Purakaunui Falls Revisited
Some time ago I posted an image of the Purakaunui Falls that I took on a trip to the Catlins in the Southland region of the South Island of New Zealand. That image was taken on my second visit to the falls, the first visit being when in the early 1980s we took our (then) three young sons on a touring holiday of the South Island. Both visits were prompted by a photograph we had seen of the falls that appeared in a calendar, I think, which was taken by the well known New Zealand landscape and nature photographer Craig Potton. The striking thing to me back then was how Craig had captured a silky looking waterfall in his image. At that time I had no idea how he had made the image, but over the years I too learned how it is done.
Since that first post I have been wanting to revisit the image and render it differently, and maybe add another view of the falls as well. So, here is take two.
Let’s get it out up front. Some people are masochists; either that, or plain stupid (or more kindly – very determined)!
We had heard of the famous “Luxmore Grunt” from friends who do lots of walking whenever they are on holiday. I wouldn’t call them serious hikers (or trampers, as they are commonly known in New Zealand), but keen day-walkers. They keep a book listing all their completed walks, which they respectfully call their “Alzheimers Book” in case they forget which walks they’ve done.
The “Luxmore Grunt” is a mountain running event sponsored by the Asics sports shoe company and is run each year in December. The full race runs over the complete 60 km of the Kepler Track (another of New Zealand’s “Great Walks”), a circuit that starts and ends at the control gates outlet of Lake Te Anau. Part of the track between Brod Bay on the lake shore and the Department of Conservation operated Luxmore Hut is normally a 4 1/2 hour, 8.5 km one way walk, and part of that rises from lake level (210 meters) to the hut at 1085 meters, the first 3 1/2 hours of which is steeply uphill. The course record for the full 60 km Kepler Challenge is 4:37:41 for men, and 5:23:34 for women! For the Luxmore Grunt from the control gates to Luxmore Hut and back (27 km) is 1:52:30 for men, and 2:04:18 for women!
With only part of this knowledge available we set out to walk the return trip to Luxmore Hut, on the day after dropping our son and his wife at the start of the Routburn Track. Starting at the Lake Te Anau control gates at 9.45 am we thought we had plenty of time to complete the walk, given the long evenings experienced in this part of the country during summer.
Following the lake shore we made our way to Brod Bay which, according to the walking guide was a gentle hour and a half walk through forest of mountain and red beech. The problem when two people walk with cameras is that time gets stretched out – one and a half hours turned into two.
Knowing we had a steep climb ahead of us, we stopped for an early lunch to fuel us for the next stage of the walk. With energy levels duly topped up we set out on the climb, gentle at first, but then into an unrelenting 750 vertical meter grind. About one third of the way into the climb we glimpsed a view of the Te Anau township across the lake through the trees.
Onwards and upwards for another hour we reached a limestone bluff, a suggested lunch stop in the walking guide. Having already eaten lunch, we stopped anyway for a drink and some trail mix. Hikers making the downward journey informed us there was still another hour before the track cleared the treeline, so back into the grind we trudged.
Finally, four and a half hours after leaving the car we emerged from the forest onto alpine meadow-land. The immediate reaction was one of relief. After catching breath the scenery came into focus.
There before us were panoramic views of the Te Anau Basin, Takitimu Mountains, and the Snowdon and Earl Mountains. We never did reach Luxmore Hut. It was another 45 minutes further up the hill. That didn’t really matter as we achieved what we set out to do, which was to get a high alpine view of the lake, township, and surrounding mountains.
Being late in the afternoon we needed to commence our return journey after only a short rest.
Long stretches of downhill walking are very tiring. After a long day of walking legs turn to jelly. It was tempting to stop on reaching Brod Bay, but we were still ninety minutes away from the car. Switching to auto-pilot and brains into neutral we stumbled our way to the car park and collapsed into the car, ten and a half hours after setting out. Back to the motel we drove, dived into a hot bath, grabbed some food for a quick dinner and fell into bed, exhausted!
The Luxmore Grunt had lived up to its reputation.
(Click on images for a larger view)
I’ve been searching back catalogues of images as recently I haven’t had much opportunity to shoot new ones. Packing up a house ready for a move has rather taken over my time in the past two weeks. However, in a bit of space in my schedule today I found some images taken on an afternoon trip to Aramoana in August last year while filling in time between hospital visits with my wife after her accident.
The return journey brought me back through Port Chalmers, the principal port for the City of Dunedin. The Port Chalmers township consists of a short strip of low-rise shops, offices and pubs on the main road that leads to the port. It has that gritty feel to it which many port areas seem to acquire. By the time I drove back through the town my stomach was telling me it was time to stop and find something to eat. The only option available was the grandly named Port Royale Cafe situated in a narrow three story building, the window of which was emblazoned with the seal of “Musseled Espresso”.
