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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
The joys of rainfall
22/01/2008


That night it rained. Oh, boy it rained. Milford Sound is one of the wettest places on earth, getting between seven and eight metres of rain a year. That's an average two centimetres a day. Well, we got over 4 centimetres in about four hours.
The good side of this is that it fills up the waterfalls, which then perform, showing huge columns of water down the cliffs.

Places and people
Harrison's Cove
21/01/2008, On a bouy

The Mariner has her own bouy in this cove, well protected from the prevailing south-westerlies, and high seas. This is her sister boat (the Wanderer) sitting on her bouy on our calm evening.


Places and people
Up close and personal
21/01/2008

We took the trip in the 'tender' a sizeable aluminium boat that went around the bay, with a knowledgeable guide. This shows how the rock here has been twisted and shaped by the action of the nearby Alpine fault.
We got very close indeed, almost able to touch the starfish clinging to the rocks. It was interesting to see how the life on the waterline changed. To seaward, there are barnacles, starfish, seaweed, a livey community. Go round the corner, to where freshwater run-off and rain forms a thick surface layer above the salt water, and it's all gone; just lichen and slime.
We were lucky; the Tasman Sea was flat. We could feel the very edge of the swell just lifting the decks, but otherwise there was no hint of the ferocity for which this stretch of water is renowned.

Places and people
Milford Mariner
21/01/2008, Anita Bay

The boat is an imitation of the trading scows that used to work their trade on this inhospitable coastline. Here she is anchored in Anita Bay, just at the mouth of the sound.
She's a bit of a swizz in one way. The sails, all three jibs, are purely for show; she has no keel and is entirely reliant on her huge engines.
On the other hand, she does her tourist job immaculately, and is extremely comfortable.

Places and people
Romantic scenery
21/01/2008

This is a place for the Romantic imagination to run wild. Ghosts and trolls, maidens immured in mountain fastnesses, brave rescues and quests for precious stones. The last of these is certainly true, and it's no surprise that Fjordland is full of the mythology of the Maori. Surely the early settlers, many of the Celtic in origin, also peopled these mountains and waters with monsters and fairies.

Places and people
Afloat again
21/01/2008

We had long planned this trip, a night afloat on the Milford Sound. The scenery is awesome. The valley is a true fjord, carved by the ice and then filled by the sea. (Sounds are carved by rivers; apparently the first settlers were confused.) The sides are incredibly steep and tall, bare cliffs like walls creating a roofless corridor that winds around the stubborn cones of granite to reach the Tasman sea.

Places and people
Long and Winding Road
21/01/2008

Another lookout on the highway. The road parallels the route the Maori took, coming into this demanding environment in search of greenstone.

Places and people
Scaup gone
21/01/2008

Down he went, pulling at weeds and chasing fish.

Places and people
Who is the fairest?
Warm, muggy but clear
21/01/2008, Fjordland

The Milford Highway runs through the Fjordland World Park from Ta Anau to Milford Sound. The route itself is recognised in the World Heritage site listing, and is stunning. Along the way, we stopped at the Mirror Lakes, famous for their reflections of the surrounding mountains.
Boring moment. These are oxbow lakes formed by the meanders in the river, which then got detached from the main flow by the build up of silt. Because they are so small there is little wind disturbance, and the water is full of organic matter, making it dense and reflective.

Places and people
Lake Monowai
20/01/2008, Really going North

We stopped at a DOC site quite a long way into the woods. It was crowded, and we ended up picking up some rubbish (take those Tui bottles with you, guys!). The lake itself is very beautiful; this picture taken 20 minutes walk along a bush track from the site only hints at it.
It had a major drawback. Sandflies. This was Sarah's first encounter with these beasties, and they have become a running theme. At the time of writing this (5 days later), her legs have several red blotches which refuse to fade, and the flies are adding to the collection on a regular basis. We are experimenting with a wide variety of insecticides, and today succumbed (for the first time) to one containing the dreaded deet. We shall see,
The other big excitement at Lake Monowai was being awoken by an EARTHQUAKE! 0800, and the van starts shaking. In Britain, maybe a large dog, even a very brave stag. In America, the terror of a bear. But in New Zealand? Pip was insouciant in the face of Sarah's alarm. 'Nothing we can do,' she said, yawning.
It was so silent; all the earthquakes you normally hear about (if you come from the stability of Europe) are noisy affairs, the ground rumbling and crashing, which houses fall down. At the very least the china rattles. This time, there was no sound at all, just the juddering feeling in the van.

Places and people
Bluff
20/01/2008, Still South

Pip came here as a child. Now she's been to a lot of the places on this sign though not Hobart (nor indeed the South Pole, which is on here but you can't see it.)

Places and people
Leather on trees
20/01/2008, Invercargill

The same gallery has a small garden, as part of Invercargill's magnificent Queen's Park, devoted to the plants of the sub-Antarctic islands. These are remote, hostile environments, but are home to some extraordinary plants. The most important set are termed 'megaherbs', being large, tough and colourful. Indeed they are more colourful than many South Island natives, and the scientists are still puzzling out the evolutionary advantage.
They have extraordinary leaves, thick and tough. On this plant, the emergent leaves are covered in white hair, which abrades quickly, leaving these shiny, strong plates. On another plant, the leaves are corrugated or pleated. Within the folds, the air can be as much as 15 degrees Celsius warmer than the surrounding atmosphere.
We also found a cool farmer's market in Invercargill and stocked up on lamb and venison, as well as paua fritters which made for a very good dinner that night.

Places and people

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