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Old 01-20-2018, 06:56 AM   #21
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Default Re: Exploring New Zealand From The Left

Taranaki Falls

Before our ferry departure, we had enough time to do one more hike.  On Christmas Day, we opted to go Taranaki Falls.  This park is more commonly visited in the winter for snow-related activities.  There is also a excellent alpine crossing here, which can be done as a multi-day backcountry tramp (hike/walk). 

Here is the river much farther downstream of the falls.  At this point it has picked up quite a bit of water compared to its upstream alpine origins.




Like most of the geography on the North Island, Taranaki was formed by volcanic action.  The river here runs along a very large, and very ancient lava flow.










The ridges in the distance are heavily-eroded lava flows which spread out like arms in every direction.  The bulk of the lava formed the 1500-meter-high saddle between two volcanoes.


Hmm, that water seems to disappear.


Yep, its a waterfall.


Don’t slip…  I can see the headlines: Dumb American Tourist Learns to Fly and Swim at the Same Time.


This falcon was very annoyed with us, apparently it had a nest on the cliff face.






We then headed south to Wellington to board the ferry.
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Old 01-20-2018, 07:21 PM   #22
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Default Re: Exploring New Zealand From The Left

South Island Here We Come

By Jen.

The day after Christmas, we spent some time video-calling family who were doing their own Christmas celebrations at the time. Then, it was time to board the ferry! We went with BlueBridge ferry, as they had something open  and  Interislander ferry doesn’t honor the NZMCA discount during the peak season (school holidays). It was a bit of a rainy day, and there was plenty of wind, resulting in water that was a bit choppy. Both Jonathan and I suffered from motion-sickness the entire time we were in the Cook Strait. But, upon entering Queen Charlotte Sound (Totaranui), we were in calm, protected waters and could enjoy ourselves. We shared a table with a family who had just shipped their vehicle over from Australia; it was fun to talk with them.







Upon arrival in Picton, we quickly found a campsite and tried to figure out where we should go next. It is surprisingly hard to go out and enjoy yourself and then find the time to plan your next activity. After some research, we decided to head to Nelson Lakes National Park and climb Mt Robert for views of Lake Rotoiti. On our way there, we were greeted with lots of logging forests, pastures, and vineyards. We had heard that South Island was known for its rugged beauty, but apparently not all of it is untouched wilderness. Like the North Island, much of it has been developed or changed for human use. So instead of being greeted by the beautiful native forests, we were surrounded by imported plants. It had its own charm, but not what we (or at least I) had been expecting/hoping to see. I won’t deny that I am a bit disappointed.

Fortunately at Mt Robert, they had some beautiful, native-beech forests to walk through.



Like in Australia, the alpine (no trees) zone is surprisingly low in altitude. Apparently that is because less than a 100 km away, you are at the sea. So, at the top of Mt Robert at 1421m, we were already well into the alpine region.




The soil is poor here and erosion is rampant.







The next day, we ventured further into the area and walked a path in Murray Creek Goldfields. While few in views, it had some interesting mining equipment and a few birds.











They had massive mile-deep mines! Just look at the pile of tailings, and this is only a small portion of it!






Remnants of the cage.






The entrances were filled in, but the air shafts were still there.



An old boiler.
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Old 01-20-2018, 08:27 PM   #23
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Default Re: Exploring New Zealand From The Left

Our "solution" for the storm-pitched ferry was to ride outside on the upper rear deck.
Yes, we occasionally got wet, but for us the crossing became much much more tummy-comfortable.

--dick (give me a stiff breeze to ease any crossing)
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Old 01-20-2018, 08:31 PM   #24
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Default Re: Exploring New Zealand From The Left

Quote:
Originally Posted by autostaretx View Post
Our "solution" for the storm-pitched ferry was to ride outside on the upper rear deck.
Yes, we occasionally got wet, but for us the crossing became much much more tummy-comfortable.

--dick (give me a stiff breeze to eade any crossing)
It wouldn't be nearly as bad if the passenger deck wasn't the top forward most deck either.... the swell and chop were 90 degrees off, so you end up rocking in a elliptic pattern. It was rough for a bit.
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Old 01-22-2018, 06:24 AM   #25
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Default Re: Exploring New Zealand From The Left

Arthur's Pass


There are only two major passes crossing the Southern Alps, Lewis Pass and Arthur’s Pass.  Both qualify as highly scenic, if not very fast routes.  In our continuing goal of avoiding the holiday hordes, we continued onward into Arthur’s Pass National Park.  Located right in the heart of the Southern Alps, this park has mountains and valleys to spare.

The road in traverses some fairly intense topography, built around glacially-sculpted valleys.   The  remains of the glacial erosion can still be plainly seen in the form of braided rivers flowing across the valley floors.




