One of the world’s prettiest drives – Day 10 in EnZed

The drive around the western countryside of Christchurch has to be one of the prettiest drives in the world.

Perfectly trimmed Macracarpa hedge windbreaks on every farm

Perfectly trimmed Macracarpa hedge windbreaks on every farm

We drove past miles of the greenest pastures all sectioned off with neatly trimmed Macrocarpa hedges that break down the force of the winds that sweep the Canterbury plains. Through the winter these winds that blow off the snow covered mountains become icy cold and the wind breaks give protection to stock and crops across the fertile plains.

I can’t remember a single untidy property in the whole Canterbury Plains area. It seems as if New Zealand farmers, small and large, take a great deal of pride not only in the production of their farms but of the appearance.

On our travels through Australia we often remark on the untidiness of many rural properties with overgrown neglected paddocks, run down fencing and old car bodies and machinery lying around rusting, untouched for years. We’ve often remarked to each other that many of these landowners don’t deserve the privilege of land ownership because of their mismanagement and neglect. This was noticeably absent from anywhere in the South Island. The vast majority of rural land is pristine, impeccably tidy and fastidiously managed.

This is also true of many towns. Some small rural towns in Aus, (by no means all), have the appearance of neglected, poverty stricken and dying places waiting for the last resident to leave before finally being eaten up by the bush.  In contrast the small rural New Zealand towns are still tidy and still have an atmosphere of prosperity even though many must be struggling equally as much as some of the small Australian towns.

I wanted to show Kerrie through Hagley Park and the Botanical gardens. The park and gardens abound with magnificent old trees, many of them bought from England in the 1800s and early 1900s.

The Avon River runs through Hagley Park with its beautiful old trees bordering the banks

The Avon River runs through Hagley Park with its beautiful old trees bordering the banks

There are Elms, Oaks and Chestnut trees with sprawling solid, thick branches and countless varieties of New Zealand natives. The crystal clear waters of the Avon river runs through the whole area and punts and canoes make for a peaceful, relaxed feeing that makes you just want to sit on velvet grass amidst the thick daisies and buttercups.

Punting along the Avon River...

Punting along the Avon River…

...and canoes

…and canoes

He maketh me to lay down in green pastures

He maketh me to lay down in green pastures

We marvelled at the explosions of colour especially in the Rose gardens. Roses are in super abundance all over the South Island especially in Christchurch.

Walking into the Rose garden through arches cut in the surrounding hedges the scent from a million different roses from hundreds of varieties hits you. Combined with the dramatic visual display of colour the senses are overwhelmed with the beauty of this little pocket of the world.

Archway into a nook of roses alive with colour

Archway into a nook of roses alive with colour

Walking through gardens of colour

Walking through gardens of colour

We walked through the gardens towards the Museum stopping to admire a new art from that has started in Christchurch since the earthquake. One of the most common sights when moving around Christchurch is the hundreds of thousands of orange cones on almost every street.

Residents have used these to shape into art forms as if to turn a huge negative into fun and displaying the depth of imagination that abounds in this city.

The GramaCONE

The GramaCONE

The Louis VuiCONE

The Louis VuiCONE

The CONE fish

The CONE fish

We then walked through the museum which always held a fascination for me as a kid. I used to love the Canterbury museum especially the mock ups of early Christchurch shops and ships cabins that always looked so real and the bird displays that make you feel like you are standing on seaside cliffs or mountain ledges looking at nests.

Most of those fascinating displays are still there. I remembered them from at least 50 years ago and they were around long before then and yet they still look the same and it still enthralled me to wander amongst them.

Early Christchurch shops at the Canturbury Museum

This bike won't fit in the caravan!

This bike won’t fit in the caravan!

We had heard on the news that the Christchurch Square, the centre of Christchurch City was being opened this weekend for the first time since the earthquake.

We headed into the city to find it packed.

We parked the car and walked down Colombo Street, once the city’s bustling main street of the city, past devastated buildings and shops. Whole buildings were leaning over others had crumbled or had been demolished because they were about fall. Every building that remained standing has substantial damage and widows are broken everywhere. Many of the office blocks have furniture, whiteboards and computers still untouched but now exposed to the weather by broken or non existent windows. Every street has piles of rubble, destroyed footpaths leaning lampposts and broken glass.

The main business centre of the city is still closed except for occasional pockets and it will remain closed for a long time.

They were allowing only 300 people at a time into the Square and we were warned that this was a danger zone and we were entering of our own accord. Identification had to be held on our body not in handbags and as we walked into the Square and stood in front of the ruins of the Cathedral it was chilling to imagine what it must have been like for the many thousands
of people occupying these buildings at the time of the quake.

It is truly a miracle that the death toll was not enormous.

This entire building has tilted

This entire building has tilted

The Inland Revenue Building where Jennie's dad used to work

The Inland Revenue Building where Jennie’s dad used to work

Whole buildings have just disappeared

Whole buildings have just disappeared

The BNZ Building - Deserted, destroyed and due for demolition

The BNZ Building – Deserted, destroyed and due for demolition

The beautiful Bridge of Remeberance badly damaged and fenced off

The beautiful Bridge of Remeberance badly damaged and fenced off

Familiar buildings like the old Post Office, the Tax building where Jennies Dad used to work, and the BNZ bank all were heavily damaged. Even residents of the city find it difficult to remember what the building was that used to occupy the now empty spaces where demolition had been prioritised.

To see the Cathedral was for many, myself included, the most heartbreaking sight. It is completely destroyed.

This once grand and glorious landmark, the central focus of the city for every past and present Christchurch resident symbolises more than any other single thing the extent of the damage in this badly broken city. The challenges to find any sort of normality are huge.

Some of the onlookers shed tears and many more just looked at the buildings in a sort of numb silence.

The obstacles to rebuilding are enormous yet our next stop was so exciting and so encouraging it put beyond any doubt the question of wether the city will ever be rebuilt.

Around the corner from the Square is a whole shopping mall that has been built from shipping containers.

Businesses from all over the city have relocated and are carrying on as normal as possible and many of the inner city retail shops have opened up in this container community.

It was really amazing and encouraging to these multi coloured containers stacked on top of each other, made into shop fronts and filled with product. The innovation and imagination was overwhelming as we looked at shop after shop, each one with its own individual touch. What was even more encouraging was that without exception they were all full. The whole place was busy, packed with people buying and spending as if the devastation outside of the makeshift mall didn’t exist.

We were simply astounded and personally motivated at the innovation and the tenacity of the people.

It showed us yet again that great hardship can be overcome with the right attitude and in ruins and hardship opportunity can be found if you care to look away from self pity and toward the future.

A container shopping mall - BRILLIANT!

A container shopping mall – BRILLIANT!

Everywhere people doing the best they can with what they've got

Everywhere people doing the best they can with what they’ve got

We walked down past the damaged Bridge of Remembrance and past buskers and throngs of people back to the car feeling greatly encouraged.

We drove up to the Cashmere Hills and ended up high in the Port Hills at the sign of the Bellbird rest stop from where we were able to see Lyttleton Harbour far below and the city surrounded by the Canterbury Plains that we had fallen in love with stretching to the magnificent Southern Alps and it was very fitting place to look back over the last ten days with
great fondness for the South Island.

High up at the Sign of the Bellbird rest stop looking over Lyttleton Harbour on one side of the road...

High up at the Sign of the Bellbird rest stop looking over Lyttleton Harbour on one side of the road…

...and the city on the other side of the road.

…and the city on the other side of the road.

We made our way back to the city and to a lovely motel on Bealy Ave and from there to the Richmond Working Men’s Club where we had dinner and a long talk with lovely lady who owned the restaurant there. She lives in Sandown Crescent which adjoins Yarmouth Street in Aranui where I spent my youth.

