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Tim Mulholland's Illuminata Photo | 2012 | September

Monthly Archives: September 2012

Catlins III

So, this post is mostly a few photographs from a day trip earlier this month to The Catlins.  Asta had to work on the weekend, so Aras, Julija and I ventured eastward for the day to discover a couple of more places on our “to-do” list.  There’s a photo gallery at the bottom of this page.

 

 

The first place we stopped was Slope Point.  There’s nothing particularly remarkable about Slope Point – it looks pretty much the same as the rest of the southern coast – rocky, wet, waves, gulls, etc.  One noticeable difference is that it was a gorgeous, sunny day!  What Slope Point is known for is being the southern-most point in “mainland” New Zealand.  Stewart Island is definitely further south, but Slope Point is the furthest point on the South Island.  We (i.e., “I”) were hoping to walk across a farmer’s sheep paddock to get all the way to the coast, except it’s “lambing season” now, which means that some of the tramps across farmland are off limits during September and October, while the ewes are birthing their lambs during the austral spring.

 

 

Our second major stop was Nugget Point.  It’s a pretty place on the SE coast of the South Island.  There’s a nice lighthouse at the end of Nugget Point, and a very pleasant walk to get there. Nugget Point is named this way because of the “nuggets” (small islands) that sit just offshore of the point.   One of the other great things about Nugget Point is that this was our first place to see New Zealand fur seals!  There also is a yellow-eyed penguin rookery on Nugget Point, but we were there just a bit too early in the season and day to see the penguins.  We’re hoping to see more penguins on our next trips when we get to the coast.

 

 

Today, Sunday, September 30th, we’re “celebrating” Julija’s kiwi pox (a.k.a., chicken pox, varicella).  Julija came to me as we were getting ready for bed on Thursday night and asked what the spots were on her belly and hip.  (Aras & Julija are now between their third and fourth school terms – sort of a two-week spring break.)  This was after I had spent much of the day planning part of our first big trip around the South Island – Invercargill to Dunedin to Oamaru to Christchurch to Kaikoura and more.  I’d booked a couple of hotels and a whale-watching tour.  Oh well.  The good news is that I’ve been able to find a sweet deal on a campervan rental, so we’ll not contaminate hotels and tourists on the whale-watching tour.  But, we’ll still get out and do some hiking, sight-seeing, etc.

Posted in Catlins Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Wanaka Weekend

Yes, today’s entry will be more of a travelogue and I’ll get back to some beautiful pictures in the near future.

 

 

This past weekend, we drove to Arrowtown, Cromwell, Wanaka and home. The weather wasn’t all that pleasant, especially during Friday’s driving, but it slowly improved.

 

 

Panoramic View of Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand (“click” for a larger view)

Arrowtown is a small, historic mining town a few kilometers northeast of Queenstown (and, Queenstown is about two hours north of Invercargill, in the mountains). Arrowtown is definitely some place that we want to return, particularly in the austral autumn. We ate at a fun place (Mondo’s Café) that we’d love to visit again. The main area of town is small and quaint, and the area is surrounded by the Crown Range on the northeast.

 

Panoramic View from Cardrona in the Crown & Criffel Ranges, with the Cardrona River Valley (“click” for a larger view)

 

On Saturday, we drove over to Cromwell and ate breakfast in a coffee shop. Cromwell seems to be a fruit and vegetable growing region, particularly for fruit trees such as apples, pears and the like. Our weather was a bit overcast, but Cromwell is a pleasant town that I hope we’ll visit again when the weather is more pleasant. Cromwell sits on the shores of Lake Dunstan and it must be spectacular to look over this valley from some altitude! After breakfast, we drove up the Clutha River Valley and the beautiful views across the Valley to the Dunstan Range, with the Pisa Range on our left. There were many orchards as we entered and left Cromwell, and the further that we drove from Cromwell, the more sheep that we saw. Did we mention that it’s lambing season here?

 

 

Since the weather was less than wonderful on Saturday, we visited Puzzling World just east of Wanaka. I have to say that I’m not the kind of person who appreciates the normal touristy things (a.k.a., “tourist traps”) that other people enjoy, particularly in places like the Wisconsin Dells, but I did enjoy Puzzling World. First, there was a large maze that we visited. We spent at least an hour “lost” within it, and enjoyed ourselves. I’m also happy to write that I’m the only mouse who earned the cheese! Asta, Aras and Julija bailed out via an emergency exit, while I suffered through ‘til the end! Inside of Puzzling World there was a variety of visual and physical puzzles – oddly tilted rooms, the Ames Room, holograms, and art by some of my favorite artists like M.C. Escher, Rob Gonsalves and Patrick Hughes (I really like Hughes’ work! It’s inspired me since I first saw a couple of his pieces in San Francisco several years ago).

