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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Pancakes at Punakaiki
30/01/2008, Punakaiki

This area is famous for these spectacular rock formations, where limestone lies in layers, building buttresses and bridges as they are eroded by the sea.
The origin of limestone is of course well understood, as sediment laid down on the sea bed by marina organisms, and then uplifted by tectonic action. But what no-one yet knows is how they got put into layers like this.

Places and people
Rapahoe and Point Elizabeth
30/01/2008, On the beach

In the evening we took ourselves north to Rapahoe, recommended by people we met at Okarito. The scenery, as you can see, is spectacular from the beach, the great fraying of rocks to create off-shore reefs beginning hereabouts.
The camp site was a bit of a bust; we went in as we wanted showers. But the two showers were rubbish. Only one could be used at a time, very little pressure and minimum privacy from the living/dining space. Which was, incidentally, well-colonised by a large German group. There is an astonishing number of Germans travelling here this summer, and they are as noisy as Americans! (Humph: xenophobic moments from both of us.)
The only good thing was that Pip saw a weka as she lay in bed in the morning.
So if you go to Rapahoe in a van, drive down by the hotel (most southerly turn off on the beach side of the highway) and free camp on the side of the beach.

Places and people
Sunset over the Tasman
29/01/2008, Hokitika

We doubled back on ourselves a little to spend the night parked on the spit between the river and the sea at Hokitika. Sunset, magnificent in the Tasman, coincided with a calm low tide.
The next day was busy, though not particularly photogenic. Pip did a great course in carving stone, making a small greenstone necklace. She also carved a stone found on Hokitika beach, a lovely circular rock. On it she made a crabclaw waka, with the Southern Cross and pointers in the sky above.
Sarah (at last) got a haircut, bought books and various other domestic errands. After the tiny villages and small towns of the West Coast, this was the biggest centre we'd visited since our brief stop in Wanaka. More than one shop, including a large second hand book store, was a great luxury.

Places and people
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

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Who: Pip Harris and Sarah Tanburn
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