As we got into bed we couldn’t help but feel sad we were leaving the next morning even though we were looking forward to home. It has been the most wonderful ten days. We will never forget it.

Sheepskin Car Seat Covers – Day 9 in EnZed

Kerrie loves sheepskin car seat covers.

I’m not particularly fussed on them so I’ve always managed to put her off buying some by saying that the place to buy the best sheepskin rugs is New Zealand. That got about 9 years of no sheepskin car covers until finally we made this trip and The Princess decides there’s no way we’re going home without some.

So, on leaving Kaikoura we decide we’d head back to Christchurch and get the covers since the factory is open Saturdays but not Sundays and as we are flying out Monday we may not have time to get them then.

So once again we’re on the road driving through the most spectacular countryside.

Travelling over the Hunderlee ranges through little towns whose names were very familiar to me we came to Cheviot and stopped at the Tipapa Woolshed that was built in 1888 and is now open to the public.

It was fascinating exploring the shed and its memorabilia even to the smells of the shorn wool which took me back to a brief time in my past that I worked as a roustabout with a shearing gang. The shed and its equipment was all restored lovingly and the magnificent homestead with its surrounding trees and gardens was a wonderful trip back in time when the farms of this were considered isolated but today are less than an hour from Christchurch.

The woolshed at Cheviot built in 1888

The woolshed at Cheviot built in 1888

The equipment is in 1st class working order

The equipment is in 1st class working order

Everywhere in the South Island - Scenery and SHEEP - multiple millions of them!

Everywhere in the South Island – Scenery and SHEEP – multiple millions of them!

We drove on over the snow fed Hurunui River, through the Greta Valley and the little towns of Omihi, Waipara, Amberley and Leithfield before arriving at Woodend where my mother was born. She spent her youth in Kaiapoi just up the road a little and I was amazed at how these towns had grown. Woodend was just a tiny hamlet in my childhood and Kaiapoi was a town
just a fraction of its current size. It’s now just another suburb of Christchurch.

Entering the city again from the Southern end took us down familiar roads and suburbs like Marshlands, once the salad bowl of Christchurch.

We made the sheepskin factory in Sockburn early afternoon where Kerrie finally got her sheepskin car seat covers.

We were going to double back and visit Hanmer hot springs but instead opted to head for Mt Hutt on the outside chance there may still be a bit of low lying snow around.

Stopping at the village of Hororata for a late lunch we enjoyed the best hamburger imaginable with a home made beef pattie at least 2 inches thick.

We headed towards Mt Hutt past the stunning Rakaia Gorge taking a detour over shingle roads through the lower parts of the Southern Alps to Lake Coleridge.

The stunning Rakaia Gorge fed with snow from the mountains

The stunning Rakaia Gorge fed with snow from the mountains

We were in awe of the sights of the rugged mountain landscape as all around us was evidence of the affects of the huge forces of the snow that covers these mountains throughout the winter.

Deep scars and rocky ravines stretch from the tops to the valleys where tons of ice turns to water to make its way to the sea via the spectacular Rakaia Gorge.

The Rakaia Gorge in panorama

The Rakaia Gorge in panorama

Lake Coleridge was nothing short of spectacular with its crystal clear water shining with a depth of blue beyond adequate description.

Looking up into the Western reaches of the lake we saw fertile pastures on the lower slopes sweeping up to the rugged snow line and we wondered if the residents of this beautiful place still stopped to marvel at their surroundings.

Rugged mountains sweep down into Lake Colridge's crystal clear water

Rugged mountains sweep down into Lake Colridge’s crystal clear water

Are the locals still in awe of their surroundings we wonder?

Are the locals still in awe of their surroundings we wonder?

Crystal clear cold waters of Lake Colridge

Crystal clear cold waters of Lake Colridge

The lower reaches of Lake Coleridge

The lower reaches of Lake Coleridge

The narrow mountain pebble roads were worth the effort expreience the rugged beauty

The narrow mountain pebble roads were worth the effort expreience the rugged beauty

We marvel at the natural forces that have caused this ruggedness

We marvel at the natural forces that have caused this ruggedness

We headed into to the Ski town of Methven where where we arranged a motel that was quite cheap but really nice before taking a walk around the pretty little town. Methven is a ski town but is also known for it’s flower seeds. People come from all over the world to buys flower seeds. We passed one farm that has Lupins growing. It seems that they are just growing wild but causes people to stop just like us and take photos of this colourful sight. The smell is amazing. I only wish the photos could come in 4D and the smell would have been transported back to Oz with us.

Acres of Lupins - A sensual invasion to the senses of sight and smell

Acres of Lupins – A sensual invasion to the senses of sight and smell

We hope we can remember the smell of New Zealand. The grass lets off a softer smell than our freshly mown grass and this is all the time. With the abundance of wild flowers, wild Lupins, snow peas, Tulips, Buttercups, daisies and the problem weed Broom. Broom has the brightest yellow flowers that are at the moment covering whole hill sides.

Although a weed the broom flowers are an explosive yellow that stretches forever over hills and valleys

Although a weed the broom flowers are an explosive yellow that stretches forever over hills and valleys

The hills are alive with the yellow flowering broom

The hills are alive with the yellow flowering broom

Although it was 7:00pm in the evening the sun was still high in the sky and we were once again reluctant to settle in for the night while so much sunlight remained. Tiredness got the better of us however and we settled in for a comfortable, warm night’s sleep.

The Shower experience:

The wonderful Motel in Kaikoura had a very interesting shower. You could listen to the radio while being massaged with different water jets situated around the cubicle. As usual I read the instructions and went into this contraption first.

The high tech massage shower - Promises so much!

The high tech massage shower – Promises so much!

One of the downsides to needing glasses to see anything is trying to wear them in water. Showers are the worst as not only water but steam constantly obscures the view. So here I am moving my glasses up & down on my face trying to focus on the small print of the controls while trying to see around the water droplets. I tried bending down, kneeling down and squatting trying to figure out what all the symbols meant. They had none of those on the A4 piece of paper that was in the guest book. As is usual if you push enough buttons something usual happens.

The "Iron Maiden" looking all innocent.

The “Iron Maiden” looking all innocent.

I got the overhead light to work and water coming from both the overhead and the side hoses, but I couldn’t figure out how to get all the outlets working together.

Thankfully no water restrictions here.

I started to shrivel around wanting to try the foot massager as this did sound good in the directions, so after a few minutes of getting the gadget off the wall which is step 1, you have to turn a dial to transfer the water to this appliance, step 2.

Now in the instructions it did warn you that the water could shoot up to the ceiling so be careful. Luckily it’s an enclosed cubicle as this is exactly what happened. Here I am trying to put my hand over this fierce flow of water shooting to the roof from 2 outlets, one for each foot.

How on earth do you put 2 feet on to this and still stay up right? Maybe that ledge on
the side is a seat, (see photo). Yea – maybe for a person of a lot less size than this old girl.

Here I was trying to perch myself on this ledge and get both feet on to the massager while trying to not get blinded by the water shooting to the ceiling or sliding off the ledge. I thought getting a massage was supposed to be relaxing; I hadn’t done this much of a workout since leaving home. I eventually gave up on the contraption as now I was more tired than I
was before entering it.

The Foot Massager - An evil device easily adapted to replace the Chinese Water Torture.

The Foot Massager – An evil device easily adapted to replace the Chinese Water Torture

Now Chris had ducked down to the local shops to buy a battery so he had no idea of all the work I had just done. “So how does this thing work?” he comments on his return. Oh boy was I going to have some fun.

“Oh it’s great, you have to try it.” As we went into the bathroom I noticed it also had a remote on the wall, even better, I could control it from outside.

“Ok turn it on and get the water the right temp” I said to him. This means it comes out of the shower nozzle as a normal shower does. “Ok now turn that dial on the wall for it to come out the top”.

