Lake Wanaka

After a full days travelling we arrived at the Edgewater resort Hotel at Wanaka which was to be our base for the next few days.

The next morning I was awake early and decided to go for a stroll before breakfast. I spotted this tree growing in the lake. I liked the reflections and the mist hanging in the valleys on the far shore.

01 Lake Wanaka

After breakfast Jan and I decided to walk round the lake as far as Eely point. The weather was overcast but with the occasional burst of sunshine. I passed the spot where I had taken my picture of the tree earlier in the morning. The mist had gone, the wind had ruffled the surface of the lake and the scene had lost its magic.



As always I was on the lookout for wild flowers.


I was hoping to get a shot of the lupines similar to what I had seen in the brochure. I did find a few but not the masses I had expected.

Looking back on my images I decided that my favourite was the lone tree at Lake Wanaka. I converted it to a monochrome image which I think gives more impact.


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Bright and Breezy at Bowness.

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Yesterday I was in Bowness on Windermere to do a reccee for my local Rambling Club. Bowness is a bit of a honey spot in the Lake District but not the most obvious place from which to start a walk. We spent the first mile just getting out of town.

Our route then led us south east along footpaths, bridle ways and country lanes to Bulman Strands. The weather was bright with a moderate breeze but at least it was dry. Showers were forecast for later in the day.



There was one pleasant section where we walked alongside the River Gilpin.


After a short lunch break we headed north towards the village of Crook. We passed the remains of Old St Catherine’s Church. All that is left is the tower of what was once the manor chapel for Crook Hall. It served the local people from the 16th to the 19th century. It dates from 1620 with the bell openings and the parapet looking Jacobean.


Shortly before reaching a lane we realised that we were being followed by a flock of sheep.


It had got gloomy and soon it started to rain. Not a light shower but a heavy downpour. We trudged on. We still had a long way to go.


We reached the Dales Way, the long distance footpath that we would follow all the way back to Bowness. Thankfully it had stopped raining.


The remainder of out route looked OK on the map but there were still one or two bits of up and down. The light was fading fast.



With just half a mile to go it started to rain again and it was fully dark by the time we reached the car. We had covered 12.7 miles at a steady pace. We might have to rethink this one.

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A walk alongside Waiho River.


After our flight over Mount Cook it was back to earth but there was still lots to do in the afternoon. We travelled by coach to Sentinal Rock for the view of the Franz Josef Glacier.

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I could see people setting off to walk to the foot of the glacier. I so  wanted to join them.


Instead we walked along the Glacier View Forest walk back to our coach. We were offered the opportunity to leave the coach on the banks of the Waiho River and make our own way back to Franz Josef . Just what we wanted.

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After three days of heavy rain the river was fast flowing and a dirty grey colour with all the silt.

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Some of the rocks were red colour possibly due to the growth of algae.

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It was very peaceful and good to be out on our own. I could not stop taking pictures,

We eventually made our way back to our hotel, tired but happy.

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Tomorrow would be a day of travelling as we head south to Lake Wanaka.

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A flight over Mount Cook.

Air Safari at Franz Josef

We were staying at Franz Josef in South Island and perhaps the highlight of our whole holiday was a flight with Air Safaris on their grand traverse of Aoraki Mount Cook and the glaciers. The aircraft was a nomad previously operated by the Australian flying doctor service. It was my first flight in a light aircraft. Would it be bumpy?. Would I be scared? Not a bit. I was just excited.

After take-off we headed south along the coast with a bird’s eye view of Westland bush country with the Tasman Sea to out right before turning inland towards the mountains.


It was a fantastic experience flying round Mount Cook (3754 metres ) and Mount Tasman and over the 29 km Tasman Glacier.


On the seaward side the air was clear but clouds built up over the landward side. This added more drama as we flew in and out of the cloud.



Our return crossing was over the main divide to the vast snowfields and glaciers of the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. It was amazing to look down onto the glaciers with their deep crevasses. We could see how the glaciers form in the ‘neve’ zone high in the mountains where the winter snows pile up and gradually compact into ice. Continued pressure, weight and gravity combine until the lower layers of ice are forced to flow out of the basin to form the glacier tongue that gouges and scrapes down the valley. We flew over several alpine lakes all with the beautiful turquoise colour caused by the ‘rock flour’ – finely ground particles of rock held in suspension in the melt water.

Here are some more of my images.








All to soon it was over but it had been an unforgettable experience.


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Hard going at Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog.

Last weekend I was in Wales with my local rambling club where we did a walk from the quiet village of Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog. We headed out of the village along the Upper Ceiriog Way. This began with a stiff climb along a lane before reaching open moorland. I was soon out of breath but the gradient eased as we reached the moor. There was lots of mud and water. The going was more suited the the people in the 4 x 4’s than those of us on foot.




We continued along the track for a couple of miles before dropping down into the vale of the River Teirw.



From here we headed west along a track and then through woodland towards the isolated Dolydd Ceiriog.

It was hard going and I was glad when we could stop for lunch at a lovely spot in some woodland.


On the move again it was another steady climb but the weather was improving and we stopped for a group photo.


At Dolydd Ceiriog we headed south climbing once again onto the moors. It felt quite remote and the way was not clear as several of the marker posts had fallen down. It was also very wet underfoot.




Eventually we dropped down into the Ceiriog Valley. Dotted on the hillside were several plantations. Some deciduous trees surrounded by conifers.



