Monday, April 17, 2017

West Coast sunshine

Unlike on my summer visit, this time the weather has been superb! Yesterday I left Murchison to head down the road to Westport. There I visited the seal colony again, with many young seals frolicking in the surf near the 'nursery' rocks. I only spotted a couple of small ones feeding and I guess the adults are largely out at sea feeding.
Then I drove south towards Greymouth, stopping off at Punakaiki where it seemed the roughish seas and incoming tide meant I had timed it well to see a bit of blowing... And to end the day, I arrived in Kumara, the town where my goldmining Payn, Scettrini, and some Lalors settled.

Now for a few photos. I'm using a new app- will make the photos bigger when I am home again...

And in Greymouth I had the great joy of seeing that the restoration of my Lalor great grandparents grave is nearly complete.

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Across the Strait

I wasn't entirely looking forward to this sailing since Cyclone Cook had barely left the east coast behind, but being on the ferry started well with this glorious sky.

We left on time and soon we passed Mt Victoria, Seatoun, and the windmills at the western edge of the North Island.

I had a short 'snooze' while we were out in the Strait itself, where there was quite a strong wind though not much swell- and it seemed no time before we were arriving in the Sounds, in the South Island.

In Tory Channel we passed one of the other ferries.

And as we left Tory Channel, other boats were heading in...

It was a very pleasant day on deck taking in the views...

...and doing a spot of people watching.

And now, I am back on South Island soil...

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Exploring around Kumara

My maternal ancestors were involved with goldmining, many in Kumara. Today I did some exploring around the area.

One of my great-uncles, John Payn, was killed in action in France in WW1 and is buried there. His name is listed on the greenstone plaques outside the Memorial Hall.

During the day a whole pile of Pork Pie Minis passed through.

This historic hotel was here when my great grandfather Frank Payn was still a young man.

I walked around the back of Londonderry Rock where my uncle took me once. The piles of tailings from sluicing are still incredibly tall and barren.

It was great to see Kumara School had real acknowledgement of the town's past. This sculpture of a miner panning for gold was near the entrance.

I did lots of walking- including on Payn's Track. I saw this old house in my travels. Someone's ancestors lived here.

Tonight I had dinner at the Theatre Royal Hotel - and by chance, my ancestors graced my placemat.

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

A short southern sojourn

The Easter holidays are here and I am headed off to the South Island for a brief stay. I decided to take the 9am ferry from Wellington which meant an early start from Palmy. However when I went out to the garage this morning I was treated to a calm morning, with moon and stars in the sky. Cloud that was in the sky was lit up by the moonlight and it all looked rather beautiful. 
It was an easy drive south to Wellington with hardly any other traffic on the road. It was my first time on the new Kapiti expressway and at just after 6am on Easter Saturday I had it pretty much to myself. I had no idea how long it was, and it was actually a bit weird to totally miss Waikanae. It had modern reflectors on the sides of the road, and dividing the lanes, that all shone up in the darkness and I felt as if I was in some kind of alien land. More than once I got a bit worried that I had somehow missed an exit sign and that I shouldn't even be on this new road yet!
At Paremata I had a quick comfort stop. Strange as it may sound, I had never stopped here at low tide, and I really hadn't realised how tidal it all was.


Friday, January 13, 2017


I'm just going to give a random selection of photos from the last few days. 
I stayed in a lovely campground just north of Hampden- Riverside- and I had my tent near this stream.
En route for Dunedin I stumbled on this rest spot by the beach where I had my breakfast.
 In the city itself I really enjoyed the Settlers Museum, then I had a great lunch of braised steak at Speight's Alehouse. 
I took this photo after lunch once some sun had appeared: it looked much better than an earlier version with grey skies!
Dunedin Railway Station is justifiably famous- great to see it with some sunshine too. 
The other place I loved visiting was the Botanical Gardens. These cacti were in the winter gardens.
 The promised southerly came through while I was at the gardens and again it was bitterly cold. I decided to try a holiday park away from the coast and was glad to find it was more sheltered, with lovely gardens including many roses. I woke up there this morning to a most beautiful chorus of bellbirds. 

Today the main thing on my agenda, despite the rain and cold, was that I had to see Bluff, and it certainly had some surprises in store. For a start I learned from an info board that the rock there was very hard, made from magma that did not reach the surface, off the coast of Gondwanaland well before Zealandia rafted off across the Tasman.
  The views from the top of the Bluff Hill were stunning. 

Friday, January 06, 2017

Dansey's Pass

Yesterday I drove across Dansey's Pass, leaving from Naseby and emerging out the Waitaki end. It's amazing what you can do sometimes when you are blissfully ignorant. For a good ten km the road is so narrow it is basically one way, with steep drop offs on the left where I was supposed to be driving. Once on the narrow route, you can't turn around anywhere! I lived on adrenalin as I drove very slowly, hoping around every blind bend I wasn't going to meet another vehicle! However, it was a spectacular route, and having emerged safely at the Waitaki end, I am very glad to have experienced it- once!

Where there was a little ledge to pull over I did take photos, and I will just give you a selection of them.
This is the only vehicle going the same way that I met.
 Finally I made it down to Duntroon, then I visited the Elephant Rocks.
And I stayed the night at a Riverside camping place not far north of Hampden Beach. It was very peaceful there and I would have stayed another day reading in my deck chair- except- thunderstorms are forecast. Summer, summer, where art thou?!

Cromwell to Naseby

This morning it soon became obvious the southerly was moving through, and shoes and socks were needed. I left Cromwell via the road towards Dunedin, and stopped at the memorial plaque for the two miners who first discovered gold on a bend in the river at this point.
When I reached Clyde I diverted off the highway and first looked at the Clyde hydroelectric dam and power station. 
Next I continued into the town and was amazed by all the beautiful historic buildings in the main street. 

This is the Catholic Church. There are beautiful roses planted along the path to the front door. 
The blue skies behind the monument belie the fact the wind was bitterly cold!
I saw a pile of people ready to take off on the Otago Rail Trail and other rides from the historic Clyde station. Gave me some ideas...
When I left Clyde to head towards Naseby, I was amazed by how many historic buildings were along the roadside. 

This one at Wedderburn was particularly lovely.
There were views of the ranges with snow on them that explained the cold!
And this is summer!