Tag Archives: Otira

Small Country, Big Heart

a sign at Lake Matheson on the west coast of New Zealand.

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 wildly atmospheric beach near Christchurch. Here people fossick for semi-precious stones. A couple of white-fronted terns fly overhead.

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 thrive at Birdlings Flat.

Succulents luxuriate in the arid conditions of Birdlings Flat.

Wherever you are in the world, you may have heard about the fires this week on the Port Hills of Christchurch. Here is an evening view of the Port Hills which I took only 24 hours before the fires began.

A sunset view of the Port Hills of Christchurch taken from Tai Tapu.

Inland Canterbury is known as high country. This is Matthew's soul country. Near Lake Heron Station.

Inland Canterbury, west of Christchurch, is high country.   Near Lake Heron Station.

Up near Erewhon Station on the Rangitata river bed.

Matthew, in the distance, walks on a shingle river bed.   Rangitata river at Erewhon Station.

It was a long way across the shingle until we finally got to the Rangitata river. (On braided rivers, most of the river flows under the stones.)

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, which we sat beside with flasks of coffee and home-made cake.

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.

Patterns made by a river and patterns made by clouds.

The hill beyond this stream is called Mt Summer, but you may well have seen it as the location for Edoras in "Lord of the Rings".

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. This is Blueskin Bay; an estuary 25 kms north of Dunedin.

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.

Coastal birds on the other side of the inlet at Blueskin Bay, Otago.

Later that day at Lake Hawea, a nearly-sunset rainbow formed.

Later that day at Lake Hawea, a nearly-sunset rainbow forms against a mountain backdrop.

View from the road at Lake Hawea. Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon were being filmed close by for "A Wrinkle in Time". No, I didn't see them - but I knew they were about.

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 stayed at Lake Hawea Station, a farm which has been in the same family since 1912.

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.

Just over a hill from Lake Hawea is Lake Wanaka.

Over on the west coast of New Zealand is another thoroughly wild beach named Bruce bay. Actually the whole west coast coastline is untamed. Waves are extraordinarily powerful and the winds howl.

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 CREAMS.

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 came along slightly too late in the morning for the lake to be still like a mirror.

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 the ever-retreating (due to global warming) Franz Josef glacier.

A view of iconic Franz Josef Glacier.

We returned to the east coast via Arthurs Pass. What an astounding feat in engineering is the Otira viaduct! Can you imagine building a viaduct in such a precarious and actively seismic environment?!

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 stopped at Otira to pay homage to a view which I had once painted. Happily for us, a coal train appeared.

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.

“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.

 

 

 

 

“Have You Been to New Zealand?”

I have just listened to Marc Maron interview Sir Ian McKellen on Maron’s podcast “WTF”(Episode 621, 20th July 2015).  Here is a snippet of their conversation which I faithfully wrote down in my journal.

Sir Ian McKellen: “Have you been to New Zealand?”

Marc Maron:   “No.”

Sir Ian McKellen: “Oh.  Well if you like living where you do, surrounded by sky and weather, go to New Zealand – because they have more of it.”

Marc Maron:   “It’s beautiful, right?”

Sir Ian McKellen:  “Overwhelmingly beautiful!  As you drive down some of those empty roads and surrounded by rapidly changing scenery; mountains and glaciers and volcanoes, you hear yourself saying I believe in God because this couldn’t just have happened.”

Marc Maron:  “Wow”

Sir Ian McKellen:  “Yes, wonderful!”

This post illustrates Sir Ian McKellen’s point.  I have just returned from New Zealand and here is a selection of photos – all taken on my I-Phone.  Here goes…

View from our apartment in Christchurch. Fresh snow on the Southern Alps.

View from our apartment in Christchurch.  Beyond the Canterbury plains there is fresh snow on the Southern Alps.

A hill in the suburb of Cashmere, Christchurch, with the Alps in the distance.

A hill in the suburb of Cashmere, Christchurch, with the Alps in the distance.

New Brighton beach, Christchurch just before dusk.

New Brighton beach, Christchurch just before dusk.

A selfie of my shadow in the grasses of New Brighton. (Don't I look nice!?)

A selfie of my shadow in the grasses of New Brighton. (Don’t I look nice!?)

Matt and I took two separate trips into the mountains. Here he is at Arthur's Pass.

Matt and I took two separate trips into the mountains. Here he is at Arthur’s Pass.

New Zealand's mountain parrot, the kea, at the viaduct lookout above Otira.

New Zealand’s mountain parrot, the kea, at the viaduct lookout above Otira…not minding at all the gales and horizontal snow.

Otira township. This is a railway junction between Christchurch and the West Coast town of Greymouth. It is rather forbidding but I love it.

Otira township. This is a railway junction between Christchurch and the West Coast town of Greymouth. It is rather forbidding but I love it.

These engines are waiting for the Transalpine train to arrive from Greymouth. They are needed to haul the train up the steep incline to Arthur's Pass.

These engines are waiting for the Transalpine Express train to arrive from Greymouth. They are needed to haul the train up the steep incline to Arthur’s Pass.  (The train goes through a 20 minute tunnel under the mountain – which I always find a bit daunting.)