Our route now followed the river Ceiriog back to Llanarmon. We passed through some farmland where we had to avoid the wildlife. The final section was through some beautiful woodland where pheasants were being reared. Gordon stopped to inspect the irrigation system, a simple ball-cock device.


The walk was only 11 miles but it had taken us longer than expected. We just had time for a quick drink. Llanarmon is a small village but boasts two pubs. We chose ‘The Hand’ mainly because it sold real ale. I forget the name of the other pub. I think it was called ‘The Bush’

We had an excellent pint of Station Ale. I remarked to David that he had made a  good choice.

He replied “ A pint in the hand is worth two in the bush”.

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A visit to Rotorua.

Rotorua 1

One of the highlights of my holiday in New Zealand was a visit to Rotorua. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations of North Island and is a centre of Maori culture. However it is probably best known for the geothermal activity in the area. The air is full of the pungent rotten egg smell of Hydrogen Sulphide coming from the fissures and boiling mud pools. However you soon get used to it. It reminded me of school days and the chemistry practical sessions.

After a long days travelling we spent the evening relaxing and strolling through the Government Gardens laid out in front of the Tudor style Rotorua Museum and Art Gallery. The gardens comprise a series of trimmed croquet and bowling greens and formal flower gardens. It looked very English.

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The next morning we visited Te Puia where we saw examples of Maori carving and weaving and an insight into the way they used to live.

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Outside some of the huts there were piles of stones. This was to demonstrate Hangi, the traditional process of food being steam cooked by heated stones in an earth oven.

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Wood and stones were arranged so that when they are fired, the stones will be heated until they are white hot. The heated rocks are then placed in the hole. The food in placed in baskets and these are placed on the hot rocks. The food and baskets are then covered with wet wrapping and earth is put on top until no steam can escape allowing the food to steam cook. The cooking time is usually about 3 hours.

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Next we set off for the geothermal area where we saw boiling mud pools and water geysers. The smaller of the two geysers, the Prince of Wales Feathers was active but we did not see the larger Pohutu geyser erupt to its full height.

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Later back in Rotorua we walked along the lakeside and visited the beautiful St Faiths Anglican Church.

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In the evening we were treated to a Maori evening of singing and dancing including the Haka. It was impressive but not as intimidating as when the All Blacks perform it on the rugby pitch.

A memorable day

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Land of the long White Cloud.

During my visit to New Zealand I had the opportunity to go to Cape Reinga at the very tip of North Island.

After spending a few days in Auckland I was looking forward to a scenic drive up to Paihia at the Bay of Islands which would be our base for the next four days. However, we set off in pouring rain and gale force winds. We had been hit by the tail end of a cyclone. Streams had turned into raging torrents and some of the fields were flooded. It looked just like the Lake District last January. We arrived at our beachfront hotel at the Bay of Islands to find the beach covered in debris and water had come into some of the rooms. The Pacific Ocean looked muddy with the churned up sand. A bit like the Mersey on a bad day. Instead of relaxing on the beach all we could do was sit on our covered patio and watch the rain beat on the windows. It’s a good job that I had stopped off to but a bottle of Merlot.


We had an early start the next morning for our cruise round the Bay of Islands. It had finally stopped raining but it was still dull and overcast. The sea was quite choppy and I wondered if we would get out to the hole in the rock.




After picking up passengers at Paihia and Russell we sailed past Moturoa Island, the second largest island in the bay and then past Black Rocks, an extensive chain of unusual volcanic rocks home to seabird colonies and interesting fauna. Out of the shelter of the bay and into the Pacific it got very rough and some of the passengers were seasick. We managed to get out to Cape Brett and the lighthouse on Piercy Island but as we approached the famous ‘Hole in the rock’ the captain decided it was too dangerous to attempt to sail through it in the rough sea. We had to be content with taking a few photos.

On our return journey we called in at Russell to explore the old town. At the turn of the 19th century, Russell served as a shore base for whalers and was a lawless town known as the Hell hole of the Pacific. Today it is a beautiful old town. Christchurch, built in 1836 is the oldest church in New Zealand.



The next morning we set off in our specially adapted coach to visit Cape Reinga. The coach with its wide, soft tyres may be good on sand but it really swayed on the main roads. We had an interesting drive along the east coast with lovely views over Whangaroa Bay and Doubtless Bay before arriving at Cape Reinga.

Cape Reinga where the Tasman sea meets the Pacific Ocean is an important place in Maori culture. Reinga means “underworld” and it is the Maori belief that this is where the spirits of the dead leave on their journey to Hawaiki.



After lunch at a secluded bay we set off for 90 mile beach. First we had to negotiate the Te Paki quicksand stream. This stream is the only access to the 90 mile beach from the north and is often a trap for private motorists. Close to the shore there are massive sand dunes and tobogganing down the dunes is a popular pastime. Coming down looked great but I would not fancy the trudge to the top.




We arrived at 90 mile beach just after high tide and we had to wait a short time until Murray, our driver deemed it safe to proceed along the beach. The beach is in fact only 90 km long and we drove along the sand and occasionally in the surf. We stopped a couple of times to view the breakers rolling in and to see what we could find in the sand.



In the evening we caught the bus into Paihia where we ate at Simply Seafood, one of the best seafood restaurants in the area. I had green lipped mussels in a tomato based sauce for starters then yellow fin tuna for my main course. We had to try a bottle of NZ Sauvignon Blanc to help it go down.

We now had a  rest day before our journey south. Next stop Rotorua.

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