Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Steam Train at Shantytown

This engine which worked coalmines at Kaitangata in Otago for 70 years was preserved by the mines department to the West Coast Historical and Mechanical Society Incorporated and was transported to Shantytown by the Ministry of Works and New Zealand Railways.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pancake Rocks - Punakaiki, West Coast

After we left Cape Foulwind, we travelled down the coast to the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki.  I've been wanting see these for a long time, but was surprised that I just couldn't go down on the beach and see them.  Instead there's a 20 minute walk around and through them that was very, in want of a word, upmarket.

The rocks were formed 30 million years ago from minute fragments of dead marine creatures and plants landed on the seabed about 2 km below the surface. Immense water pressure caused the fragments to solidify in hard and soft layers. Gradually seismic action lifted the limestone above the seabed. Mildly acidic rain, wind and seawater sculpted the bizarre shapes.

We carried these two bottles of liquers, by prenzel, around the rocks taking photos of them in various locations, along with our 'normal' photos. It was all for the Prenzel summer photo competition, which I have now entered. It did 'raise eyebrows', cause a few 'funny comments' and we had offers from several people to help us drink it! I didn't put this one into the competition - will put the one I did enter up at the end.

The rocks and the view down the coast. Quite spectacular, and we happened to be there close to sunset which made the colours very pretty. Unfortunately, a rain front was coming across so the sunset wasn't as vivid as we had hoped it would be.

The pancakes a bit closer up.

The blow hole is also famous in this area, although it wasn't going very strong for us. I could just hear it rumbling and then it would spit up this bit of water every now and then. This is the only photo I was able to get. something to do with the tide I believe, which was out quite a way and only just in the way in.

This is the only sunset shot I really got. I had to handhold that but I did use the banisters of the safety fences to keep it steady. The tripod was in the car, but my foot was too sore to go and get it. Plus, I was already carrying two bottles of spirits and wasn't sure I'd be able to handle the tripod as well.

Here's looking down the coast again. I couldn't tear my eyes away...

Sunset rock...

As the path went around you come to these steps carved out in the rock.  They're steep and narrow, and rather beautiful.  But before you came to them, there are signs everywhere saying no wheelchair access.  Big yellow signs with a wheelchair shape with a big red cross.   What I find funny about this is that it's really obvious that a wheelchair can't fit down there.  People in wheelchairs do have brains and common sense I'm sure! So do we really need them?

Can you see the cat crouching on that rock? (hint - it's a rock shaped in the shape of a cat). Can your imagination pick out anything else?

Looking north up the coast. Sunset. I need to spend some more time in this area. It seems to have a lot to offer, including rivers, secret spots, horse treks, canoeing. Looks like I'll have to go back!

And this is the entry to the competition I put in, which I called 'Syrup with Pancakes...

Wish me luck! I want to win the $3000 in travel so I can visit my Anne in Amsterdam! And perhaps go to Iceland!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


While Steven was here from the USA, we decided to spend a couple of days on the West (Wet) Coast.  I'm a typical New Zealander, in the fact that I've visited lots of places overseas, but hardly seen my own country.  So most of the places we visited, with the exception of Greymouth, was my first time I had been there.  Shameful isn't it?

The West Coast is renowned for rain, so our first day there was quite surprising, as you will see from the photos.  It didn't last though.  The last two days were so wet I couldn't even get the camera out for fear of drowning it!

First stop was Westport. Westport is located on the northern bank and at the mouth of the Buller River close by the prominent headland of Cape Foulwind.  The population of the Westport is approximately 5000.

We drove through the main road and shops and came to a little marina of fishing boats so stopped to take photos.  This would be the Buller River.

The water is brown because of the recent heavy rain the day before we came over.

Steven particularly liked this part of Westport as his name is Steven John so felt that the fishing boat pictured was his!

We then drove a bit further to take a look at the beach...

This is looking north towards Karamea.

And south to the Buller River mouth. With all the driftwood washed up, it looks like it can be pretty wild, but today, it was relatively calm for a West Coast Beach.

We decided to head further down the coast to see the Pancake Rocks and sightsee on the way. So our next stop was to drive out on the causeway to the lighthouse at the mouth of the river, and have a look at Carters Beach while we were there. I couldn't leave the area without seeing a beach with the same name as me!!

This is the mouth of the river. Not only is there the red lighthouse over on the other side, there was a green one just to the left of where I took the photo.

This is looking downriver towards the hills we had just driven across.

And this is Carter's beach. It lives up to our name - Beautiful, Wild, Unpredictable!! I'm sure others will add a few names to this!!!

Lots of Seabirds around. This is a Caspian Tern.  I love their black heads, reminds me of pirates for some reason!