We stayed at Bealy. Here it was at sunset.

We stayed at Bealy. Here was the landscape at sunset.

Signpost in the mountains. The river is the Waimakariri which flows to Christchurch.

Signpost in the mountains. The river is the Waimakariri which flows to Christchurch.

View from the balcony of our cabin at Bealy.

View from the balcony of our cabin at Bealy.

In the morning Matt and I wandered beside Waimakariri river just below our cabin.

In the morning Matt and I wandered beside Waimakariri river just below our cabin.  The air and waters were freezing and pristine.

Gazing into the still waters of the Waimakariri river.

Gazing into a still pool of the Waimakariri river.

Going off road up to Mount White. I do enjoy the exclamation traffic signs in New Zealand. They seem to me to exclaim at the views. "Look at this!" they say.

Going off road up to Mount White. I do enjoy the exclamation traffic signs in New Zealand. They seem to me to exclaim at the views. “Look at this!” they say.  “Awesome”.

Selfie at Mount White. The Waimakariri is a perfect example of a 'braided river'. Most of it runs underground.

Selfie at Mount White. The Waimakariri is a perfect example of a ‘braided river’. Most of it runs underground.

Cass station - made famous (at least in New Zealand) by our iconic artist, Rita Angus.

Cass station – made famous (at least in New Zealand) in a painting called “Cass” by our iconic artist, Rita Angus.

I flew from Christchurch to Wellington and back. This photo illustrates why the Maori called New Zealand Aotearoa - which means land of the long white cloud. Note the alps poking up through the clouds.

I flew from Christchurch to Wellington and back. This photo illustrates why the Maori called New Zealand Aotearoa – which means land of the long white cloud. Note the alps poking up through the clouds.

A closer view of the Southern Alps as we flew north.

A closer view of the Southern Alps as we flew north.

Beautiful blues of Tasman ocean and sky on the return flight.

Beautiful blues of Tasman ocean and sky on the return flight.

The township of Kaikoura is below. (The plane was an ATR 72.)

The township of Kaikoura is below. (The plane was an ATR 72.)

Kaikoura mountains and gorgeous colours in the sea.

Kaikoura mountains and gorgeous colours in the sea.

Matthew picked me up from Christchurch airport and we drove straight out to Lake Coleridge where we stayed overnight. View from Harper Road. Good old New Zealand SHEEP! (Their coats are much cleaner than Australian sheep.)

Matthew picked me up from Christchurch airport and we drove straight out to Lake Coleridge where we stayed overnight. View from Harper Road. Good old New Zealand SHEEP! (Their coats are much cleaner than Australian sheep.)

Late afternoon at Lake Coleridge. The winter sun in New Zealand sits low in the sky as we are so far south.

Late afternoon at Lake Coleridge. The winter sun in New Zealand sits low in the sky as we are so far south.

Matt and I pushed ourselves on a big walk up Peak Hill. Gosh it was hard work but worth it for the views. Here is Lake Coleridge.

Matt and I pushed ourselves on a big walk up Peak Hill. Gosh it was hard work but it made us feel that there is life in us yet.  Here is Lake Coleridge.

The Rakaia river from Peak Hill.

The Rakaia river from Peak Hill.

Raikaia River again.

Raikaia River.  (There’s my selfie shadow again.)

Matthew in front of the Wilberforce river. There is that low winter sun again - and it is only around midday.

After our climb, we drove down another gravel road.  Matthew in front of the Wilberforce river. There is that low winter sun again – and it is only around midday.

We took an off-road detour to get back to Christchurch. Lyndon road is unsealed and takes one past the totally frozen Lake Lyndon.

We took an off-road detour to get back to Christchurch. Lyndon road is unsealed and takes one past the totally frozen Lake Lyndon.  The dirt road (which was actually mud and ice in places) takes one between Coleridge and Porters Pass.

Lake Lyndon.

Lake Lyndon.  Actually, Lyndon Road was closed – as it is a ‘fine weather’ road so we shouldn’t have been there at all.

We don't EVER see such a thing as a frozen lake in Western Australia, so this was mesmerizing to us.

We don’t EVER see such a thing as a frozen lake in Western Australia, so this was mesmerizing to us.

As we drive back across the Canterbury plains, the mountains recede in my rear view mirror and the sun sets. Goodbye New Zealand. See you next time!

As we drive back across the Canterbury plains, the mountains receded in my rear view mirror and the sun set behind them. Goodbye New Zealand. See you next time!

Yes.  I have been to New Zealand.

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Kea Auto Care

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Welcome to Kea Auto Care.  We are here to give your car our expert attention.   No area – above, below or in-between, will be overlooked by our sharp eyes (and beaks).

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Our friendly staff will peck all the surfaces to see if there are loose threads or pretty much ANYTHING to dislodge from your vehicle.

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Our premises are located at Otira Pass in the Southern Alps of New Zealand.  Just look for the “Do Not Feed the Keas” sign at the top of the hill.  That’s us.

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We also have a good supply of spare parts.

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So come and see us!

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Kea Auto Care – another Bird-Brained company.

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