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 ❤

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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~~