The usual Red Beaked Gull...

and the occasional one-legged variety!

Then we drove to Cape Foulwind which is approximately 10 kmh south of the township of Westport. It is a prominent headland overlooking the Tasman Sea. It was previously named Rocky Cape by Abel Tasman, the first European to visit it, in 1642. The present name was bestowed upon this promontory by English explorer James Cook in 1770 after his ship Endeavour was blown quite a distance offshore from this point.

On this particular day, the only foul wind came from ... erm ... nuff said!

As the afternoon was getting on, we decided to do a 10 minute walk up to the Lighthouse only, rather than the full hour trek around the coast and back which would have taken about 2 hours. We then drove to Tauranga Bay to have a look at the other side of the cape instead to save us time.

The path was full of yellow daisies with honey bees - so couldn't resist a bit of macro photography on the way up!

Found a Crimson Speckled Footman moth as well (according to my online Skype Encyclopedia from Capetown!)

The path up to the Lighthouse.

Views from the top...

Looking back from where we had come from - you can see the mouth of the River and that tiny white thing (lighthouse) on the causeway.

The bush on the cape was quite scrubby. But perfect camouflage and nesting for our South Island Weka...

Who insisted on joining us for lunch.

I'm always amazed at how red their eyes are. Looks like they've been imbibing on a bit too much MJ.

We then drove to the other side of the Cape to have a look at Tauranga Bay...

Absolutely gorgeous and I would imagine when the tide is in it would be a fairly safe place to swim. As long as there is no foul wind.

We took another short walk up to the point to try and see the seal colony, but all we really got were views. If you're looking for seals, the best place to really see them is Kaikoura.

I did find this round the corner though. I turned towards london and waved to Jay, then tried to imagine where Amsterdam was and waved to Anne. Did you guys see me?

Looking up the coast. This side of the cape I think was much prettier.

Next stop: Pancake Rocks!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Somebody's Treasure - Murchison

Originally a gold rush town, Murchison was almost completely destroyed by a huge earthquake in 1929. Today it has a population of about 850 people, and is a tourist attraction because of it's many outdoor activities, especially hiking and white water rafting.

I like Murchison for one particular shop. It's called 'Somebody's Treasure'.

I was taken there to visit way back I visited Nelson about 3 years ago. I was amazed back then how much stuff was in there, and I even saw something I wanted - a bean slicer. I didn't buy it. Then back in December I took Wendy to it when she visited. I checked to see if they still had the bean slicer - but it was gone!

The shop is so full of stuff, it's like everyone who has ever died or left the area, has handed complete house lots to the shop to sell. Let me show you...

This is the entrance into the shop. The aisle leading to the counter is nice and wide, but the rest of the aisles are small and narrow.  You have to be careful not to knock things off the shelf!

Here's the owner. You only need to ask for any particular thing and she'll know exactly where it is. Take a look above her and you'll see some vintage cameras up top. I had a little look, but there was nothing that grabbed me as a good one for my collection. I'll look each time I go back though!

Moving into a flat? Going camping? Look no further for a cheap way to get plates, crockery, glasses and pots and pans. All in good order with no chips. I can't get over how much there is. In another part of the shop are some very very good complete dinner sets for very reasonable prices!

So you collect bottles? Every conceivable age, shape, and colour adorn these walls. Some of them are still full of the ancient liquid that was orginally bottled inside. Most fascinating!

This is looking down to the front of the shop to give you an idea of what they stock. Everything.Under.The.Sun.

You need curtains? Bedding? Tablecloths? Paintings? Books? Light fittings? They've got it!

Did I mention books? A lot of these ones are very old too!

And salt and pepper shakers. Actually - I didn't see them at the time, but in the top right hand side there's kermit the frog as a salt and pepper set. I wonder if they'll still be there next time I go. I've always wanted a frog on my dining table!

The chances of them being there are slim though. Back in December I bought an antique iron. It's being used as a bookend in my book case. Nice and heavy - keeps the books upright. Reasonable price at $24. At the time, there were quite a number in the shop. I was there just last week - first week of March, and not one antique iron was there. All gone! So stock moves here!

After copper or brass? They have it. Even fake flowers and delft coasters.

And when you're finally tired of shopping, you can pop over the road for a meal at the local bistro/cafe/restaurant...

When you do come and visit - let me know if you want to see this. In my opinion it's worth a visit event though it's 1.5 hours away. But there's plenty of other things to see and do on the way, so you can make a whole day of it.

Thanks to Bron who straightened the last image up for me.  I was going to blame it on the 1929 earthquake!  And here I thought I was the one who is detailed!