Sunday, September 15, 2019

To Westport

Since we left you we've done a bit of caving...

...and eaten duck confit in our wee caravan, stretching our legs outside every day. Spring is in semi-full flourish here, the light in the evening a happy surprise.

Yesterday we left the splendid Kohaihai DOC site and drove to Carter's Beach outside Westport for some food shopping, laundry, and other essentials before the next push north. Here's the Westport civic building, built 1938-1940.

1080 is poison used to kill possums and other non-native rodents 
We see "ban 1080" signs all over the South Island. A hunter of red deer in Glenorchy bent my ear for half and hour describing what it was like to watch a red deer die a painful and slow death after eating 1080. It's absolutely lethal to dogs.

That site also attributes this to the US EPA: "Aerial application of 1080 poison is banned in the U.S. due to the extreme hazard to human health and to the environment" (difficult to believe, especially now that we're rolling back clean water standards).

Is 1080 saving the environment or destroying it? The controversial poison is back in the spotlight after deer died following an air drop operation of 1080 targeting possums. Up to 345 red deer are feared to have been killed after the drop at Molesworth Station in the South Island last October.

Nikau palm walk at Kohaihai DOC site

We spooned up a flavorful seafood chowder tonight at a small cafe just five blocks from our campground.

The glass enclosure enabled us to sit outside in the blazing late-afternoon sun without feeling the effects of the stiff breeze off the water.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Three-minute power te reo Māori lesson: Five words every Kiwi should know

Via Stuff...
You don't need to learn how to speak perfect, formal te reo Māori to help normalise the language of Aotearoa - you can do it one word at a time.

(Click here to view video if reading in email.)

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Nature-Built World

We are privileged to be exploring this unbuilt environment. How many such places remain in our world?

We go to sleep to the thundering waves and the song of the night birds. Here's afternoon light.

Tarakihi for first meal, with cauliflower and red pepper.

Then we walked a few hours, into Kahurangi National Park (NZ's second-largest national park) via the Heaphy Track, which takes you all the way over the mountains to Golden Bay, or vice versa.

Our destination: Scotts Beach and back.

The bridge over the Kohaihai River

The complex landforms of Kahurangi National Park attract fossil hunters, cavers and anyone with a fascination for geology. On the surface, fluted rock, arches, sinkholes, shafts and disappearing/reappearing streams give the landscape exceptional character. New Zealand’s oldest fossil – 540 million years old – was found in the park. Mount Owen and Mount Arthur are the park's 'marble mountains'. Within these mountains, water has dissolved the marble to create extensive cave systems.
There are 18 species of native New Zealand birds living in the park. While walking, visitors will be serenaded by bellbirds, tui and sociable South Island Robins. Several species of native land snail may also be encountered. These giant snails are carnivorous, feeding at night on worms that grow up to a metre long. If you go caving, keep an eye out for the Kahurangi Cave Spider, one of the world's rarest, which has a leg span of up to 12 centimetres.

Walking in NZ is a deep pleasure, in part because there are no threats--no bears, snakes, spiders, or bison. On the other hand, I was in such a deep contemplative place that a guy walking his mountain bike up behind me frightened the daylights out of me.

The Heaphy Track is open to bikes during winter and spring.

Resting my feet (I need new shoes).

Scotts Beach, one hour (more like 1.5 for us because who wants to rush) into the Heaphy Track, with four more to go until you reach the first overnight hut if you're doing the full walk.

There are countless miles of uninterrupted beach on this west coast.

Back at the campground with a new friend. Despite the bruised skies, we've had gentle weather here, in the 50s and 60s, ideal for walking.

We've seen just about all of this outsized west coast, basking in its beauty and walking its shores from its southern tip (south of Haast) up to this northernmost car-accessible point. Sea level rise is eroding vast portions of the coastline and we're grateful to have visited it again (click here to view if reading in email).

Monday, September 9, 2019

Kohaihai Campground: Be Still My Heart

Extraordinarily beautiful and remote, Kohaihai is a jaunt up the beach road from Karamea, where we food shopped this morning.

Nearing the campground, you can see what NZ looks like in its raw state. Kahurangi National Park is wilderness perfection.
The campground sits precisely between the park and the Tasman Sea, many shades of blue under a clear sky.

The Kohaihai River empties into the Tasman here.

Art found a perfect parking place. See the caravan at about 9 o'clock, poised between mountain and water? In this Department of Conservation campsite, you just pull in and park up (as they say here) anywhere.

In the Maori language, Kahurangi means 'treasured possession', a clue to the attractions of New Zealand's second largest national park. Within its boundaries lie some of the oldest rocks, strangest plants and rarest birds in the country.

While much of the park is untracked wilderness, other areas are laced with a network of walking tracks that allow you to explore high plateaux and coastal palm forests. The Heaphy Track is the park’s most famous and accessible treasure, followed by more than 4000 walkers each year. A ‘Great Walk’ by every definition, the track covers 78km of subtropical rainforest, tussock high country, river valley and coast. For hundreds of years the route was used by local Maori tribes on their way to the pounamu (greenstone) resources of the west coast.

We can't wait to get into the green and walk part of the Heaphy Track.

 But for now the beach beckons...

Postcards From LIttle Wanganui

On a morning rich in contrast under a rising sun, we walked the Little Wanganui River.

Curious exclamation point clouds over that mountain.

The river leads to the Tasman Sea just a few blocks west of where we're staying, but today we couldn't find a way onto its sands.

One of the benefits of staying at the Little Wanganui Hotel campsite: flat whites on offer all day.

Established in 1958.
The Little Wanganui Hotel is nestled in between the lush green hills of the Kahurangi National park and the sandy beaches of the West coast, on the South Island of New Zealand. The Hotel is situated next to one of the country’s best white baiting rivers. Little Wanganui is a prime place for anyone who loves the outdoors or is needing a relaxing break in the beautifully quiet surroundings.

Whose caravan is that back there with the moon roof up?