Archives for category: South Island

Life has been very busy recently (more of that later), hence, our blog has been a little neglected recently! But, we’re back and I’m on a mission to get all of our photos uploaded over the next week or so, so apologies in advance if you subscribe to this blog. Your inbox will be INUNDATED!
One of the things I love about New Zealand, is that Mrs. E and I are able to do lots of things together. This is probably a combination of several different factors, better weather, more energy, more time, but it is great spending quality time together.

A month (or so… I won’t disclose the date as it will show how lax I have been), we had a fabulous day when we fitted in 3 activities in one day; yup, three!

Activity 1 – we headed out to the Luggate Creek Track a few kilometres from our house, which is part of a whole network of river walks in our area set up by the Upper Clutha Track Trust. We walked a few kilometres taking in the views towards Cromwell, the Pisa mountain range, and the turquoise clear water, while The Spaniel enjoyed chasing wabbits. And then we were ready for brunch…

Activity 2 – we head out to the Tarras Country Café for a slap up fried breakfast with homemade bread, sausages, free range eggs and crispy bacon, topped off with a cappuccino each. We needed to roll out of the café before we ate anything else, so we tipped ourselves out of our chairs and rolled into The Shrek museum. Shrek was a merino sheep belonging to Bendigo station (a farm near Tarras), who shot to fame after not being caught and shorn for 6 years! Apparently he hid in caves to avoid being captured. Apparently he became a national icon and even met Helen Clark, the prime minister at the time, in Wellington. This was great, but boy we had to burn off some calories, hence, our next activity…

Activity 3 – walk around Bendigo Historic Reserve which, contains Welshtown an old gold-and quartz-mining village, now a ghost town. It was fascinating to walk around the ruins and think about how things were back then.
By this point we were well and truly pooped, so we headed back to the ranch for a rest, and then off to a Bed-we-go… (<—– do you see what I did there?)
What an awesome day.

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For another day trip on my week off, we headed up the North West shores of Lake Hawea to Makokora and The Haast pass, which ultimately leads to the West Coast. I imagine the Haast Pass is a wonderfully scenic drive (have you done it?) – we will do it at some point soon.

There are lots of short walks off the main route of the Haast Pass and one of them is The Blue Pools Track, which is a few miles north of Makakora and about an hour’s drive from our house. I would class this as a kiwi Must Do. The path from the road meanders through a silver beech forest, takes you over a swing bridge to the blue pools, which are glacier fed, and are a deep azure blue. You can see to the bottom easily – it’s SO blue. I wanted to go for a swim, but I suspect the water would have been nippy, oh, and I didn’t have any swimming trunks with me… So, that’s for the next time.
Visitors –we will definitely take you here when you visit, it’s a lovely little walk.

The Blue Pools are in Mt. Aspiring National Park, where dogs are not allowed, so The Spaniel had to stay in the DOC (Department of Conservation hut) on the edge of the park. As a result, we had a very pent up and hot Spaniel (it was a very hot day). We therefore headed on back towards Hawea, but stopped at the North end of Lake Wanaka to give The Spaniel a spin and a swim.

A beautiful place. We plan to explore Mt. Aspiring Park some more in the near future.

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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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