Saturday, October 14, 2017

Kahurangi National Park


Kahurangi lies on the north western corner of the South Island not far from our bach in Ngatimoti. So we decided it was definitely somewhere we wanted to visit whilst we were in the area. It is the second largest National Park in New Zealand and contains the most diverse flora and fauna of any of the National Parks. It is also one of the ones which is slightly less visited and we discovered why when trying to reach the car park.


Since we were not far from Motueka we entered the Park through the entrance near the Motueka river. Following the signs leads you to an unmade road and signs that warn you of steep slopes and dangerous driving conditions after rain. They also have these rather terrifying notices showing steep slopes and cars almost falling off the road. Very stern signs also warn of not attempting the road unless you have a 4x4.

As you climb through the mountain range the road does indeed get steeper and narrower and I began to worry about what exactly we would do if we met a car coming in the opposite direction! The idea of having to reverse down these precarious roads which were extremely narrow with steep drops on one side, did not appeal. Fifteen kilometres later, we emerged, very relieved, into a DOC carpark which was populated with several 4x4s and two very battered looking sedan cars. I have not idea how they made it up the road, since my own big 4x4 struggled on several of the slopes!


The rather traumatic drive is worth it to reach an untouched tropical rainforest in the clouds. I am sure the views would have been fantastic on a clearer day, but unfortunately we were walking through the clouds when we visited. This did however, provide an awesomely eerie atmosphere which really rather added to the whole experience.


We also met another very friendly Weka who was clearly used to being fed by many generous trampers.


We walked up through the forest to reach Aurthur's hut. A DOC hut which you can stay in overnight. It looks terrifically cosy and it must be amazing to wake up surrounded by wildlife and native forest. Its gone on our list of things to do next time!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Abel Tasman


The Abel Tasman is New Zealand's smallest National Park but I believe it must be one of the most visited. We have been here before and had already discovered just how breathtaking the beaches are in this area. So it was with no hesitation that we decided to visit again and complete another section of the coastal tracks that weave along from beach to beach.


The best and easiest method of reaching the tracks is by hoping on one of the ferries that go from Kaiteriteri and drop you at the beach of your request and will then pick you up from another beach later in the day. The ferries are frequent and give you an unrivalled view of the coast. The drivers of the ferry are also really informative (with a good sense of humour!) and took a detour during our trip as they spotted a school of dolphins. They also took us to view some seals on one of the outlying islands.


Although the tracks are well used you can still feel quite isolated at times and this allows you to meet the local wildlife. This Weka was clearly used to being fed by trampers.


He took a liking to our oaty bars and cheese sandwiches.


Bark bay was stunning on the day we crossed it and contains rather a nice looking DOC hut which we will remember next time and see if we can book!


It was even warm enough for a paddle.


It was a great location just to explore and mess around in whilst waiting for the ferry to come and pick us up,


I love the Abel Tasman and no doubt we will be back again one day. However, as with a lot of places increasingly in New Zealand, I wish it was a bit less popular. This makes me selfish and childish I suppose, I am just unwilling to share the outstanding natural beauty of this place with others. I worry that the large number of people visiting these areas is actually endangering them.

Apparently this is something that DOC (Department of Conservation) is also concerned about and are currently trying to develop a strategy that will still allow the country to benefit from the massive amount of Tourism that our natural beauty encourages but still manage to preserve these areas of national heritage and beauty for future generations.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Ngatimoti


Term 3 is always the most difficult term of the year. Running through the end of winter and the start of Spring the weather is unpredictable and often a bit dark and rough. Towards October the weather begins to improve and by the time we reach the school holidays we are all exhausted and in desperate need of the sun.


So this year we decided to head to the South Island (going on the InterIslander is always fun and makes it feel like the start of the holidays)! We booked the beautiful bach shown above in a small hamlet about 25 minutes outside Motueka called Ngatimoti. The bach was right next to the river and I spent most of the week trying in vain to get a good picture of the Kingfishers that spent their time hunting in the river.


On the first day we headed to Motueka and found this wreak on the beach. It was actually purposefully beached when it reached the end of its life and now provided a rather good photography spot.


The wreak also provides a home for rather a lot of wildlife and I was really pleased when I managed to catch the Heron shown below.


Our bach was in a lovely location and once the sun came out it was the perfect spot for a cup of tea and a spot of bird watching.


Kaiteriteri was about half an hours drive away and had some beautiful beaches.



I was successful in catching pictures of the Tui's but unfortunately the Kingfisher remained elusive.


So I gave up and took pictures of the stunning scenery instead.



