Archives for category: wildlife

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’m no thrill seeker, but when Liz’s sister suggested a trip to White Island I could not resist the opportunity to visit a LIVE marine volcano.

The volcano is thought to be between 100,000 and 200,000 years old. However, the small bit of the island, the bit the peeks above sea level is about 16,000 years old, i.e. this baby is alive and constantly changing….

We had an hour and a half boat trip to the island, during which about half of the boat threw up along the way. I have pretty good sea legs, but even I at one point had to have a quiet moment to gain control of my stomach to prevent a major mishap (vomiting/chundering incident).

We heard that walking on White Island was like walking on the moon, and I would agree with that. There is virtually no plant life, due to the acidic environment within the crater walls. Instead, visitors are enthralled by beds of  yellow and white sulphur crystals , which grow amongst hissing, steaming, and bubbling vents and beds (I’m sure volcanologists have a preferred terminology for such things).

A week or so after we left, the alert level on the island was raised to orange. The next level, red, means an eruption is imminent. Maybe it will erupt soon, maybe it won’t… Whatever happens, White Island, is an island forever etched on our minds…

An unforgettable experience, and highly recommended.

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