Small Country, Big Heart
A quote at Lake Matheson, South Westland.
Matthew and I have just returned from 12 days in the South Island of New Zealand. Though we have traveled globally over the years, our country of birth never fails to inspire us. I invite you to partake in some South Island landscapes.
Birdlings Flat is a bleak yet atmospheric beach on Banks Peninsula, near Christchurch. Here people fossick for semi-precious stones. A couple of white-fronted terns dart overhead.
Succulents luxuriate in the arid conditions of Birdlings Flat.
A sunset view of the Port Hills of Christchurch taken from Tai Tapu.
Inland Canterbury, west of Christchurch, is high country. Near Lake Heron Station.
Matthew, in the distance, walks on a shingle river bed. Rangitata river at Erewhon Station.
One has to walk a long way across shingle until one comes to actual flowing river. (On braided rivers, most of the river flows under the stones.)
Finally, the flowing river, where we picnic on coffee from flasks and home-baked cake.
Patterns made by a river and patterns made by clouds.
The hill beyond this stream is called Mt Sunday, but you may well have seen it on film as Edoras in “Lord of the Rings”.
A return to the coast. Blueskin Bay; an estuary 25 kms north of Dunedin.
Coastal birds on the other side of the inlet at Blueskin Bay, Otago.
Later that day at Lake Hawea, a nearly-sunset rainbow forms against a mountain backdrop.
View from the passenger seat of the car as Matt speeds along beside Lake Hawea. (Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon are being filmed in this area for “A Wrinkle in Time”. They have been spotted, some say, at Wanaka.)
We stay at Lake Hawea Station, a farm which has been in the same family since 1912. I endure the strong wind to check out their sheep-with-view.
Just over a hill from Lake Hawea is Lake Wanaka.
On the West Coast is another thoroughly wild beach named Bruce Bay. Waves are extraordinarily powerful and the winds howl. Acres of driftwood cover the sands. Above the shoreline is majestic Rimu rainforest.
In the path of the force 10 westerly gale is a friendly coffee cart which makes terrific coffee and sells – ICE CREAM!
North from Bruce Bay is the Franz Josef Glacier and Lake Matheson. The lake is famous for its reflections of the Southern Alps. We arrive slightly too late in the morning for the lake to be still like a mirror. Even with a slight ripple, the scene is awe-inspiring.
At Lake Matheson there are a few quotes on plaques. One reads, “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her” – William Wordsworth. Another reads, “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more” – John Burroughs. Albert Einstein is also quoted, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”. (Later, I faithfully copy these quotes into my art journal.)
A view of iconic Franz Josef Glacier.
We cross the Southern Alps via Arthurs Pass. What an astounding feat of engineering the Otira viaduct is! Every time we drive on this seemingly floating road, we stop at the viewing platform to admire the audacity of its existence.
Matt and I stop at Otira to pay homage to a view which I once painted. Happily for us, a coal train appears.
And here is that old painting…
“Track and Field” – an oil painting from 2002.
On our two week journey we also met and photographed many birds and animals. They will be the subject of my next post.