Sunday, June 4, 2017

Ohakune

I love the Queens Birthday. Every year by this point we always really need a break from the winter slog. This year was no exception, although this time we were lucky enough to get away for the long weekend to Okahune.


On the edge of Tongariro National Park, this lovely little town is clearly a busy mecca for skiers and snowboarders once the snow has fallen. This weekend it was bitterly cold at times but no snow appeared, so the town was full of walkers and families escaping the working week for a bit.


We were also lucky enough arrive on the weekend of the Ohakune Carrot Carnival. The town was full of food and craft stall plus live music and lots of carrots!


We took a walk up the "old coach road" which takes you to Hapuawhenua Viaduct. The old coach road winds up through beautiful countryside until you get to the old viaduct which was built over 100 years ago.


The old cobbles that made up the surface of the road are still visible in many places.


It took us about 1.5 hours to reach the viaduct and we travelled through farmland, forest and into an Alpine wetland.


The track must take a lot of maintenance as the wetland is clearly a fragile environment.


Being winter meant that by the time we headed back down the sun was low in the sky and the moon was out.


The lack of light made the landscape that much more stunning.


We also managed to find a bit of snow up at Turoa ski field. 


Just enough to have a snow ball fight :)



Saturday, May 20, 2017

Cold

It's been cold this week. We haven't seen snow in our area of Wellington, but it has covered some of the surrounding hills. I think we are just too near the coast for any of the white stuff to settle near here.


It has been bitterly cold though and I have been a  bit worried about our outdoor Guinea Pigs. Errol is over five years old, which is getting on a bit in Guinea Pig terms. He is well over pensionable age! So I have stuffed their hutches with hay and insulated them with cardboard and newspaper. They seem to be coping alright at the moment. 


I will start giving them hot water bottles when the temperature starts hitting minus numbers at night.


I have said many times before on these pages that New Zealand houses aren't really designed for winter weather. There is something in the Kiwi psychology that makes them unable to admit that it can get a bit chilly during the winter here. So many blokes over here still insist on wearing shorts and t-shirts when the temperature is not even hitting double digits. Maybe its a male thing. But then the houses aren't designed for cold weather either. We have just been to Mitre 10 again to purchase another heater to try and keep the downstairs of our house warm in the evening. Like most houses over here we do not have central heating and the heat from our wood burning stove unfortunately does not travel down stairs.


My eldest bravely played netball in the freezing hail on Saturday morning and understandably lost that game 23-1. However in the afternoon game (once the sun had come out) she won 37-nil. The rest of the weekend has been spent buying winter coats and thermals.



I also had a cold walk along the seafront withe the dog and had a wander around the garden to see if there was anything still alive after the cold nights we have been having!



Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mothers Day

Mothers day started with netball practice this morning, way too early as we had to be at the courts by 8.30. Thankfully the rest of the day was much more relaxing.


As it was Mothers day, I had the choice of activities this Sunday, and I chose to go to my favourite place for a stroll, Queen Elizabeth Park in Paekakariki.


It was chilly but still stunningly beautiful as always. 



The other half has decided to try and make a lamp shade out of the drift wood. Beautifully soft, white polished drift wood is found in abundance on this beach. So this morning we collected armfuls of suitably interestingly shaped wood to bring home and sculpt.


The coastline here is being eroded at quite a fast pace. The sand dunes have already moved back by at least a couple of metres in places since we have been in New Zealand. I should probably stop the kids from adding to the erosion by climbing them!


I was treated to lunch at my favourite cafe the Perching Parrot. The food here is always tasty and I love being able to sit outside and watch the world go by.


All in all, I have had a wonderful Mothers Day and we ended up with a very unusual new light fitting in our bedroom thanks to the drift wood!



Saturday, May 6, 2017

Netball in the sun

Winter sports season is here again and for us that means most of our weekends are now devoted to netball.

I believe I have said this before on these pages, but sport is a national obsession over here. On a Saturday, parents all over New Zealand ferry their kids between the rugby fields, netball courts and hockey games. Our local sports fields are heaving with parents, dogs and kids in various different sporting outfits and the odd coffee cart doing a roaring trade.


Our kids have graduated from doing soccer when they were younger to being devoted to netball. So Saturday mornings now involve cheering them on from the side of various different netball courts and taking the dog for a walk in between games.


Thankfully this Saturday was gloriously sunny, I am sure I am going to be less enthusiastic once the weather gets colder.


I was never involved in any team sports during my childhood, something which I regret greatly now. I love the opportunities they have over here and the enthusiasm and support they get from the volunteer coaches and the clubs that organise all the competitions. I shall be very sad when the kids get too old to be involved in this anymore. Either I will have to join a team or I'll have to wait until we get some grandchildren!