Out it comes alright but the first flow of water from the pipes is stone cold. “Ahhh!!” as he shuffles around the cubicle trying to get out of the cold. I must admit the giggles had already started from me. “You have to try the foot massage” I say. At least I could tell him how to get it off the wall quicker than it took me. “Open it up and now turn the dial again to get the water flowing.”

Out shot this water stream – STRAIGHT INTO THE FAMILY JEWELS – hit by a stream of water that was able to reach the ceiling of a 6ft cubicle.

The first reaction is to bend over but this only resulted in the intense jet of water hitting him straight in the face!

As he is staggering around the cubicle trying to figure out what was happening I was holding onto the wall trying not to collapse with laughter as tears streamed down my face.

“How do you turn the &*$% thing off?” he’s yelling.

I was no help at all. I couldn’t even stand let alone see as I’m holding my sides with laughter. The laughter continued for hours, every time I went near the bathroom fits of the giggles overcomes me. Even as I write this a couple of days later I still had to grab a tissue to be able to continue typing.

You can understand that his morning shower wasn’t very eventful he played it very safe. Probably a good idea, as the family jewels have had a lot done to them.

Marlborough and the Kaikoura Coast – Day 8 in EnZed

Looking back over the last eight days we can’t believe we’ve seen so much natural beauty and we’re overwhelmed by the constantly changing landscape that prompts never ending “look at THAT” comments from both of us.

This was to continue today as we left Picton and made the short drive to Blenheim which is the small but lovely centre of the Marlborough wine growing region. The town is smart looking, very clean and bustling with activity. We decided we liked Blenheim as we drove out into the beautiful Wairau valley that supports many wineries that did not exist when I lived in New Zealand.

Blenhiem is abustling,  tidy, clean and pretty town nestled beside the Taylor River

Blenhiem is a bustling, tidy, clean and pretty town nestled beside the Taylor River

Blenheim is the gateway to the rich wine growing region of Marlborough

Blenheim is the gateway to the rich wine growing region of Marlborough

Without exception the wineries and small farms are exquisitely tidy giving a sort of formal, uniform appearance to the valley and with the ever present backdrop of the snow covered peaks of the Kaikoura Ranges and the green sweeping pastures the whole scene is so pretty it’s almost like it was staged specifically for a postcard photo.

The vineyards are pristine and superbly managed

The vineyards are pristine and superbly managed

We visited the Hunter Winery and wandered through their native gardens and enjoyed the shady yard with vines growing overhead on trellises, (something we long to do eventually in our own yard). We then tasted some of there wines before making our way to the Makana Chocolate Factory to sample some exquisite hand made chocolates.

A walk through the native bush gardens

A walk through the native bush gardens

We then found a small farm growing hydroponic strawberries and stopped to look over the Flood and Drain system they were using (very similar to our first attempt). They were selling to the public and had strawberry ice cream and sorbet as well and people were lining up to the point where the owner was struggling to serve everyone.

A succesful and well managed hydroponic strawberry farm

A succesful and well managed hydroponic strawberry farm

Exceptionally juicy and delicious strawberries

Exceptionally juicy and delicious strawberries

It was a great little business and again immaculately presented with wonderfully friendly people and the strawberries were absolutely delicious.

We drove about 15 minutes to the eastern side of the valley to the Honey Shop where they process and sell honey from a variety of hives placed around specific locations to get a wide variety of unique flavours.

The clover honey was exactly as I remember it as a kid and Kerrie tried honey off the comb for her first time and loved it.

All along the road to and from the farms of the valley wild flowers grew giving magnificent splashes of fiery orange, white and yellow colour amidst the lush greens of the pastures.

All along the road wildflowers exploded in a dramatic colour display

All along the road wildflowers exploded in a dramatic colour display

Wild Lupins - offering colour and overpowering scent

Wild Lupins – offering colour and overpowering scent

These huge buttercups unfortunately died within seconds of being picked

These huge buttercups unfortunately died within seconds of being picked

It was a truly lovely place containing similar colours as we have experienced throughout the South Island and yet uniquely different.

We reluctantly left the Wairau Valley and headed to Kaikoura.

Passing through the little town of Seddon we noticed a sign for Whitebait Sammies so we stopped to sample the delicious little fish for the second time.

Delicious Whitebait "Sammies" and the freshest ever oyster - Utterly exquisite!

Delicious Whitebait “Sammies” and the freshest ever oyster – Utterly exquisite!

The Fish shop was owned by Karrie, who had only recently bought the place. We ordered
2 Whitebait sandwiches and some fresh oysters. The sandwiches were half the price of the ones we bought in Hokitika but were just as big and we think better tasting. They were absolutely delicious and as I’m writing this I can still taste the mouth-watering freshness of the Oysters. We sincerely hope Karrie does well.

We moved on to Lake Grassmere were 60,000 to 70,000 tonnes of salt are harvested each year.

Salt ready for processing at Lake Grassmere

Salt ready for processing at Lake Grassmere

Sea water is pumped into the 688 hectare main lake continuously throughout summer.

When the brine reaches saturation point it is transferred into crystallisation ponds during the summer months. Marlborough is renowned for receiving more than its share of sunshine and coupled with strong, drying Nor’ Westerly winds and large areas of suitable flat land, the area was perfect for the salt works that were in established in 1943.

Salt drying in huge ponds fed from the sea

Salt drying in huge ponds fed from the sea

The salt crust is lifted from the bottom of the crystallisation ponds and transported to one of the two washing plants where it is washed in brine before being stacked in 20-metre high piles.

The snowy stacks of salt are a landmark of the area, readily visible from the highway.

Snowy hills of salt are a landmark in the area

Snowy hills of salt are a landmark in the area

We drove down a long dirt road to the open sea and were able to see the mountains of the North Island in the distance.

The mountains of the North Island are seen from the beach beside Lake Grassmere

The mountains of the North Island are seen from the beach beside Lake Grassmere

Along the coast road we were again accompanied by the Pacific Ocean for the next 100 kms to Kaikoura.

The landscape changed yet again this time to what must be one of the only places in the world where high snow caped mountains run directly down to a turquoise and blue ocean through temperate rain forest.

Again the scenery was stunning.

Snow capped mountains run down to the sea

Snow capped mountains run down to the sea

Photos simply do not do justice to the scenery

Photos simply do not do justice to the scenery

We stopped at one of the many small huts along the road and enjoyed a local crayfish and Paua Patties.

Kerrie was not keen to try the black rather unappetising looking patties, especially as Christine had found them unpalatable on her trip here. She did force herself to try them and actually quite liked them. She loves the Paua shell and the lady running the shop had some beautiful examples of Paua jewellery so Kerrie was interested in how the shell is processed and learned about the poisonous job of grinding the silica from the outside of the shell.

A little further up the road bought us to a most fascinating place – a large colony of seals lazing on a rocky point. Seals are prolific all along the coat but here they mingled unconcernedly with fascinated travellers stopping for photographs who were often within a couple of metres of the seals.

We could have stayed watching the antics of the seals for hours and many people did.

All along the road to the left was the ocean displaying every shade of turquoise and blue imaginable and with seals thickly populating almost every rocky outcrop; and to the right was the snow covered mountain peaks, with the rugged scarring of millions of tons of snow that would have been on the lower slopes during winter, then sweeping down to lush pasture land or spectacular dense bush.

Fur Seals only a metre away

Fur Seals only a metre away

This is a coastline of magnificent contrast and breathtaking beauty.

"Just let me sleep would ya"!

“Just let me sleep would ya”!

A very pretty coastline

A very pretty coastline

We eventually pulled in to Kaikoura where we arranged a really nice reasonably priced motel overlooking both the mountain peaks and the sea and then went along to the prettiest of towns to enjoy fresh Blue Cod fillets while sitting on velvety grass by the sea. How amazing!

