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Archive for March, 2014

Had the holiday, now it was time to get some stuff done around the house.  The first weekend was recovery time and washing and preparing for work.

The painter had finished the house.  All that needed doing was the window trim.  The painter had bought some light grey for the concrete bit around the bottom of the house, so I used that.  Not the most striking contrast, but I wasn’t too bothered.   I painted them all on the second weekend.  There was still paint left over, so I painted the concrete part of the sunroom on the outside, making it look ten times better (that was weekend three).

I have asked the painter to do the wallpapering in the spare room.  I hate wallpapering and I know I’ll never get around to it.  I had stripped basically all the room, but just had the pelmet to do.  That is now done and sanded.  Now I’m waiting for H to go through some junk to make room.  I’m trying to sell a bookshelf, without luck.

This three-day weekend (I took Friday off) I tackled the painting of the middle window of the sunroom.  I had told the painter to ignore it.  I sanded and painted the outside, and today did the inside.

Two plants in the garden bed at the front of the house had died – whether due to lack of water or paint/chemicals, I don’t know.  I bought replacements yesterday and planted them.  I also bought three trees to plant at the front boundary.

Today I cleared the mess that was the ‘garden’ at the boundary.  After two plants had died and been removed some time ago, the grass had taken over.  I pulled out all the grass and poisoned the suckers from the street tree.  I planted the three trees.  I hope they grow thick and fast.  Now, apart from the huge rubbish heap at the back of the garage, the property is looking fairly tidy.  During weekend two I fixed up the broken gate, but ideally the side fence and gate need replacing.  Hmm.

Next weekend I may either paint the window frames in the spare room or paint the concrete on the inside of the sunroom (or both).  Window frames in the kitchen and lounge also need doing.  It’s never-ending.

I have been feeling depressed.  House stuff has kept me busy at least.   I feel like I have nothing to look forward to and enjoy.  Whoever said that holidays make you refreshed for work was wrong.  It’s just made me feel miserable.  Every work day is the same – tedious.  Anyway, enough misery.  Onwards…

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Nelson to Picton, on the ferry to Wellington, and home

The day we dreaded. After checking out, we had breakfast at a nice little Swedish bakery.

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The World of Wearable Art museum (and other attractions) was not open for a couple of hours.  Not knowing what else to do, we left Nelson for Picton, taking the scenic route around the Sounds. On the way, we stopped at Pelorus Bridge, which I had completely forgotten about.  Apparently, it was a filming location for The Hobbit.  I  haven’t seen the second film (missed out).

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Beautiful clear water and such a lovely colour.

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H wasn’t in the mood for a bush walk, there being some (but not many) sandflies.  We continued, reaching the Sounds.  I was working by an old map, so missed a turnoff to Anakiwa and H wasn’t inclined to turn back.

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We did stop briefly at Ngakuta Bay, where I got out to take a few photos.  H stayed in the car.

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Then, finally, we reached Picton, which was windy and had dark clouds overhead.  We wandered through the town for a bit, then joined the queue for the ferry.

It being too cold and windy to stay outside on the ferry, we went inside and read books and played Scrabble.  If you wanted to go online or watch a movie, it cost extra.  Food and drinks are expensive ($1 extra for a slop of soy milk in a cup of tea, for example), so we ate our own food.

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An uneventful trip.  We sat near the front windows but as they were pretty grimy and people had their baggage on the wide sill, the view wasn’t photo-worthy.

We headed down to the car at 5.10 pm.  By the time we got off the ferry it was 6 pm – an appalling delay yet again.  I would not sail by the Interislander ever again.

I drove home, but got caught in the traffic at Pukerua Bay.  It took an extra half hour to get home.  From Picton to home it had taken close to 7 hours instead of the 5 it should have taken.  We got home exhausted.

