Sunday, 14 November 2021

Autumn in the High Country

I've been procrastinating too much & look where that got me. I'm still in autumn! The photos are too lovely to miss so here you go an autumn photo fest. 

Out & About Around Twizel

Ben Ohau Station Stables
Clockwise- The Old Iron Bridge, Twizel Village, Loch Cameron,
 The Lagoon at Lake Ruataniwha, Glen Lyon Road ford, Glen Lyon Rd trees
Lake Ruataniwha & Ben Ohau Range
Ohau C Camp, Lake Benmore

The Lagoon, Ohau C Camp
Ohau C Camp looking very resplendent in autumn colours

Ohau C lagoon on a different day
Reflections- Wairepo Arm, Twizel

Kellands Pond, Twizel 

Hard to believe this was taken in NZ and in the high country

This is a favourite place to stop for a drink or just to relax for a few minutes when I'm photographing around the ponds.

Poplars always make a great show during autumn & are even more impressive when they line the entrance to a farm- SH8, Omarama

On my way to the Otematata Wetlands at Lake Aviemore I stopped at the top of the road overlooking a farm station & Lake Benmore in the distance- as you can see, other than the briar bushes, there's not much autumn colour away from the waterways. That's the A2O Cycle trail in front of me, heading off down the Waitaki Valley to Oamaru.

A farmer's work is never done.

Sailors Cutting harbour on Lake Benmore (this is the southern end of the lake, when I mention Lake Benmore it's usually the north end). Since this photos many of the willows that line the road side (where the boats are) of the harbour have been removed due to age & weakness. 

Otematata Wetlands, Lake Aveimore, Waitaki

With it's network of tracks and ponds, the wetlands are a great place to visit and especially in the autumn. The birdlife is also abundant & I was lucky enough to see a lone Kotuku/White Heron on one of the ponds.

Take a photo of the information board with the map or download the map from my link above because it's easy to get lost as the many tracks crisscross each other. There are several entrances, I went in off Loch Laird Road. One of the tracks ends up (or starts if you are staying there) at Boat harbour camping ground.

Boat Harbour- Otematata
Benmore Dam & the Waitaki River/Lake Aviemore

A quiet side diversion from the main lake & great place for children to play; Loch Laird camp ground.

Another high country station near Otematata.

Glencairn Station, Twizel

Clockwise- Pond reflections, Monster puffball, Beehives,
Chook house, Willow reflections, Wild turkeys
Simons Pass- SH8, Tekapo-Twizel Highway

Freedom Camping at Patterson Ponds which is sadly no longer available (Genesis closed it because of the perceived flooding threat) 

Patterson Ponds & Tekapo River. My beautiful Patterson Ponds are slowly dying, bird & fish life gone. The river course has changed, the inlet into the ponds is high & dry and much of the water has drained out. And is still draining out at the south end of the 8 or so ponds (see bottom left photo). This was once a vibrant and active little ecosystem, an oasis in the middle of a parched & dry landscape and it's so sad to see.

Aurora at Tekapo River- It was a new location for me when an aurora alert went off. It wasn't a strong one but I still managed to pick up a few beams.

Exploring Godley Peaks Road (again) down the western side of Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo
Another favourite; Lake Alexandrina

Lake Alexandrina; top, middle & bottom camps. Including a caretaker having a quiet moment with his pet sheep who follows him around while he checks the pest traps each morning (bottom left photo)

And to finish with, a chance sighting of a rare Black Stilt/Kaki 

Thursday, 14 October 2021

A Visit to the Mainland

Catch-up; March 2021

Back in late March, Royalty arrived in the high country. Family Royalty that is. Mum & Dad who came to check out Night Sky Cottages for themselves. They flew into Christchurch from Napier on a direct flight and I met them at the airport after catching a bus from Twizel. We hired a car and I drove them back to the cottages, they hadn't been in the South Island for many years so it was great for them to sit back & enjoy the scenery.

For the first ten days we relaxed at the cottages and fitted in day trips (complete with a picnic lunches) around the Mackenzie Country. One of our first trips was to Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.

