Easter 2008

in Bike Ride, Nelson, New ZealandComments Off on Easter 2008


For several weeks from February to early April we both spent time back in New Zealand…


Based at Lake Rotoiti for the most of it, it was family time for us both…


a wedding…  (and of course a funeral…)



some birthdays; calling around making family visits, -and ‘shootin’ the southwesterly breeze’ at the Speargrass Farm…


…looking at the regeneration of growth on Mt Robert over the 50 years or so since the last fire and debating the logic of the new carbon credits system… it implies that it’s better to grow young pines than have established beech forest (?)


Thankfully sub-alpine beech like this on the St Arnaud Range is safe, as part of the National Park


and the ‘Mainland Island’ sanctuary established there some years ago has encouraged the return of many ground species of plant and bird life




such as the friendly little South Island Robin. It’s pleasing to see the progress they’ve made in restoring the environment over the years, let’s hope that the recently reintroduced Kiwis continue to breed.

But the Park still has it’s unsolved problems. Among so many other unwanted species introduced from the Northern Hemisphere, now largely under control in the sanctuary, there’s recently developed a real concern about the rapid increase in the Fly Agaric, or Amanita Muscaria, that spotted epitome of toadstools, beautiful as it is, it is now a worry as it spreads from the exotic pine forests into the native beech.



and 2008 was a bumper year for the fungus in the park, there were many magnificent specimens!


It’s always a good to return to NZ and the almost unspoiled environment, but particularly to ‘the Lake’, for the mountains, blue skies, clean water and clear, cool fresh air. Coming from South East Asia, it couldn’t be any more different! ( but I tell a lie with my photograph here, although from Singapore it might have felt like it was going to at times, it didn’t really snow in March, that was from a previous trip in August 2007)


I always have to get out into the mountains for my ‘fix’, -is it soul-restoring? -well, it’s good for me, anyway!



it can’t be healthy to always live at sea level


-though would I be so ardent as to take a bath in this mountain tarn??

There was work to be done at the lake too, the house needed some painting, but the weather was kind; it was possible to fit that in and still have time for cycling…




(call me what? – cheap-skate yachtie? -because I’m not prepared to pay for my photos?)
There was the Rainbow Race, 104 km of mountain-biking on a 4 wheel drive road through the mountains from St Arnaud to Hamner




and ‘Le Race’, 100 km on a road bike over a hilly course



around the Port Hills from Christchurch, to the still quite French colonial town of Akaroa.



with its preserved early architecture and sheltered harbour.



(and there at the dock was ‘Regardless’, -not a sister, -but a near cousin of Quo Vadis, another Lidgard design, there’s a strong family resemblance…)

Then came the Easter break with it’s great weather and it gave us a great few days cycling ‘down south’, we didn’t have time to cycle all the way, but we did ride the best bits.


At Oamaru there weren’t many penguins in the colony, but there were thousands of shags


roosting on the old dock by the small boat harbour. It was a warm and peaceful evening…


-but not for long. While we were there, a cold southwest change came over, raising a fierce dust storm through the town…


We rode over the hill road from Dunback via Macraes Flat to Hyde then on to Ranfurly


and had 2 nights at Arthur’s Point near Queenstown.


The road along Lake Wakatipu is hilly, with large ‘undulations’




but has great views up to Glenorchy


where Mt Earnslaw is dominant.


We took to our feet to climb Ben Lomond just behind Queenstown,


for some more perfect views on a perfect day;


distant Mt Aspiring


the Skipper’s Canyon


Mt Christina (?) over near Milford Sound


and the source of the Kawerau River, at the control gates down in Frankton.



It’s a steady and steep climb on a road bike over the Crown Range from Arrowtown,


starting with the zag-zags onto Crown Terrace


leaving the opulence of the exclusive resorts and golf courses far below


then a climb further up over the range ‘proper’,


Queenstown and the blue water of the river and lake right in the distance; Ben Lomond the high point to the right.
Over the range is the Cardrona Valley and a chance for a great downhill glide, to the once almost ghost-town of Cardrona






but now rejuvenated as a result of a beer advertisement and the development of a nearby ski-field.



At the bottom of the valley it opens out to Wanaka




and on a perfect late summers day like this, picture postcard views during lunch at the Lake.


Sadly, in the interest of time, we had to drive from there, over the Lindis Pass


into the McKenzie country,


Lake Pukaki


and one of those rare, perfectly clear views of Mt Cook.

As the time to return to Quo Vadis drew near, I took the ferry back to Wellington, the weather was holding, it was one of those magical days in Tory Channel



bringing back memories of great sailing holidays in the Marlborough Sounds


and then at Paremata there was Mana Island. It’s one of those not so common days, with light breeze, little cloud, the island clear and the hills of the Sounds looking temptingly close, (reminding me of those working days when I had to look at this same view, -chained to an appointment book!)

As the weather clears after a southerly change the views from the Pauatahanui Hills are at their best; an ideal time for a late afternoon MTB ride to


Boulder Hill in Belmont Regional Park where you can see out over Mana Island, the Sounds and Stephen’s Island clear right in the very distance;


and from Battle Hill, there’s the Paremata Inlet, Cook Strait, distant Wairau Valley and to the left, very far away, the summit of Mt Tapaenuku.

The visibility is amazing and after a month of perfect weather, on an evening like that, the day before I return to Asia; I pause to wonder why?

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