 

 

Crown Terrace Panorama, overlooking the Arrow River, The Remarkables, Frankton and Queentstown (“click” for a larger view)

After Puzzling World, we finally made it to Wanaka and it’s one of the most beautiful towns I’ve ever visited! (I think that I said the same thing about Queenstown.) Another beautiful town located along a lake (Lake Wanaka) and surrounded by mountains. One of the many highlights of the weekend (at least for me) was finally being able to watch the New Zealand national rugby team, The All Blacks, play. The All Blacks are to New Zealand what da Packers are to Wisconsin, so you get the point. I hardly understand rugby – all of it’s nuances, etc. – but my favorite part is the haka. This next link is to the haka from the September 15th, 2012 match against South Africa, which the All Blacks won (I smile every time I watch that video!). (As a side note, I do believe that the Green Bay Packers could benefit from their own haka; it’s pretty easy to imagine Clay Matthews taking the lead!) The Wanaka area and Mt. Aspiring National Park will be a wonderful area to visit (many times?) this coming summer.

 

 

Finally, on Sunday, we ventured to the Cardrona Ski Area that’s about an hour away from Wanaka. I enjoyed Cardrona much more than The Remarkables – I even skied this time! The weather was warm, the sun was shining and clouds were blowing through from time to time. I was feeling pretty good until Julija started skiing circles around me! The drive from Cardrona to Queenstown was absolutely gorgeous, via the Crown Range Road. We’re looking forward to taking this drive again during the summer months.

OK, that’s all for now. It’s time to get back to reality – picking up the kids from school and planning our next trip around beautiful New Zealand.

 

 

46 S EnZed signing off…

Posted in Wanaka Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Catlins I

Finally, and with much anticipation from my wife, I’m very pleased to post the first photographs of our travels here in New Zealand!

 

 

We had been in Invercargill all of 36 hours and Asta had us on the road and exploring.  Since we’re in winter weather here, the mountains can be a little iffy, so we’ve spent most of our traveling time on the southeast coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

 

 

To the east of Invercargill is an area called “The Catlins.”   This region reminds me some of the Baraboo Hills, as well as the Appalachian Mountains – hilly, rugged, green, pleasant.  The area is covered with either sheep farms or impenetrable temperate rainforest rather than farms and mixed hardwood forests we’d see in the States.   The roads are narrower and slower driving than similar roads in the States, particularly if you’re jet-lagged.   And, another major difference is that to the south there’s the Pacific Ocean.

 

 

On our first trip outside of Invercargill, we drove east and visited three main areas.  The first place that we stopped was Waipapa Point, which is the location of a nice lighthouse and maybe some seals/sea lions, if it’s the right time of year (which it wasn’t).  Yes, leaving the heat of Madison and a few days later being in the windy bluster off the sea at Waipapa Point was a bit of change of scenery.  I think that the wind quickly blew off our summer tans.

 

 

 

 

A few kilometers east of Waipapa Point we stopped at Curio Bay.  Rather than use my words, I’ll rely on someone else’s words via Wikipedia:

 

Curio Bay features the petrified remains of a forest 160 million years old. This represents a remnant of the subtropical woodland that once covered the region, only to become submerged by the sea. The fossilised remnants of trees closely related to modern kauri and Norfolk pine can be seen here.”

 

Fortunately, we were at Curio Bay at low tide and were able to see the fossilized trees.  Around the corner from the fossilized trees, we found a narrow, tantalizing cove where the waves would rush in and spread over the rocks.  I enjoyed that more, just watching the waves wash over everything.

 

 

Finally, as our jet-lagged bodies were screaming to stop driving and go back to bed in the middle of the afternoon, we made our longest hike, all of 20 minutes, to McLean Falls.   The hike was pleasant and easy, if a bit damp and wet in the misty rain.  And, it was our first foray into the rainforest!  It was such a contrast from being in a typical North American forest – ferns are growing everywhere, everything is damp and green, thick, lush – and, I really didn’t have the desire to try to walk off the “track” (trail) since it looked like it would involve too much work bushwhacking.   We first spotted a waterfall and thought that it was nice.  We then found that the trail continued, so we followed it upward and found the very impressive McLean Falls!