Mt Sefton & White Horse Hill Campground- Aoraki/Mt Cook
The weather was fabulous, we'd timed the visit just right, not too cold nor too hot. Just stunning blue bird days. 

It was an especially calm day when we visited Lake Ohau &  the Ohau River weir, the water crystal clear.

T-Ohau River, Left- Ohau River outlet, Right-Lake Ohau & Ben Ohau
Looks like Banksy's been visiting the high country too. Rude Kids- on one of the canal towers 

I took them to see some of my my favourite places- Lake Ruataniwha

Oahu C Camp Lagoon at Lake Benmore; autumn was just around the corner.

We took the long way back to Christchurch; down the Waitaki Valley to Oamaru, checking the dams out as we went and stopping at Kurow for lunch & a hot drink on the way.

Followed by a pit stop at Duntroon where the art on the toilet block brought a smile to our face. The A2O Cycle Trail (Alps to Ocean) passes down the valley too. There's now a new toilet block nearby but I think they've left this there as well.

While Mum & Dad rested up at the Oamaru Air BnB we'd booked for the night, I took myself on a walking tour of the Oamaru Public Gardens which I thoroughly enjoyed, especially the colourful blooms in the hothouse.

The next day we headed off to Christchurch, first stop just up the road at the Rainbow Sweets factory shop. Just for a look of course. We all have a sweet tooth although I think Mum & I take the family cake for scoffing our loot in no time at all. Dad tends to make his last a few weeks (if Mum doesn't find his stash). Half an hour & several large bags of sweets later we made it back to the car. 

Our next stop was Riverstone Castle, one of my favourite places to visit whenever I am passing. I knew Mum & Dad would enjoy a visit too.

We had a lovely lunch at Riverstone Kitchen before exploring the gardens & shops. Dad looked very pleased with his favourite Blue Cod & chips ('rabbit food' passed over to me). I had great delight in letting him know that this particular dish was our 'takeaways' back in the original Level 4 & 3  lockdown last year. We spent that Lockdown just down the road at the Glenavy Waitaki Holiday Park & Riverstone Kitchen supplied takeaway fish 'n chips when we moved to Level 3. 

Mum was in her element, she had a craft shop at Bay View in Hawkes Bay for many years and spent her 'retirement years' selling at craft markets. She even met and had a natter with the owner, Dot, who was unpacking stock. 

For the next few nights we stayed at an Air BnB in Rolleston (near Weedons NZMCA Park, where David was due to arrive from Twizel with the 5th-wheeler a couple of days later).

Dad wanted to do a tiki tour of Akaroa Peninsula, he hadn't been on the road around the top of the rim before. We stopped at Little River for a morning coffee and then I turned off at the summit and travelled clockwise around the top. Which was just as well when Mum saw how far down it was on some of the road edges on the inside or when I pulled over to show them the view.

Akaroa Harbour, Banks Peninsula

Once down from the top we had lunch & an icecream in Akaroa township before heading home.

When planning the trip I had asked Dad if he wanted to visit some of his old haunts; he's a born & bred South Islander. At the time he'd said no he wasn't fussed but once we were in Christchurch we decided we couldn't get this close & not check his old hometown out. He was born in Woodend just north of Christchurch, went to school in Woodend and also spent some time in Sefton just a little further north before his family shifted north to Havelock North in Hawkes Bay.

St Barnabas Anglican Church, Woodend

So we did the obligatory tour, stopping at the family church (which is on the main highway) and finding many of his Eder relations on the cemetery burial list. Next stop was Dad's primary school, then locating his old house (with add-ons) down a back road & checking out the cenotaph roll of honour for relatives & finding his Uncle Jim Eder listed there. 

Then it was off to Sefton where some of his cousins still live. We drove a few more back roads, Dad giving us a running commentary of who lived where & what went on there before finding our way back onto the main road near Saltwater Creek where he used to go white-baiting with his cousin. Funnily enough the rest area beside the creek is where we often stop for lunch or a cup-of-tea break when we're travelling. 

And then before we knew it it was time for them to fly home. We all had a lovely time and for me it was great to spend some quality time with Mum & Dad and show them around our new home province.