Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Groper Fishing, Marlborough Sounds.

My World.
Groper Fishing
Erle went out groper fishing in the Marlborough Sounds, with his fishing club.
12 Men had a great day out on the open ocean in quite rough rolling seas.
They managed to catch 4 reasonable sized Groper on a long line, along with assorted other species. They also caught the quota of Blue Cod on their rods, so they came came home with a good lot of lovely fresh fish.
The photo shows the long line being pulled in, on to the boats deck.
Erle took the photo for me.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hawks Crag, Buller River, Westport.

Do have a look at other wonderful skies at this Meme.
Hawks Crag and the Buller River.
The main highway in and out of Westport skirts along the Buller River right from the source at Lake Rotoiti to the ocean at the town of Westport, the river gathers water and speed as it goes along, cutting its way through the rock walls of the Buller Gorge. At this Hawks Crag point there was nowhere to put a roadway when the early settlers were putting in a means of transporting stores and people and coal. The only possible way was to chip away the solid living rock to allow a coach and 4 horses to negotiate around this bend. They had plenty of coal miners capable of doing this tunneling work. The road here is still only just wide enough to allow a coach and four horses, it is low and narrow with traffic lights at either end for safety allowing only one way traffic at a time around this big bend. It is quite unique.
The Buller is a beautiful river that is used by kayakers and white water rafting, as well as for trout fishing.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, Westport.

Punakaiki pancake Rocks New Zealand.
We visited the Punakaiki Pancake rocks to watch the sea spurt up high in the air through the blowhole known as the chimney, but we miss judged the tides and arrived 3hours after the high tide. There was a huge rough sea running so we thought we still might be lucky enough to catch the spray.We were surprised to find entry was still free to walk to the pancake rocks, it is many years since either of us had visited before. The walk to the rocks is very nice in itself, the path is very well tended and is completely wheelchair friendly to the main blowhole, chimney, you walk through lots of Flax growing all the way to the rocks so it is quite
Stone steps
sheltered from the

winds.The rocks do indeed look rather like a huge stack of pancakes all piled up together, the huge raging seas pound into the rocks gradually eroding the softer parts of the rocks and causing the pancake effect.

Even though we were 3 hours too late for the main show of the blowholes because of the high seas we were lucky enough to sea a small amount of spray shoot out of the chimney rather like smoke, it was still impressive but we didn't get soaked by the spray as we probably would have at high tide! After the Chimney the path is no longer wheelchair friendly as there are some steep stone stairs to go down, these are very impressive too. The path winds around past other stacks of pancake rocks and boiling seas before we made the return walk back to the cafes, this part of the walk is quite different as you wander through quite dense forest trees and ferns and lots of native birds.We joined the masses of people from all the bus tours, as one of the cafes for a
delightful lunch, not cheap, but very nice.

It was also nice listening to all the foreign tourists talking about how much they had enjoyed the area, I just love being with happy travelers. This area was and still is very important to the Maoris who used it for the gathering of sea food of which there is a plentiful supply. The Maoris of old apparently used to put themselves at enormous danger by climbing down the high rocks on plaited vines to get to places where they were able to catch the fish. I know that I couldn't do that even with good solid strong ropes, let alone flimsy easily broken vines!We didn't stay at Punakaiki, but drove back to Carter's Beach Motor Camp where we had left our caravan

Friday, March 12, 2010

Carter's beach Westport.

Sky Watch Friday.
Heavy seas raging into Carter's Beach pound the shore under a sky that was blue on one side and grey and misty on the other. Soon rain was falling so we didn't linger long.
Carter's Beach, only about 6 kms from Westport, is a nice sandy beach and very popular for swimming and other activities on a good day.
Do check out lots of other skies from all around the globe, at the Sky Watch Meme.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Westport and the historical Coal Mines

My World for this week is adventures at the old Coal Mines, do check out other peoples adventures.

After we had set up the caravan in the Westport Camping Ground, in a nice place that would get lots of morning sun but6 not too much late afternoon sun plus still being close to the facilities, and been welcomed by, this time a friendly but equally cheeky Weka, we headed into the town of Westport.

he town is very ‘olde worlde’ the buildings are mainly in a colonial style, with big high false fronts with lots of fancy concrete work on them, almost all shops are on the one long main street that leads down to the wharves, so we ended up at the wharf watching a Tuna Boat unloading the catch of Albacore Tuna. The Skipper was looking very pleased with himself, as well he should be, we were told by a fishery worker that his catch would be worth about $10,000 NZ. A great deal of money for a hole of fish! Apart from this skipper and his boat the wharf was empty, all the other boats still out trying to catch Tuna, which is worth so very much on the Japanese market.

