Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Home - the long way!

We arrived at the airport in good time (of course, everyone knows I’m always early!) only to discover that we could have had 25kg each of luggage not 20 as we thought. Ian swears he didn’t know about this before, I’m still not convinced.
Our flight left on time and we were proceeding a little bumpy but fine towards our destination of Wellington where we were to change planes and proceed to Melbourne.
However half way to Wellington our friendly Captain advises that the winds on the ground are 100kph in Wellington so we’re being diverted to Palmerston North. OK I say to myself this is not looking like a normal trip home right now but I have faith in Air New Zealand. As we are about to land in Palmerston North we are told that we will be advised of how we are getting to our destination and we are--- we’re going back to Christchurch and then we’re staying there overnight and leaving for Melbourne at 6am so they would like to see us back at 4am. Yeah right ---- I’m really pretty at 4am, just ask Ian but of course that’s what we’ll do. So we wait for a couple of hours to fly back to Christchurch in this dinky little airport and have to pay a $5.00 departure tax for the privilege. I muttered that we hadn’t asked to come to Palmerston North but no one seemed to care anyway.
After arriving back in Christchurch we found a motel after discovering Air New Zealand are really not that interested in where we stay because we are paying as they have no control over the weather. Ah well, the perils of not knowing how windy Wellington is I suppose.
We assemble back at 5am having decided that 4am is too early and we would just get at the end of the line and fly uneventfully back to Melbourne having paid another departure tax. At least we are able to take advantage of the new in flight individual entertainment console which is even in cattle class and very handy. I thoroughly enjoyed Mumma Mia and bopped along with Meryl Streep to my heart’s content while Ian tried to pretend he didn’t know me.
When we arrived in Melbourne we enjoyed a 90 minute wait as we proceeded at snails pace through Customs, duly declaring our walking shoes, two fortune cookies for Tom and Jess and our flaked rice. None of which were of any interest to the Customs people, they had a flight from Bali, one from India and a couple of other Asian ones to keep them content. Home at last!
The last photo is one which probably best describes our final day and was one we saw so many times in New Zealand without any accompanying explanation that we couldn’t resist a photo figuring it would come in handy sometime.

Back to Christchurch

We returned to Christchurch and had a few hours to spare before we returned our trusty little chariot so we went to the Antarctic centre which was fascinating and well worth the visit. We experienced an authentic Antarctic storm in one area and were suitably rugged up in the most flattering jackets and boots which I could probably have used earlier in our visit! It was amazing and very, very cold and we now have a much better understanding of chill factors. We listened to a number of audio visual presentations and were amazed at the courage of the early explorers and also saw a film about the present research work being conducted which has its own challenges even now with all the modern conveniences.
However the highlight for me at least was the penguins which were so endearing, and we were fortunate enough to be there for feeding time which was even better. The penguins at the centre are Little Blue Penguins and have all been rescued and after recovery deemed unsuitable to be rehabilitated to the wild again. It seemed to us that they made very wise decisions --- what a life! They only have to wait to be fed twice a day with their favourite delicacy and if the wrong fish should come their way they spit it out and wait for the next one. Some even only eat certain parts of the fish so they reject the parts they don’t fancy and wait for another to come their way! We were particularly taken with one penguin – a senior who had had his share of trials and suffered a stroke last year only to be nursed back to health round the clock by the adoring staff and now is quite happy to come out for a chat during the day.
We left earlier than we would have liked to fulfil our obligations with the car and settled in to a motel close to the airport in preparation for the trip home via Wellington as we were unable to get a direct flight home.

Hanmer Springs

What a great place to feel really decadent! Obviously this is where the beautiful people go to veg out. We stayed in a really lovely self contained bed and breakfast which was quite luxurious and within walking distance to the town and the Springs which we spent a couple of hours enjoying in varying degrees of smell, the sulphur is a little overpowering in the hottest pool but we were assured it is very beneficial.
However the very best thing about Hanmer Springs (in my opinion at least) is the proximity to the Annual Culverden Fete, which I swear I didn’t know was on the first day we arrived in Hanmer.
This is the most fantastic event if you like really high class Farmers markets which also showcase a huge array of New Zealand Craft and produce. All the beautiful people were there and we joined them for a lovely day looking and tasting a number of New Zealand delicacies. I tried the venison which was so tender it absolutely melted in my mouth and we left feeling well satisfied. However I know it is hard to believe but I didn’t buy anything as we were concerned about losing it thru Customs (damn customs, damn!). It was a great day none the less and you can see from the photos how beautiful it was. An event not to be missed if you can manage it!
Sadly, now on to Christchurch and home.

Murchison to Blenheim

After we left Murchison we drove through to Nelson and the scenery along the way was absolutely spectacular. Ian stopped many times and took photos of the trip.
We stopped in Nelson and then decided to take a walk through the Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve which is located midway between Nelson and Blenheim. There are lots of lovely walks around this area and we walked across a swing bridge and took in the view of the beautiful clear water below. One thing we have noticed everywhere we’ve been tramping is the beautiful ice blue clear water. You truly can see the bottom of every river and the shape of individual rocks is clearly discernable. Today some courageous tourists were even swimming in the ice cold water. We didn’t!
Our next stop is Hamner Springs where we will break out the bathers and enjoy the Springs for a couple of days.

Karamea to Murchison

We stayed the night in Karamea and enjoyed dinner at the pub. Ian was extremely adventurous and tried wild pig in a watercress broth which he said was delicious. It certainly was different and the stay at the pub was unique!
In the morning we went to the Zig Zag Track walk but unfortunately the track about half way up was blocked by a fallen tree just as we had prepared ourselves for a fantastic view. Nevertheless we did get some great shots from half way up the track. The countryside here has to be seen to be believed, everything is so lush and the cows and sheep certainly don’t have to go very far to graze, looking very contented.
After Karamea we drove on to Murchison and then planned to drive through to Nelson. However our plans were derailed after lunch when we found ourselves sitting in the longest traffic jam resulting from a very nasty accident somewhere on the road ahead. After two helicopters landed and we were told by a member of the NZ constabulary that we could expect a further delay of at least one hour on top of the hour we had already been sitting we decided to return to Murchison for the night.
It was fortunate that we did as we discovered a fantastic walk to the Six Mile Power Scheme which closed in November 1975 after nearly 54 years of operation.
In 1921 the Murchison City Council raised a loan of 12,000 pounds to provide a hydro electric scheme to supply light and power to Murchison Township, Six Mile Valley and Four River Plain. Construction proceeded through 1921. Pipes from a nearby sluicing claim were brought to the penstock and other materials (shingle, cement, steel) arrived by horse drawn dray or wagon. The first truck in the district was used to deliver parts of the plant.
The Country Chairman placed a notice in the Murchison Standard which read:
The residents of Murchison County are officially invited to be present at the Six Mile Creek on Wednesday the 25th instant at 1.30pm. The occasion being the official opening of the hydro electric development scheme. It is intended to hold a public picnic before the actual opening ceremony and the council will provide only hot water, tea, sugar and milk for the council’s official guests.
At least everyone knew where they stood!
It was a beautiful walk and we marvelled at the expertise that brought this scheme to the area and wondered why they have stopped using this wonderful way to provide power without the environmental issues we have today.