We fell in love with Kaikoura

We fell in love with Kaikoura

I think for us it was “Love at first sight” for Kaikoura.

Pelorous Sound Mail Boat – Day 7 in EnZed

The Pelorous Sound Mail Boat

The Pelorous Sound Mail Boat

While waiting to leave we spotted two blokes coming in on a small boat with two pigs aboard.

Kerrie went down and spoke to them and they told her they had run the pigs down with the dogs and then stuck them. They were going to eat them telling Kerrie that the larger one probably woudn’t be too good the smaller one would taste like lamb, depending on what it had been eating. They were a little embarrassed to have photos taken of the pigs as they thought our Aussie pigs were much more impressive.

Pigs hunted on the bushy hillsides of the Pelorous Sound

Pigs hunted on the bushy hillsides of the Pelorous Sound

The day could not have been better. In stark contrast to yesterday the weather was fine, calm and sunny.

It was a rare treat to spend the day on this cruise and it’s easy to see why some people have chosen to live in the isolated beauty on the shores of the sound.

The Mail Boat drops off mail and other supplies to isolated Pelorous Sound residents. Many have no road access.

The Mail Boat drops off mail and other supplies to isolated Pelorous Sound residents. Many have no road access.

High hills and lush bush border the vibrant shades of blue of the sea.

High natural bush or forest shrouded hills drop straight to the water

High natural bush or forest shrouded hills drop straight to the water

The Pelorous Sound is 60 miles long from Havelock to the open sea and it is from here that the giant mussel farms harvest many millions of tonnes of mussel each year providing an income for  5 factories and 1500 people.

Many thousands of mussel lines grow hundreds of tons of green shelled Mussels each year.

Many thousands of mussel lines grow hundreds of tons of green shelled Mussels each year.

The Mussels are grown on ropes that dangle deep down in the sea and are looped between two buoyed lines that are anchored to the sea bed by huge concrete blocks. The harvesting vessels then run along these main buoyed lines and haul up the ropes with hydraulic winches dumping the rope with its attached mussels into huge bags which are then taken to Havelock where the Mussels are removed from the ropes and processed.

The Mussels grow on ropes hanging looped between these two main lines...

The Mussels grow on ropes hanging looped between these two main lines…

...then the harvest vessels runs along the main lines lifting the Mussel encrusted ropes into bags for transportation to the factory.

…then the harvest vessels runs along the main lines lifting the Mussel encrusted ropes into bags for transportation to the factory.

Large Fur Seals were swimming around the packed full salmon farm enclosures

Large Fur Seals were swimming around the packed full salmon farm enclosures

Logging is also a major industry in Pelorous Sound

Logging is also a major industry in Pelorous Sound

On board the mail boat was a sample of a wall/floor made from Paua shell (Abalone) that one of the Pelorous Sound residents makes and sells al over the world. On enquiring about them the Skipper called the resident and they met us when we stopped to deliver their mail. We bought some of these unique pieces as did others on the cruise.

This resident met us with the magnificent Paua shell tiles which we bought

This resident met us with the magnificent Paua shell tiles which we bought

 

Magnificent Paua shell tiles made locally in the Pelorous Sound

Magnificent Paua shell tiles made locally in the Pelorous Sound

There are some fascinating stories associated with the residents of Pelorous Sound and you can’t help but think that the loneliness of isolation would be well compensated for by the sheer beauty of the environment.

Beautiful isolation

Beautiful isolation

Seals bask on the shores everywhere and Blue Penguins and the small New Zealand species of dolphin abound in the hundreds of bays and inlets which are alive with fish feeding on the surface and many species of birds including the large yellow headed Gannets that inhabit a colony on the rocks at a lonely outcrop near the top of the Sound.

A large colony of Gannets occupy this lonely outcrop of rock

A large colony of Gannets occupy this lonely outcrop of rock

The small Blue Penguins inhabit the Peloroous Sound in abundance...

The small Blue Penguins inhabit the Peloroous Sound in abundance…

...as do the small varitey of New Zealand Dolphin

…as do the small varitey of New Zealand Dolphin

We went ashore at a little inlet called Jacobs Cove where a foresighted soul in the mid 1800s decided to make this a conservation area. As a resulted this area has never ever been farmed or logged and is the only piece of pure virgin bush in the whole are. It is truly a stunning place to walk through and from which to observe the surrounding sea.

Jacobs Cove - 100% virgin bush

Jacobs Cove – 100% virgin bush

Through the virgin bush of Jacobs Cove out to the Pelorous Sound

Through the virgin bush of Jacobs Cove out to the Pelorous Sound

A new fern leaf unfolding - The Maoris use this as the "Koru" symbol which signifies renewal and hope.

A new fern leaf unfolding – The Maoris use this as the “Koru” symbol which signifies renewal and hope.

A peaceful interlude at Jacobs Cove

A peaceful interlude at Jacobs Cove

The water's crystal clear but very cold!

The water’s crystal clear but very cold!

As we steamed peacefully back to Havelock in the late afternoon we felt we had momentarily stepped into one of the worlds really beautiful places.

Has to be one of the worlds most beautiful places

Has to be one of the worlds most beautiful places

The Pelorous Sound mail cruise was a wonderful experience

The Pelorous Sound mail cruise was a wonderful experience

We made our way to Picton where we would stay the night and after the luxurious Mt Richmond retreat we found a very ordinary rather shabby motel for an exaggerated price. Not satisfied with the high price for the room they charged for everything else including laundry, internet and even a swim in the spa! Oh well, it seems people are still prepared to pay so I guess it’s OK.

Perhaps because Picton is a tourist town and mostly a stopover for travellers taking the Inter Island ferry, prices are high. We stopped at the supermarket to get a few basics and were amazed at the prices.

This has been the only negative of our trip. Prices are very high for most basic items. New Zealand lamb for instance, that’s in such abundance, is often near twice the price of lamb in Aus. Locally made produce such as local cheeses are also expensive and not always easy to find. New Zealanders must just earn more than Australians I suppose.

We did however have a great night’s sleep looking forward to visiting the wine growing inland Marlborough region tomorrow.

Sheer Cliffs and Gale force winds – Day 6 in EnZed

Leaving at about 9:30am we headed for French Pass about a 1 hour drive from the motel.

It was a shocking day with howling winds threatening to push us right off the narrow winding roads.

French Pass and the many bays and inlets leading to it are not on the main tourist route and only the traveller intent on visiting the no tourist New Zealand would come here.

The view from the car driving to French Pass

The view from the car driving to French Pass

The road is narrow, winding and very steep and the last 20 km or so is dirt, narrowing even further in some place with no room for 2 cars to pass between the hill on one side and the almost vertical cliffs plunging far down to the sea on the other.

A momentary and rare break in the rain cloud lets us see what is just a few inches beyond our car tyre!

A momentary and rare break in the rain cloud lets us see what is just a few inches beyond our car tyre!

As we drove on I knew Kerrie was wondering why on earth I would bring her to this wild, windswept place. She could not see what lay far below or to the sides of the winding road because the rain and high cloud swept up the hills and enveloped us in a dense fog that made it impossible to see past the car bonnet.

It was near the top of this treacherous piece of landscape that a rare and brief break in the cloud revealed the scene far below causing Kerrie to immediately understand why we were here where even the sheep and cows were desperately seeking any shelter possible.

No one would ever know we'd been here if we slipped!

No one would ever know we'd been here if we slipped!

It was a glimpse of a bay and a rocky shore that even the howling wind and clouds of sweeping rain could not diminish the wild beauty of.

This changed our attitude from trepidation to excitement about what we would find at the end of the road.

We rounded the last bend to finally spot the goal of the drive, French Pass.

I used to sail through this pass on the fishing boats as we steamed to Admiralty Bay and up to the North Island to fish.

