Monday, January 21, 2019

A relaxed day in Queenstown

I had a relaxed day and a bit to explore a little of Queenstown, that included a little family history fossicking.
 First place I headed was down to the famous 'beach'. As it was a warm day, more and more people arrived there as evening drew on.

 I saw the TSS Earnslaw coming into the wharf- and two rather crazy, fully clothed men jumped off- somehow that fitted my prejudices about Queenstown being a party town. They came very close to the boat- it really was a stupid thing to do- and then one of them struggled to swim to shore, so other craft came to see if he needed rescuing. But all of that can't take away from the fact that this steamer from 1912 is a magnificent ship.
There were many people on the beach watching the sunset- and then a procession of many paragliders started gliding down, then landing on the beach (or near it, in the water).

 Next morning I climbed up to the Catholic Church, which I knew had been built when Fr John Francis O'Donnell was parish priest- a cousin of my great-grandfather.
 Since coming home I have read more about the building of this little church, and how the local people quarried and carted all the stone for building it.
 Fr O'Donnell donated a statue of the Blessed Virgin and Child which is still in the church. (More about Fr O'Donnell here.)

 Next I headed up to the Gondola. I am pleased I did this 'touristy' thing as the views were magnificent.

 Maybe 'next time' I will do the luge!

 Just down from the gondola is the Queenstown cemetery, and I went there to find the grave of John Francis O'Donnell, which was in fact easily found.

 It was next to the headstone for another priest with a magnificent Celtic cross.

Flying into Queenstown

When I boarded my Air New Zealand plane in Wellington I realised I wasn't going to be on the mountain-view side of the plane to Queenstown. (I am too stingy to pay extra to choose a seat!) As it turned out, we were in/above the cloud for much of the journey, but we emerged from cloud once we neared central Otago. And even though I never got to see Aoraki, there were still some splendid views from the other side of the plane as we neared Queenstown. Here are a selection...

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Four hour walk in the Gorge

My training for the Milford Sound walk is gradually ramping up... Yesterday I walked two hours in to the Te Apiti lookout, and back out again. (I don't think it used to take me two hours to get that far!) I walked uphill on the main track, then finished off the downhill down the Tawa Loop section. There were a few muddy patches on the main track- but Tawa Loop excelled itself with mud! I think I might give it a few weeks to dry out before I do that section again...
Here's the Strava track of what I did.
 And here are the altitude changes...

The recent rain had stopped and it was a lovely day for walking, but the waterfall at the start of the track was still running quite full. 
 I saw my first nikau flower of the season.
 And this fungus was full after the rains.
 This is the view from Te Apiti lookout. You can see many of the windmills, and further to the left you also see Ashhurst.

 There are more up and down sections once you pass the top of the Tawa Loop, but there are also some lovely flat ridge top sections through the trees.
 It is probably about three years since I was on this section of the Gorge, and it was odd how I had forgotten the 'timings' I used to know so well between the different lookouts etc. But I remembered this 'gap' in a fallen log as a 'marker' of having finished the first section of the climb. It has decayed a little more, but was still the same 'old friend.'
And just to finish off, here is a pic of one of the many muddy sections downhill on the Tawa Loop track...
It's not usually this bad though! And I had a wonderful walk.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

a wet day in the Gorge!

Another day, a quite different Gorge walk. Here are a few photos from today's walk- from a post on my training for Milford blog!

A very wet day in the Gorge!

Just a few days after that perfect sunshine-y day at the weekend, today was quite a different day in the Gorge. I put on my new raincoat, my Goretex walking shoes, and took my walking poles. It was wet and muddy and I loved it.

My new raincoat kept me gloriously dry as it rained the whole way up the hill to the statue. My goretex shoes- which I don't wear often as I fear they might become too warm- kept my socks dry even when I sloshed deliberately in some puddles! And the walking poles helped me to avoid slipping over in the muddy sections. (Truly, I was just a big kid again...)

Here are a few photos from a wetter walk. The wee 'waterfall' at the beginning/end of the walk is barely even there during a typical dry summer.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Back in the Gorge

After several walks based around the Turitea Walkway, it was time to up the hill-level with a Gorge walk. I have started with the Tawa Loop- and yes I did puff up the hills, but it wasn't as tough as I was expecting! I have blogged about it on my 'main' blog.

Back in the Gorge

I am doing both the Milford and the Routeburn tracks in December- so training has begun in earnest to get my fitness up to scratch! Over the past month I have been walking on various circuits based on the Turitea Walkway here in the city. But the time has come to 'up-scale' my efforts onto the Manawatu Gorge Walkway.

It's been quite a while since I've walked there. I was slow up the hill.... and took rests- but I managed it all better than I had thought I would...
Here are a few photos from the morning's walk.

 Because the Gorge road itself is now closed, it seems like nobody is taking care of this commemorative plaque from 1926, dating from when the road was widened.
 This is the view from Tom's Lookout. There is a seat where you can rest after the hardest bit of the climbing up the Tawa Loop is all done, and it gives a good view over the Manawatu River. Note the nikau palm- there are many of these along this track.

 I love the view of punga fronds against sunshine and a blue sky.

 After recent rains the track was quite muddy in places, and there was quite a bit of this fungus.

 Here are some of the tall tawa trees the loop is named after- along with some nikau fronds.
This large sculpture of Whatonga, a Rangitane chief,  has been placed at the top of the Tawa Loop track.
On the way back down again, I stopped briefly at this lookout over White Horse rapids in the Gorge.

 I always love noticing the 'little things' along the way, like this spiderweb.
 You pass through a gateway as you enter the Gorge track. I took this photo as I finished- when the sunlight was better... The signs have information about Rangitane history and folklore connected with this place, as well as information about the geology etc.

I was glad to manage this walk without too much difficulty- and plan to be back most weekends over the coming six weeks- gradually going further along the track...