Sunday, 2 November 2014

Noisy Neighbours- Nelson Lakes

We've had an interesting few days at West Bay; we've had a great time at the rally enjoying the company of many like-minded people, there were about 30 RVs altogether. After a last breakfast get-together this morning, most departed leaving four couples, including us, to stay an extra night on site. We’ll move over to Kerr Bay tomorrow morning and settle in to that camp for the next week or so. We’d have loved to have stayed put here at the DOC camp in West Bay but the gates will be closed and locked after we leave tomorrow. This camp doesn't open for general camping until December.

We were warned that it might be quite noisy over the weekend and especially late last night (Saturday) because the RNZAF, DOC and Search & Rescue were doing exercises in the area and their base was just down the road in an open grassy patch.

The new RNZAF NH90 Helicopter was being put through its paces (we'd last seen it at Wanaka Warbirds). ‘Lost’ trampers were dropped off at various sites around the lake and mountains for searchers & search dogs to locate. We heard today that the  fog stopped the 'lost' trampers from being rescued last night and they had a long walk home!

We stopped to watch the helicopter being readied for more flights this morning, the guys were giving it a good spit & polish.

And then when we came back along the road an hour or so later we were just in time to watch it lift off….

fly right along side us…..

and pummeling me and the ute with a huge amount of flying, & stinging debris as you can see in the shot!

Between us and the grassy patch is the West Bay jetty and this weekend some of the district high schools were holding a rowing regatta. So, what with these two groups & the rally happening, this quiet side of the lake was a little overrun with people and activities this weekend.

Through the quiet stillness of the first night we could hear the roar of white water close by. It was a great surprise the next day to find the outlet of the mighty Buller River flowing swiftly out of the lake right beside our campground; the white water noise was coming from rapids further down the river. David and a few of the other rally guys went spinning for trout on a couple of the evenings, David had no luck but one of the other guys caught a trout this morning on the lake further along.

The road along the front of the campground crosses the Buller River and ends 4 kilometres further on at the Mt Robert carpark which is about a third of the way up the mountain. There are a number of multi-day tramps and shorter day walks that leave from the carpark. Including the aptly named Pinchgut Track; you can see it zig-zaging up the mountain side beside the tree line. We’re hoping to do a bit of this walk as we’ve heard there are a pair of nesting NZ falcons close to the track.

From the carpark there’s also a short track along a ridge in the other direction to a lookout point over the Lake Rotoiti below. West Bay, where we are at the moment, is located at the top left. Kerr Bay, where we are heading tomorrow, is around the peninsula in the top right corner. The smattering of buildings just behind Kerr Bay is the St Arnaud village. The Wairau River valley stretches off in the distance back towards Blenheim. South Island’s Southern Alp faultline runs under my feet here, across the lake and off up that valley too.

And down through the Sabine River Valley towards the Southern Alps behind me.

We’ve been over to Kerr Bay a couple of times since we've been here, yesterday to do a walk with one of the DOC rangers which was very interesting. We learnt alot about the never ending struggle to get on top of the pest control around the National Parks.

On the way over we took a short side track to check out a freedom camping area and found the local skating rink! A tiny square tannin stained shallow pool. I wonder how often its frozen over, one of the DOC rangers said it had only snowed down to lake level four times this past winter.

While waiting for everyone to arrive I took a few photos in the car park. This one is iconic Nelson Lakes; it’s one you’ll see on calendars, postcards and in many photographers portfolios. I’m hoping to get a few at dawn and without the water taxi tied up! It should be easy as our next campsite is about 50 yards behind where I’m standing.

There’s two groups of ducklings in the area, the first day this duck had 14 ducklings, yesterday there were 11 and today just 9. They don’t stand much chance with so much activity in the area and they’re so friendly the ducklings were climbing into my hands when I rested them on the grass. They were enjoying a swim in a puddle in the carpark here.

This mother and ducklings were even friendlier, all of them clambering over my feet and trying to eat my shoe laces. When I picked up a duckling (or two) mum quacked loudly and attacked by leg. Even after I had set them back down she decided she wasn’t happy with me and ran up my leg to get at my hand. Don't you love the look on that duckling's face? I can see my bread crusts will be put to good use when we get over there.

And finally this cool VW Kombi van turned campervan named ‘Beetle’.

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