Monday, April 30, 2012

End of the journey: Blenheim to Christchurch

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On our last full day in NZ, when we set out to drive to Christchurch and our flight home, the sun was still shining and the poplars were still glowing.


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The small town of Seddon features a joint single-lane road-rail bridge spanning the Awatere River, which was in service until 2007, when a new road bridge replaced the road bridge component. The railway line is still in use on the upper level of the old historic bridge.


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The saltworks at Lake Grassmere near Seddon provides about half of NZ’s salt requirements.

Seawater from the Pacific Ocean is pumped into Lake Grassmere.  Evaporation from sun and wind occurs during summer, then the very salty water is pumped into shallow crystallisation ponds.  As salinity increases, crystallised salt forms and is extracted.


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The famous pink to purple colour of the crystallisation ponds is caused by natural microscopic green algae that change to pink in the high salt concentration. There are also small pink shrimps in the water that thrive in this salty environment.  It has been suggested that the same phenomena gives the Red Sea its name.

While there would have been better viewpoints for photographing the pink water, my driver was becoming a little twitchy about the distance between us and Christchurch (quite a lot) compared with the distance we had travelled so far (not much) so I made do with this rather narrow strip of pink water and off we set again.



We drove along yet more picturesque road, with the Pacific Ocean on our left…..



….. and rugged mountain ranges on our right.



Just north of the seaside town of Kaikoura we stopped to watch some NZ fur seals sunbathing on the rocks. 

The name Kaikoura means to eat crayfish, and a couple of young men there were preparing to go diving for crayfish, as they said they were too expensive for them to buy.  They said they were permitted to catch six each per day, and were hoping to do that.  They also told us the cheapest place to buy crayfish was at some caravans a bit further along the road.  We stopped there, but the crayfish there ranged from $49 - $80 each, so we decided they were too expensive for us as well.


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The young men told us where to find some seal pups.


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Under Mum’s watchful eye.


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They were so cute!



We had a picnic lunch in Kaikoura (which did not include crayfish) with the ocean in front of us…..


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….. and snow-capped mountains behind us.


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It was very restful watching the waves breaking onto the rocks right beside us.



A little further south, I found a picture for the Flickr “Minimalist” theme for the week.


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The road – and a railway line - followed the sea, but could be quite rugged in places, with frequent tunnels through the steep rocks.



Then we headed for the hills again.


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We continued to see poplars…..


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….. and lakes…..



….. and mountains.

This was the last picture I took on our NZ holiday.  Navigating took over from photography as we entered Christchurch, and we were surprised at how very busy the traffic was.  By the time we negotiated the traffic to our motel, we were happy to have dinner and call it a night after such a beautiful day.

Next morning we set off early for the airport – through heavy rain!  We couldn’t believe how lucky we had been to have had such glorious weather for most of our 17 days!

Thank you Pat for such excellent planning, safe driving and endless patience while I took endless pictures.  It has been a wonderful holiday.

Love, Jan.

Marlborough Wineries

We set out to explore the Marlborough Wine Trail – my first driving shift, so Pat could be the designated taster.
Once again, we were impressed by the beauty of the region, in all its glowing autumn colours and brilliant blue skies, and also by how few other people there were on the wine trail.

Hunter’s Winery.

Now there’s an attractive garage, Hunter’s Winery.

Garden restaurant, Hunter’s Winery.

We visited – and spent at – the Makana Chocolate Factory.

Hans Herzog garden restaurant, where we really enjoyed a world–class leisurely lunch.

Cottage accommodation, Hans Herzog Winery.
We noticed a few eucalypts in NZ, where they seem to grow very well.

Mountain view, Hans Herzog Winery.

Vineyard view, Hans Herzog Winery.

On the way to Villa Maria.

Villa Maria.

Villa Maria.

Villa Maria.

Villa Maria.

Near Villa Maria.
The cellar door wines were very nice but very expensive, so we didn’t buy any.  But we certainly enjoyed driving around having a look.

We concluded our exploration with a drive out to Cloudy Bay (the geographical feature, not the winery this time), on the stark and windswept Pacific coast.

Cloudy Bay.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

ANZAC Day at Blenheim, NZ.


We were in Blenheim (pronounced Blenem) for ANZAC Day, so decided to attend the ANZAC ceremony there.

The ceremony was normally held at the town War Memorial Clock Tower in Seymour Square, just opposite our hotel.


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However, since an earthquake last December, the 16 metre structure was considered to be an earthquake risk and cordoned off. 



This year, the ANZAC ceremony was held in the quadrangle of the local school.


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Everyone took up their positions around the edges of the quadrangle under the autumn trees, and the parade came in and did a circuit of the quadrangle.



The local pipe band led the parade.  Every ANZAC Day, I renew my commitment to learn the bagpipes.  Will this be the year?  I know Pat can’t wait.


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From my vantage point under this beautiful tree, I had a great view.


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There was also the local brass band.



They had to do a bit of a tight turn.



Woodbourne, 8km west of Blenheim, is the NZ’s only Air Force base, so there was a very smart contingent from there.



A very well-behaved police dog also had a special place in the parade.  The quadrangle was quite full by the time the bands, service personnel, youth groups, air force, police and general public were all assembled.

The service was very sincere and very moving.  A young girl from the local high school beautifully led the singing of both God Defend New Zealand and Advance Australia Fair,  which I thought was wonderful.  I can’t recall ever having heard the NZ national anthem sung at any of the many Australian ANZAC services I have attended.  God Save the Queen was also sung.  I can’t remember when I last heard that sung in Australia.

Another student read from Isaiah the passage which includes “They will hammer their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.”  (Isaiah 2:4) which I don’t recall having heard at an ANZAC service either, and which is so very appropriate.


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During the laying of the wreathes – quite a lengthy affair – both bands played.


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I don’t think this little boy, seated right behind the pipe band, was an avid fan of the bagpipes.

Queen Charlotte Drive: Picton to Havelock


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Yet another beautiful day, and we set out on the famously picturesque and winding Queen Charlotte Drive, which has been described as “like cruising the Marlborough Sounds without a boat.”



Goodbye to Picton.



In the next bay, Shakespeare Bay, logs were being loaded.



One stunning water view after another.



Pat on the jetty at Grove Arm.  The water was so clear!



Grove Arm.



We stopped at Cullen Point to walk to the lookout, which was actually further from the road than the map suggested…..



Pat admiring the Cullen Point lookout view of Pelorus Sound from the very welcome bench at the end of the steep track.



Pelorus Sound, from the Cullen Point lookout.



Looking towards Havelock (the Green Shelled Mussel capital of the world!) from the Cullen Point lookout.






We continued on past Havelock to the Marlborough region wineries.

This is the garden of the Cloudy Bay Winery.



Allan Scott Winery.



Garden restaurant of the St Clair Winery.



We concluded our morning with a most enjoyable lunch at the St Clair Winery.

24th April 2012.