Post Mortem

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Nothing is ever set in concrete, plans change and flexibility is good. I pack far too many possibilities into the planning blog and that’s great, it not only gives me options but also ideas for the next adventure. Some days I am inspired to go out and conquer mountains, other days lying around and reading with lovely views sounds really pleasant.

Then there is the weather. November is a fickle month in New Zealand; it can be amazing, it can be awful. November 2016 was infamous for being mostly cool and wet on the West Coast and windy inland with the occasional spectacular day included. I noticed how grey it was as I scrolled through the thousands of photos I took, comparing them with April, a far more settled time of the year. I planned this one for spring as a time of birth for both animals and birds.

Then there was the earthquake. I think we all know that while we can look at an epic event and think wow, how terrible for those involved, but it’s until we have experienced it or have actually attended we don’t really get the true feel for it.  Maybe the earthquake deserves it’s own blog page.

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What I had planned . . . . .

What I did . . . . . . . .  back tracking!

These 3 factors were the reasons for my plans being different to those planned but I also have an excuse to go again 😉 It also meant I backtracked up the West Coast and added around 400 kilometres to my travels. I could have gone over Arthur’s Pass but then it was too soon after the earthquake for me to feel confident. My choice, but not one I regret. I’m saving that until next time (next year/this year?).

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The grey route on the right, with the two crosses (in between the crosses the road is not functional), is the pre-quake route, the blue one the current one. The centre one is the aircraft route.

I kept a total of all my expenses, an interesting exercise.

Expenses Accomodation Food Entertainment Diesel

59.55

5 November

20.00

19.99

6

20.00

27.50

7

12.00

29.56

52.24

8

12.00

5.35

9

27.00

52.04

10

27.00

1.40

11

30.00

12

30.00

7.03

100.00

Ponamu/Jade search

13

30.00

27.26

68.93

14

30.00

15

10.00

16

10.00

35.71

17

18.00

27.70

135.00

Okarito Bird Sanctuary

18

20.00

6.68

35.86

19

20.00

39.44

20

24.78

34.12

38.34

21

550.00

Doubtful Sound Cruise

22

24.78

23

24.00

49.17

43.43

24

18.00

23.65

46.58

25

25.50

12.45

29.49

26

25.50

5.00

27

27.00

5.00

28

23.00

3.89

37.80

29

19.50

17.10

37.00

30

26.00

6.80

Dec 1

26.00

7.50

2

20.00

27.15

54.01

3

20.00

55.36

4

5.00

620.06

531.85

443.68

I was surprised how much I spent on diesel but I did travel over 3000 kilometres. Food, well, I was on holiday and while I still work I do treat myself. When I travel after I retire I will be more thrifty. Accomodation was reasonable and I did get 3 nights at $10 each post the quake in Hokitika instead of $30 per night. That was so kind of them.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Karamea, my first visit. It’s a beautiful place, has it’s own microclimate. Unless you are a whitebaiter go outside the season, the residents are busy as whitebait command a high price. A return visit is planned to visit the caves.

Okarito white heron (Kotuku) bird sanctuary, the only nesting place in New Zealand with the bonus of a jet boat ride. Awesome for a bird watcher.

Hokitika for it’s lovely beaches, sunsets, stone mats, ponanu/jade search (Arahura Greenstone Tours), Hokitika Gorge, artists and the town has a lovely feel.

Doubtful Sound overnight cruise for amazing unspoilt scenery, amazing food (especially if you like lobster (crayfish as we call it), venison and more lobster. Birds, penguins, dolphins and great fishing.

Glentanner at the bottom of Aoraki/Mt Cook a birdwatchers delight, lots of native birds, lovely scenery and close to the mountain and the beautiful blue waters of Lake Pukaki.

Reefton, my first visit and I will return. A mining town that is creating it’s own identity through tourism (gold mining and history)

Westland (referred to by me as the West Coast), because it is a beautiful region of New Zealand, quite spectacular in scenery and a region where I feel at peace.

