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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Now that's a tackroom!

This is only half of the harness.
On the way from Shantytown, we stopped at Goldsborough, now a couple of scattered sheep farms and forestry plantations. At the creek there is a DOC site, where fossicking is permitted. Pip had another wet but unsuccessful session, during which she was visited by a curious weka. Sarah took a hot walk in the hills.

Places and people
Hansom cab in the hills

The little coach museum was mostly familiar gigs and governess carts, but included this rather splendid green hansom cab, used when towns like Lyell or Goldsborough (both now vanished) were bustling and booming.

Places and people
Working horses

In the earliest days of European settlement here, all the work was done by horses pulling wagons on rails. Sadly there are no postcards of their work, although six excellent photos on display in the old coach house would make a great set. So this was the best we could do.

Places and people
More steam
29/01/2008, Shantytown

Shantytown is a 'theme village', set up to illustrate the gold mining history of the region. A little steam train takes you up the hill to the sawmill and then the 'gold claim'. The logging and forest clearance was also very important here.
Pip got an invaluable lesson in panning from the guys who run the 'claim'. They bring in loads of gravel and water and from it a few crumbs are extracted. So much of the hills here have been mined three, four or five times. They have surrounded the 'claim' area with copies of the sluices, gullies, waterwheels and pumps of alluvial gold mining on an industrial scale. We (or at least Sarah) had never realised how fantastically destructive such river mining was; it's not an old codger with a back pack and pan. Or rather, it's thousands of old codgers, with pumped water and endless gullies and sluices.
The other fascinating element of Shantytown is the recreation of Chinatown. Such a settlement existed on the sites of all the gold rushes, as Chinese would come in to the fields. Many (the most prosperous) worked to service the miners, and the Chinese ownership of market gardens and grocery businesses testifies to their success. Others worked over the areas already abandoned by the Europeans. Patience and persistence paid off, often providing reasonable yields from areas deemed as worked out.
For the Chinese men (and the vast majority were men), even this hard life was preferable to the appalling prospects back home. China, particularly Canton where many came from, was ravaged by war and famine. The Opium wars (forced on China by the British in the name of free trade) had also generated massive addiction with accompanying violence and disease.
Despite their industriousness and low profile in NZ, many Europeans resented and feared the Chinese. A poll tax, initially 50 then 100, was imposed on them, along with other legislative discrimination. For instance, the State Pension introduced before 1900 was not paid to Chinese residents till late in the 1930's.
The little area in Shantytown (of which we shamefully neglected to take pix) was very well done and moving. We think there must still be a reasonably powerful Chinese presence in the area, to pressure for or pay for the exhibit, which we enjoyed.

Places and people
Panning for gold
28/01/2008, Jones Creek

On leaving Okarito, we stopped at Ross, a famous old goldmining centre, where Pip finally got to try her luck.
Not with huge success, unfortunately, and we discovered that gold panning is an opportunity for intimate acquaintance with midges.
For the night, we went to the DOC site at Lake Mahinapua. This was a major pleasure centre during the gold rushes of the west coast, and the info boards are decorated with photos of Victorian pioneers boarding paddle steamers and all sorts of smaller vessels, well supplied with bulging hampers for picnics.

Places and people
28/01/2008, Afloat mostly

Here are two more of these endearing diving ducks.
We hired a kayak from the charming Richard, Edwina and (six year old) Monty and had a splendid morning paddling up the river and through the creeks and streams that feed the lagoon. Once out of the main stream, it was beautifully calm and still, the peace disturbed only by cicadas, tui and our own splashes.
It was not entirely without adventure; the dropping tide meant we had to get out and pull the kayak a couple of times. Excellent experience.
The woods around here are an important kiwi reserve, one of their few remaining breeding grounds. It was very distressing to read in the paper, a couple of days later, that someone had deliberately set fires in their habitat. According to one of the local guides (who we had met), none of the kiwi were killed, but it is tragic assault nonetheless. With so little habitat left, any more loss is significant risk.

Places and people
28/01/2008, Afloat with very little freeboard

The white heron is a rarity in NZ, though common enough elsewhere. They breed only at the northern end of the Okarito lagoon, and come down to the southern end to feed. This is one, knowing that we, in our kayak, will not come close enough to his fishing post.

Places and people
Looking west

Sitting on a bench overlooking the Tasman Sea, the water showed a distinct change in colour. This might be where the glacial rock-flour in the water becomes diluted, or where the seabed suddenly dips. As the sun moved across the sea, the effect faded.
In the distance, clouds sit on the horizon. Of course, it's not land, as Australia is rather too far away to see.

Places and people
Gossamer and rock

On the way back through the forest, we saw this enormous dragonfly. It posed for us on rocks beside the path.
The forest was loud with cicadas. They buzz incessantly, and click too, like rattles. The birds were quiet though, for it was very hot and everyone was drowsy.

Places and people
Possibly Paradise
Sarah & pip
27/01/2008, Well now, there's a thing

We are reluctant to name our next stop, because it is such a lovely place and doesn't need to be too popular! After we had parked Puff in the campsite, the first words we heard, from the next door van, were 'welcome to Paradise'.
The tiny village of Okarito sits at the end of 13km of road off the state highway. It has a big inland waters system of lagoons and rivers, of which more later, and an enormous beach. You can walk along the beach to Three Mile Lagoon and then back through the woods along an old pack track. This is the view back to the Southern Alps from the river mouth, about three miles from the camp site. Magnificent.
This was one of the very few places where the gulls were not immediately begging for food, even when we sat down with sandwiches. That's how quiet and unfrequented the place still is.

Places and people
Inside the cave

Deep blue. Just a hint of what it might be like.
Would I do it again? You bet. In fact, next time, I'd do the full day hike to get much higher up the glacier.

Places and people

This is the mouth of an ice cave, showing the changes of colour. I climbed down into it and had an interesting time getting out again. That's how I know about sitting in the puddles.
You can see that at the centre of the cave, it begins to get white again. This is thinning ice. Luke hacked at it from the far side, saying that in a couple of days there would be a fine tunnel for visitors to walk through.

Places and people

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Who: Pip Harris and Sarah Tanburn
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