Post Mortem

screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-5-31-21-pm

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.

screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-5-20-48-pm

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?).

screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-5-16-52-pm

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 ❤

Glentanner

Glentanner is both a vast sheep station (farm/ranch) and a holiday park/activities centre. It is located where the Tasman River, formed from the Tasman Glacier, becomes Lake Pukaki. There is also a small  airstrip and a helicopter business. At around 600 meters above sea level, it is at the base of New Zealand’s tallest mountain, Aoraki/Mt Cook, about 20 minutes from Mt Cook village. Many of our mountains now have both a Maori name and an English name.

15727355_10155696930454863_5112801881493103517_n

I had only planned to stay for one night, depending on the deteriorating weather and I stayed for three. I would have stayed longer if I didn’t have time constraints. I knew the area was expecting more gale force winds and Glentanner seemed the best place to stay as it somewhat sheltered and there is lots of wildlife to watch.

15740782_10155696998589863_1821985393301538409_n

15697310_10155696959019863_8782164573470038686_n

Where the river becomes a lake.

I had a great park with shelter via some very solid looking trees, one of them a cherry. In a few weeks I would have been able to stand in the Ducato, reach out and pick lovely fresh fruit, if the birds had allowed it 🙂 If they hadn’t it would have proved some great photographic opportunities.

15747570_10155696988079863_30061471887958600_n

Looking along the runway is is clearly an old glacial valley

15747721_10155696993624863_9016695591742166812_n

A cloud halo

15747528_10155696963229863_6272668783556604750_n

A close up of the valley across the road.

15727169_10155696949139863_8304795311767922701_n

15740893_10155697006039863_3419501052210132712_n

I walked down to the lake edge. During the thaw I expect this will be a river.

15726783_10155696955024863_8750549775929688679_n

I am in love!

15747651_10155705761814863_6777314380081527558_n15697761_10155705770169863_3279348393510666773_n

15780782_10155706087199863_4217629933910244210_n

A Rifleman, a tiny bird endemic that never is still for long. I’m wondering if the feather is for nest construction. ❤

 

15622176_10155696840034863_8083926545088184803_n

Pretty moss.

15727083_10155705944569863_1213473528121254300_n15665534_10155705942164863_17629422097725936_n

15665398_10155697010259863_6308555124574839723_n

A sturdy vermin trap. The rare Black Stilt (an endemic) nests in the area.

15672684_10155697008799863_377636913169324379_n

I enjoyed the peace during the day, taking short walks through the subalpine vegetation, walking to the cafe to get a little treat and relaxing and reading. The other camper vans to and from Mt Cook, about 20 minutes away, didn’t arrived until dinner time.

15747646_10155696990909863_6812581718383446110_n

South Island Pied Oystercatcher

15740935_10155696863374863_5038214910532048913_n

Greenfinch

15780666_10155705958749863_1867525348269761084_n.jpg

15726547_10155696781754863_6503739505773164131_n

Song Thrush fledgling.

15697371_10155705972619863_6846599981823096339_n

 

15542144_10155696851044863_664151929759659769_n

Starling

I caught up on a few blogs (I was way behind) listened to the radio and while there was no talkback available,  I was  surprised that I enjoyed National radio and it’s eclectic range of programmes. 

It was cold, as I expected, but when the wind died down and after an overnight snowfall rather low down, the sun came out.

15672652_10155696941379863_2915991348456336390_n

New Zealand Pipit and chick

 

15726630_10155696967454863_3362732080582992160_n

Possibly a  newly fledged Grey Warbler.

15726614_10155696879229863_9039734137108914546_n

15726439_10155697015894863_5395844371833532961_n

Mr Ring-necked Pheasant

15741195_10155696973519863_314716817831735069_n.jpg

Mrs Ring-necked Pheasant

15665620_10155705846284863_2072215183653709417_n.jpg

In their cage and, below, out.

15697278_10155697014844863_4054022232639734947_n

15698089_10155697011729863_2146044363879648553_n

I’m not sure what this was, an exotic pheasant/guinea fowl perhaps (same above)?

15400379_10155696883079863_7605999773954443500_n

There were Red Polls everywhere, I haven’t seen one before, lots of newly fledged thrushes, a tom tits/robins, bell bird/warblers, finches, sparrows, dunnocks and pipits. It was time for me to start to learn to tell the difference between some of the species when I got home. I had never actually “looked” at differences. It’s amazing what happens when you have an uncluttered mind 🙂

15747512_10155696896069863_5829077869901004582_n

15740909_10155696800389863_398004576876351749_n

15672917_10155696808839863_8492462948999267937_n

I saw so many Red Polls but didn’t get any decent photos.

15665871_10155696881934863_3151673786072686133_n

Chaffinch

I sat in the Ducato, throwing bread and watching, stalking them through the bushes which being sub-alpine had prickly bushes, possibly Hakea, and disturbing loads of rabbits, so many rabbits!! I heard a falcon, saw something overhead that flew a similar manner to a swallow but was much larger and am sure I saw a Kea 🙂 but perhaps that was my vivid imagination.

15740925_10155696986099863_6784996495650002239_n

An entrance to a rabbit warren.

15726499_10155696982234863_721794207237583763_n

A young rabbit.

15698085_10155696876954863_7672441742545688983_n

A better photo of where the lake begins with the tarmac behind the wood pile.