The western side of the pass gets over 5 meters (16ft) of rain each year!  The drainage infrastructure is serious business.


If you look closely below, you may see the original road snaking along the valley floor.  Needless to say it was frequently blocked by flooding and landslides.






We camped for the night at the foot of the mountain in the foreground. 


The next day we decided to hike up Avalanche Peak.  This hike has over 1100 meters (3,500 ft) of elevation gain over about 3km.  That is some seriously steep hiking.

So we dragged ourselves up the slopes, zigzagging through the switchbacks, often hiking up still wet streams.




We took a break and noticed a double, full-360-degree rainbow above the valley.


We were distracted by a number of waterfalls coming off the slopes.




The view kept getting better as we wheezed our way ever upwards.


As we neared the half way point the trees became stunted, and the vegetation began the shift to alpine types.






Abruptly we shifted into the alpine herbfields.






A bit steep here, it would take a very long time to stop should one fall.






Hmm, just a bit of snow capping the higher neighbors to the west.


The herbfields gradually gave way to scree fields.








A  reminder of the amount of crustal uplift that has brought what was once ocean floor sediments up to 1800m of elevation.


Finally, even the alpine grasses and herbs give way to bare rock.


But it is definitely not barren.  Even up here in the dry harsh winds, alpine plants are living in the bare crevices.  Often taking decades to grow, many of these plants are older than I am.






The remote wilderness of the central ranges is bared to the eye from here.  Year-round snow caps these rugged peaks.


What may look like a light coating of snow from this distance is actually tens of meters thick glaciers.  Check out those crevasses!






It is hard to imagine, but during the last ice age (about 20,000 years ago) this valley was filled nearly to the top with solid glacial ice.  In places well over 600 meters thick.  That is just below where we are standing in this photo!  These enormous ice flows reached all the way to the sea.


Here is a view looking back about 1/3 of the way down.  The central peak was the summit of this hike.  

T
he small line on the far right of this photo is Arthur’s Pass road on the valley floor.


We managed to spot a Kea flying past us on the Peak (over 1800m high!).  The Kea is NZ’s only native parrot, and the only alpine parrot, living exclusively in the harsh mountain environment.  No photos sadly!
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Old 01-25-2018, 08:27 PM   #26
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Default Re: Exploring New Zealand From The Left

So nice to see pics from NZ, I was there back in the 1980's. Helped a guy who was trapping Possums in those mountains! Stayed for a while in Coramandel, it used to be a Gold mining town. Nowadays Coramandel Gold is a still found there, but its certainly not a mineral. Please keep these pics coming, they're making me want to go there again.
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Old 01-26-2018, 08:36 PM   #27
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Default Re: Exploring New Zealand From The Left

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So nice to see pics from NZ, I was there back in the 1980's. Helped a guy who was trapping Possums in those mountains! Stayed for a while in Coramandel, it used to be a Gold mining town. Nowadays Coramandel Gold is a still found there, but its certainly not a mineral. Please keep these pics coming, they're making me want to go there again.
Those freaking possums! Real Nuisance, but their fur does make a decent sweater...

NZ has changed a lot since the 80s. 4 million visitors a year have had some noticeable impact, at least the roads are better!
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Old 01-26-2018, 08:37 PM   #28
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Default Re: Exploring New Zealand From The Left

Ben Ohau, Clay Cliffs, and Rock Painting

As per our standard  operating procedure, we picked a fairly remote track up a tall hill or mountain.  Mt Ben Ohau is located amidst several man made lakes.  Connected by canals (several of which have salmon farms), these lakes are used for hydroelectric power.





About half way up and the view is pretty good.  We have been exploiting the impact of geography on the weather to stay clear of the rains.  Looking west you can see the tattered remnants of a storm system as it clears the dividing ranges.  Long since having dropped with rain payload. 

 





Three  quarters of the way up and the view is just about perfect. Even at this height and distance the drone of unmuffled jet boats breaks the near silence. 



Right at the limit of the camera’s 40x zoom, you can see a blue smudge.  I was not looking forward to the walk back down.





The top half of the track is visible as a slight line on the hillside.



If you look closely you might see a 4x4 track switchbacking its way up the mountains across the lake. 







The following day we visited some 30 meter tall cliffs.  Made entirely of a siltstone conglomerate, they are only slightly harder than common clay.  The resulting canyons and formations are quite striking.

 





















A bit further east and south we detoured to look at some Maori rock art.   Not much survives long on the soft rock and wet environment, but these are at least several hundred years old.







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Old 01-27-2018, 04:08 AM   #29
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Default Re: Exploring New Zealand From The Left

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Originally Posted by Roodster View Post
Gold is a still found there, but its certainly not a mineral.
So what is it now?
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Old 01-27-2018, 10:28 AM   #30
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A vegetable
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