They may not all be places tourists on a tight itinerary would go to but a must for all Kiwis and backpackers.

My regret is not getting to Kaikoura. When I got to Picton, on day one, I spent some time deciding to go east or west first, mainly because of the weather forecast. I really did want to save Kaikoura, a special place, until last. It was not to be.

I have a wonderful four weeks, I could have done the same trip all over again and not come home for another month but I have responsibilities. 🙂

It was a test too. I had only been away in the Ducato for a few days at a time and didn’t know how I would feel living in it for four weeks. It was a success. I can’t think of one thing that didn’t go well.

I love going solo ❤

Going home

Today I was going home.
I was not filled with joy at the thought.
The saving grace to my feeling of doom was that I would see Phee and I knew that for four weeks and one day he had been without human company. My neighbour, who was feeding him, had only seen the occasional departing glimpse of him.

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That’s me on the right. When a train went over it was quite noisy but a nice spot, nevertheless.

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The last Weka 😦

I had a late check out from the motor camp and went and took photos for a friend who’s grandparents had owned the place when she was a child. I was so pleased to see a Weka, something I had not expected this far north.

15895312_10155761861929863_8257839053489625223_nEventually I drove down to the wharf, only to find that was no longer where you lined up to board. “Commercial vehicles only” said the sign but nothing to tell you where to go now! I had left it later than my usual one hour early to arrive. My confidence was shattered. I eventually found it by sheer fluke and commented to the lady in the ticket booth. She was most sympathetic, almost rolled her eyes and empathised with me.

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I wonder if this bird was responsible for the mess on my windscreen 😉

The camper van lane was filled so I was directed to begin another one, feeling quite pleased I would be first, even commented to the traffic director I was feeling very special. I didn’t feel so special when I came to a halt with a line of other campers behind me and found I had stopped on the wrong place, too far forward, by about a meter. Then began an interesting process of me reversing to the back of the line, weaving through the traffic cones, fervently hoping I wouldn’t hit any, while EVERYONE watched. 😦15941163_10155761794694863_4629048777534732146_nIt wasn’t the ferry I was expecting to be on either, I usually book the biggest one but now I seemed to have conquered seasickness I wasn’t too worried and I knew it was going to be windy and choppy in the Cook Strait.15895331_10155761838414863_449715099140558290_nIt was a pleasant trip out of the Sounds and wonderful to see a pod of dolphins inside the Sound. I’d seen them in the Cook Strait but not in the Sounds ❤

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Leaving Picton

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They were keen, it wasn’t too warm.

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I’m guessing this could be mussel farming

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Perhaps a Bottlenose Dolphin ❤

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The hour or so across the Cook Strait was good and there were some lovely cloud formations to keep me occupied. The door sign went up for strong winds and I went inside to get something to eat to pass the time.

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Amazing clouds . . . . . .

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Just about out of the Sounds

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and into the Cook Strait.

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A Petrel

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The North Island

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Into Wellington Harbour

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Wellington

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The Port of Wellington

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And it was over, I was in Wellington, driving off the ferry and heading home. Levin, my home town is about one and a half hours north west of the capitol city. As it was Sunday and about 6pm most of the traffic was heading south so it was an easy drive back.

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Kapiti Island, a special place

Phee was there to greet me, very vocal and needing lots of love, bless him. The lawns looked like a paddock, it’s amazing how much they grown in the 4 weeks and 1 day I had been gone.

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Phee ❤

I was home. It was over!                                                                                   ~~4 December 2016~~

Back to Picton.

I woke with a feeling of sadness, only one more night until my return home, but also with a feeling of apprehension. . . . . . .

