Adventure Aviation Catlins Lakes Landscapes Moeraki Museum Queenstown Queenstown Reflections Rivers Weather

April 14, 2017 … now where was I?

Karitane was a delight, both as a place to stay, and as a place from which to visit other places. I got a year older since I last wrote, and to celebrate, Mary took me to the famous “Fleur’s Place” restaurant at Moeraki. It was brilliant, and lived up to the very best of my expectations, and we got to chat with Fleur herself, a delightfully extroverted character. While at Moeraki, we visited Mary’s cousin Rosalie who runs a hospital for sick and distressed sea life at Katiki Point where the endangered yellow-eyed penguins come ashore.

Waikouaiti River – stillness

On the way home, I asked Mary to pause as we crossed the Waikouaiti river. I suppose it was flowing towards the sea, but from the road above, it was mirror-calm  and made interesting patterns with the bridge supports.

First Church
First Church, Dunedin

Next day with continued fine weather, we drove to Dunedin for a bit of shopping. A pause at the lights on Stuart Street reminded me of my long-held opinion that First Church is one of the most beautiful of the traditional churches in New Zealand.

Waikouaiti estuary

The next day, still in Karitane was just perfect and I was out of bed uncharacteristically early.

Wetlands at Karitane

As the day wore on, the stillness and the sunshine continued. By now most of you know I am a sucker for reflections.

Lake Waihola looking its best, but currently toxic

Then it was time to move on. Due to accommodation complications, we changed our original plan, and instead of going to Riverton near Invercargill, we went instead to Owaka in the Catlins. This took us down SH1 towards Balclutha, passing Lake Waihola on the way. This is a lovely lake to look at but due to an infestation of algal bloom, is currently unsafe to swim in.

Ducks seem immune to the algae

Nevertheless, in company with many other tourists, I went to the water’s edge and was delighted to be “photobombed” by a flock of ducks.

Nugget Point
Lighthouse at Nugget Point on the Catlins Coast

Check-in time at our accommodation was 2 pm so we diverted to Nugget Point on the Catlins coast.

Hinahina bridge on the “Catlins Lake”

By the time we arrived in Owaka, we were catching the edge effects of tropical cyclone Cook. Next morning, skies were grey and rain and wind were promised. I wanted to visit the “Catlins Lake” which is in reality the estuary of the Catlins River. My luck held out and despite the grey sky, the water was perfectly still except for the occasional splash of jumping fish. This is the Hinahina bridge.

Purakaunui falls in reduced circumstances

From there, since the weather was still reasonable, we drove up to the park for the Purakaunui falls and walked through the magnificent bush to see them. What a let down! Scarcely any rain had fallen, it seems and the usually splendid falls were a mere trickle.

Old house in the rain

Next day, the weather arrived. It is impossible to be in the Catlins and just sit inside, so I went out looking for scenes and character. If you click on this image you will see the rain belting down. Our accommodation had a log burner and plentiful firewood, so we stayed warm and dry for the rest of the stay.

De Havilland Dragonfly at Mandeville

Yesterday (Thursday) we drove from Owaka to Queenstown, but on the way I was able to fulfil a long-held wish to visit the Croydon Aviation Heritage Centre at Mandeville, just a little out of Gore.

De Havilland Fox Moth and others of the breed at Mandeville

This is both a museum and a working aviation restoration facility. Almost everything on display is flight-worthy. They have a strong history with aircraft from the de Havilland stable but do other aircraft as well. Thoroughly recommended to my fellow aviation nuts.




adversity Architecture Christchurch Moeraki Oamaru

April 29, 2013 … rocks to steam punk

After getting lost in the tiny town of Moeraki the previous night, I enjoyed a good sleep there.

Better still, I awoke to a very pretty dawn, though it warned of worse weather to come.

Moeraki dawn
This harbour offers minimal shelter and the people who work from here are a hardy breed.

This scene of the fishing harbour was taken by me, in my pyjamas, from the balcony of the excellent motel unit at the Moeraki Holiday Park.Isn’t that a view to wake to?

Some people were obviously up earlier than I was, and you can see them sitting on that launch at the jetty.

Moeraki Boulders
U+You can only hope to offer a different view of these accretions.

Of course it would not be respectable to be in the area and not to look at the famed boulders. My problem with these things is that at least ten million photographers have been here before me … what is left unsaid?  Still, I gave it a try.

Oamaru stone is a joy to see
The Church of St Luke

From there we passed through Oamaru as the town was just waking up. To me the joy of Oamaru is its splendid architecture, and that lovely honey coloured stone. None of the dour greys of Dunedin.  A nice example is St Luke’s Anglican Church. I chose it because it was the only one I could find with no car parked in front of it.