It was nice to be home (especially after collecting our cat the next morning) but we both felt a little depressed and have been feeling depressed ever since.  The South Island is so very different to the North Island.  H fell in love with it.  It was a land of clear waters, lakes galore, fabulous views, one-way bridges, excellent roads, lots of camper vans full of tourists, and lots of foreign accents.  We found that we had to walk on paths on the right-hand side, to make way for tourists walking on the right-hand side – normally we walk on the left (the same side we drive – interesting).  A New Zealand accent was rare until we got to the West Coast.

Our route below (plus a little detour to Reefton).  We had driven over 2,000 km and H’s little car did very well.

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Buller Gorge to Nelson

The final bit of our trip.  H had not wanted to stop at Nelson, but I wanted an overnight stay there, leaving some time to explore the Nelson Lakes.

The fog lifted slowly in the morning, but it was finally clear by the time we left my bro’s property.

We stopped at Murchison for petrol and toilets, and had a look in a second-hand shop while we were there.  H finally found a Chinese cookbook (she had looked for one, new, for some time).

Our next stop on the way to Nelson, was Lake Rotoroa.  I thought it strange that no-one was on the road leading to it,  and hardly anyone at the lake.  We had been warned by bro that there were a lot of sandflies there, but I hadn’t remembered it being a problem last time I was there.

We parked, and thought about doing a bush walk but then H was bothered by several sandflies.  I, in the meantime, was being hassled by bumble bees, who seemed to like the sunblock I was wearing.  I retreated to the car, and H did shortly afterwards.  She had even captured the blurry form of a sandfly in front of her camera on one of her photos.

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View of the lake, from the safety of the car.

Massive fail.

We should, perhaps, have taken an alternative route to see Lake Rotoiti.  Perhaps that was the actual lake I’d been to before, and had forgotten.  Lesson learned.

We continued a short way, until we found a rest area, and had lunch.

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By the time we reached Nelson and checked in (to a lovely old homestead), it was too late to visit the World of Wearable Art museum.  We just wandered round the town.

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Our host had recommended a tavern not far from the accommodation.  They sold their own craft beer.  We walked down there and had a sample of their different beers.

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The beer was good.  It was a nice little neighbourhood pub of older people who were regulars.  One old chap looked on at our range of glasses with amusement.

Beer drunk, we popped next door for takeaways, and ordered burgers to eat back at the house.  The only other guests at the house were an American couple who were cycling their way around the top of the South Island.

In the evening we went for a walk and came across a very well stocked supermarket, filled with a huge range of beers, wines and cheeses.  I would love such a supermarket close to us.  We found large bottles of the beer we had sampled earlier and bought one each.

We spent the rest of the evening, back at the house, reading and browsing the internet.

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Rocklands, Buller Gorge to Reefton (and back)

We had a leisurely breakfast and all piled into bro’s SUV (including his two dogs) to head down to Reefton, an old mining town down the valley.  Its claim to fame is being the first town in the Southern hemisphere to get electricity (in 1888).

We had a wander down the main street and noticed that every third building seemed to be up for sale (when we looked at real estate office’s window at the prices, we were shocked at how much they were selling for – way too much for an out-of-the-way little town).  Bro and sis-in-law often came to Reefton when they were staying at their property, so knew the area quite well.  Sis-in-law complained that a craft shop was never open no matter what day of the week they were there.

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We had a look in the visitor’s centre which had displays about the history and the industry and about some of the bird life.  There was a contradiction here.  Although they mentioned endangered bird species, a display out the back on mining proclaimed that nothing nature had created was too big for their machines to deal with.  I left in disgust.  They didn’t get it, obviously.

We bought a pie for sustenance then headed along Inangahua (a difficult word to spell or pronounce) river to a picnic area.  We walked over the rather scarily sideways-rocking narrow bridge to follow a track alongside a water race, which miners had used.

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You can still see the timber framing for the trough along which water ‘raced’.

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A nice walk and we were lucky enough to see a couple of South Island robins flitting around us.

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There were a few wasps around and one of the dogs must have stepped on one as she yelped, flicked her paw and limped.  She was carried back.

Back at the town, we thought it’d be nice to have a beer at the pub.  Unfortunately, it was closed…

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So, after looking through a couple of second-hand shops (one of which tried to charge my brother twice for a book he’d just bought), we decided to head back for a beer ‘at home’.

