To Christchurch

We spent 8 plus hours driving north from Te Anau to Christchurch but most of the day flew by quickly as the scenery for almost the whole of the drive was spectacular. Drove through several passes and saw Mt Cook in the distance. Weather was great the whole way.

Lindis Pass, New Zealand South Island.
Lindis Pass
Mount Cook

Wasn’t sure what to expect arriving in Christchurch but the damage from the 2011 earthquake is still very extensive and will take a long time to repair.

Christchurch cathedral awaits reconstruction, 2018
Earthquake damaged complex presumably awaiting demolition.

The art gallery was damaged in the 2011 earthquake, but was reopened in 2015, and is a fine focal point for the city and its future. A few examples of the works are below.

Queenstown art gallery.
Antony Gormley sculpture outside the Christchurch art gallery. The figure is seemingly disgusted by the traffic cone thrown in the river.
19th century portrait of Maori dignitary by C F Goldie.
“Friday Night and Fraser has the Flu” by Jaqueline Fahey. Christchurch Art Museum. All the Fahey pictures have distinctive perspectives and relationships between people and objects.

Enjoyed walking this charming city in the summer sunshine, and finished at some of the events of the 25th anniversary of The World Buskers Festival.

Punting on the Avon, Christchurch.
Christchurch Botanical Gardens.
25th Annual World Buskers Festival.

Te Anau via Kingston.

Te Anau was our “base camp” for a drive to Milford Sound. On the way we stopped at Kingston, at the southern tip of lake Wakatipu. Kingston town was once a major transport link between the Wakatipu district’s gold fields and the shipping ports of Dunedin and Invercargill. The train was the main transportation, coming to be known as the Kingston Flyer, which transported passengers, freight, and, most importantly, mail, most of which was picked up by ship for onward journey to Queenstown etc.

But the opening of the Kingston to Queenstown road in the late 1930’s saw the need for rail vastly reduced. Since the 1970’s various attempts have been made, with some successes, to maintain a portion of the railroad as a tourist attraction, but in recent years the rolling stock and other hardware has suffered considerable decay and is no longer functional.

But Kingston is nothing if not pretty, and the quaint library is an example of the nature of this relaxed community.

Library at Kingston, south sland New Zealand.


By the lake at Te Anau is a bird sanctuary, which is remarkable for having a small number of long thought to be extinct Takahe flightless birds. The first recorded European encounter with takahe was in 1849, when a gang of sealers found, captured, and ate one, declaring it to be delicious. Occasionally dead examples were seen and their bodies displayed. On August 7, 1898, on the shore of Te Anau’s Middle Fiord, a dog caught another takahe. This specimen was eventually displayed in the Otago Museum, and was one of four displayed throughout the world. For 50 years it was thought to be the last one.

But Invercargill doctor and amateur naturalist Geoffrey Orbell was not convinced. In November 1948, after detailed studies of potential habitats, he mounted an expedition to the remote Murchison Mountains in Fiordland and was able to film the existence of the bird. The news of what he found there stirred up the ornithological world and made headlines across the globe.

A rare Takahe bird in a sanctuary at Te Anau, New Zealand.


Lake Te Anau – great sunset;



New Zealand West Coast and Franz Josef Glacier

Although the focal points of the west cost of New Zealand might be considered to be the glaciers the coastline itself is dramatic and fascinating. For the glaciers, the first European description of one of them was made in the log of the ship Mary Louisa in 1859. The glacier was later named after Emperor Franz Josef by a German explorer in 1865.

Setting sun on Franz Joesef glacier.
The reflecting pool  at Franz Josef glacier.

The Franz Josef Glacier is currently 12 km long and terminates 19 km from the ocean. It exhibits a cyclic pattern of advance and retreat, driven by differences between the volume of meltwater at the foot of the glacier and volume of snowfall feeding the top.

What was once a hike to the face is now finishes aroind 700 meters away from the face because of safety issues. Its not really a hike, more a casual walk and the number of tourists is very high.

Hiking to the glacier.


Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand

The Abel Tasman Coast Track is a 60 kilometers long walking track within the Abel Tasman National Park on the north west of New Zealand’s south island. It is well sheltered and with mild weather in all seasons is accessible and open throughout the year. So for us it was an easy start, especially as its easy to do short sections.

We chose a short section between Torrent Bay and Bark Bay which incorporates some steep paths, beautiful views over the two bays and a crossing of the Falls River by a swing bridge. It was simple to setup, a boat trip from a nearby town and a scheduled pick up by the same boat from the beach at Bark Bay a few hours later.

Walking on a beach section, got a bit too close to the nest of this seabird.
So backed off to avoid a pecked head.


Perfect weather, great location, beautiful views, and an easy hike – all accomplished without mishap.


Lake Rotoiti, New Zealand, and some eel experiences.

Lake Rotoiti is in the South Island of New Zealand. It is a substantial mountain lake surrounded by beech forest and is 82 metres deep. We stayed at Saint Arnaud, a small community at the northern end of the lake.

Lake Rotoiti, New Zealand


Lake Rotoiti is famous for this now standard view from this jetty.

The first European to see the lake was John Sylvanus Cotterell on 18 January 1843. Other Europeans reached the lake in November 1843, and named it Lake Arthur, but the Maori name remained.

We took a boat and short hike to Whiskey Falls which are named after an illicit still found there in the 1880’s and they are an impressive 40 metres high.

Boat trip to the falls.
Whisky Falls, Lake Rotoiti, New Zealand.

The lake is famous for New Zealand’s very own freshwater monster, the longfin eel. Scientists believe that the New Zealand longfins are quite possibly the largest eels in the world. Males reach about 75 cm in length before they head off to spawn. In contrast, the females tend to live and grow much longer; the bigger a female grows, the more eggs she will produce. No one knows exactly how old they get, but by counting the tree-like rings on the otolith—small, calcified bones in the ear—scientists have found that the eels of Lake Rotoiti live to well over 100 years.


For catching their prey, they rely on smell, with sizable “horns” on their upper lip which support a large nasal cavity that extends to the roof of the mouth. Their sense of smell is much greater than even that of the great white shark and any small quantity of blood in the water will soon lead to a large congregation. There are many stories and one or two genuine anecdotes of humans being attacked by groups of eels.



The longfin’s feeding mechanisms resemble that of another top predator, the crocodile. Like their reptilian counterparts, eels are classic ambush predators, concealing themselves and lunging at hapless victims as they pass.



The adults eventually leave their home and travel thousands of miles into the Pacific Ocean to spawn. The baby longfin’s journey back to New Zealand waters is possibly more incredible. Eels start out life as tiny, toothed larvae, which form part of the plankton. After seven to nine months in the open ocean, they arrive on New Zealand’s coast between July and December. Under the cover of night, they gather and ride the spring tides in to shore. Once in fresh water, they develop into darkly-pigmented juvenile eels, or elvers, which congregate in summer and begin a mass migration far upstream. It is believed it takes from 2 to 5 years of traveling before they reach their destination for the next several decades.


Sydney Sights

The iconic images of Sydney are hard to overcome, so some are shared here along with some less iconic, and some wildlife images. The Australian water dragon was fun to watch.


Marcus, Iwan’s friend from college took us on a great harbour trip, with his boys.


Evening races in Sydney harbour.


Australian water dragon on the beach path.


Australian water dragons have long powerful limbs and claws for climbing, a long muscular tail for swimming, and prominent crests at the base of the head. These spikes continue down the spine, getting smaller as they reach the base of the tail.

Including their tails, which comprise about two-thirds of their total length, adult males can grow to over 3 feet long and weigh around 3 lb. They live on fruit, insects and small mammals throughout most of Eastern Australia.


Beach near manley.


Various other local friends, most but not all living in the Sydney zoo.


Friendly guy on the walking path.


Wild flowers close to the city at the botanic gardens.


The original Harbour View Hotel stood in the way of the bridge construction. It was rebuilt close to the bridge and was in place and open before the old one was demolished, so no loss of business.