This visit proved that one shouldn’t judge an establishment by it’s surroundings. Inside the cafe exuded a comfortable “lived-in” ambiance with a modern cafe overlay. Even at 4.oo pm the food selection was still good, and the coffee very acceptable. In one corner a port worker sipped his coffee while reading the newspaper, in another a group of local ladies chatted around a table near the window.
I liked the look and feel of the place, and it certainly set me up for the next hospital visit.
After leaving the rain behind us at Naseby the day before we drove directly to Wanaka to resume our holiday that was interrupted in August by my wife taking an unexpected trip to hospital in a rescue helicopter. We had two days still available to us that had already been paid for, which was the whole reason for this trip.
The next day dawned beautifully fine so we decided to take another drive up the western side of Lake Wanaka and then follow the west branch of the Matukituki River to the end of the road at Raspberry Flat, some 50 km from Wanaka. We visited Raspberry Flat last year while taking a day off from skiing but didn’t do any walking then as we had arrived late in the afternoon and did not have enough daylight available. The last 30 km of the road is unsealed, and the last 10 km section to the car park is a fine weather road only and subject to washouts. Sometimes flooded creeks can make it impassable.
The aim this day was to do the Rob Roy Valley Walk. Having proven herself at Mount Cook four days earlier, Valerie was determined to attempt this 3-4 hour return, 10 km walk.
From the Raspberry Creek car park it is about a 15 minute easy walk to a swing bridge across the West Matukituki River, downstream from the junction with Rob Roy Stream. These cable and plank swing bridges are common in New Zealand National Parks and provide safe crossing points on popular walking tracks over swift flowing mountain rivers. They can be a bit un-nerving for people who are afraid of heights and walking surfaces that move up and down, as well as sideways. Lateral cables tied to the river banks attempt to minimise the latter.
After the river crossing the track climbs steadily upstream to a lookout where the Rob Roy Stream can be seen flowing into the Matukituki River.
Shortly after the lookout there is an unstable slip on the track which has a steep drop-off that requires care when crossing. The track then follows the course of the Rob Roy Stream and climbs through a small gorge into beech forest, then into alpine vegetation at the head of the valley.
After emerging above the treeline you get the first uninterrupted views of the glacier and waterfalls for which it is famous.
Finally the track ends in an alpine meadow revealing the full glory of the Rob Roy Glacier and its seven waterfalls. Vast granite cliffs rise above the opposite side of the valley to the glacier which hangs above, seemingly ready to tumble over the edge at any minute. From high in the cliffs a succession of waterfalls cascade down the rock face to end in the Rob Roy Stream in the valley below. This walk is a favorite with several of our friends. It has now become a favorite for us as well.
After nearly an hour taking in the scale and beauty of our surroundings it was time to leave and return to the valley below. By this time the effort of the climb was beginning to catch up with Val and the descent was slow as she negotiated her way over the uneven track and across the muddy slip. Finally, almost seven hours after leaving the car park I towed a very weary walker back to the car. It had been a very memorable day which marked a second major milestone on the road to recovery.
Crossing the Danseys Pass between the Waitaki Valley in North Otago and the Maniatoto Basin in Central Otago has been on our list of things to do again since we last made the crossing in the early 1980s. That time we crossed from west to east. It was memorable for several reasons, one being the nature of the road, and the other being the accommodation we used (more about that later).
Our east-west journey over Danseys Pass in February began at the small village of Duntroon in the Waitaki Valley. For the first 12 km the road was sealed, but from that point onwards it turned to gravel for the rest of the journey over the Kakanui Mountains all the way to Naseby some 30 km further on.
At about 6 km into the journey, on a side road, are the Elephant Rocks.
Over 24 million years ago this whole area was under the sea. Whales and other marine life sunk into the soft sand which then rose to the surface during the last few million years. The result is an area of fossils and dramatic limestone outcrops which have been weathered into unusual shapes. This area is favored by climbers and is taken as a side-visit by people touring in the area.
On the day we journeyed over the Danseys Pass road it was raining. In order to get the above image I had to crouch behind a small umbrella to prevent the driving rain from soaking my camera. The rain persisted until we reached the summit and began our descent.
Danseys Pass Road narrows to almost a single lane not long after leaving the seal. For a while it follows the valley before rising on a twisting road through steep tussock covered hills.
Close to the summit at 935 metres the rain became heavier …
… and so too did our encounters with free-roaming sheep that often blocked our way.
The summit is reached at the 23 km mark and the road then descends steeply through Upper Kyeburn to the Maniatoto Basin.
Not far from Upper Kyeburn and the Danseys Pass Coaching Inn, still surrounded by steep hills is a lavender farm and gift shop. It was a surprising find in the middle of a high country sheep farming area, well off the normal tourist route.
