Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rakiura Great Walk - Stewart Island

After the conference a few of us took the opportunity to explore Stewart Island a little more. We had hoped to fly over to the west coast, which is well known for having lots of kiwis, but the weather was too foul to fly.

The team - Alan, Shane, Kareen, Helen and Dave

So instead we took a water taxi, north along the more sheltered east coast and then walked the Rakiura Great Walk.

Pushing the water taxi off Bungaree Beach

Bungaree Hut, right on the beach

Walking along the beach to the track

The weather was pretty interesting.... lots of little hail storms passing through, followed by sunny spells. At least the hail mostly just bounces off and you don't get soaking wet. However it does eventually melt - so the track was pretty wet and muddy in places. Stewart Island is well known for mud, so some of us just embraced it - while others tried to avoid it by climbing around the track!

Hail collected in the centre of the ferns

Wet and muddy track

We walked from Bungaree Hut to Port William. We got to the hut mid afternoon and spend the rest of the day reading books in front of the fire in the hut, trying to fish of the pier and drinking lots of tea.

Shane and Kareen trying to fish off the landing dock - thankfully we brought plenty of food and didn't have to rely on them catching anything!

Sitting in the hut drinking tea and playing cards, billies heading up on the fire for the next round of tea!

The next day we walked to North Arm hut. The route took us through areas of forest that had been logged for the large Rimu and other trees. There were lots of evidence of the historical logging - the old rail way tracks, the log haulers, areas of forest with very few large trees and lots of new growth.

Log haulers left behind in the forest

North Arm of Patterson Inlet - the view from the hut

After 3 nights in huts we walked back to civilisation, well showers and the pub in Oban. The lovely lady who looked after the bach we were staying at in Oban had put on the fire for us....
We had a great time in Stewart Island. It is a beautiful place and a great escape from everyday stresses.

Rainbow over Halfmoon Bay with Oban in the background

Stewart Island

After Queenstown Aaron dropped me off in Bluff to catch the ferry over to Stewart Island for the NZ Marine Sciences conference. Aaron then headed home.

Bluff... the end of the South Island of New Zealand

Stewart Island is just off the south island of New Zealand and despite having been past it several times on the ship it was my first visit to the island. Fortunately the ferry trip across Foveaux Strait was very calm.

A calm Foveaux Strait with Stewart Island in the distance

The conference was in Oban, the very small township on Stewart Island. As it is mid-winter there were very few tourists around and only the pub and small shop were open. The conference was in the community centre with the local Lion's club doing all the catering and looking after us. Quite a few of the community members even came to several of the talks about the local marine history and the tagging and tracking of Great White Sharks around Stewart Island - many of the sharks are named after the locals who had helped with the work and they came to see where their shark had gone on its winter holidays! Usually somewhere tropical like Fiji, Tonga, Great Barrier Reef.

Oban the little township on Stewart Island

There were several field trips out to some of the reserves. I went out to Ulva Island - a local bird and marine reserve. The water was very, very clear... lots of the marine biologists went diving and snorkelling as the visibility was so good - after hearing about the Great White Sharks I wasn't so brave.

Clear waters of Patterson Inlet

There were lots of birds on Ulva island - I saw my first Saddleback

An inquisitive robin

It was a very good, social conference in a beautiful location with friendly, interested locals.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Queenstown Holiday - Part 3

After a couple of days on the Routeburn track we had a day off checking out the famous bungy jump from the old bridge over the Kawrau River, and wine and food tasting. This coincided with the only foggy day of the week. The next day the weather cleared again and we headed up the cable car up Ben Lomond that overlooks Queenstown.

View from the top of the cable car of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables in the background

From the top of the cable we started walking up Ben Lomond. However after a late start in the morning we were running out of time and Aaron desperately wanted to go on the luges - to relive his last visit to Queenstown with Dave Osmond.

Ben Lomond

Aaron on his luge about to race Helen down the track.... he won - but then gravity was on his side!

Riding the alpine slides

Our final day we headed up the otherside of the valley, towards Coronet Peak Ski fields and also where there are quite a few mountain bike tracks that Aaron wanted to check out for when he goes back in summer with his bike!

Coronet Peak ski fields - a few pathetic patches of man made snow in a sea of brown hills!

Skippers Canyon and the Alps

The Shotover River where lots of the jet boats go up and down the canyon.

So lots of walking, but also lots of relaxing - it was a great week away.