top. During the daylight hours, there is a steady stream of paragliders leaving from here.

Sitting next to Bob's Peak is Queenstown Hill; one morning we hiked up here for a view of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and the mountain range called the Remarkables. This Basket of Plenty sculpture was built to celebrate the millennium.

Sitting next to Bob's Peak is Queenstown Hill; one morning we hiked up here for a view of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and the mountain range called the Remarkables. This Basket of Plenty sculpture was built to celebrate the millennium.


The Queenstown Gardens are located on a small peninsula on the shoreline of Lake Wakatipu. This entrance sits close to center of Queenstown CBD.

The Queenstown Gardens are located on a small peninsula on the shoreline of Lake Wakatipu. This entrance sits close to center of Queenstown CBD.


When we visited, they were setting up for an art show in the Queenstown Gardens and along the shoreline.

When we visited, they were setting up for an art show in the Queenstown Gardens and along the shoreline.


A male pied muscovy duck at the Queenstown Gardens.

A male pied muscovy duck at the Queenstown Gardens.


In NZ this native bird is called a kereru or NZ pigeon. Like the wompoo dove that we saw at Daintree, AU, it has the important role of eating large fruit and then spreading the seeds for long distances.

In NZ this native bird is called a kereru or NZ pigeon. Like the wompoo dove that we saw at Daintree, AU, it has the important role of eating large fruit and then spreading the seeds for long distances.

Queenstown sits nestled between Lake Wakapitu and Bob's Peak (part of the Ben Lomond Mountain).

Queenstown sits nestled between Lake Wakapitu and Bob's Peak (part of the Ben Lomond Mountain).

William Rees is regarded as the founder of Queenstown. He was an explorer, surveyor and he was one of the first Europeans to settle here. After gold was discovered, he had to give up his sheep farm, but he turned to selling food and other services to the miners. His contributions to the growth of the area included a timber mill, churches, a hospital, and a hotel to name a few.

William Rees is regarded as the founder of Queenstown. He was an explorer, surveyor and he was one of the first Europeans to settle here. After gold was discovered, he had to give up his sheep farm, but he turned to selling food and other services to the miners. His contributions to the growth of the area included a timber mill, churches, a hospital, and a hotel to name a few.


One of the most famous restaurants in Queenstown is called the Fergburger. There was a long line, but the service was great and so was the "Fergburger".

One of the most famous restaurants in Queenstown is called the Fergburger. There was a long line, but the service was great and so was the "Fergburger".

Glenorchy

One day we drove alongside Lake Wakatipu to the small town of Glenorchy. Located at the top end of the lake, it is about a 45 minute drive from Queenstown. Here, the Dart River empties into Lake Wakatipu, and the surrounding mountains are much closer together.

The Glenorchy wharf and railway shed are located on the north end of Lake Wakatipu. Until the 1960's, there was no road to here from Queenstown.

The Glenorchy wharf and railway shed are located on the north end of Lake Wakatipu. Until the 1960's, there was no road to here from Queenstown.


Jet boat rides on the Dart River are a popular thing to do in Glenorchy, but business was slow on this day. We noticed that tractors are frequently used to tow/launch boats in NZ.

Jet boat rides on the Dart River are a popular thing to do in Glenorchy, but business was slow on this day. We noticed that tractors are frequently used to tow/launch boats in NZ.

We walked around the Glenorchy Lagoon.

We walked around the Glenorchy Lagoon.


On our way to Glenorchy, we drove along the shoreline of Lake Wakatipu. We passed by Pig and Pigeon Islands which lie in the middle of the lake..

On our way to Glenorchy, we drove along the shoreline of Lake Wakatipu. We passed by Pig and Pigeon Islands which lie in the middle of the lake..

Paradise

If you follow the narrow valley north of Glenorchy, you might eventually find Paradise. The name either comes from the abundance of paradise shelducks or simply from it's beauty. Paradise is described as a "rural locality;" and since there is no specific spot, it is all about the journey. The journey involves driving on a gravel road through lots of sheep and cattle land, past Diamond Lake, Mt Ernslaw, to the border of Mt Aspiring NP. It is remote and beautiful!

