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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Weather closing in
01/02/2008, On the Alpine Highway

Up on the mountains, the weather is crap. Low cloud, rain, low visibility. Ah well, it is nice to be cool.
The road here was built in 18 months during the mid-1850's as the Gold Rush gained momentum. Canterbury, the provincial capital away on the east coast was very keen to have fast communication with the booming, competitive and riotous towns around the gold fields. It's a precipitous, unstable environment, subject to frequent rock-slips as well as torrential waterfalls when it rains. The nearer of the two structures you can see on this cliff-edge stretch of the road is actually guiding a waterfall, known as Reid's Fall, so it crosses the road to fall into the river below.
It is called Arthur's Pass after the European who first established this route across the Divide. It was of course well known to the Maori. Sir Arthur Dobson, along with his father and brother were important surveyors and engineers of the time. When brother George was asked to determine the route for the new road, he is said to have exclaimed that 'Arthur's Pass' was the best, and the name has stuck.

Places and people
More tea, weka?

Pip turned her back on her mug of tea, just for a moment. He was right in there, and obviously enjoyed it.
In the meantime, some experienced fossickers turned up and Pip learned a lot from watching them. We didn't linger though; the bites were getting very annoying. We are heading back to Lou's in Christchurch for a bit of a do on Saturday and decided to go south again and cross Arthur's Pass.

Places and people
Begging birds
01/02/2008, Slab Hut Creek

So we went on to Slab Hut Creek, another fossicking site, where all the blog since Fox Glacier has been written. This is off SH7 south-west of Reefton, tucked away in a large area of commercial forestry.
There are lots of weka here too, along with insects, but there is glitter in the dirt Pip is fishing up. The weka, as you can see, beg a lot, coming right up to Puff to inquire after food.

Places and people
Weka of the West

Weka are famous for their greedy inquisitiveness, and these western sub-species are no exception. These ones at Tauranga were the first Sarah had managed to see, despite Pip's sightings at Rapahoe and Ross
From Tauranga we visited another abandoned gold settlement at Lyell, in the Upper Buller Gorge. A truly difficult creek to reach and a site well infested by midges drove us away. We'd hoped to find a nice roadside free camp, but failed till we reached Reefton.

Places and people
Kokeno Pups

There is a breeding seal colony here, and here is one little one, still in its down, with proud mother. This is taken from high above on a cliff, where you can watch the cubs learning to play in the surf, and hear their shrill cries when they lose Mum.

Places and people
Wall Island
30/01/2008, Tauranga Bay

This isolated rock is part of the protective reef at Tauranga Bay, which lies just south of Cape Foulwind (so named by Captain Cook after he had the devil of a job getting round it in northerly gales).
The vegetation is untouched on this rock, as it was never burnt off when the Cape was cleared for grazing and quarrying, and it has not been reached by the predators such as stoats, possum and cats.
This is a rough coast, and its seas are known as the tides of Poutini, after the taniwha (sea monster) who brought Waitaiki to Aotearoa. Waitaiki is known as the mother of pounami (greenstone), which was prized by Maori above all else. Poutini still swims up and down the coast, protecting it from the onslaught of the sea.

Places and people
Rainbows in the rock

Punakaiki is also famous for blowholes. Unfortunately we were too late in the tide to catch much action beyond a few spurts. But we did capture this rainbow, formed in the spray thrown up by the maelstrom that is eating at the rocks below.

Places and people
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

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Who: Pip Harris and Sarah Tanburn
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