Ribbonwood Retreat, Westland National Park

Julie and Jonathan call their Bed and Breakfast Ribbonwood Retreat after the beautiful big Ribbonwood tree that grows near their home. Once common these trees are now in decline.
We have planted Ribbonwoods and many other trees to attract native birds back to our garden.
Maori Proverb: If you cut the heart of the flax bush, where will the bellbird sing?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sunset from the deck

Photo taken by our guest Herve Deladriere 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mr Jo's Garden

A visitor to our garden, Harry the hare. He prefers the short grass of our lawn to the long rank grass of our neighbours .

I couldn't help but think of Peter Rabbit, who was born in 1902 in The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix PotterThe widowed mother rabbit cautions her young against entering the vegetable garden of a man named Mr. McGregor, telling them: "your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor". Peter does not listen and is spotted by Mr. McGregor. After all sorts of scrapes including losing his clothing, getting lost and sneaking past a cat he finally crawls under the fence, returning home. Sick Peter is sent to bed by his mother, while his well-behaved sisters receive a sumptuous dinner of milk and berries as opposed to Peter's supper of chamomile tea.

As long as Harry stays on the grass and out of the garden he will be enjoyed by the guests and tolerated by the gardener!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Southern Rata

Great to spot southern rata blossoming as we wandered through the glacier valley the other day.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Our favourite walk in the Franz Josef Glacier area - the Glacier Valley Walk

Jo looks back down the valley 
Fault in the  bedrock
Waterfall in the forest 


Bridge across helps to keep feet dry

Tributary of the Wahio river

Trident Falls

Moss covered rocks of the 'once was riverbed'

The trail is easily accessible for all

Getting closer to the glacier face

The viewpoint - so worth the walk to view this!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Another day in Franz Josef

Franz Josef Glacier is steep and narrow, shaped like a funnel.

 For those taking a walk to the face of the glacier it is an impressive environment of
caves, seracs and crevasses.

The glacier ice moves down by sliding over rock and is lubricated by the water flowing beneath the glacier.

The ice closer to the surface splits and cracks forming crevasses to depths of 20-30m

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Blackbird Chicks

Today we found this nest close to where we were working in the garden.  The robust nest is made of twigs, grass, roots and moss, fortified with mud and roughly lined with grass and leaf skeletons. The female incubates for 13–14 days and both parents feed the chicks which fledge at 13–15 days. OK blackbirds are common as, but it's a rare sight and fascinating to be able to spy on bird life as young as this. 

Blackbirds feed mainly on the ground and eat insects, spiders and a wide variety of fruits from both native podocarps and shrubs and introduced shrubs and weeds. They can cause damage to orchards and spread weed seeds into native forests and crops, but they also help to disperse the seeds of fleshy–fruited understorey plants in native forests.
Learn more about blackbirds by visiting New Zealand Birds Online.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Hidden Trails of the Glacier


video

A few days ago we were early birds and we did catch the worm with some of the clearest scenes we've seen yet of the great divide mountains with Aoraki, Mount Cook our highest mountain in all its glory.

Read the article we wrote for 100% Pure New Zealand, our official travel NZ website about this magic hidden trail. 

http://www.newzealand.com/int/article/hidden-trails-of-the-glacier-region/


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Early Tourism at Franz Josef Glacier


I had been scanning mums photos when I came across these lovely black and white photos of her guided trip across the glacier.
I am not quite sure of the date of her trip but I am guessing it would have been sometime around 1950-1955.



There is a great site about our areas history.


The national library records online turned up these tourism posters. The sprig of rata is from the tree that blooms in our temperate forest that surround the glacier.