There have been multiple movies filmed here including: The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy.

A view of the mountains surrounding the Paradise Valley .

A view of the mountains surrounding the Paradise Valley .


Arcadia House sits by Diamond Lake in the Paradise Valley. It was built in 1906 by a wealthy Englishman named Joseph Fenn. His plan to entice a future bride failed; he never married or lived in the house.  He lived as a recluse in a nearby cabin; Arcadia House became a guest lodge run by managers that he hired. Arcadia means "paradise" in Greek.

Arcadia House sits by Diamond Lake in the Paradise Valley. It was built in 1906 by a wealthy Englishman named Joseph Fenn. His plan to entice a future bride failed; he never married or lived in the house. He lived as a recluse in a nearby cabin; Arcadia House became a guest lodge run by managers that he hired. Arcadia means "paradise" in Greek.


We drove across the Arcadia station which sits in the Paradise valley.

We drove across the Arcadia station which sits in the Paradise valley.

Posted by Charedwards 00:01 Comments (2)

Greymouth to Cardrona

Grey Days

As we headed further south along the west coast of the NZ's South Island, we experienced a couple of "grey" days. I guess it was somehow appropriate that it all started in Greymouth!!

Greymouth

Greymouth is the largest town in the West Coast region of the South Island. It was founded on gold mining, but coal mining soon took over. It's name comes from the Grey River whose mouth is located here. We spent the night here, and the next day stopped at the site of the nearby former coal mine at Brunner. We also attempted to see Lake Brunner.

The Speight's Alehouse in Greymouth.

The Speight's Alehouse in Greymouth.

In New Zealand's worst mining disaster, 65 miners were killed by gas in the Brunner coal mine in 1896.

In New Zealand's worst mining disaster, 65 miners were killed by gas in the Brunner coal mine in 1896.

A memorial to the 65 coal miners who lost their lives here in 1896.

A memorial to the 65 coal miners who lost their lives here in 1896.

We didn't see much of Lake Brunner, but evidently it is the largest lake in the northwestern part of the South Island.

We didn't see much of Lake Brunner, but evidently it is the largest lake in the northwestern part of the South Island.

Due to a wrong turn, we drove around this lake for over an hour, and this was our view of Lake Brunner.

Due to a wrong turn, we drove around this lake for over an hour, and this was our view of Lake Brunner.

This memorial in Hari Hari honors the 21 y/o Australian aviator Guy Menzies. In 1931, he flew the first solo flight across the Tasman Sea. Starting in Sydney, he landed his plane the Southern Cross Junior in a flax field near here.

This memorial in Hari Hari honors the 21 y/o Australian aviator Guy Menzies. In 1931, he flew the first solo flight across the Tasman Sea. Starting in Sydney, he landed his plane the Southern Cross Junior in a flax field near here.

Franz Josef

Franz Josef is the name for both a small village and a nearby alpine glacier. We stayed in the village, and we walked along the valley trail to the glacier the next day. Also nearby is Fox Glacier which we viewed only from the lookout.

The village of Franz Josef is about 5km from the glacier..

The village of Franz Josef is about 5km from the glacier..

We walked by multiple waterfalls like this on our way to the Frank Josef Glacier.

We walked by multiple waterfalls like this on our way to the Frank Josef Glacier.

These moss covered rocks were a common sight on our way to the Franz Josef Glacier.

These moss covered rocks were a common sight on our way to the Franz Josef Glacier.

This was as far as we were allowed to walk on the valley trail secondary to ice instability. For the past few years, flying in by helicopter is the only way you are allowed to walk on the glacier.

This was as far as we were allowed to walk on the valley trail secondary to ice instability. For the past few years, flying in by helicopter is the only way you are allowed to walk on the glacier.


