Monday, April 16, 2012

New Zealand - Day Eight

Today I had to make my way back to the East coast to Christchurch ready for my flight back to Perth the next day. I travelled back up the coast to Kumara and then turned right to Arthur’s Pass.
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In Arthurs Pass the scenery is beautiful with steep banks of sand created by landslides and greenery. I drove along the 440 mt Otira Viaduct which is 35m above the ground. It was built in 1997 with the first vehicles going across it in 1999. I took the photos from the lookout at the top of the pass. There were several Kea parrots, a rare alpine parrot known for their intelligence and curiosity. They made a bee-line for the aerial on top of my car.
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The next place I stopped at was at Lake Pearson 125 kms west of Christchurch in the Southern Alps. There is a basic camping nestled underneath the mature willow tree and its popular for bird watching and trout fishing.
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There were many other beautiful views as I drove towards Christchurch.
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When I arrived at Christchurch I found a motel and then just down the road were still remains from the devastating earthquake that hit the city last year.
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Sunday, April 15, 2012

New Zealand - Day Seven

I headed south down the coastal road from Greymouth and stopped off at Hokitika, where New Zealand’s greenstone jade or pounamu is found. Many of the tourist shops sell jewellery and carvings, however the buyer has to be aware that much of the stone is brought in from China and British Columbia. The price of the items reflects this to a certain degree. I was interested to explore the town and see the craftsmen at work.
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Further south I went to the Glaciers. Firstly Franz Josef, a 12km long glacier. I walked along the valley floor to the base of the glacier.
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I did try and book a helicopter flight up onto the glacier, but the mist came down and blanketed the mountain so all flights were cancelled. I drove about 20kms further to the Fox Glacier and again walked to the glacier base. The walk was much more interesting. There were huge scree slopes and fallen rocks.
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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Greymouth and Punakaiki

I travelled from Hanmer Springs through the Lewis Pass to Greymouth.
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In Greymouth I found some accommodation and drove 40kms to Punakaiki to visit the pancake rocks and blowholes. The Pancake Rocks are a heavily eroded limestone. The sea bursts though a number of vertical blowholes during high tides. The 'pancake'-layering of the limestone was created by immense pressure on alternating hard and soft layers of marine creatures and plant sediments formed 30 million years ago.
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New Zealand – Day Six

My stay at the little cottage in Kaikoura was excellent, warm, comfortable and clean. The owners were friendly and full of information. They gave me free access to the internet so I could check my emails and loaned me a DVD “The Help” which was good as I had just finished reading the book.
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View from my window when I woke up in the morning.
I set to do drive down the coastal road a few more kilometres before I turned inland to Hanmer Springs. I stopped to look at a tour boat following a pod of dolphins who were performing all sorts of manoeuvres jumping out of the water. While I was taking the shots I noticed an awful smell. I looked down onto the rocks and there was a seal colony.
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I left the coast and headed inland. The colour of these leaves reminded me it’s autumn.
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The Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa has seven open air thermal pools, three sulphur pools and four private thermal pools. I didn’t go into any of them but had a look. Hanmer Springs offers the tourist bungy jumping, mountain biking and bush walking and skiing in the winter.
I stopped and watch people bungy jumping and wasn’t tempted to have a go myself.

This is the bridge where people jump from