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The 7.8 earthquake on 14 November, while I was in Hokitika just a few weeks ago, had caused huge damage to a significant length of the road from Picton to Christchurch, State Highway 1, the main road from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island. It’s largely a coastal road in this area and this is where the damage was, caused by huge slips and the ocean floor rising. There is also a railway line that follows the road, so no cars or trains until the slips had been cleared and the road and rail was made safe. It may take up to a year to be fully open. The alternative route is much longer and on secondary roads that are not made for heavy traffic conditions and big trucks. This was the cause of my apprehension and it seems silly that in 2016 I drove about 5,000 kilometres in the South Island! Maybe it’s the concentration of trucks and the condition of the road. I’m not a nervous driver, I had been on gravel roads with tourists who were not used to our roads and, at home, drove on the other side of the road.  Anyway, deep breath and just do it. . . . . . . . . !

The original route on the left and with the detour on the right. Quite a difference!

As I am writing this (January 2017) I am happy to report that the road has been opened from Kaikoura south. This has meant that tourists can now get to Kaikoura to whale watch, swim with the dolphins and see the beautiful pelargic birds. That was on my to do list, I had planned to stay in Kaikoura for 6 days and it’s still on my list. I am delighted for the good people of Kaikoura to have the tourists again. It’s what Kaikoura does and does well.

The first part of travelling was on quite roads with lovely farming countryside and with lots of old buildings and sheds. It was a pleasant drive.

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Not far from Inangahua is this lovely bridge. I wonder what I would feel if there was a train coming the other way, that I think may be exciting!!

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I stopped in Inangahua for breakfast. We were talking about pies and the owner assured me that theirs were the best and I got to see the pies being made too! They were a lovely couple, I recommend a visit if you are passing. The pie, consumed later, was one of the best. As I was leaving, I spotted a Weka, a semi tame youngster. I was given some bread to feed it and they took photos. They were so kind.

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In Inangahua, I can’t remember the name.

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The clouds look lovely and, of course, so do the sheep ❤

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Back in the Upper Buller Gorge, such a pretty area and with narrow roads.

It was from Murchison on I was apprehensive, nervous about big trucks and narrow roads. My two visits to the South Island had given me confidence in driving the Ducato, no problems with that, and the backing camera was an awesome help but my natural wussy nature takes over after the close call with two trucks last time (not my fault, I may add).

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I saw this on the way down and couldn’t get a photo, couldn’t stop. Someone actually lives here though the house is at the side and in reasonable condition.

I stopped for lunch, my pie, where I saw the flock of Kerurus last time and where I embarrassed the Spanish tourist 😉 No Kerurus this time but the Buller River was looking lovely.

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It was also here I saw the first Weka, not this time though.

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OMINOUS 😦

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So 80 kilometres of narrow roads, that, in the few weeks since the earthquake ,had visibly deteriorated. The local roading people were on the job and repairing constantly.

eek

Get over mate and it’s only a small car, showing the narrowness of the road!

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There’s a truck coming  . . . . . . .  I would actually breathe in 🙂

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This was in poor condition.

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Whoops!

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I was surprised to see some snow as I neared St Arnauds, which is near ski fields but this was early December! At St Arnauds I turned off to Lake Rotoiti. I’d called in last time and the weather wasn’t great then, not great today either.

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One day there will be no clouds and no wind . .. . . . . .

I hadn’t seen an eel with blue fins. We only have two species here, none have blue fins.

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This group of older ducklings where having a lovely time and putting on a great show

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This adult, a few problems with grooming  🙂

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And this Mandarin totally out of place, I’ve not seen one in the wild.

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Imagine this with more snow and sunshine, no wind and a mirror image. Still, it is a favourite view.

I knew when I was getting closer to Blenheim as the grape vines appeared, encroaching into farming country.

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I love their clean straight lines.

I was really pleased the Kiri (GPS) took me the back roads, so I missed Blenheim with the horrible narrow (near miss with a truck) bridge.  And I was relieved to reach Spring Creek.

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Rail freight that had come from the North Island by ferry to Picton was still going by train to Spring Creek where it was loaded on to long haul trucks. For me, it was a short drive to Picton.
My apprehension was founded, in places trucks were having to go over the verge of the road, nearly everyone slowed down when approaching another vehicle and everyone, truck drivers and other motorists were very courteous and considerate.