During our stay at bro’s property, I saw a couple of tomtits, but they were too fast to capture “on film”.  Likewise, there were numerous wood pigeons, who would fly vertically, then dive, and swoop onto a nearby branch.  Bro reckoned they did this to see the lay of the land, but I pointed out the next day that that could hardly be the case when they did it on foggy mornings.  Apparently, it’s a mating display.  I was unable to capture it, even though I waited with camera ready.  Naturally, once I turned or put the camera down, the wood pigeon would do it again.  Fascinating to watch.  We also saw tuis and robins, and heard the call of wekas (but didn’t see them, thanks to the dogs keeping them away).

It’d been a long day for some.

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We spent the evening playing Scrabble and gazing at the incredible Milky Way.

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Westport to Rocklands, Buller Gorge

We took our time having breakfast and checking out, as we didn’t have far to go or much to do.  We bought a few things at the supermarket, then headed out to Cape Foulwind where there was a seal colony.   The seals were actually just round from Tauranga Bay, to the south of Cape Foulwind.

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I had expected exposed rock and strong winds (purely judging from the name) but it was a bright, sunny day, with no wind at all.  A nice short walk round to the rocks to view the seals, but there were not as many seals as we’d seen in Kaikoura.  Many of the cubs had bright orange plastic markers on their flippers.

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The attractive looking island off the coast was Wall Island.

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On the way back down the track to the bay, we saw a weka and watched it.  It didn’t seem bothered by humans at all.

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When another weka came out from the bushes, this one chased it off noisily.

Back at the carpark, there were a couple of wekas, one with a bung foot…

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and a noisy young seagull.

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We drove back towards Cape Foulwind, and walked up to the lighthouse, seeing more wekas.

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We ate lunch in the carpark, and listened to a couple of Americans calling another weka a “kiwi bird”.

We left Westport, heading for Buller Gorge.  H drove, while I looked at the map given by my bro, to find his property.  I was too busy following the map to take photos but it’s a lovely gorge to drive through.  We finally reached the ‘X’ marking the spot on the map, where a gap in some bushes (as well as a red marker) indicated the rough driveway up to bro’s property.  A very bumpy ride up to the first hairpin, where we parked the car and walked the rest of the way up – phew!

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Bro had built a shed in the clearing at the top, and they had a tarpaulin attached to an old caravan (left from the previous owners) under which was a sink and table and chairs.  They had the tent up so we could sleep in the shed.

Bro took us on a real bush walk (no track) through to the back of his property.

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With the meat we’d bought in the supermarket in the morning, we had a barbecue for dinner.

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With it we drank some of the nice wine from Central Otago that we’d bought on our travels.

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Fox Glacier region to Westport

Today we had a fair hike to do in one day.  We probably should have planned an overnight stop on the way so we could see and do everything we wanted.

To start with, we returned to Lake Matheson, renowned for still reflections of Mount Cook.  Luckily for us, Mount Cook was visible, although the lake wasn’t completely calm.

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I was prepared to walk further round the lake for good views, but H wanted to keep driving.  Before we left Fox Glacier township, we headed to the Mount Cook lookout to the west of Lake Matheson.  I wondered why you’d get a good view from further away, but it turned out you did (although my photos didn’t do it justice – I was very disappointed with my photos which seemed out of focus and overexposed.).

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We were very lucky that cloud didn’t cover Mt Cook.

We started the long journey north.  We thought about doing a walk at Lake Mahinapua.  Just before getting to the turn-off, we saw the sign for Treetop Walk, which H had found out about.  We thought we’d do that, but when we turned up and saw that it cost $38 each for a 1.2 km loop, we scoffed, used the toilet, and left.  What a complete ripoff.  We then forgot about Lake Mahinapua and continued to Hokitika.  H had noted down a couple of eating places in Hokitika but it was a bit early for lunch.  Hokitika looked like a windy hole anyway, so we continued to Greymouth, where H had really been looking forward to having lunch at Monteith’s Brewery.