Sailing through the French Pass was always exciting and could only be done within 30 minutes at the top or botom of the tide

Sailing through the French Pass was always exciting and could only be done within 30 minutes at the top or botom of the tide

It’s a very narrow seaway where two oceans meet and because of its location, the depth changes on the seabed and the rushing ebb and spring tides it is only possible to sail through this pass for a half hour at the turn of the tide. Within minutes after the tide the swirling eddies and the current make it impassable.

The swirling eddies and rips grow more violent by the minute

The swirling eddies and rips grow more violent by the minute

I’ve seen sizable ships swung almost 360 degrees attempting to get through too late.

We parked the car on a little siding and walked down a steep, narrow little track cut out of the sheer cliffs believing that it was entirely possible that the car would be blown completely of the road by the time we returned.

The steep path to the Pass was challenging but totally worth it

The steep path to the Pass was challenging but totally worth it

When we got to the little lookout we were so glad we had made the trip. It was spectacular! It was wild, a cauldron of wind whipped sea and spray against a backdrop of stunningly beautiful cliffs and with a depth of colour no photo could do justice to.

The tide was at almost slack water yet we could still see the swirling confusion of the sea as it ripped around the unseen underwater canyons.

The howling wind only enhanced the experience of standing alone overlooking this special place and we had to marvel at how the lights that guide the narrow pass were erected in 1906.

Since only a small piece of rock was visible for just 30 minutes at dead low tide 30 – 40 buckets of concrete were mixed at just the right time of day according to the tides and were placed in a small open boat.

The boat would be towed out to the rock by the steam tug Namu through the swirling eddies and rips and at just the right time the men in the boat would let go the rope and drift onto the rock. Holding on for dear life they would empty the buckets of concrete into a steel cylinder that could be unbolted as the column grew and then they would tie a canvas bag round it to stop the sea washing all the concrete away. Thirty minutes from letting go of the rope the boat would be washed through the gap no matter how hard they held
on and they would be picked up by the tug.

Despite all this effort only very small amounts of the concrete stayed on the rock and slowly, bit by bit the base was eventually completely which is still there today.

It was quite mesmerising to stand here taking in this unique place.

We trudged up the cliff track to the car and we had to hold on to the car as we removed our raincoats to prevent being blown away.

We proceeded on down the road to the hamlet of French Pass which was all but deserted and exactly as it was 38 years ago when we used to tie up periodically at the little wharf here.

We made our way back across the wind swept hills occasionally visiting a small bay when the road and the wind enabled us. We drove on to Havelock, the Green Mussel centre of the world, where we purchased some live mussels and some Toi Toi wine, (the wonderful New Zealand wine made around here that Christine had introduced us to), finally arriving back at the motel at Mt Richmond late in the afternoon.

After we cooked our Mussels by steaming them in a pot with a little wine we sat down to the delicious meal with a glass of the magnificent Toi Toi before retiring into the enormous king sized bed that was so incredibly comfortable.

Kerrie Touches Snow (Only Just)! – Day 5 in EnZed

We got a healthy discount for Kerrie’s helicopter trip through the motel we stayed at, (managed by a young bloke from Brisbane), and Kerrie was off at 8:15am for the high country. (From Kerrie) I was up early and down to the Glacier Flights office to see if I could get a flight this morning. There was a vacancy at the 9.00am flight. YES! I was going to touch snow. Then he gave me the news “The weather has been unpredictable don’t know if you will be able to land” NOOOOO!!! The weather already has been raining and is now starting to fine up with blue sky. So at 8.45am I was outside the office getting the safety speech with 2 other couples. One lot from USA and the other from Sydney. So far it was looking good but the clouds were coming in fast and it has already rained again since this morning. They drove us out to the helicopter pad, this was also on my “Bucket List” I had always wanted to fly in a helicopter.

Kerrie's chopper - Another item off the bucket list

Kerrie’s chopper – Another item off the bucket list

In we went, there were 4 seats in the back and one in the front. The 2 Aussies in first then me and the American man next to me, his wife sat in front. The flight was great and very smooth. Over the glacier and high into the mountain the snow is pure white.

Flying over the Fox Glacier - we had stood at the it's base last night!

Flying over the Fox Glacier – we had stood at the it’s base last night!

Another helicopter is in front and landing, down we go, the pilot is constantly watching the cloud cover which is coming in again.

Another chopper below us landing on the snow

Another chopper below us landing on the snow

We land, only a few feet to go to be able to complete a dream of touching snow. The pilot opens the door, out goes the American couple then it’s my turn, I step out and my right leg sinks to my knee I think “That leg will be sopping wet” I hall my leg out and take 2 steps out on firmer ground as I go to turn on my camera it happens… the pilot grabs my arm “Sorry the cloud is coming in fast get back in NOW!”. I look up into the helicopter at the Aussie couple who hadn’t even managed to get out. I bent down and grabbed a handful of snow “I’ve touched it” as we are bundled back in. As the pilot takes off we look back and you can’t see the back of the helicopter as the cloud consumes us. That’s it, that’s my snow adventure.

Touchdown on the snow

Touchdown on the snow

It happened so fast. My mind starts to take it all in. No my leg is not wet, neither is my shoe. It was not wet and slushy or dirty as some people had warned me. It was light and pure white and when I pulled my leg out of the hole it was a pretty blue colour in the hole. It wasn’t even that cold up there, it probably would be if we had stayed longer or if the wind was blowing. But I’ve done it, and I can tell you I want to do it again, hopefully for a bit longer.

On top of a snowy world far different than I'm used to

On top of a snowy world far different than I’m used to

 

The mountains - Awesome in their wild ruggedness!

The mountains – Awesome in their wild ruggedness!

The Fox Glacier - Constantly fed with new snow and ice

The Fox Glacier – Constantly fed with new snow and ice

After Kerrie’s excited return we headed on through the stunning Westland National Park with its unending mountain and forest scenery to Franz Joseph Glacier. We didn’t have the time to visit the Glacier so drove on to Hokitika. This took us past many snow and rain fed rivers, all running with huge force, and past mountains interspersed with beautiful farms and stunning bushland.

Countless waterfalls cascade from the cliffs at every turn in the road

Countless waterfalls cascade from the cliffs at every turn in the road

We passed two magnificent crystal clear blue lakes, Lake Mapourika and Lake Lanthe before arriving in Hokitika.

Sparkling clear lakes and water falls always against the snow capped mountain backdrop

Sparkling clear lakes and water falls always against the snow capped mountain backdrop

For some reason I imagined Hokitika would be a sort of “behind the times”, struggling town being so far west and relatively isolated. It was anything but that. It is a vibrant, clean impeccable tidy and clean town that is bustling and busy. Shops appear very prosperous, well patronised and there seems a generally happy atmosphere that is hard to miss. The Jade Factory which we visited was very busy and the products were innovative and beautiful. We finally got to try a “Whitebait Sammie” after I had explained to Kerrie what Whitebait were and why they are so expensive. We ate lunch (with or whitebait Sammie) beside the Tasman sea on a windswept beach. It was delightful. We liked Hokitika a lot.

Whitebait "Sammies" by the sea

Whitebait “Sammies” by the sea

Heading on to Greymouth we found a different sort of town, definitely showing its age we thought. I had visited here a few times by sea on the fishing boats when we fished the West Coast and now, apart from the fisheries wharf the port is no longer in use and is decaying.

The decaying wharf at Greymouth where I had tied up for shelter on the the fishing boats 35 years ago

The decaying wharf at Greymouth where I had tied up for shelter on the the fishing boats 35 years ago

Just out of Greymouth we stopped at the old Brunner Coal Mine site and it was fascinating to see the remains of what was once a profitable mine in the 1900s.