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My apprehension was founded, in places trucks were having to go over the verge of the road but nearly everyone slowed down when approaching another vehicle and everyone, truck drivers and other motorists were very courteous and considerate.

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It was a beautiful night, the last night of a wonderful four weeks.

~~3 December~~

Reefton

I was leaving the West Coast, that always makes me sad, and it would be all new territory. I had no idea what to expect and no idea what the countryside would be like.

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As I left I snapped a close up of this church window. I had passed it a few times and thought it was lovely. 

My ‘all new territory’ was added to by somehow ending up in the wrong lane and going to Cobden on the other side of the river and at the Grey River mouth at Hill Quay. A bonus! The beach was lovely and it was nice to see some sand instead of all stones.

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To the north, it was cloudy.

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To the south the sun shone at the mouth of the Grey River with the dirty water from the river obvious.

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The road followed the Grey River along the wide, fertile river valley. There were many mining towns, villages really. Mining used to be the main industry of the West Coast, now there are only 5 coal mines in operation on the West Coast, two of which are in Reefton. There are no operational gold mines in the area but you can go and pan for gold in many places on the West Coast.

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Morris Minors seemed to have been popular, I had a British racing green car and a metallic blue van!

Coal was discovered on the West Coast by Nelson surveyor Thomas Brunner and the mine named after him. 1847, and mining started there in 1864.The mine steadily produced coal for over 40 years. On 26 March 1896, Brunner coal mine disaster, 65 miners killed by an explosion or by poisonous gases following the explosion. This is New Zealand’s largest death toll from an industrial accident. 186 children were left fatherless, 37 women were widowed, and 14 elderly parents were deprived of their sole financial support. The main Brunner mine was closed in 1906, but other mines started nearby. After the Dobson mine closed in 1968 there was no further mining in the area.

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We forget that in those days children worked 😦

Next time I go this way I’ll go over the bridge and explore. There are also walks in the area. Mining is one of my newly acquired interests 🙂

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The TranzAlpine train from Christchurch to Greymouth (on my bucket list)

http://www.kiwirailscenic.co.nz/tranzalpine/?servicename=TranzAlpine  There is a lovely video on the link.

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Eye catching!

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This one closed in 1960.

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Was it a church, perhaps? The tower section is on a lean 🙂

On the afternoon of 19 November 2010, an explosion ripped through the remote Pike River mine on the West Coast of the South Island, killing 29 men, two men survived. Their bodies have not been recovered and remain in the mine, which is now sealed.                                                              The report of the subsequent Royal Commission of Inquiry revealed a combination of errors within the mine, including inadequate methane drainage, non-functioning gas sensors, flawed electrical and ventilation design, and inaction on hazard warnings. These failings were compounded by the failure of government regulatory authorities to effectively inspect the mine and act to remedy the problems.15895233_10155737265659863_1518934916889128249_n

As I passed the turnoff to Pike, I knew there was a protest by the families of the miners and I would like to have gone and given my support and respect. I didn’t and wish I had, I didn’t want to intrude. This was a recent disaster and was close to the hearts of many Kiwis (New Zealanders). I remember hearing of it in Australia, where I was on holiday and when I flew back to New Zealand we would have flown over the area. We have since seen the memorial service for the miners on TV, followed the Royal Commission enquiry, been with the families wanting to get their loved ones back, heard that the mine is safe to re-enter but the company that owns the mine wants to permanently plug the mine.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11747378   an excellent article on the disaster.

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I slowed down to let him pass, I don’t like driving with a tanker behind me.

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I was happy to get to Reefton though I managed to get lot again. I was looking for the main street and missed it. I pulled over to look at the GSP and this elderly lady pottered out to have a chat. She was very sweet and helpful and we chatted for a while.

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Reefton (population 1026) is a mining town and there has been a restoration of some of the historic buildings; this is a town with character.15826017_10155737310224863_7384520066736485635_n

I really like the main street and there was a great range of shops, many artists appear to live in the area. I bought a lovely bronze/copper piece for my table.

