Thursday, December 26, 2019

Another river route variation...

The great thing about walking along the Manawatu River pathway is that there are many variations and starting points.  Yesterday morning, Christmas Day, I started at Albert St, and headed towards the Fitzherbert Bridge, with a short diversion across the gravel. There was a sign about dotterels etc nesting, but I suspect it would be on a shingle bank on the other side of the river. Maybe another day soon I will take my zoom lens down with me...

 There are different views of the river from different places- here I am looking back towards the cliff they have 'tamed' where the new 'steps' are. I haven't been brave enough to try them but they were certainly busy on Christmas morning. Maybe I can choose a nice quiet time when nobody is likely to see me, once I have walked a few more hilly tracks.

I stopped off to see the stone with information about Hokowhitu Reserve. So much Maori land in this area just got siphoned off into European hands. It is a story we should all know more about.

OK so that was 4km instead of 3.6km. Tomorrow I think I will go for a swim. But hill walking needs to start soon~

Monday, December 23, 2019

Preparation for Europe...

This poor neglected blog will have a renaissance... I have several months leave coming up in April and am heading to Europe. I'll be visiting quite a few places to do with my family history, and also just enjoying some new sights. But pretty much everywhere I will be walking, so it is time to up my walking game here at home!

Here was today's walk- across our new He Ara Kotahi pedestrian/cycling bridge, along the riverside path, across the road bridge, then a loop back through the Esplanade.

Today I was very thankful for all the trees that gave me shelter from the sun, and the breeze along the river path that kept me cooler. I couldn't help but think of our Aussie cousins faced by such awful catastrophe, with so many trees and homes burned down.

 This was the path along the 'other' side of the Manawatu River, where we never used to be able to walk. I was glad for all the shade they gave at this time of day.

 These beautiful big trees stood in a paddock with crops growing. When I get into my walking groove, I always enjoy watching how things change as the seasons progress, so I'll be watching here.

 Once back across the Fitzherbert Bridge, I was again enfolded by shady trees, deciduous ones in this area that bring joy in autumn and spring, and stand stolid through the winter.

 There are always different plants flowering in the Esplanade, no matter what the time of year. I don't know what this plant is, but it reminded me a little of nikau flowering. I wonder if it is related?

 I headed back under the shade for the bush walk part of the Esplanade.

And finally I enjoyed these hydrangeas before I headed to my car...

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...