It was suitably grey in Greymouth.  We bought some petrol and let Karen, our Aussie GPS voice, guide us to the brewery.  We ordered four tapas dishes with a beer.  The food was delicious, especially the beer-battered chips and the chicken (free-range).

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We bought a Monteith’s glass each but passed on the brewery tour.  After lunch, there being nothing further we wanted to do in Greymouth, we continued north until we came to Pancake Rocks, Punakaiki.

I had last been there in the 70s.  Back then you parked along the side of the road and followed a track to see the easily visible rock formations.  Now there was a carpark and shops on the other side of the road.  We walked some way surrounded by flax – a hell of a lot of flaxes, until we came to a small rock formation with vegetation on top.

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I wondered if that was it – if that was all that was left of the rock formations.  Of course it wasn’t, as I discovered after we continued on (surrounded by high flax).

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There’s something fascinating about thundering waves against rocks.  We stayed for ages watching (and hearing) the force of the waves crashing against the rock.

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We finally left, and continued on a short way until we came to Truman Track (we had researched short walks in the region).  We parked opposite and as we were locking the car H asked me what something was “behind you!”.  I wondered what she was on about, when I turned and saw a weka.  H had never seen one before.

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Truman Track was a nice short bush walk to the sea.

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We spotted some oystercatchers on the rock.

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The sandflies were biting, so we continued on to Westport, where we checked into our motel.  It was a nice spacious unit.  We did our grocery shopping and had another nice meal, watching TV.  The next day we were heading to Rocklands, in the Buller gorge, where my bro was staying for a week at his bush property.

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Wanaka to Fox Glacier region

When we woke and looked out, we saw that there had been a light fall of snow overnight, which covered the tops of the surrounding mountains.

After checking out, we headed down to the waterfront to take more photos with the snow-tipped mountains as backdrop.

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We then left Wanaka, skirting Lake Hawea to the east and then rejoining Lake Wanaka at its northern end, heading towards Haast Pass.  Again some stunning scenery on the way.

Lake Hawea

Lake Hawea

Northern part of Lake Wanaka

Northern part of Lake Wanaka

Due to  slips, Haast Pass was being closed at 6pm every night.  We had plenty of time.  We stopped at a place called Fantail Falls, but missed on the Blue Pools.  H was driving and didn’t seem inclined to stop, eager to get to the West Coast, perhaps.

The Haast road

The Haast road

Fantail falls

Fantail falls

Our motel was about 30 km south of Fox Glacier, which we reached in time for a late lunch.  I had expected a motel surrounded by pine trees (judging from the name and a photo).  However, the actual “motel” was three sheds at the front of a farm.  They were decorated with 70s fittings and furniture but there was everything we needed – they were like small three-roomed flats.   H loved it and for me it brought back memories of staying in a seaside bach in the 70s.

After lunch we headed to Fox Glacier.  I knew the glaciers had retreated but it was still a shock to find that we had to walk half an hour, most of it uphill (up rock that used to be under the glacier) just to see it.

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It was much smaller than when I had last seen it.

From there, we headed to Franz Josef glacier, a few kilometres north on a windy road.

Last time I was at Franz Josef, we had a pleasant walk through bush to view the glacier from the end of the short walk.  This time, we had to walk another half hour after finishing the bush walk, again, just to see it.  Apparently the glacier had shrunk dramatically just in the last five years.

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I was just amazed at how much the glacier had shrunk since I last saw it.  It was very sad.

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It rained while we were at Franz Josef, but it wasn’t cold.  As always, in this part of New Zealand, when it rains, it results in a lot of waterfalls.

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We drove to Franz Josef township for a much needed cup of coffee to ‘warm up’ and dry off.  By now the sun was out.

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Back at Fox Glacier township, we took the turnoff to Lake Matheson, but you couldn’t see the lake from the carpark and we were too tired for a walk (we’d walked two hours’ worth already).  We headed back to the “motel”, showered, relaxed, and H cooked a wonderful meal.

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