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Reefton was the first to have a public supply of electricity and the town was the first to switch on an electric street lighting system in the Southern Hemisphere. 15940355_10155737285649863_4448630057641877605_n

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I loved the simplicity of this.

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And here is one of the lights.

There was a great exhibition of Reefton’s history at the iSite, I would recommend a visit. I spend ages there and the staff are really friendly and helpful.

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Next visit I will explore .

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Reefton has a rich history

I discovered this free example of Reefton as it was , again I recommend a visit.

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Colourful (and one that is somewhat rude). There are many of these that young tourists (I have yet to see an older tourist in one) that provide a bed and basic coking facilities. Most do not have toilet facilities which causes we Kiwis a lot of angst 😦15871571_10155737338204863_7550276915322874737_n15826505_10155737301564863_5640062082380030334_n ‘R28’, the Single Engine Fairlie’, is the sole survivor of a batch of locomotives built in England during 1878-9. New Zealand Railways, barely born back then, operated it throughout Otago and Canterbury until 1934. On-sold several times for harbour work in Timaru and collier work in Reefton, R28 finally retired in 1948. Later, gifted to the people of Reefton, interest in its restoration gained momentum driven by a unique sense and enthusiasm for its engineering and international significance.15895074_10155737296429863_6376070015516825447_n15894556_10155737298814863_3988218788104033049_n15822604_10155737299764863_7764896484439218730_n

The motor camp was pleasant, with running stream. I was able to park where I liked and I did. Then the owner came back and apologised for her (elderly) mother’s instructions and had me move one park down with her holding my power cable while i completed the move. She was adamant I didn’t need to unplug so I drove slowly and she ‘walked it’, I found it really funny. She wasn’t too impressed, I felt, by my less than perfect alignment.
The reason for my moving one space along was because a nurse arrived on Friday in his camper van to be on duty over the weekend, when there was no Doctor. I was parked in his space 🙂 He was a nice guy, we had a conversation or two.

~~2 December~~

Greymouth for two nights

I was staying for two nights a few kilometres south of the shopping precinct, in South Beach. Greymouth is quite spread out for a small town (population less than 10,000) and it is also the largest town on the West Coast. It has a working port situated on the Grey River, after which the town is name.
 Greymouth prospered and grew with the discovery of gold, followed by coal mining, with seperate townships being settled on either side of the river, Greymouth to the south, Cobden to the north.

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What a difference a lot of rain makes, the top photo from April!!

http://www.westcoast.co.nz/west-coast-regions/mawhera-grey-district/

The link above will take you to the region’s tourism page with activities, accommodation etc

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Ponamu (greenstone/jade).

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There wasn’t anyone around for me to ask to take a photo!

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I’d briefly stopped here with Dasha in April, we had wandered along the river and were impressed with the art and architecture.

This time I parked on the outskirts of the shopping precinct and walked.

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I’d read about a famous bakery that had award winning pies.

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I bought a few things here. It would be worth another visit and the fresh bread smelt delicious.

I walked around town, few people about but lots of camper vans along the river. Christmas was coming (it was 1 December) and I was impressed with this window.

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and thought this was nice too.

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Nothing really exciting but some of the buildings along the river bank were attractive.

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A bonus seagull

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I love the colour, it will look cool when the paining has finished

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I loved the old railway station and the coast train was just leaving, It would be a great rip to take, from Greymouth to Christchurch, over/through the Southern Alps. Spectacular in winter with the snow.

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Greymouth is an oddly laid out town, I thought it was somewhat messy and a town where you would need a car. Seemingly it has the best climate of the West Coast towns, I love the river precinct, it has a nice beach but I still prefer Hokitika.

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The port in the distance, well used by fishing and coal boats.

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The memorial to the lost miners is beautiful. I counted each one and paused to think about the 29 who died in the Pike disaster in 2010

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I missed this so included thee photo from April. I would buy a small version of this, it is exquisite, a beautiful piece of art.