Steam punk motorcycle
We came and left before this place opened.

If you want to know what “Steam Punk” is, then “Google is your friend”. Someone in Oamaru has decided to make a tourist attraction centred around this bizarre notion, and the exhibit I have captured here is based around two full-sized farm tractor wheels. This thing is huge.

Around behind the “Steam Punk Headquarters” is the locomotive shed where some fine restoration is being done. However, my eye was drawn to some remains that are beyond restoration, and which will be left as they are. It seems that in an attempt to control erosion around the harbour, the New Zealand Government Railway allowed some of its obsolete locomotives to be used as landfill. Unfortunately the sea was stronger than the hopes of the planners, and they were immersed from the 1930s until 2009 when they were retrieved and given to museums at Waitara and Oamaru.  This is probably the remains of Uc366, complete with embedded marine life.

Given and then reclaimed from the sea
Rust and barnacles

We passed through the Victorian precinct which was just coming to life for the day, and I enjoyed the guilty Southern pleasure of a cheese roll made with garlic butter. Mmmm.

We were staying the night with my old school friend and brother-in-law, and his wife in Rolleston, so we did a flying trip into the city. Christchurch is a heartbreak. I won’t do disaster tourism, but prefer to concentrate on the emergent new life. What we see here is the front wall of the new “temporary cathedral … the one with the shipping containers as a base wall, and cardboard tubes as major structural members. It turns out that the tubes needed to be reinforced with timber to meet local engineering specifications. However, this building is estimated to have a life of fifty years. I quite like it and in my view it is more respectable than spending $220 million to restore the old one as it was.  But then I am neither a member of the Anglican cathedral parish of Christchurch,  nor a Cantabrian, so I don’t get a vote.

The controversial "carboard cathedral"
My impressions are positive so far.

We enjoyed our afternoon in Christchurch, despite so many lost memories.


Birds Catlins Landscapes Light Moeraki

April 28, 2013 … a surfeit of riches

My apologies for a surfeit of imagery today.

This is not because I have delusions of grandeur about my photography, but rather that I saw so many wonderful things in so many different places that I am simply unable to choose.  So here we go.

We began, where we left off yesterday in Owaka. Our destination was Moeraki. So naturally we headed South. What? The problem was that on the previous day the weather deterred us from our intention to visit the Purakaunui falls 17 km to the South. On the way there I paused to catch the early light on the wetlands.

Cold wetland dawn
In the Catlins near Owaka


At the site of the falls we had the delight of having the entire place to ourselves. It was almost 8 am and no other car was in the park. The rain-washed bush was a delight to every sense. Visually it was magnificent, aurally there was a superb variety of bird song,  and it even smelled fresh.

The bush walk to the Purakaunui falls
This was fresh and green and a complete chorus of bird song

And then there were the falls themselves. This is not Niagara, but tucked away in this beautiful corner of the Catlins, they are a joy to see.

Purakaunui Falls
Magic in the bush

We moved on and drove back the way we came, through the remainder of the Catlins and into South Otago. A little North of Balclutha we took a side road heading towards Berwick and Outram and found the Sinclair Wetlands. This huge privately owned area is home to many birds, most of which were elsewhere at the time, but it was a pleasure to walk through, and there were plenty of small passerines flitting among the grasses which grew so prolifically in the swamp.

Little birds feasting on the seeds
Too many to identify but I saw finches and swallows

In Dunedin, we paused to visit the Royal Albatross colony at Taiaroa Heads. There were four chicks  patiently waiting the return of their parents who could be at sea for up to four days in search of food for these seven kilo dumplings.

Hungry youngster at the Royal Albatross colony
We were disappointed that the adults did not appear during our visit

And then we got to magnificent Moeraki where Mary’s cousin Rosalie is the custodian and warden at the penguin colony at Katiki Point.

The Hoiho is a comical figure on land
The clusters of birds following a dominant leader were especially fun to watch

The yellow-eyed penguin (Hoiho or Megadyptes antipodes) is a critically endangered bird that is quite delightful to see, and this is the most successful colony in New Zealand.

In the turbulent surf, they were masters of their environment
Very able swimmers

On the beach or in the water they are a delight to the eye, and even better looking at close quarters.

This bird walked with complete confidence no more than a metre or two from the visitors

We enjoyed a delightful meal and glass of wine with Rosalie and our nephew Daniel who was also visiting, and drove back to the motel at Moeraki, getting lost on the way. However we found ourselves on a lookout which offered a splendid view of the moonlit sea.

Pacific moon
We did find our way home eventually

That’s it for today … home on the ferry tomorrow.