The chimney overlooks the remains of the Brunner mine

The chimney overlooks the remains of the Brunner mine

The raging river floods the mine making its full potential unrealisable

The raging river floods the mine making its full potential unrealisable

We headed on inland bypassing Westport as we wanted to make Nelson by night fall. This route took us through Reefton and then Murchison, which was decimated by an earthquake back in 1929 causing the loss of 17 lives and many huge landslips. Some of these can still be seen from the road. We also drove through Inangahua Junction where another severe earthquake killed 3 people and caused much damage in 1968.

More snow fed rivers near Lake Rotoiti

More snow fed rivers near Lake Rotoiti

We left the main highway to pass through St Arnaud which is a small town on Lake Rotoiti which services the Rainbow Ski Fields and on to Golden Downs. From here we were able to get a remarkable view of the Nelson Valley and the lush pastures and hills before heading into Wakefield village where I boarded with Vicki’s grandparents while I worked on the fishing boats out of Nelson.

Wild broom near the Nelson Valley

Wild broom near the Nelson Valley

From the Golden Downs forest down the Nelson Valley

From the Golden Downs forest down the Nelson Valley

Wakefield was then a tiny village – not anymore! It is heavily built up as are all the suburbs from here to Nelson.

Only a few familiar landmarks of Wakefield and the tiny village it once was are left

Only a few familiar landmarks of Wakefield and the tiny village it once was are left

I found Nelson virtually unrecognisable to what I remember 40 years ago when I lived here and was first married here.

The Nelson where I spent some of my youth has gone forever, unrecognisable to me.

The Nelson where I spent some of my youth has gone forever, unrecognisable to me.

We had intended to stay in Nelson for 2 nights but decided we would rather explore the Marlborough region instead so we headed to a motel we had heard of in the Rai Valley. Arriving at about 10:00pm after a massive day we found this site in the midst of thick forest to be the most agreeable and lovely spot. The fully renovated cabins were spotless and new and we had the most wonderful and peaceful sleep.

Moeraki, Seals and Snow- Day 4 in EnZed

Leaving Timaru very early in sheeting rain we headed for Oamaru past delightful country side which seemed to sparkle even in the dismal weather.

Past the little towns of Pareora, St Andrews, Makikihi Waimate and Glenavy we drove never without the magnificent scenery.

We arrived in Oamaru just as the shops were opening which enabled us to by a couple of weather proof ponchos to keep out the rain (a move that would prove valuable) and fill up with petrol.

We eventually arrived at the Moeraki Boulders and stopped to experience these unique, perfectly round boulders on the beach made up of rocks wrapped together in Silica and other mineral to form these huge round shapes.

The Moeraki Boulders

Boulder

The thing on the right is NOT a boulder - Its ME!

As well as the boulders, the best examples of this phenomenon found anywhere in the world, the beach was strewn with billions of shells of every kind including Pipis the size of the palm of my hand.

Billions of shells

Billions of shells

Now THATS a Pipi!

Now THATS a Pipi!

Just a couple of kilometres up the road was the seaside settlement of Moeraki. Barry and Christine had fallen in love with this place on their NZ trip and Barry has often remarked that he could live here quite happily.

We could see why.

The settlement is on a hill on a peninsular that juts out into the sea and overlooks the Tasman Ocean as well as the rolling hills of the coastline where the green velvety pastures come right to the water’s edge.

Moeraki - Beautiful even on the greyest of days

Moeraki - Beautiful even on the greyest of days

Even on such a grey day as this the water was crystal clear and we could see the rocks far below the surface of the turquoise water.

It was a magnificent scene and we could imagine that the place would have been breathtaking in sunlight. We drove up a little side road to the lighthouse and found a scene which yet again was awe inspiring in its beauty. Steep cliffs topped with lush pasture dropped into the sea and we walked along them taking in the history.

On these hills a Maori village once stood and a Pa or guard post was built on a small peninsular to protect the village from marauding tribes in the times of tribal troubles.

It seems that each time we think the scenery can’t get any better a new visual treat is exposed to us.

A little further up the highway bought us to Shag Point and yet another amazing scene as we walked out onto the rocky cliffs of a headland.

Here was a colony of New Zealand Fur Seals lazing on the rocks just metres away from us. There were hundreds of them; some of them would weigh in at least the same as me. We could have watched them for hours as they unconcernedly looked us over then went back to their peaceful idling.

A Fur Seal lazes on ther rocks

A Fur Seal lazes on ther rocks

This strip of En Zed from Moeraki to Shag Point would be worth a trip on its own.

The lush pasture supports very high concentrations of stock per paddock

The lush pasture supports very high concentrations of stock per paddock

Reluctantly we moved on to Palmerston where we stopped for coffee before turning inland away from the sea and towards the Remarkables, a range of rugged hills that we would cross before arriving at the Southern Alps.

We drove through the towns of Ranfurly and Omakau before arriving at the pretty town of Alexandra where we could see light snow on the tops of the highest peaks of the ranges.

This was Kerrie’s first glimpse of snow.

We felt the change to a crisper (not really cold) temperature as the landscape became more alpine in appearance.

Next was the bustling prosperous looking town of Cromwell on the shores of Lake Dawson with the road running along a shoreline of incredibly clear water bordered by extreme cliff faces We had initially planned to turn here and visit Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu but we realised we would need to make the difficult decision to forgo this trip this time round as were just not going to make Marlborough and Kaikoura and back to Christchurch in time.

The pristine waters of Lake Dawson

The pristine waters of Lake Dawson

Reluctantly we headed on to Wanaka and now we were travelling beside the spectacular Southern Alps were even now in mid November the peaks were snow covered.

Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka

The scenery was dramatic and spectacular with the crystal water of Lake Wanaka bordered by a shoreline of near vertical cliffs that displayed the results of the awesome forces that the millions of tons of snow have caused.

Awesome forces combined to create spectacular scenery

Awesome forces combined to create spectacular scenery

Lake Hawea was the same scene of stunningly beautiful water so still that the snow capped peaks and thousands of waterfalls were perfectly reflected on the surface.

Even in mid November snow covers the peaks

Even in mid November snow covers the peaks

It was never very cold as we continued our stop start journey as each bend opened to a new “must stop” scene. How can you adequately frame words to describe such a scene?

Thousands of waterfalls

Thousands of waterfalls

The snow on the peaks led a little further down the mountains to rugged cliffs where the weight of the snow had allowed no vegetation to grow, then a little further down to the tree line through which thousands of waterfalls cascaded to the lakes and rivers below in spectacular silver eruptions of countless tons of water as the snow melted.

Wild and Beautiful

Wild and Beautiful

We felt very blessed to have experienced such a thing and Kerrie kept on making the same request, “Tell me again why you left”.

We came upon Makaroa where we had looked forward to walking into the Blue Pools, a spectacular sight from all accounts but again we needed to make the decision to forego this for another day as we were losing time.

Crossing the Haast Pass through a wonderland of snowy mountains and lush rain forest and stopping frequently to marvel at the fierce rivers and cascading waterfalls bought us eventually to the town of Haast where we were going to stay the night but as there was still light left we pressed on toward Fox Glacier.

Icy water seeps through moss on the hillsides

Icy water seeps through moss on the hillsides

We were now on the sea again this time on the West Coast and we were just north of Jackson Bay where we would anchor occasionally when I was fishing these waters now 40 years ago. Apart from the ports of Greymouth and Westport, (notoriously difficult to enter in anything but calm weather), there are no anchorages along the whole West Coast and this scantly protected cove offered only a little protection from the enormous seas that batter this coastline. Apart from Tasmania 1700km east, there is no land mass to break up the fearsome swells caused by the winds of the Roaring 40s and the Antarctic.

We were able to stand on the side of a sheer cliff and watch the awesome force of the turbulent ocean smashing and pounding the rugged coast.