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~~30 November & 1 and 2 December~~

Franz Joseph to Greymouth

My holiday is nearing the end and I’m not looking forward to going home. I’m enjoying being mobile and going solo.

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I did some tourist shopping before I left for Greymouth, I really like the Glacier Shop, it has a great range of things that appealed to me and I bought 3 bracelets. If you are in Franz Joseph I recommend it.

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So sad, I didn’t know about this

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Adieu Franz Joseph and Mt Cook.

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As I neared Whataroa I was deciding if I would stop and go on the Alpine Fault tour. I almost did but decided to save it for the next time, I am keeping a list 🙂

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The Alpine fault line is behind this hill.

I stopped briefly at Lake Mapourika, there was a nice little walk down to the lake but no birds. It is a kettle lake, formed when a large block of ice was left behind by the retreating Franz Josef Glacier some fourteen thousand years ago. I’ve only learned this since I was there. I would have looked at it differently had I known.

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I was looking forward to visiting the Pukeko Store in Hari Hari to reconnect with the beautiful cat “Mr T”. Dasha and I had stopped there in April. so we were acquainted. He was parked outside on top of a tall parcel, making him at perfect smooching height.

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The gorgeous Mr T

I stopped at Lake Ianthe, initially going to the wrong end by a pretty stream, waving to a couple in an NZMCA caravan parked there and going to the actual lake after several attempts at turning. I wasn’t the only one 🙂 It was very apparent the rain had been considerable, the lake level was high and the grass squishy and soggy to walk on. It’s a very clear lake, the fishing is good, according to the blurb, and I watched an Indian chap (who reminded me so much of my late doctor) for a while but he wasn’t successful.

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At last a bird, a sweet little Silvereye.

I had great fun photographing the resident Weka. It looks like it was caught in a trap and had lost one foot (also had a fat leg) but was very healthy and a character, I’m sure it posed for me. It abandoned me when two English tourists arrived with their lunch.

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It was a really funny bird, quite an actor 🙂

I stopped in at the Bushman’s Centre, Pukekura, population 5. It has a cafe and museum. I met two of them (the other 3 are Pete’s daughter, partner and child, just recently arrived) and seemingly missed such treats as a possum pie in the cafe, which I didn’t go to. It was an interesting place, a relic from the past. Justine makes possum items, there are several industrial sewing machines in sight. I bought a signed print, and Pete wiped off the dust. We chatted about possum trapping and 1080. They reminded me of old (probably younger than me) hippies, were well spoken and educated. He had been a possum trapper for much of his life, both were conservationists. They are ardently anti 1080 and we also had an interesting discussion about the ‘alleged’ damage possums do to our native forrest and birds. We had slightly different opinions but it was a civil conversation and I learned much! I’ve since seen he has written a book which I will get.The Pukekura Lodge, opposite, has reasonable accomodation including several powered sites.

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AN unusual menu (not my photo) next time I must try dine here 🙂

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A Tahr, there were more.

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Colourful signs 🙂

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The last of the snow

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The last glacial river.

I forgot to stop at the Kakapotahi River for a fossick, as planned (it’s on the next time list) and went on to Ross, population about 300. I drove around the residential streets and like many towns on the West Coast, Ross is a former mining town which has become a little run down with the closing of the mines and the loss of employment. A large opencast mine was opened in 1990s, over the road from the pub 🙂 It’s now been filled with water.

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It was in Ross that the largest gold nugget in New Zealand was found in 1909. The “Honourable Roddy Nugget” was as big as a man’s fist and weighed 99 ounces (over 3 kilos). It was purchased by the New Zealand government and presented to King George V as a coronation gift. A 1950 enquiry about the whereabouts of the nugget to the Royal Family resulted in the embarrassed
 Imperial Household reporting that the nugget had been melted down to gild a Royal tea service!
 (Further discomfiture ensued when the said tea service could not be located). Not nice at all, shame on you 😦

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Opposite the pub with the “lake vaguely visible” – the lake side chairs are 🙂  I’m guessing that’s part of the old mine in the distance.