Mum facing an ice cave

King, Marcus, 1891-1983. King, Marcus, 1891-1983 :Rata blossom, Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand. [ca 1955]. Ref: Eph-E-TOURISM-1955-02. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23150912
Lovell-Smith, Edgar McLeod, 1875-1950. Lovell-Smith, Edgar McLeod, 1875-1950 :Franz Josef Glacier New Zealand / E M Lovell-Smith, 1932. Full information from the High Commissioner for New Zealand ... New Zealand Trade and Tourist Commissioner and Government Agent ... and all travel agents Coulls Somerville Wilkie Ltd, Ch'ch, des et lith. Issued by the Publicity Branch, NZ Railways. 1932.. Ref: Eph-E-TOURISM-Franz-1932-01. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23170163
Mum (3rd in line) and her friend on the glacier 
The poster shows a view of the Franz Josef Glacier with the road and hotel in the foreground. Various places are labelled and the altitude given: Minarets (10,050 feet), Grahams Saddle (8,800 feet), Almer Hut (5,500 feet), Defiance Hut (2,700 feet), the hotel (350 feet, Callery Gorge and Alec's Knob. Two suspension bridges over the river are shown.

Monday, August 29, 2016

A Trot up the Fox

This photo shows an incredibly  life like cut out of a DOC ranger (a guy Jo use to work with!) He is indicating not to go any further as river levels can change rapidly, particularly during and after heavy rain and the entire river bed can become completely covered with flood water. Over the years, people have ignored the signs to their peril. 
Ice collapse and rock fall can occur at any time at the terminal face of the glacier, a cold down-draft off the glacier is normal in the valley, and rainstorms occasionally catch visitors (and the odd local!) by surprise. It's always a good idea to take an extra layer and a raincoat even if you don't think you will need it.

Friday, February 26, 2016

'Flower of the Dawn' Lake Mapourika, Westland National Park

A few kilometres from our place, Lake Mapourika is my haunt. Every day, no matter the weather, I bike and swim there. Because the water is the colour of tea from the tannins from the dense bush around the lake, it gets lovely and warm.

14,000 years ago this kettle lake was formed when a large block of ice was left behind by the retreating Franz Josef Glacier.

Our birders are in for a treat because they may get to see the rare crested grebe, scaup, grey duck, mallard duck, black swan, white-throated shag, white-faced heron, kingfisher, kereru, tui, bellbird, tomtit, grey warbler, brown creeper, silvereye, bellbird and robin.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Canavans Walk

Walking along the stopbank to get to Canavans
An oldy but a goodie, one of our favourite walks is Canavans Knob, a short distance from Franz Josef. We wander up through the forest to enjoy a grove of rata trees at the top of the granite outcrop, the sea and river to one side, and up the Waiho River to the glacier and Southern Alps Kā Tiritiri o te Moana from the seat at the top. 
View from the top


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Melodious Wild Music in our Garden



Bellbird have come to our garden to feast on the fushia flowers, heralding the arrival of spring.
The bellbird was undoubtedly the chief performer in the chorus described by Joseph Banks when Captain Cook entered Queen Charlotte Sound during the first voyage of discovery. 
"I was awakened by the singing of the birds ashore, from whence we are distant not a quarter of a mile. Their numbers were certainly very great. They seemed to almost strain their throats with emulation, and made perhaps the most melodious wild music I have ever heard, almost imitating small bells but with the most tunable silver imaginable."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Heaphy Track, winter wonderland

Having secured a 'grab a fare' cheap seat in the plane from Christchurch to Hokitika weeks beforehand, getting the right weather for a tramp was in the lap of the gods. Unbelievble but sometimes you get lucky! 

We have both been on the Heaphy Track, when Jo was carrying out possum control, but that was many years ago and we wanted to return. DOC have spent 2 million on beautiful huts, tracks and bridges. The walk is located in Kahurangi National Park at the north-west corner of the South Island. A loose translation for Kahurangi is: ”treasured possession” and with its massive rivers, beech forest, northern rata with nikau palms, and alpine shrubs in the Gouland Downs.

