Sunday, 15 March 2015

An Outing on Olga

We went for a ride on Olga the Old Girl today. 

That may not sound very thrilling, but we haven’t been for a ride since early November, except when Mick brought her into town from our old house.

We had to find helmets, gloves, intercom cords etc.  They had all just been stashed when we moved, but all were fortunately located.

The ride was just a short one, joining the Historic Car Club for a picnic by Chifley Dam.  It really was a lovely day for it.  I even achieved a little stitching on Nature’s Journey while sitting in the sun chatting.

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This was our first chance to get out of town since our move and we were shocked to see how very dry everything is.  No, we aren’t stupid, we knew it was very dry, but this was the first time we had seen it first hand.  We were so lucky with the timing of moving into town.

Anyway, back to our ride, after lunch we took a detour on the way home and called into the O’Connell Cafe for coffee and cake.  A rather lovely way to finish off.

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Hopefully, we will be able to join in the runs a bit more now that we don’t have as many garden and yard and paddock commitments, which is the whole idea.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Haast to Hokitika – Part 1

The next day of our trip was one Mick was looking forward to.  The main thing on his wish list, even higher up than seeing a Kiwi, was to fly in a helicopter over the glaciers and Mt Cook.  He has never been in a helicopter, so where would be more stunning than here to try it out.

We woke to a partly overcast day, but hoped that things would clear before we reached Fox Glacier.  Of course there were a few points of interest to call in and see before we got that far.

First stop was Knights Point Lookout, with these stunning rocks off the coast.

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And we had to call in at Bruce Bay.  So many rocks on the beach. You could hear them grinding on each other. The waves were mesmerising.  Do you notice that the sun has disappeared.

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There were lots of narrow, one way bridges on the South Island.

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I’m glad I’m not a bus or truck driver.

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Finally, we arrived at Fox Glacier and realised that Mick’s dream was not going to become a reality on that day.  It was just too cloudy.  When we arrived there were a few choppers in the air, but they seemed to dwindle.  Just as well we hadn’t booked anything ahead.

We still intended to walk up to the glacier and have a look.  There were lots of warning signs.

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It is quite alarming to see how much the glacier has retreated in six  short years.

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We walked part of the way until we could see the start of the glacier in the distance.  It was at this stage that I decided that I wouldn’t go any further.  I’m rather very unfit and I knew I would struggle up that hill. The track is that skinny line running up beside the cliff on the left.  There are tiny specks on that path, which are the people.  I sat it out on a rock and “Visited” with a nice gentleman from Texas, who had the same idea as me.

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Mick took the next couple of photos.  I couldn’t believe how dirty the glacier is.  I wonder if it looks better in spring?

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Doesn’t the ice make strange sculptures.

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Remember how I said I love the 16 x zoom on my camera.  Remember that photo above of the skinny line of a path.  Well, I was able to zoom in and pick out Mick walking back down from the glacier.  (That’s him in the white t-shirt and hat.) Pretty impressive.

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By the way, he said I wouldn’t have made it.  Lots of people were struggling.  You can see on the photo above how steep it is.  I’m glad I took the easy sensible option. Maybe another time.

Back on the road, I finally got a photo of a farm shed.  We saw quite a few of this design and Mick was really taken with the way they were constructed.  Not quite like a tank on its side, but with a slight peak. We’ve never seen any like it in Australia and didn’t see any on the North Island either.

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Next stop was to have been Lake Matheson, where you can take photos of Mount Cook reflected in the lake.  Not today you couldn’t.  Yep, Mount Cook is somewhere in among those clouds.

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On well, we have an excuse to visit another time and hopefully have a better day.  We really can’t complain, as we have had wonderful weather for the rest of the time, except for one day, and that didn’t stop us doing anything.

Anyway, we headed towards Franz Josef, where we had a nice lunch, spying yet another cute church along the way.

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We did catch a quick glimpse of a snow clad mountain, so do believe they exist.

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Monday, 9 March 2015

Out Damn Spot

I love my camera.  It is just a little point and shoot that lives permanently in my handbag. 

The best thing is that it has a 16x optical zoom, which works really well, taking lovely, clear photos and videos.

The worst thing is that it has a 16 x optical zoom, which means the lens has to move in and out.

At the start of our holiday my photos started to get a little mark in the top left hand corner.  When I looked a the lens, it wasn’t a mark ON the lens, it was IN the lens.  It wasn’t too bad, and I figured I could compose photos to allow me to crop it out.  You can see it below – just a little smudge - annoying, but I could live with it.

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However, as we went along, another very conspicuous mark developed top centre, and then another to the right.  Now I was getting annoyed. They were all WITHIN the lens.

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And there was one more as well.  Looking at the lens it is a tiny white speck bang in the centre.  It didn’t show on photos unless I was shooting into the sun, then there was a faded out mark bang smack in the middle of the photos, like on the door of the cottage in Arrowtown.

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I didn’t want to buy a new camera while we were away, so my plan was to use Mick’s second camera.  Yes, he takes two.  He has his big one, which I can’t be bothered with. The wrong lens always seems to be on for the situation you want, and I haven’t had enough practice with it.  His second camera is a little point and shoot he bought to take on the dirt bike. It is water, dust and shock proof.  It only has 5 x optical zoom, but I could live with that, if at least the photos were clear.  The only problem was that we couldn’t find it.  We were sure it had been packed. I had the cord with all the others, but assumed we must have accidently left it at home.  Darn!