I drove on through Hokitika (but did stop for a Lotto ticket), wanting to stay again in one of my happy place but knew I needed to experience Greymouth to decide which was my most favourite West Coast community.

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There is a tree growing in the centre of this ‘house’ 😉

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Those who know me well will know why . . . . . . . 😉

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Our garage fell down!

My favourite bridge, the Taramakau Road/Rail Bridge, about half way between Hokitika and Greymouth.

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Such a great bridge, I’m sure I have seen a train using it too.

And from the other end, the bridge was being painted (not my videos).

“A new two-lane bridge will be constructed 30 metres downstream of the existing bridge to carry vehicles, with a separated off-road shared facility for pedestrians and cyclists also being constructed. The rail traffic will remain on the existing bridge, separating all modes of traffic to improve both safety and efficiency. The realigned road will also pass over the existing rail south of the river via an overpass. Construction of the new bridge is expected to start late 2016 and will take about 2 years to build.” Another piece of information I have since found. I think it’s the last road/rail bridge in New Zealand. It will be a sad loss when it is closed to vehicular traffic.

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This type of farm shed used to be quite common in New Zealand, made of corrugated iron.

I had two motor camps to choose from and decided on the Greymouth Seaside Top 10, one of the most expensive I have stayed at. It was spacious and clean, I had my own Weka, a juvenile. I would stay again though I nearly didn’t get there, it was very difficult to find on the GPS.
The beach is so pretty, less of an undertow than most though I wouldn’t swim there. There were beautiful stones and I added to the collection.

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West Coast beaches have this mist, sometimes you have to look for it, other times it’s just there. I love it.

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Flying in to Wellington from Australia. I have seen this from the air many times.

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7.53.55 pm    The sun kisses the sea, micro seconds later.

It was a lovely sunset and I was amazed at how quickly it met the sea.  I walked back to the Ducato and was serenaded by a blackbird ❤

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~~30 November~~

 

 

Haast to Franz Joseph

I slept the sleep of the innocent and woke around dawn, heard a Kea and went back to sleep. It rained most of the night, apparently, there was water everywhere and it was still raining. I went for a walk to the “Kea Tree”, it was huge and I thought I took photos, seemingly not or I have misplaced the memory card, but sadly no Keas.

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Cute cabins at the motor camp.

I went to fill with diesel and the gas station is on the road to Jackson’s Bay (thank you Kiri, the GPS, with no cell coverage I would have had to ask human where it was 😉 ) I decided to miss it this time and go to Franz Joseph and as I decided this, the rain stopped and the sun came out. 🙂

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There was nobody on the bridge again, I’m so lucky! My bridge of nightmares 😦

Over the Haast Bridge and I was going to stop and take a photo or two, once over it. This was impossible as the park was full of buses. Tourists, like me, taking photos. Next time.

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There were lots of these little mozzies

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The first stop was the Ship Creek walk, not too far on. There were lots of campers and cars there but the car park was big enough. The information boards are great, I have noticed these are a feature of many public places on the West Coast. The surf was loud, the tide was coming in. There is a board walk for the first part, along the sand dunes, not too well signposted at the end. I asked a guy coming back along the track where it led, he said “Through the jungle” and it almost was, it was very dense, thick and wet. The second part was under the one-way road bridge and over a lagoon and is an ancient kahikatea swamp. There were no birds but it is New Zealand as it once was. I could almost see the Moas wading through, looking for a bite to eat!

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A pretty beach with no birds

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Lovely clouds

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The tannin enriched lagoon and not one bird.

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Under the bridge.

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Over the bridge that I was just under!

The next stop was Knight’s Point named, unusually, after the surveyor’s dog. Knight! It marks the place where the roads being constructed from the north met the road being constructed across the Haast Pass in 1the 1950s. The views from here are lovely and one was the cover photo for one of my previous blogs.

