Archives for category: Hawea

The start of winter here was heralded by one almighty snow storm, which resulted in us being snowed in! Hawea came into its own as the mountains received a thick coating of snow, which was a truly magnificent sight. Our friends Ed, Carol, on Douglas the border terrier came our for lunch one day to see what all the fuss was about, as they hasn’t had any snow in Wanaka where they live. We walked alongside the lake, had a natter – Mrs. E made a snow angel and we then tootled back home for a warming soup. I then made a snowman… (I called him Simon…)

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When we arrived in Hawea at the end of February, it was blazing hot. The New Zealand sun is pretty hardcore with very high UV rates. It can be energy zapping and you can burn in minutes if you don’t put sun block on, even on a cloudy day. So, that was high summer…

A few weeks ago, we turned into Autumn, and we started to get some cold air at night, which was a refreshing change. And then, as if God just flicked a switch, we got snow! It started off with snow at 1200 metres, then 1000 metres, and then on Thursday morning it dropped all the way down to 400 metres! I was sat at my desk working early (6 am – I know…), and when the sun started to rise I opened the curtains to my office window and saw the snow covering Mt. Maude. When I saw this, I ran excitedly like a little kid through to Mrs. E, dragged her out of bed and we saw the snow, like a thick layer of white icing dripping off a Christmas pudding, on all the mountain ranges. It felt like Christmas!

So, erm, yes, we are VERY excited about the snow – y’know that butterlies-in-your-stomach feeling? We’re getting that when we look out at the completely transformed vistas, wherever we go. The arrival of snow also means it is not long until ski season. Mrs. E and I (no Spaniel) have got local ski passes for Cardrona ski field , which is just down the road. We haven’t skied before (unless you count the time I went skiing in Scotland and my “mates” put me on a Black run (hardcore, only for CRAZY people ski run), for a laugh…). Suffice to say, the prospect of going skiing at the weekend and having lessons is very exciting.

I have been a little enthusiastic in taking snow shots with my camera. Enjoy….

p.s. Mrs. E, myself and The Spaniel are heading out shortly for our weekly walk up Mt. Iron. Just to warn you.. the camera is charged, I may get trigger happy.

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The other day I decided to go for a “fell run” up Isthmus Peak. After all, I’ve done lots of fell running in the UK and I haven’t lost too much fitness right? Ah – WRONG.
Isthmus Peak is about 10 miles up the road from where we live, on the North West Corner of Lake Hawea. We can see it from our house and it just looked like all the other mountains. And that is the problem, all of the other mountains are BIG and I keep on forgetting that.

I set off from the lakeside and ran around Glen Dene station (a large farm), up a gentle incline to the West of the station. I was feeling in pretty top form at this point. “Easy, easy, E-A-S-Y”, I’m thinking to myself. And then, I hit the incline… running, turned to jogging, which turned to hand walking (hands on thighs, walking as fast as possible – not walking on my hands!), which quickly turned to a slow walk with an occasional run on section that had a more gentle incline. I started to give myself a bit of a hard time for being so SLOW. I wasn’t really taking in the height of the mountain and the incline. At one point I think I could have turned back, particularly as I knew I had a time limit as we had church later that day. However, something in me wanted to keep on going to check out the view from Isthmus Peak.

Once I had reached what seemed to be the first big summit, and which turned out to be the first of several blind summits, I bumped into the first hoomans of the day, who told me the summit was probably about 20 minutes run away, which it was. This spurred me on. On the way I passed the sign for the summit which indicated the height of the summit was in fact 1395 metres, bigger than Ben Nevis! This made me felt better, and together with a last minute endorphin rush and a lovely ridge run to the summit, I flew (almost literally) to the top. I took a few more cheesy photos and had my lunch at the summit, and took a picture of my Kendal mint cake (I don’t actually eat it, it is there for emergencies, besides it is too precious – thank you Julie and Hilary for your donations).
And then I ran down. The descent was hard work on the steep decline, but I got down pretty quickly.

This was great walk/run/run-walk/fell run/mountain walk – call it what you will.

On the way, I saw:
1. Cows about 2,000 feet up and higher
2. Those hard core merino sheep again
3. A stag – but I deleted the photo…
4. Cute, hardy alpine plants
5. A non-English speaking European couple who gave me puzzled looks
6. Views, views and more amazing views
7. Lake Wanaka
5. Lake Hawea
9. Hawea township
10. Tussock (lots of)

I also found some extra willpower, which I pulled out of the bag to keep me going.
“’‘Twas fun”, I thought when I was back in my bed at the end of the day…
“Never again”, I thought part way up…

Next time you’re down, let’s DO IT! (We will walk though…)

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Our new home is in the delightful township (village to you brits out there) of Lake Hawea, which has a population of 2,000 and is nestled at the bottom end of the lake. Hawea is the only flat bit of land around the lake, the rest is surrounded by massive mountains many of which are higher than Ben Nevis.

When we arrived, we were both a bit quiet for a few days. Looking back I think we were just overwhelmed by the beauty, vastness, bigness, and oh-my-goodness of the place. I had the week off work so we spent a bit of time getting to know the area. Well, we intended to, but we didn’t get much further than Lake Hawea itself. Why go off in the car, when you have heaven on your doorstep?
An old friend of mine and her husband own a lovely house here and we rent their flat, which is part of the ground floor of the main house. It is a beautiful little place and even better – it has central heating. With the heating, I think we are actually warmer here, than we were in Auckland!

Things we noticed about where we now live:
1. The lake water is crystal clear
2. The mountains are huge, and very rugged
3. Sandflies – these nasty critters live half way up the lake and give you one bad ass bite
4. People are VERY friendly
5. There are quite a few brits around
6. There are lots of rabbits, much to The Spaniel’s pleasure
7. There are lots of harriers, hawks, and birds of prey
8. The birds sing louder than up North
9. The stars are brighter than up North and there are more of them (I shall blog about this another time)
10. The climate is great here (hot summers, cold winters = snow)
11. Clouds – there are so many different forms up there, and they can be beautiful
12. Sunsets – when we look up every evening, we get a new pastel painting
13. The land is dry and sandy and most people irrigate their gardens in summer
14. There are salmon and trout in the lake – so far they have evaded my capture…
15. It is peaceful

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I’ve neglected the blog recently, life has been a little hectic since we moved down here to Lake Hawea, and I had a little bit of writer’s block. The good news is, I have been collecting photos and making notes and there are lots of posts to come!

The second part of road trip south took us from Kaikoura to Christchurch. We were on a tight schedule but a friend told us that Christchurch needed visitors after the earthquake, so we duly paid a visit. We were duly rewarded by a quaint, historic old city. Yes it is a bit of a mess, but you can still see historic old buildings, and you can almost feel the resilience of the Christchurch residents. After a fleeting visit to the Botanic gardens, and a walk around (we will be back Christchurch), we hoofed it across the Cantebury plains and over the hills and mountains to Twizel in the MacKenzie country. Twizel is high country farming land, and full of merino sheep from what we could see. From Twizel we drove to Lake Tekapo with it’s deep turquoise-colour water and the Church of the Good Shepherd, a little chapel on the lakeside.
Our final leg was to our new home in Lake Hawea . We had never visited Lake Hawea, so as we drove down the Lindis Pass we eagerly looked out for Wanaka and neighbouring Lake Hawea. I won’t give too much away, as I will be blogging about our new life here, but check out the very last photo of the pink sunset, which greeted us on our first evening.

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