Tuesday 29 April 2014

Out & About Around Wanaka

I’ve gotten a bit ahead of myself with my blog posts lately, so while I’ve had a bit of time (due to the fact that the strength of the cellular network in the Arrowtown area is beyond a joke & I couldn't upload a brass razoo) I’ve written up the missing blogs. Hopefully once I get these all posted I’ll be right up to date!….. That is until tomorrow when we’ll no doubt be off on the next adventure.

We went up to Wanaka a few days before the airshow and while we could have stopped in a number of camp sites located very near the airfield we decided we’d get back on the grid, charge the batteries, do the laundry and see a bit of Wanaka at the same time. We stumbled on the Lake Outlet Holiday Park, a traditional kiwi campground, just like they used to be. In fact the drive in on a gravel road through a pine forest and what looked like sand dunes (can you have sand dunes on a lake?) reminded me of driving into Opotama Holiday Camp at Mahia in Northern Hawkes Bay where I spend many childhood holidays.

Even though the camp ground was just 6kms from Wanaka town it felt a million miles away, a secluded and quiet spot on the shores of Lake Wanaka right beside the Clutha River outlet. The same Clutha River that we picnicked beside in Balclutha very close to it’s mouth. So we’ve been at both ends of the river but not travelled the middle yet! The camp ground was terraced down to the lake edge with many of the sites partitioned off by kanuka bush. Quail roamed throughout the campground and at nights the rabbits came out to play. It was no wonder there was hardly any grass.

We had a great spot at the end of a top terrace looking up Stevensons Arm & overlooking Dublin Bay & the river outlet. Everyday a range of motorhomes and caravans arrived, mostly just for the night, although in the run up to Easter these two tiny caravans arrived for a few days. David called them the hobbit caravans, they again reminded me of our childhood holidays. Once, a long time ago Mum & Dad hired(or borrowed) a two berth caravan for our family (4 kids) to holiday at Bay Park at Mt Maunganui. I think it was called Ocean Beach & it was right beside the old speedway with huge pine trees dotted throughout.

How do you fit a family of six in a two berth caravan? Mum & Dad inside, two kids in the awning & two kids in the back of the Holden stationwagon! Us kids had turns at sleeping in the awning & the car, that was until my brother went missing. After a frantic search he was found a fair number of metres away curled up in his sleeping bag fast asleep under one of those huge pine trees with a pile of pine needles for a soft mattress. He’d wiggled out under the awning and gone sleep walking. I think he was locked in the car for the remainder of the nights.

Central Otago badly needs a decent amount of rain, the lake level is very low which would have made it hard for us to launch the inflatable if we had decided to get it out. As it was the weather wasn’t the best, a little cold & overcast although the sun shone at some stage most days. All around this area, right from down Cromwell way through to the lower slopes of the mountains west of Wanaka are thousands of briar bushes growing over the barren & dry ground and in amongst the native scrub. And of course at this time of the year the bushes are covered with brilliant red rosehips (or are they called briarhips?). A fruit eating bird’s paradise I would think and probably the reason why we have seen so many hawks, dozens & dozens of them. Between the smaller birds & the rabbits they would have an endless supply of prey.

Around the lake edge especially near the town centre in Roys Bay were dozens of poplars looking splendid in their many shades of gold. I visited the area a couple of times but didn’t managed to get a blue sky to offset the beautiful colour.

There is one particular tree, a very small willow that is quite famous amongst photographers, both here in NZ and overseas. It grows on a mound all by itself surrounded by water near the lakes edge. It makes a great subject at sunrise, in stormy weather & also with its autumn cloak on. I say surrounded by water because it usually is, but not now that the lake is so low. Never mind, that shot will have to wait until we next visit.

I thought I’d give the willow a black & white treatment, I was quite pleased with the outcome. So now I can add this one to many different interpretations out there (no pun intended)

Across the river is Dublin Bay, a DOC conservation area so one day while out exploring we drove down to the lake edge on that side of the river to explore. The area was quite isolated and and looked a little dubious going by a couple of burnt out car bodies, some wheely tracks & these skins on a fence! We didn’t stay too long.

Nor pigs.......
Further down the Clutha, past the airfield & just before Luggate, the road branches off heading east, and crosses the river on the historic single lane “Luggate Red Bridge”. The bridge was built in 1914 and features a 66 metre Baltimore span.

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