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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Ice
25/01/2008, The River Walk, south of Fox River


Sarah was very excited, never having seen a glacier before. But here it is, Fox Glacier.

Places and people
Sunset over Fish Hill
24/01/2008, Lake Paringa


24/1

We stayed the night in a DOC site at Lake Paringa, an unmodified lake in a glacial valley. The huge rock, which resisted the erosion of the ice, protrudes into the Lake. The aerial photographs show why it is called Fish Hill, the outline like a huge cod.
Bad sandflies in the morning though, and we left quite quickly.

Places and people
Hercules last year; now Haast
24/01/2008, In the mountains


The lowest pass over the Divide, the line of Southern Alps that cuts down the South Island, is called the Haast, after one of the first Europeans to come here. There is a great gorge here, which was only bridged in the 20th century, called the Gates of Haast.
From here we drove down to Haast township and then south to Jacksons Bay. This tiny place was the site of an ill-fated settlement in the 1870's, which gradually melted away as settlers found easier and more profitable places to settle. When you consider the astonishing challenges of bush and climate in Southland or the fringes of Fjordland, you can see that the isolation, topography and vegetation must have been daunting indeed. Now, there's a wharf supporting the whitebait and cod trade.
We didn't see any major wildlife, though a nice bush track to the even more isolated Ocean's Bay we heard a lot of birds.

Places and people
Swings and gorges
24/01/2008, Crossing the Makarora

There are quite a few of these bridges, where the wooden deck sits amongst wires suspended from the steep cliffs each side of the river. This one, crossing the Makarora, is on the way to the Blue Pools.

Places and people
Blue Pools
Lovely
24/01/2008, Err!


Well, it's obvious why they have the name. At this point the Blue River flows into the Makarora river, and this colour is created by the way light refracts on the icy, clear water. Lots of trout live in these rivers.

Places and people
No one in sight
24/01/2008, All alone


24/1

The following morning was spectacular and only slightly marred by the sandflies. (According to legend, the goddess of the underworld introduced these to Fjordland to ensure that humans wouldn't linger there, seduced to idleness by the beauty of the landscape. It works!)
The scenery on Lake Wanaka was also amazing. We could see at least a mile down the lake, itself half a mile across. In the dark, we could not see a single light on those hills; the only illumination came from the stars and bright moon.

Places and people
Oysters at Lake Wanaka
23/01/2008, Free camp on Lake Wanaka


In Wanaka township we bought some oysters. That night we found a wonderful free camp on the shores of Lake Wanaka, a little foreshore down a gravelled track. And ate a meal fit for queens. Pip prepared oysters a gratin with eggs and pepper, and here is just sitting down to enjoy them.
They were followed by splendid lamb steaks bought in Invercargill and perfect with just a little mustard.

Places and people
Lambies
23/01/2008


Little Fairlight had another unique experience. We had never been greeted by sheep that run ecstatically towards us, baaing loudly. But there they were, five of them in a small field behind the station.
It turned out that some of the staff in the gift shop in the station building regularly treated these sheep with sheep nuts and lettuce. The cry of 'lambies' confirmed their interest, but wasn't really needed. The generous Mags gave us a few sheep nuts. Their bristly lips, sharp pointed and so unlike the broad, flat face of a horse, picked them greedily off our hands, in a strict pecking order which left one elderly, thin lass at the back. We threw her some nuts, and she managed to snatch a few.
Bidding Fairlight a fond farewell, we sped through Kingston. Pip has fond memories of swimming there, in Lake Wanaka, when she was a child. But it was a cold day and we didn't bring the wetsuits.
We visited Arrowton, now a theme village to the gold rush. The shop fronts are all done up in a late 19th century style, to sell the latest in merino/possum wool, jade and paua carvings and lots of café latte. The museum, though, was excellent. It had some great displays about the history of the valleys, including the Maori presence before the Europeans arrived. There were lots of memories (diaries, possessions, oral histories retold) of the miners and farmers, from musical instruments to opium pipes.
Pip bought a gold pan; one step on the way to a long-laid plan to find her own alluvial gold in the rivers of Westland.

Places and people
Chuff chuff!
23/01/2008, Fairlight (just south of Kingston)


Fairlight was never big, but thrived on the explosion of settlement that followed the gold rush hereabouts. Now, most of the township is an Edwardian homestead ('built in the Georgian style' by one of the original runholders), and a tiny station. The building itself was bought from Otautau when the station there was closed.
Here it is still well in use. This is the Kingston flyer, emerging majestically from the bush. She was on a special run for a 'third age' holiday; her decks were crowded by older blokes grinning fit to bust their jaws.

Places and people
Walls of water
23/01/2008


You have to take the Highway both ways to Te Anau. West of the Homer Tunnel, the 20th century solution to the rigours of climbing the Southern Alps, the road is steep. On every side are walls of sheer rock, some even too steep for the limbing agility of ferns and rata. During the rain (which was still falling as if from a hose), these run with enormous waterfalls, hundreds of metres high. Every turn in the road is a shock and delight. (We're not sure this picture realy conveys it but it's the best we could do.)
Someone is widely quoted (but we can't remember who) as saying that it feels as if there is too much scenery for the available space. The mountains and the water are competing for room. And the grandeur and sheer generosity of this landscape is astonishing.

Places and people
Tui
Which gets less than a quarter of the rain of Milford!
22/01/2008, Still at Te Anau


The bell cry of the tui echoes everywhere we go. They are busy right now, feeding on the honey in the flax and other flowering plants. Pip was persistent in the woods at Te Anau and caught this one sipping. You can see the white collar feather that sticks out below the throats and the rich colour on the wings.
After that excitement, we made tracks north, our next destination the old gold mining town of Arrowton. On the way, we found a great space to free camp at Fairlight.

Places and people
Resurrection? Just.
Not raining
22/01/2008, Te Anau


The tahake were believed extinct till a colony was found in 1948. Now they are very carefully managed, with small colonies now established on off shore islands. The wildlife refuge at Te Anau has had an important role in this resurgence. Amongst a few other injured birds, it has given a long term home to Alpine and Bruce, two birds now both over 20 years old.
As you can see, they're pretty used to cameras. This one wasn't leaving the food for anything. They are rather like the much more common (and very stupid) pukeka; the takahe is bigger and bulker, without the high step and kick to the legs that characterises the pukeka.

Places and people

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