That was, until we were doing the big pack up to go on the ferry from the South Island to the North Island. It finally was located in one of the many pockets in Mick’s back pack.  Therefore, although the last photos I took on the South Island are all marred by the nasty marks, I do have some better ones of the North Island.

Now that we are home I have discovered that there is one month left on my camera’s warranty.  Unfortunately, the store I bought it from won’t deal with the warranty at all, other than giving me a phone number.   Now I have to find out what I have to do to get it looked at.  Hopefully, it will be covered, but I’m not holding my breath. If it isn’t covered I will purchase my next camera at the store where I know they will take care of any warranty claims for you.

I’ll keep you posted.

Friday, 6 March 2015

New Zealand – Queenstown to Haast

Much of the rest  our trip after Queenstown was just winging it.  Mind you, there had been a fair bit of that all along the way, but now we didn’t have much of a travel guide to follow.

We had been told that we should visit Arrowtown, not far from Queenstown, which was an old goldmining town.

I found a patchwork shop, so of course I had to go in for a little look see.

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It was a lovely place and I brought home a bookmark kit and a few Kiwiana batik fat quarters.

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After wandering the main street we set out to the Chinese Settlement, which was really interesting.

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The building below was the local Chinese store.  It was more than just a store, it was where gold was sold, there was accommodation in the loft and it was a social meeting place.

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The houses were very humble.  Most of the Chinese were peasant farmers looking to make their fortune.

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Most returned to China, but a few stayed on in this community.

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As in most western societies, they weren’t really accepted and New Zealand has since made an official apology for the way they were treated.

The small huts on the cliff were for storage.  There were extensive market gardens in this area, which were their source of income after the gold rush.

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I loved this door handle.

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The general streetscape of Arrowtown was rather cute and with large, shady plane trees overhead.

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Time to keep moving.  Along the way, you glean little snippets of advice of where to travel and what is the scenic route.  One that was mentioned to us was to go over the “Crown Ridge Road” from Arrowtown to Wanaka.  We are glad we did.  It was a rather steep and windy climb.  Yes, that is the road we came up.  It was plenty wide enough and had a good surface.

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It was no trouble as long as you took it steady and followed the speed indicators.

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Of course, there was a lookout at the top and what a view.  Everyone taking turns taking photos of each other.

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Wanaka is, funnily enough, located on a lake, Lake Wanaka.  We had a very pleasant time sitting here eating our picnic lunch.

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By the way, don’t complain about the price of petrol in Australia.  The NZ dollar and the Aussie dollar are about the same at the moment.  We enquired as to the cheap deisel price.  They apparently have to pay a levy of $800 after they travel 10,000kms, so it doesn’t work out that cheap after all. It sounds rather cumbersome to us, easier to build it into the price at the bowser.

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A Kiwi trademark seems to be these plastic letterboxes.  We first saw them on rural properties, but, as you can see they are used in suburbia as well.  They come in all sorts of colours, but blue and yellow or black and red are rather popular, to show your allegiance to your favourite rugby union team.

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After Wanaka we soon came across Lake Hawea and travelled beside it for quite a while.  It runs parallel to Lake Wanaka and they are divided by a very narrow piece of land.

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After we left Lake Wanaka behind us it was just driving through forest following the Haast Pass, or so we thought, that is until we saw the sign to Fantail Falls.

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Once we left the car park and came out onto the river bank we were greeted with this spectacle.  The whole area was covered in flat rocks, which everyone was having fun making into little towers.

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Of course Mick had to join in, but be a little left or centre.

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He decided to prop up a stick and build his tower on that, as you do.

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Then he made a smiley face.

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Oh, yeah, there was even a water fall, although the stones were what were more interesting to the visitors.

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OK, best be on our way.  What we thought would be a relatively boring drive turned out to be anything but.  On our first night in NZ, the lady in the motel said that on the South Island you will have a change of scenery every half hour.  She wasn’t far wrong.  We ended up following the Haast River.  On the map there was a name “Gates of Haast” marked at one spot.  This is it.

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We were able to park and walk down under the bridge.

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The water fairly roars through here.

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Thunder Falls was the next thing to stop and had a look at.  It was a nice walk in.

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And worth the walk.

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A nice walk out too.

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Yes, more snow in the distance, just to remind us how high those mountains are.

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And finally we arrived at our destination, Haast, which is a very small community near the west coast and nice and peaceful after Queenstown.

We had dinner at the local pub, which is the local mecca of hunters, with lots of trophies on the walls, after all, it is called the Hard Antler.

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Even the beer taps were antlers.

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This one wasn’t a trophy, it was very much alive in the tree. It is a wood pigeon and they are the largest pigeon variety in the world.  We saw a few and I think they are a lovely bird.  You can’t see it well in this photo, as it was on dusk, but the dark patches are a rich iridescent green.

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I thought some of this day would be a tad boring, but I’ve come to the conclusion that the South Island just can’t help being spectacular and the perfect weather for travelling only added to it.