A Great Walk, The Heaphy Track



Sunday, May 24, 2015

Travels to Laos and Sri Lanka

                   
Below is a link to our latest travel blog. We were at mums place on Saturday, due to fly out to Nepal when we watched the news unfolding about the earthquake in Nepal. We hastily put together some new plans all the time feeling great relief we weren't amidst the devastation as well as great sadness for the Nepalese.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Great Year for Flowering Rata Vines on the 5 Mile Track, Okarito


The forests of South Westland are unique to the area due to the effects of glaciation 12-20 thousand years ago. Throughout the rest of the South Island, forests are predominantly beech trees. On the West Coast there is a distinctive “beech gap”, where beech trees have failed to re-colonise after the forest was removed during the ice age, and  glaciers covered all the land down to the sea-shore. After the glaciers receded this land was recolonised by tree species that had their seeds spread by birds or wind, unlike the beech which seeds are spread by gravity or water.
One of the more noticeable tree species occupying the “beech gap” is the southern rata, related to the northern pohutakawa, and the iron woods of the pacific region. Rata trees cover the mountain sides around Franz Josef and display a profusion of red flowers in January and February. Bee keepers exploit this profusion of nectar bearing flowers by positioning bee hives near the rata forests. Stacked bee hive boxes lie alongside the road like mini condominiums. Rata honey has a distinctive earthy smell.
Unfortunately rata trees are a highly desired food source for the introduced pest, the Australian brush tailed possum. A cat sized marsupial, possums were introduced into New Zealand to establish a fur trade, and have become a major environmental pest. You may see these animals as road kill, distinctive with the curled black tail and red or grey fur. Possums strip the flowers and leaves of the large rata trees and eventually kill them by long term defoliation, leading to the collapse of the forest canopy and its replacement with less palatable shrubs.
In an effort to protect the rata forests and their associated ecosystem, the Department of Conservation (DOC) conducts periodic possum culling operations, using poison baits dropped over the forests by helicopter. 

Monday, February 09, 2015

The Waiho Loop Walk

Peters Pool left by the retreating glacier, dropping a chunk of melted ice forming a kettle lake
One of our favourite walks in Westland Tai Poutini National Park over easy trails with ancient glacial landforms. On a good day the reflections are of the glacier, the Fritz Range including Mt Moltke and Mt Roon.
This has been a great year for the flowering rata trees
The track through forest
Interpretation panels and a wheel to hear the different bird songs

The Douglas bridge


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Return to Ribbonwood


View from the village

Up to the Glacier Valley
The church by the river
Some lovely scenes from our place as we get out and about to explore.  It is great to be home again. After the construction site that Christchurch has become, the air seems sweeter than ever.



Friday, October 03, 2014

From painting Greedy Cat with my new entrant class to painting our house, slap it on!

Greedy Cat Paintings
During the winter I have been teaching five year olds in Christchurch. We have been doing lots of beautiful painting in class as a follow up to reading stories.
During the holidays it was great coming home to the builders handy work in the Bauman Glacier room with a new ranch slider out onto a large deck making the room so much lighter and a new living area for guests to enjoy.

Now we have painted over the yellow and red feature wall as we learned red is far too busy a colour for those wanting a peaceful nights sleep!

Waiho room gets a makeover
Jo is bent over prep'ing for painting laying masking tape. Next we will attack the Waiho room with a rather lovely sounding colour 'periglacial blue.' Never a dull moment at Ribbonwood. :-)
Bauman Glacier room gets a totally new look with a ranch slider and deck

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Okarito









One of our favourite walks at Okarito is the Trig walk, which starts at the carpark and climbs up to a great vantage point overlooking the lagoons, forests and mountains of Westland National Park. It was originally used as a reference point for early trigonometric surveys to map the area, hence the name. The surveyors used theodolites to measure the bearing and angle of various other reference points and were able to calculate the height of the mountains with amazing accuracy, considering the equipment they used. No such thing as a GPS or even stereo aerial photo back then The platform there is a great place to have a picnic and look out to the Southern Alps including our highest mountains, Cook and Tasman. Both the Okarito and Three Mile lagoons are also visible from the trig. In the early days of the Okarito Brown Kiwi (Rowi) program conservation staff used to survey kiwi from there using radio receivers tuned to a transmitter on the kiwi. Now most of this work is done remotely with an aircraft, yet  another example of technology making our work easy.