The helicopters and planes were unable to fly for the first few days and I knew the weather was OK on the last morning I woke up to hear them. I felt for the pilots, no flying = no income. I saw them a few times in the cafe, they seemed really young (to me) and a nice group of guys. I wonder if I would have been tempted to have a scenic flight if the weather was ideal.

On the second day I was able to walk down to the shore, though it was still very gusty!

15740745_10155697004054863_2281281049019977645_n

I was delighted to see a Banded Dotterel.who was trying to pretend she didn’t have a nest/chick. I haven’t seen one before. 🙂

It was with great reluctance I left but I will be back.

15747467_10155696769694863_6558917843960364146_n.jpg

15697830_10155696946789863_700754136343518460_n15698228_10155696777334863_4829461707939788384_n

~~26-28 October~~

A quick trip to Tekapo then back tracking, somewhat, to Glentanner.

The weather was rather windy and it was a difficult decision, do I go straight to Glentanner or do I go to Tekapo then back to Glentanner? One of the reasons for this trip being in November was to see the beautiful multicoloured lupins that are especially prolific at Tekapo. Also, it appeared that there was a storm coming. Before I left I had a quick walk along part of Lake Ruataniwha, trying to capture THAT view!
15726503_10155689320669863_8608272593858088779_n

 

15590461_10155689322729863_4337413168269793792_n

15697239_10155689325724863_6214770819253172045_niron-bridge-info

There was a bridge I wanted to see called the Twizel Iron Bridge, a single span deck arch bridge built over the Ohau River in 1889 with a clear span of 36.5 metres and an overall length of 41.5 metres. An odd thing for a mature woman to want to see perhaps but my tastes are eclectic from sheep, to pylons, birds (naturally) and now doors.

15672597_10155689349739863_727097689339531519_n

If I hadn’t come to see the bridge I would have missed this  . . . . . . . .

15697517_10155689357404863_4257837857029870606_n

. . . . . . . . and this, a little power station!!

15672487_10155689355869863_5747289073566636998_n

I got to the Glentanner/Mt Cook turn off and carried on. I regretted that move a few times, it was now incredibly windy and I didn’t feel too safe on a few occasions but only briefly when I was side swiped by a gust. While I’m used to driving in the wind on our roads, many aren’t, I took my time, only did 60 kph in places, driving to the conditions.

Screen Shot 2016-12-24 at 5.05.03 PM.png

15726363_10155689375649863_8675906869445564633_n

At first glimpse Lake Pukaki looked great

15621582_10155689377114863_185022173355675097_n

15697579_10155689379874863_2190730160396266450_n

but it was rough and I could see there was rain in the distance, where Glentanner is!

15665401_10155689383309863_2437174229229036035_n

It wass still beautiful

From Pukaki to Tekapo it’s quite exposed and if it hadn’t been so windy it would have been perfect. The hills look gorgeous, the lupins exquisite. I love the McKenzie Country.

15380521_10155689388419863_8670139713872338950_n

It looks idylic though the lupins have a lean 🙂

 

15578826_10155689386834863_2677185715027542952_n

15622226_10155689385069863_7960486747976852628_n

At the top of this bridge over the canal the car had the crane on it’s roof blown off!

I was pleased to get to Tekapo and managed to find the perfect park, behind a small hill that faced directly into the gale that was blowing, right by the statue of the sheepdog!. There were loads of tourists there, all looking a little frazzled in the wind.

15622749_10155689374519863_2197171531131540583_n

15672714_10155689363519863_7246249253589751404_n15621820_10155689359954863_8388024672648687210_n

15665597_10155689359409863_6900577484531852998_n

The lupins were blowing in the wind, the lake had large waves!

15698338_10155689362489863_5808185267559602429_n

The tussock was blowing in the wind!

I really felt for the two newly weds who had planned their photo shoot with the lake and the lupins. It wasn’t warm and she must have been freezing and so disappointed.

15726516_10155689381139863_8141010437482235896_n

I took some photos, without too much enthusiasm actually. The wind makes me edgy, I was feeling grumpy and not looking forward to the return journey.

15590551_10155689727504863_2891161403731480019_n

15590374_10155689364359863_5604737927103902566_n

California poppies for Dasha 🙂

I walked over the bridge, it was like a fairground ride, I had on hang on to the rails and on the way back to the Ducato, it actually blew my bag off my shoulder. Fortunately I was able to catch it before it ended up in the water. It contained my keys, my purse and my passport. Time to leave!!

15590645_10155689367974863_330454704510981513_nchurch

It is a beautiful little church and even the gale force winds can’t spoil it. It was built in 1935, so not old but is wonderfully constructed and the site perfect. The next time I go, weather permitting, I’ll stay in Tekapo and get some photos at sunset.

15622463_10155689370159863_3384923461119671983_n

The trip back wasn’t marvellous either, especially being caught in the side wind. This time it was blowing me towards then coming traffic. Amazingly I didn’t see any crashes, though on ambulance was going the opposite way and the canoe blown off the car roof on the way. I was pleased to get to the turn off to Glentanner.

15697295_10155689391669863_6969157624219160352_n

I hadn’t remembered seeing Glentanner when Dasha and I went to Mt Cook and wouldn’t have thought to go there had it not been for Lena’s recommendation.
The wind didn’t feel so bad here, it was now head on. I felt much happier.

 

15621587_10155689393324863_1267356782932161530_n

Past the lavender farm

 

to-gt

towards the snow, we were climbing.

15621958_10155689395904863_5388650244993781088_n

rainbow.jpg

Just as I arrived a rainbow appeared, a nice welcome 🙂

~~25 November~~