 

 

And, just to whet your Kiwi weather appetite, we’re now into spring weather.  This seems to mean that you have one day of nice weather, intermingled with a couple three days of cool, rainy weather.  The rainy days are very different from a Midwestern rainy day.   The weather can literally change almost 180 degrees within an hour.  There have been many times the past week when the wind will be howling like a banshee, the skies dark and grey, and then the clouds break and the sun comes out.  I’ve never been in such fierce winds as here for such an extended period of time.  We’re also having several minutes of blustery rain, sleet and pebble hail, followed by a period of broken clouds and sun.

 

You have to be prepared for most any type of weather or, as we see many folks here do, just say “what weather?”   I’m amazed at how people here dress.  Yes, you’ll see quite a few people in their warmest winter coats, hats, gloves and scarves.  And, right behind them, you’ll see someone in shorts, a warm shirt and hat.  It seems to me that these southern Kiwis are much tougher than me when it comes to the weather – but I’m adjusting.

 

We hope that you’re enjoying these tidbits as much as we’re enjoying sharing them with you.  And, we certainly appreciate having the opportunities that we have to explore New Zealand!

 

46 S EnZed signing off…

Posted in Catlins Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Down on the farm…

OK, WAY down on the farm, down here towards the bottom of the world.  Or, so it seems sometimes.  Actually, we’re only about as far south as northern Wisconsin is north, but since there’s nothing but ocean and ice to the south of us, and only a few roads to the north, it sometimes feels like the bottom of the world.

 

 

On Saturday afternoon, September 1st, we were privileged to be the guests of Sharyon & Andrew Ralph on their dairy farm, about 20 kms ENE of Invercargill.  Sharyon (“Mrs. Ralph”) is Aras’ Year 3/4 teacher at Waverley Park School.  We had a great time and learned quite a bit!

 

 

Andrew Ralph has about 600 milking cows on his property.  He employs several people to help him with his day-LONG chores (and, I do mean LONG days!).  The cows have to be milked twice a day.  One very interesting thing that I learned is that NZ cows are smaller than Wisconsin cows.  This is because in NZ, there’s a lot more rain and the ground can get quite boggy, particularly at this time of the year.  The bigger the cows are, the easier it is for them to get stuck in the boggy ground.  And, I’m guessing that it’s no easy chore to extricate a 600 kg cow from the mud, let alone a larger American cow.

 

 

One of the other things that I learned is that the weather here has been relatively dry this winter/spring (remember, our seasons are reversed here).  While most everyday is partly cloudy and pleasantly cool/warm with high humidity, and we have had a bit of rain, it has been quite a bit less rain than a normal year.  So, in some ways, they’re having a drought here, too, but it’s a relatively green drought by midwestern standards.  But, it has been so dry that the Ralphs (and many others) have had to call out the water trucks to come and fill their cisterns/water tanks.  (Most [?] rural homes rely on the collection of rainwater for their household water needs, not a well.)  From what I’ve heard about the spring-time weather here, we should be experiencing some hail as well as horizontal rain – which we have yet to see.

 

 

The highlight of the afternoon was seeing a newly born calf!  It was born about 15 minutes before we arrived.  I’ve seen a lot of other animals being born – cats, dogs, chicks, humans – but not really a cow.  When the calf tried to stand, I think that all of the parents there – at least me! – wanted to try to help it up and keep it from falling, but this was a time not to mess with Nature, particularly with the mother cow nervously standing nearby.  After we left the calf, it’s mother came over and licked it, and tried to nudge it to find her udder.


We also got to try FRESH milk for the first time in my life.  Very similar to 2% milk, but a wee bit thicker.  🙂  I don’t think that Julija particularly enjoyed it.

 

 

Not much else to report about the afternoon other than it was a great pleasure to get out of town and, if only briefly, to be a part of someone else’s life down here and to better understand their lives.  Frankly, there’s not that much that’s different about the life of a dairy farmer here in the Southland when compared (based on very little personal experience) to Wisconsin dairy farmer.  It’s a lot of long, dirty, dangerous work owning a dairy farm…

 

 

46 S EnZed signing off…

Posted in New Zealand Tagged , , , , , , , , |

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