On the cliffs overlooking the Roaring 40s

On the cliffs overlooking the Roaring 40s

Looking toward Jackson Bay

Looking toward Jackson Bay

We passed through the towns of Paringa, Bruce Bay, and Jacobs River before arriving at Fox Glacier where we drove 4 km off the highway to the foot of the Glacier.

We walked about 20 minutes past blocks of ice that had worked loose from the glacier and were floating along the river beside us.

Blocks of ice breaking off the galcier

Blocks of ice breaking off the galcier

Eventually we came upon the astounding sight of the solid wall of ice that is the glacier filling the entire valley and running high into the mountain.

First glimpse of the Fox Glacier

First glimpse of the Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier - A solid wall of ice stretching high into the mountains

Fox Glacier - A solid wall of ice stretching high into the mountains

Large chunks of ice continued breaking off and being washed down the fast running river and we were in awe standing alone in this valley of verticle rock cliffs that showed evidence of the upheaval caused by the extreme conditions that are common here.

Ice continually breaking off the glacier

Ice continually breaking off the glacier

It was  a strangley frightening but beautiful place especially as we were alone and the light was failing. All round are warnings about the falling rock from the sheer cliffs and the weather changes in seconds.

A little eerie standing alone amongst such powerful natural forces

A little eerie standing alone amongst such powerful natural forces

Gigantic boulders and rocks can slide from the canyon walls anytime

Gigantic boulders and rocks can slide from the canyon walls anytime

Pools of iced water everywhere

Pools of iced water everywhere

We then drove into the town as darkness fell and booked into a motel, managed by a young bloke from Brisbane, and crashing in contented sleep.

A Reunion with Sister Rose – Day 3 in En Zed

We were underway early Sunday morning on this my 60th birthday.

Although the little town was still sleeping the sun was up by 6:00am air was crisp and still. With daylight saving the South Island has a wide spread of daylight hours (about 5:00am to about 9:30pm) allowing for a great many activities to be crammed into a day.

We drove around the peaceful still Bays of Akaroa Harbour through Devauchelle, Barry’s Bay, French Farm, Petite Caranage Bay and Tikao Bay. Always the backdrop and the accompanying scenery to the drive was the fairy tale like meadows, neat well managed farms and sheep.

Beautiful Akaroa Harbour

Beautiful Akaroa Harbour

Beautifully peaceful coves and inlets with visiting cruise ships

Beautifully peaceful coves and inlets with visiting cruise ships

Heading on through Little River, where we ate breakfast, we made for Birdlings Flat near Lake Ellesmere. This is a place I wanted to visit as I remember the stony, wild beaches and the sparse landscape that my father would sometimes bring me on his raft fishing expeditions.

Birdlings Flat

Birdlings Flat

He had his raft invention that he would sail out over the breakers with a long rope and many hooks attached to it. He had a mechanism made from a bike tube that would collapse the sail when the raft was far enough out and then later he would haul in the raft and remove the fish as each hook came ashore.

Sheer Cliffs and fertile land drop off to a barren stoney beach many miles long

Sheer Cliffs and fertile land drop off to a barren stoney beach many miles long

Am I imagining 50 year old ghosts of Dad and his raft?

Am I imagining 50 year old ghosts of Dad and his raft?

Gets a little breezy on Birdlings Flat on occasions

Gets a little breezy on Birdlings Flat on occasions

We drove past Lake Ellesmere, the 5th largest lake in New Zealand, to Tai Tapu where my sister Rose lives and we found her sprightly and healthy and looking much younger than her 72 years.

Rose - Spritley, healthy and still a wonderful gardener

Rose - Spritley, healthy and still a wonderful gardener

It was a wonderful reunion and there was an added bonus of having my nephew Nicholas there.

Rose and Chris

Rose and Chris

Chris' nephew Nicholas

Chris' nephew Nicholas

Rose’s garden is spectacular with the main focus on a collection of magnificent roses. Walking into the garden the smell from the roses pervades your senses and the colour explosion is a delight.
The grass is soft and green and healthy veges and fruit trees abound.

Roses house is a mass of colour and the scent of roses and hundreds of other flowers pervades the entire property

Roses house is a mass of colour and the scent of roses and hundreds of other flowers pervades the entire property

Rose had the garden severely damaged in the earthquakes especially with the liquefaction that oozed from the ground covering everything with its smelly mud. She has done wonders to get things back in order and displays that same spirit that we see all over the city of just getting on with life and attending to what needs doing each day.

Roses Irises and honey bees

Roses Irises and honey bees

Perfect roses are the gardens main focus

Perfect roses are the gardens main focus

Colour and perfect form everywhere

Colour and perfect form everywhere

A lovely reunion and not easy to say goodbye

A lovely reunion and not easy to say goodbye

We had a lovely lunch and talked and laughed and generally caught up on the past years before it was sadly time to say goodbye and move on since our time is very limited. It was such an awesome experience to be able to catch up with Rose and Nicholas after so long.

We detoured out to West Melton where Rose used to live and fell in love with the small farms out there, all neat and beautifully looked after before  heading out to State Highway 1 with the intention of getting at least as far south as Ashburton by nightfall.

Almost every farm has windbreaks that are neatly trimmed groomed

Almost every farm has windbreaks that are neatly trimmed groomed

The Canturbury Plains can produce strong icy winds that blow off the snow capped Southern Alps

The Canturbury Plains can produce strong icy winds that blow off the snow capped Southern Alps

As we arrived into the large regional centre of Ashburton there was still plenty of light left so we continued on until we made it to Timaru where we spent the night.

My boats – Day 2 in En Zed

We started off early and took another round of the city before heading toward Sumner via Woolston where I attended primary school.

The journey of remembrance continued through familiar surrounds as we drove to Ferrymead and then out to Mt Pleasant.

Million dollar house perched on the edge. Never to be used again.

Million dollar house perched on the edge. Never to be used again.

 

The scene that met us here was dramatic as the cliffs running along the beach roads had collapsed leaving many houses with extensive damage. Some houses that once boasted million dollar price tags hung precariously over the cliffs and debris from houses that had collapsed was hanging from various parts of the cliff face.

Containers hold back the unstable cliff side.

Containers hold back the unstable cliff side.

 

Hundreds of shipping containers were lined up at the base of the cliffs and in fact the sight of many rows of containers propping up buildings was now a major hallmark of the whole city. Shipping containers, orange “witches hat” road cones, construction fencing, plywood sheeting, portable toilets and thousands of “keep out, extreme danger” notices are every where, on almost every street, and will be a part of the city for a long time to come.

Bridges twisted over the Avon River.

Bridges twisted over the Avon River.

 

Behind these sad signs of a devastated city there are also clearly visible signs of the beauty that made the city unique like the gardens and the colours of the sea and the green hills. Many businesses and restaurants have defied the odds and gotten back to work finding places to operate in some cases even from containers.

The ancient Cave Rock is still there as one of Sumners landmarks but another landmark, Shag rock, has fallen over in the quake

The ancient Cave Rock is still there as one of Sumners landmarks but another landmark, Shag rock, has fallen over in the quake

We soon became aware that the people are just getting on with life and as we observed the city traffic and the commuters we realised that the people are not about to let Christchurch die.

There are no signs of a community wallowing in self pity and even though there has been a mass exodus of people there are still many who will never leave and are intent on rebuilding both the city and their lives even though neither will be the same again.

We drove along the beach to Scarborough and then over the steep winding road to Taylor’s Mistake. Kerrie loved this beautiful place with its wild cliffs overlooking the sea.

We had intended to take the Summit Road and Evans pass over to Lyttleton but soon found this beautiful route over the Port Hills was closed, never again to be reopened. This meant we could not visit Godley Head Lighthouse where my father had lived for years. This was a place I dearly wanted to visit and show Kerrie.

We made our way to Lyttleton via the road tunnel which was miraculously untouched by the quake even though the substantial control and administration building at the tunnel entrance was completely destroyed.