Mount Aspiring National Park

We would be in and out of this large national park several times in the next few days.

A tree we saw on one of our walks to a waterfall in Mount Aspiring NP.

A tree we saw on one of our walks to a waterfall in Mount Aspiring NP.

]A waterfall at Mount Aspiring NP.

A waterfall at Mount Aspiring NP.

Wanaka

After leaving Mount Aspiring NP, we drove alongside (or between) Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea for miles before reaching our next stop at Wanaka.
Wanaka is a resort town that is popular for its nearby ski fields and also it's water sports. The town sits at the southern end of Lake Wanaka.

Our first view of Lake Hawea

Our first view of Lake Hawea

Another view of Lake Hawea.

Another view of Lake Hawea.

Known as the “Lone Tree of Lake Wanaka,” this is supposed to be the most photographed tree in all of New Zealand. I guess it's popularity increased after a photo of tree won NZ's 2014 photograph of the year. In all fairness, it was cloudy so we couldn't see the Southern Alps that surround the lake, and the tree wasn't surrounded by water secondary to decreased glacial melt or rainfall.

Known as the “Lone Tree of Lake Wanaka,” this is supposed to be the most photographed tree in all of New Zealand. I guess it's popularity increased after a photo of tree won NZ's 2014 photograph of the year. In all fairness, it was cloudy so we couldn't see the Southern Alps that surround the lake, and the tree wasn't surrounded by water secondary to decreased glacial melt or rainfall.

We were more impressed by this huge redwood tree, in a park above Lake Wanaka, than the tree pictured above.

We were more impressed by this huge redwood tree, in a park above Lake Wanaka, than the tree pictured above.


This is a NZ grey duck hybrid. After mallards were introduced here, there are few pure grey ducks left.

This is a NZ grey duck hybrid. After mallards were introduced here, there are few pure grey ducks left.

This Australasian crested grebe is a threatened species in NZ.

This Australasian crested grebe is a threatened species in NZ.


The little shag is native to NZ.

The little shag is native to NZ.

Cardrona

Cardrona is an old gold rush town that has only two of it's original buildings intact. One of those buildings is the Cardrona Hotel; it was built in 1863. This is another popular area to come for skiing.

The Cardrona Hotel is supposed to be the most photographed hotel in NZ. The long time owner had a rule about how many beers his customer could drink. If the customer was going to Wanaka he could have 2 beers, but if he was going over the dangerous Crown Range, he was allowed only one.

The Cardrona Hotel is supposed to be the most photographed hotel in NZ. The long time owner had a rule about how many beers his customer could drink. If the customer was going to Wanaka he could have 2 beers, but if he was going over the dangerous Crown Range, he was allowed only one.


An old Tesla pump repurposed as a charging station in Cardrona.

An old Tesla pump repurposed as a charging station in Cardrona.


The Cardrona bra fence is controversial, and at times the bras are removed but more eventually show up. The farmer who owns the fence doesn't mind the bras being there, but some of the locals think they are an eyesore.

The Cardrona bra fence is controversial, and at times the bras are removed but more eventually show up. The farmer who owns the fence doesn't mind the bras being there, but some of the locals think they are an eyesore.

Posted by Charedwards 13:56 Comments (0)

The West Coast

Foul Winds, Pancakes and Wekas

Cape Foulwind

When Abel Tasman became the first European to come to this headland in 1642, he named it Rocky Cape. In 1770, James Cook changed the name to Cape Foulwind, after his ship the Endeavor was blown offshore by "foul" winds. We followed the Cape Foulwind trail, along the cliffs and over farmland, to the fur seal colony at Tauranga Bay. Don't you just love the name??

The cliff side portion of our walk at Cape Foulwind had this view.

The cliff side portion of our walk at Cape Foulwind had this view.

Several fan tails were our constant companions on all our walks. They are never still and often would flit within a few inches of us. I thought they were coming close to protect their nests, but I later found out that they are just looking for any insects that human movement might stir up.