Our destination for the day was the old coaching inn at Upper Kyburn. We had last stayed at the Danseys Pass Coaching Inn some 30 years ago. On that occasion it was also cold and raining. At that time one could fairly describe the inn as eclectic and in need of some TLC (tender loving care). One of the more unusual features then was that the road took a sharpish turn right at the corner of the inn. If one had a bedroom on that corner (as two of our sons did), it was rather disconcerting at night as felt as if cars approaching from up the hill would crash into the room before passing the front of the hotel to continue down the hill. Fortunately that feature has now been corrected.
Danseys Pass Inn has had a major makeover since we last stayed and it now operates as a boutique get-away hotel and a place to hold small conferences and functions. One of the nice things is that it has all been done in keeping with old character of the place and it makes for a pleasant overnight experience. A feature of the large lounge is a big open fireplace. This was very welcome as it was cold and wet outside, with the temperature dropping to 4 degrees C overnight (in the middle of summer!). The lawn you see in the foreground is where the road used to be.
Danseys Pass – the settlement – is located approximately halfway between the pass and Duntroon on the eastern side. Confusingly, however, the historic Danseys Pass Coaching Inn is located on the western side, at the locality known as Upper Kyeburn.
The next day we traveled on to Naseby, and then Wanaka.
Giant Marbles – Moeraki
I first saw the boulders at Moeraki in the year I left high school when I was hitch-hiking around the South Island of New Zealand with a school friend. The next time was when we were camping in the South Island with our three young sons in the early 1980s. Finally, some 30 years later we visited them again. Each time I see them they remind me of giant marbles.
The Moeraki Boulders are unusually large and spherical boulders lying along a stretch of Koekohe Beach on the Otago coast of New Zealand near the fishing village of Moeraki. They can be seen as isolated boulders, or as clusters of boulders within a limited stretch of beach where they have been protected in a Department of Conservation reserve. Wave erosion of mudstone cliffs at the edge of the beach frequently exposes embedded isolated boulders. Needless to say, they are a great attraction for the many visitors to the beach.
Koekohi Beach is a wonderful stretch of golden sand that allows for easy access to the boulders. They have been photographed from every angle, climbed on, posed on or with, closely inspected and marveled at. Individually or together , they make wonderful subjects.
This is another image in my series taken at dusk of the sand control poles at St Clair Beach, Dunedin. A previous image in the series can be seen here.
A Bit of China
Although Dunedin was founded by settlers who were predominantly Scottish in origin and is known as the “Edinburgh of the South”, another ethnic group that played a significant part in Otago history was the Chinese. As in most settler countries that experienced big “gold rushes” in the nineteenth century, people from China were part of the ethnic mix of people chasing the allure of the yellow metal. It was also common at that time for European settlers to have a deep suspicion, even hatred, of the Chinese migrants, who were segregated, taxed excessively, denied status in the community, and consigned to menial work. But these people were resourceful. They came from a place where they knew real hunger and hardship and were looking for the better life that a fortune in gold could provide. The gold was, as usual, harder to find that everyone had hoped and many of the gold-seekers moved on the the next big find to try their luck there. Like others in the gold rush communities, some of the Chinese settlers saw opportunities to grow and sell food, provide laundry facilities and trade in other goods needed by the miners. As time moved on attitudes changed and the Chinese settlers gained more rights and became integrated into the community, but still retained their cultural roots.
As a fitting, permanent, recognition of the Chinese people who first came to Otago during the 1860s gold rush and stayed to establish some of the city’s businesses, the Dunedin Chinese Garden Trust developed a yuanlin style garden in Dunedin which was opened in 2008. The garden has become an important attraction in Dunedin.
What do you do when there’s a sign that says “Keep off the Grass”? You don’t see many of them these days, but human nature (such as it is) causes many to take a quick look around, and then proceed to “walk ….”. That’s what made this sign so interesting. The Otago Settlers Museum is currently undergoing a major renovation and management clearly understands human nature. Characters depicted in the sign reflect the changing face of Dunedin, and its Scottish heritage.
The museum is housed in an Art Deco era building, formerly the Dunedin terminus for NZR Road Services buses which used to connect main city railway stations to the scattered small towns and settlements throughout the region. There was also an inter-city service that could be used as an alternative to travel by train. As passenger train services became less frequent, the bus services became more important. The terminal building was built in 1939 at the height of the period when NZRRS provided a vital link to small town and rural New Zealand. At that time car ownership was limited and roads were more primitive than they are today. That was the world of my childhood.
Today NZRRS has morphed into Intercity Coachlines which still continues some of the original services, as well as newer ones designed to meet modern requirements.
