Sunday 1 December 2013

Ealing & the Rangi

It's been a busy few days & I know you'll be keen to see what we've been up to & where we've been. We carried on south after leaving Christchurch to the NZMCA Park at Ealing, a tiny dot on the banks of a huge braided river, the Rangitata, affectionately know to locals as the Rangi.

And as luck would have it, that's a church beside the Ealing Park
Like it's big brother the Rakaia these two rivers & all their tributaries are the life blood of the district. They provide millions & millions of litres of water for the irrigation of hundreds of farms & thousands of acres that cover the Canterbury Plains.

These rivers are snow fed from high up within the Southern Alps and travel 120kms out to the coast. We found it extremely fascinating checking out all the huge irrigation ponds and canals that criss-crossed the countryside. A very fast canal  ran past the back of the Ealing site just across the road from one of the ponds.

Also across the road was the Ealing Hall & this tree which has ended up in the middle of the road. It was planted in 1943 in memory of a local resident who lost his life at age 24, flying a Lancaster Bomber in WW2.

All roads lead to Ealing; three very straight & very long roads ended on the road outside.

Ealing, with only 3 or 4 farmhouses in view, was a very busy place for a Sunday. In fact for Saturday night and early Monday morning too. For most of the day and late into the night milk tankers roared past Ealing, back & forward they travelled, I would say at least 40-50 passes & probably more each day. There's obviously a dairy factory close by and many farms down the roads that branched out from the intersection where we were. 

On Sunday the milk tankers were joined by dozens of trucks carting hay along with hay baling machinery & tractors. We had a huge hedge between us & the road so it wasn't too noisy; although part of that hedge had been uprooted in the horrendous storm that blew across the Plains back in September. Everywhere we travelled you could see the after effects of the storm, hundreds of fully grown trees blown over or the tops snapped off. In some cases whole plantations & long shelterbelt rows of fully grown trees had been uprooted.

We followed one of the roads alongside a canal and stopped often to check out the workings. No matter in what direction you look there are hundreds of irrigators which look like giant millipedes snaking across the paddocks, some had up to 20 sections attached to them. Some move on wheels in a great arch from the hold down point near the canal, others sweep down the paddock in a long line.

We climbed up the rocky face of a very tall stop bank that we came across to find this humongous irrigation pond in the process of being made. This is just one corner of it; I wonder how many litres it will hold once finished.

Traditionally the Plains have been the main grain growing area of New Zealand and while we have still seen plenty of wheat, barley & oat fields, dairying is obviously making big inroads into the district with new dairy sheds & large herds of cows in amongst the green of the crops.

And it's about here that I should be posting photos of our trip out to the Rangitata River Mouth & especially of the Rangitata Huts; a collection of what I'd call small baches/cribs/one or two room fishing huts. But sadly I cleaned the data disk before downloading the photos! I am so mad with myself. We travelled 24kms, from here at Ealing on the main highway, down  to the beach and then raced a storm back to the site. I also can't show you a picture of the layer of hail on our door mat or the hail banked up on the car wipers or the beautiful full rainbow that appeared after the storm passed by. Maybe next time we're in the area we'll take another trip to the Huts, it's a very rugged, wild & windswept coastline but has a huge estuary which would be great for bird watching & apparently the salmon fishing at the mouth is world famous. It's a 2kms walk from the huts along a spit to the mouth, most of the huts had quad bikes outside, it is very hard walking on the large stony banks.

But I can show you a photo of the wild rose that was climbing along the fence between the site & the little church next door.

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