Huge Russian and Japanese trawlers frm the fishing grounds south of New Zealand

Huge Russian and Japanese trawlers frm the fishing grounds south of New Zealand

There was a lot of damage in Lyttleton but the historic port settlement still held the fascination that I had always had for this place as long as I can remember.

I spent many hours here watching ships come and go and some of the happiest times of my life were spent here as part of the TS Steadfast Sea Cadet Corp.

I was pointing out to Kerrie the wharf where the first fishing boat I worked on used to be moored and as we drove up to it I couldn’t believe what I saw. The same little vessel was moored in the exact same spot it was all those 35 years ago. The name and the colour had changed but it was otherwise exactly the same. I was so amazed by this I could hardly contain my excitement when I noticed on the hard stand slip way was another vessel – the old Kia Ora.

Chris's first boat he skippered the Kia Ora

Chris's first boat he skippered the Kia Ora

This was the first vessel I skippered after receiving my Skippers Ticket. I have often thought about this beautiful old vessel with it’s amidships sited wheelhouse and lovely old traditional lines.

I was once told it was wrecked and sunk but here it was in all its former glory completely renovated as a pleasure craft.

I think Kerrie was a bit amused at my excitement over seeing both these vessels that were a significant part of my past right here still as good as new.

As if by a design that had me standing in this place at this time I looked over to the main wharf area and lo and behold there was the WJ Scott yet another vessel I had worked on from out of Nelson. It was renamed repainted and was showing its age but it was unmistakable as the Norwegian built “Herminstral” that was purchased by the New Zealand government in the 1960s for fisheries research. I worked on her when she was on an experimental Purse Seining program to explore the possibilities of developing a New Zealand Pilchard fishing industry.

Here were 3 vessels within 50 yards of each other that had each been a special part of my youth.

Lyttleton was full of huge Russian and Japanese trawlers that have for years fished the rich Southern Ocean Orange Roughy and Warehou grounds.

Huge Russian & Japanese fishing boats dwarf the other vessels.

Huge Russian & Japanese fishing boats dwarf the other vessels.

We moved on from Lyttleton around the hills to beautiful Corsair Bay and then to Cass Bay where the Sea Cadet base still stands almost exactly as it was when I spent the happiest times of my early life there. The old World War 2 ammunition storage base was the centre of my world from age 12 till about 15 and it was here that I would spend almost every weekend sailing and boating and learning Naval based skills.

Best years of Chris's youth at the Sea Cadets.

Best years of Chris's youth at the Sea Cadets.

We drove around the magnificent Lyttleton Harbour as warm sunshine and blue skies enhanced the unbelievably beautiful greens of the meadow like grasses.

At Governers Bay we took a detour up the steep Dyers Pass Road where from the top of the hill we could see the City of Christchurch and the lush and fertile Canterbury plains stretching across to the snow capped Southern Alps.

We decided to double back down the hill and continue on around the bays and inlets of the southern side of Lyttleton Harbour.

By now the countryside was beginning to have an effect on both of us. The colours especially the greens were amazing. The greens of the grasses are a softer more delicate hue than we are used to in Australia and the grass seemed to shimmer and shine in the sun.

Rolling hills of this brilliant green were highlighted by shots of brilliant yellow from countless wild shrubs bearing sprays of yellow flower. Buttercups and delicate white daisies sent further blasts of colour through the shining greens of the fields. This exhibition of colour spread high into the hills surrounding the harbour and was in constant contrast to the turquoise of the harbour and the blue of the sky.

Kerrie was simply spellbound by the sheer prettiness of the scenes as we passed places like Charteris Bay , Hays Bay and Camp Bay. We stopped at Diamond Harbour for coffee and enjoyed the lush gardens and magnificent trees that cascaded right to the harbour’s
shoreline.

The green from the hills to the magnificent blue water.Then to top it off the huge variety of wild flowers.

The green from the hills to the magnificent blue water.Then to top it off the huge variety of wild flowers

On we went to the stunningly pretty Purau Bay, which we viewed from a high vantage point on the surrounding hill track from where we could look down at the tranquil landscape of crystal
clear turquoise and blue water with giant kelp trees on the shoreline extending to the deep ocean bottom and gently drifting to and fro with the tide.

Everyone it seems has boats. Small boats to get you out to the bigger boats.

Everyone it seems has boats. Small boats to get you out to the bigger boats.

From here we could see Ripapa Island and the Crimean War fortress that still exists there. We used to have Sea Cadet camps on this island and it always fascinated me with its gun emplacement now uselessly guarding the harbour against a non existent foe.

We drove on further now on little more than a narrow dirt track around Pile Bay, Deep Gully Bay and finally Camp Bay before the road became dangerously steep for the little Mitsubishi we had hired.

From this dead silent spot high above the harbour we were able to marvel at the utter beauty of the surrounding landscape of peaceful water stretching out through the heads to the sea and across to Godley Head Lighthouse where my father had lived so happily and across the little bays and inlets to Lyttleton across the other side.

Native New Zealand Flax plant overlooking Quail Island in Lyttleton Harbour

Native New Zealand Flax plant overlooking Quail Island in Lyttleton Harbour

Finally dagging ourselves from this scene we proceeded back to Purau Bay and headed over the hills to Port Levy, Pigeon Bay and Little Akaloa.

It is very hard for me to paint word pictures to adequately describe the beauty of these places. Every turn in road presented another amazing visual treat of colour and unique landscapes. It was literally breathtaking. Kerrie was in constant amazement at the scenes through which we travelled and asked time and again, “Tell me again why you left here?”

We took a dirt track out to Raupo Bay, regretting that time would not permit us to take a walk across a track over the rolling hills to the cliffs surrounding the bay and bordering the ocean. For miles we could see manicured meadows with the ever present high Macricapa hedges planted as windbreaks on almost every farm an always trimmed to perfection giving a uniform neatness to the countryside.

The neat hedges of over 10mt high to cut the wind from the mountains are everywhere.

The neat hedges of over 10mt high to cut the wind from the mountains are everywhere

 

Stiles to climb over farmers fences and then let you walk to places of great beauty.

Stiles to climb over farmers fences and then let you walk to places of great beauty.

 

And plenty of Sheep and their lambs. Ahh! seat covers

And plenty of Sheep and their lambs. Ahh! seat covers

After making our way to Okains Bay we headed inland up steep winding hill roads until we reached the peak of a summit from where we were presented with an amazing panorama of the land falling away across rolling green hills to the sea to the north east and then the beautiful Akaroa harbour undulating to the sea to the south east.

Akaroa Bay

Akaroa Bay

Craggy peaks and the ever present green grass combined with steep valleys and spurs runnin along the tops of the hills to make a landscape that no man has the ability to describe and no photo could ever do justice to.

You know it gets windy when the trees grow sideways on the hills.

You know it gets windy when the trees grow sideways on the hills.

We heading down the steep pass into the township of Akaroa and booked into a hotel where we would stay the night. It was 7:30 pm but Akaroa was still bathed in brilliant, warm sunshine so we walked around this decidedly French settlement. It was here that Kerrie fulfilled a dream of lying in the grass without fear of ants, snakes or any other biting insect.

No ants, bugs, snakes, bindi or anything else to disturb your sleep.Soft cool grass.

No ants, bugs, snakes, bindi or anything else to disturb your sleep.Soft cool grass.

She lay in the soft velvety green almost in tears as she revelled in the experience. We ate some oysters for dinner before retiring to the room where we slept soundly after our second wonderfully full day in New Zealand.

Steep cliffs falling away to blue sea - the trip to Akaroa

Steep cliffs falling away to blue sea - the trip to Akaroa

Akaroa has many neat historic buildings

Akaroa has many neat historic buildings

 

Vibrant colours are everywhere in Akaroa

Vibrant colours are everywhere in Akaroa