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I stopped lots of times for glimpses of the coast, I wasn’t in a hurry.

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Knight’s Point to the south . .

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to the north.

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This is an old one; that’s me, next door!

It’s strange the way the mind plays tricks. I was sure there were no huge, windy, slow hills between Haast and Fox and of course, Knight’s Point is at the top of one of them! It’s one of the more challenging section of the coast! It’s interest driving UP the coast having driven Down it twice this year. I have seen things I didn’t see.

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Lake Paringa

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No birds, a cute stream and the grass was very soggy.

I was annoyed to miss Munro’s Beach but there was no place to turn around for quite some time. Another “next time”. I still didn’t have cell coverage so couldn’t check on the phone or the blog. 

Paringa was the next stop and I couldn’t remember what it is I wanted to see and I had briefly considered freedom camping there(I have had internet and have checked, it is a “bird lovers paradise”). The 30 minutes I spent there were devoid of a single bird sighting. I did, however, chat to a very nice lady who was a member of the NZMCA as I am. Members are easily recognisable from the ‘wings’ and membership number on their vehicles or caravans. I am member 60600, so we are numerous.

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Playing with black and white

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I’ve posted so many like this, I never tire of them.

Bruce Bay was not spectacular today, even the coffee cart wasn’t there but I did get some better photos of the stones and the trees. It is a nesting place for penguins but with a sea a little wild and the tide coming in I wasn’t brave enough to go wandering. I seem to have lost some of my recently discovered sense of adventure since the earthquake. 😦

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The Rimu trees are spectacular, I love their tall clean lines.

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I grabbed another shot of the Lady of the River” church. It’s not a spectacular church but seems to hold a fascination for many. It is an historic church, though I can’t find any history, and it is constructed from corrugated iron!

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Fox, no beautiful mountains, no snow. Covered by grey cloud 😦

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Some of the Kiwi owned camper vans have extra transport.

I stopped at Fox and was surprised to see the Glacier was closed, seemingly it was possible there had been a landslide/slip with all the rain. I couldn’t see any of the lovely views of the Southern Alps I saw on the way down, while it was fine, the cloud clung to the mountain.

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The bridge that had been wrapped from the other end.

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From the other end taken earlier in November.

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I love these old buildings

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Sheep and tussock

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Sheep shearing shed

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Bridges, I like them too.

There is a very windy, twisty, narrow section of road to traverse between Fox and Franz Joseph.

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I am much wider than these two cars!

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Just before Franz Joseph, weird that it is late November, nearly summer.

I drove around, deciding where to stay at Franz Joseph, I had a few places in mind. The one I chose had a gorgeous ginger cat lying on the counter. Good choice, Brutus allowed me to give him some pats.

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It’s good to see the mountains again.What a difference driving 30 minutes makes.

“I have the most delightful park for the night. I am looking at a thick covering of natural forest and have a little stream too. There is a canopy of vegetation over me too. It’s like being in a cocoon.”

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There is lovely walks through the motor camp.

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That’s me at the end.

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Isn’t this lovely!

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I walked into Franz Joseph and had a look at the shops, like tourists do, I quite like to play the tourist occasionally and constantly remind myself that’s what I am.

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A Christmas tree

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No I didn’t . . . . . .

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This one is lovely in it’s simplicity

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Two Moas at one of the hotels.

There was a group of NZMCA members staying near to me, celebrating a 50th birthday. They kindly asked me to join them, I declined. I am shy, not good in groups. They had a lovely time, having drinks and nibbles and lots of laughing. One of the guys came over to chat, as I was having my breakfast/lunch/dinner. He has a similar Ducato to mine and was keen to compare. We have different layout, his is similar to Lena’s. He had lost his wife last year and wasn’t keen on groups either but they were taking care of him. Lovely.
 ❤

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The staff were having some fun 🙂

I went to sleep with the sound of the stream and the drips of moisture from the trees. It was really pleasant.

~~29 November~~