That’s what I thought too, until I re-read the sign! This rather alternative shop is at the northern or university end of George Street, the main shopping street in Dunedin. It’s here that the cheap eating restaurants are found. On Friday and Saturday nights you have to be in early at some of the more popular places before the student crowds hit town for a night out.
Settled by Scottish people, Dunedin is often referred to as the “Edinburgh of the South”. It gets pretty cold here in winter and students at Otago University wrap up in woolen scarfs, usually in the colours of the local provincial rugby team or their favourite beer brand. Whenever the Otago team plays at home the “scarfies” turn out in force to support them and make their presence known.
If there is one place that is inextricably linked to nearly every baby born in New Zealand, it is Karitane. In this small seaside settlement some 40 km north of Dunedin a pioneering pediatrician and psychiatrist named Sir Truby King, who worked at the nearby Seacliff Asylum, founded of the Royal New Zealand Plunket Society in 1907. This organisation established numerous neonatal institutes known throughout the country as Karitane Hospitals. Starting in Dunedin, Plunket (as the society is affectionately known) has been a positive and supporting network for generations of New Zealand parents. The ubiquitous “Plunket Book” that was (and still is) issued to new mothers provides a record of the early development of their newborn children. Various metrics are recorded and charted in these books to provide new mothers with an assurance that their babies are within the “normal” range of growth and development.
On a hill slightly to the south of the village of Karitane, above the Huirapa Marae (meeting place) at Puketeraki, stands the old wooden Huiterangiora Church and graveyard, with a view back over the beach and the small peninsula now known as the Huriwa Historic Reserve.
Ask any Kiwi (New Zealander) of a certain age about Aramoana and a veil of sadness will descend across their faces as they remember the tragic day in 1990 when a lone gunman shot dead 13 local people, then himself at this small fishing and holiday settlement. Memory of the tragedy will forever be part of the history of this place on a lovely sandy spit at the entrance to the Otago Harbour.
Aramoana is the home of some 26o permanent residents and is 27 km from the centre of the City of Dunedin, past Port Chalmers on the northern side of the harbour. At weekends and holiday times Dunedin people escape from the city to the quiet of the seaside where they can relax, fish, or walk on the sandy beaches, or on the 1,200 m sand control Mole opposite Taiaroa Head at the harbour entrance. It was here that I traveled one morning for a few hours of respite when my wife was receiving treatment for a serious fracture in Dunedin Hospital before her transfer to Auckland.
This post has more than the usual number of images as I wanted to give a feeling for what Aramoana is about. Click on the images for a larger view. This post replaces one that was accidentally deleted earlier today.
3455 – Vanishing Point
A view taken from the railway over-bridge that featured in one of my posts yesterday. All lines lead to a vanishing point at the foot of the distant hills. Like the large 3455 stenciled on the deck of the nearby freight wagon, the vanishing lines reflect how the use of rail has changed since the days of steam when the Victorian era railway station was built. Along-side the platform are Taieri Gorge Railway carriages wailing for the next excursion group to arrive.
Dunedin was linked to Christchurch in the north by rail in 1878, with a link south to Invercargill completed the following year. Designed by George Troup and opened in 1906, the station pictured above is the fourth building to have served as Dunedin’s railway station, and replaced a simple weatherboard “temporary” structure that was built next to the present site in 1884. At that time the city of Dunedin was an important commercial and industrial centre close to still-active gold and coalfields, and was surrounded by a hinterland that was dependent on both livestock and forestry for its economy. For a time this was New Zealand’s busiest railway station, handling up to 100 trains per day.
Improved road transport lead to a decline in the use of rail and the only regular train service that uses the station today is the Otago Excursion Train Trust’s Taieri Gorge Railway tourist train that runs to Middlemarch in Central Otago. The station is now owned by Dunedin City Council and houses a restaurant, the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame and the Otago Art Society.
The Dunedin Railway station is a must-see place to visit to gain a glimpse of a time when rail was king and an essential part of the economic infrastructure of the country. The attention to detail that was a feature of government and civil architecture at the time provides quite a contrast to modern architectural styles.
Three Birds on a Bridge
While my wife was in hospital in Dunedin having her leg mended I had plenty of time on my hands between visits. Dunedin is a fascinating city to visit to get a glimpse of late nineteenth and early twentieth architecture when it was in its heyday. One of the city’s most iconic buildings is the railway station, and it was there that I ventured on one of my exploratory visits. Beside the station is an iron pedestrian bridge over the railway lines. At the top of the steps leading to the crossing this view caught my fancy and I just had to capture it.
These poles on St Clair Beach in Dunedin were designed to control the movement of sand along the beach during heavy weather. Like many other control systems of its type, locals say that it was never successful and that a similar set of poles along the beach were removed some years ago.
This image was taken at dusk which accounts for the pink shading in the sky.