Several fan tails were our constant companions on all our walks. They are never still and often would flit within a few inches of us. I thought they were coming close to protect their nests, but I later found out that they are just looking for any insects that human movement might stir up.


The Cape Foulwind Lighthouse.

The Cape Foulwind Lighthouse.

As we rested at one of the vistas along this walk, what should appear but this friendly hen. This is a weka (also known as a Māori hen); it is a flightless native bird of NZ.

As we rested at one of the vistas along this walk, what should appear but this friendly hen. This is a weka (also known as a Māori hen); it is a flightless native bird of NZ.

Wekas are known for being friendly and curious. They like to steal shiny objects. Obviously, this weka thought that a backpack on the ground was fair game.

Wekas are known for being friendly and curious. They like to steal shiny objects. Obviously, this weka thought that a backpack on the ground was fair game.


It is hard to believe that this particular area was once home to a rock quarry.

It is hard to believe that this particular area was once home to a rock quarry.

Wall Island at Cape Foulwind is free from the predators, and a safe place for birds to breed.

Wall Island at Cape Foulwind is free from the predators, and a safe place for birds to breed.

The fur seal colony at Tauranga Bay.

The fur seal colony at Tauranga Bay.

This view looks over Tauranga Bay toward the small village of the same name.

This view looks over Tauranga Bay toward the small village of the same name.

The map of our walk at Cape Foulwind.

The map of our walk at Cape Foulwind.

After leaving Cape Foulwind we eventually found ourselves on the Great Coast Road. This drive reminded us of the Great Ocean Road in AU; we stopped at multiple vistas.

This was one of our favorite stops along the Great Coast Road.

This was one of our favorite stops along the Great Coast Road.

Paparoa National Park

Another stop along the Great Coast Road was at Paparoa NP. In this park our hikes included the following: the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes Walk , Pororari River Track and the Truman Track.

This is the entrance to the Pancake Rocks walkway at Punakaiki.

This is the entrance to the Pancake Rocks walkway at Punakaiki.


These are heavily eroded limestone rocks called the Pancake Rocks.

These are heavily eroded limestone rocks called the Pancake Rocks.

This is a close up look of a section of the Pancake Rocks.The rocks were originally formed on the ocean floor with alternating layers of sandstone and limestone. Earthquakes then lifted the ocean floor up, and the wind and rain eroded away the softer sandstone creating the horizontal slices or stacks of pancakes.

This is a close up look of a section of the Pancake Rocks.The rocks were originally formed on the ocean floor with alternating layers of sandstone and limestone. Earthquakes then lifted the ocean floor up, and the wind and rain eroded away the softer sandstone creating the horizontal slices or stacks of pancakes.

When looking at this board, it was pretty easy to see some of the creatures being formed here.

When looking at this board, it was pretty easy to see some of the creatures being formed here.

This particular blowhole at Dolomite Point, was rather subdued at the time of our visit.

This particular blowhole at Dolomite Point, was rather subdued at the time of our visit.

A view of the Pororari River from our walk of the same name.

A view of the Pororari River from our walk of the same name.

Of course, a certain Truman grad wasn't going to pass up checking out this track! It was named for Jim Truman from the nearby town of Greymouth. He spent two years creating the track in the 1950's. The NZ government would allow no trees or shrubs to be removed for the track; each one was uprooted and repositioned if it sat along the track.

Of course, a certain Truman grad wasn't going to pass up checking out this track! It was named for Jim Truman from the nearby town of Greymouth. He spent two years creating the track in the 1950's. The NZ government would allow no trees or shrubs to be removed for the track; each one was uprooted and repositioned if it sat along the track.

The end of the Truman Track overlooks the Truman Beach.

The end of the Truman Track overlooks the Truman Beach.

We stopped on this west coast beach to look for pounamu (jade) and any other treasures we might find.

We stopped on this west coast beach to look for pounamu (jade) and any other treasures we might find.

Posted by Charedwards 12:40 Comments (0)

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