Westport was first bui
lt as a gold mining town, but quickly became a coal mining town, it still produces New Zealand’s only bituminous coal, though not so much now as it used to.
Next day we decided to head out to Granity a small town 30 miles further up the coast, as we wished to find out about the old coal mining activities in the district. We first visited the only old Pub still operating in the town, The Big Fish it is now known as but I think it has had many names over the years, and is on its last legs now. We decided not to have a drink but instead amused the bar tended by buying a couple of Chocolate fish to nibble!
We next ch
ose to drive up to Millerton Mine, it has been operating since about 1880, there is a wonderful new road, built in 2006, up to the still operating mine, modern machinery has hacked a cutting though the solid multi coloured rock to replace the very narrow unsealed steep mountain road.

mine was working in a small capacity, but we could not enter past the sentry on the gate. We read the sign of info and found that there had been 500 people living on the hillside behind us where now only bush and scrub existed. Apparently when the miners lost their jobs or no longer needed to live there, they just dismantled their houses and carried them into Westport and reassembled them again.

I looked up the hillside and saw a lone oak tree and a patch of orange flowers, so I clambered high up the hill to discover there was a large clump of naturalised Orange Tiger Lilies of a type I have never seen before, these were not double but triple flowers and some of them were actually quadruple layers of petals, very pretty, so I quickly collected some seed to take home and try to grow and climbed back down, sadly I did not take my camera up the hill so no photo of them.

Then, on to Stockton Mine, this mine has been working since 1870 and is an open cast bituminous coal mine which also produces some electricity, but we didn’t see any of that we just checked out the old ruins of an old bath house built for the mines to clean the black coal of themselves after their mining work. It is a huge concrete building with dozens of small cubicles off a large room, completely in ruins now, with the old concrete bathes next to the house, I gather the water was heated by coal furnaces for the men as there are rail tracks and small coal trolley carts still there plus a small tunnel entrance to bring the coal down to the baths.

There is a small museum but it really only has a few photos of the old days. Its fun to wander a
round on foot at the old settlement and there is a lovely rushing stream that was used during the mining and also for generation of electricity now.

Our next and last stop was to Dennison Mine, the most interesting of all the West Coast coalmines. The mine with all its miners lived up on top of a mountain plateau which was very difficult to get to and to get the coal out from, so the Denniston incline was built, called by all who knew it as the eighth wonder of the world it is truly an outstanding engineering achievement.

The incline
was built in the 1880s, it cuts a swath down the mountainside, it’s a rail system to bring down coal wagons on rails. The weight of the full, 12 ton, wagon of coal going down pulled up an empty wagon, by a steel rope, on rails that went almost vertically up and down the mountainside at speeds of 80km an hour. The incline was as steep as 1 in 69ft which is steepish!
The wagons had a strong braking system, but sometimes it failed and the full wagon would come hurtling down right on top of the workers who were emptying the previous wagons, it was a very dangerous job, many lives were lost.

The coal was so valuable at the time it continued to run until 1997. Then coal was brought out by an aerial monorail, which we didn’t see. There are some small relics and the last old wagon, still at the base of the incline where we visited, but not much more. The bush surroundings contained lots of pieces of iron that had presumably fallen down from the incline; I imagine there would be plenty of loose coal there too.
Some of the incline was buried during an earthquake only a year after it had been closed.

We called into an old miner’s cemetery at the base of the mountain and found so very many graves where miners either died in their 20s, and ladies too either died in their 20s of childbirth, or lived to a ripe old age of 70 – 80. A very hard life but it was their way of life.
After all the mine visits we just had to find a good old Coaster Pub at The Pines and enjoy a cool drink and a chat with the locals.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Sheep Country

Sky watch this week is scenery along the drive to Westport, through sheep and cattle farms and lots of hills,

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Lake Rotoiti

Lake Rotoiti, My World for this week. Check out the other great places around the World
For my birthday we took the caravan away to Westport on the West Coast of South Island for a weeks holiday.
Our first night was spent at the beautiful Lake Rotoiti, a very deep cold mountain lake that is much used for speed boat racing and other water sports. The Lake is about 115 Km from Picton where we live, and is about halfway between Picton and Westport our ultimate destination.

We were greeted by a cheeky little Bush Robin, a bird seldom seen as it only lives in the Beech forest of which there is plenty around the lake. Our camp site was number 21 same as my birthday! The birds are all banded as they are carefully managed, trying to breed more of these lovely friendly birds.

There were many more camper vans both large and small like this one at the camp, all the foreign tourists like camper vans because they can travel at will and stay just anywhere around the country; freedom!

We walked down to the lakes edge and watched the people swimming near the jetty and thought of joining them, but decided against doing so. Glad we did cause when we returned at dusk we stood on the little jetty and watched the giant black eels swimming just where the swimmers had been, there were many more than I managed to photograph, the ducks and swans were not worried by the eels at all.

I went for a lovely cool bush walk among the ferns and native trees, I could hear lots of birds singing but didn't see many. We ae so lucky in NZ as we have no dangerous animals in our forests, walking is very safe and peaceful.
A lovely restful start for our weeks holiday.