Thursday, April 11, 2019

Bellbird sits in the Harakeke

Thanks so much to our guest Liping who sent us this photo she took in our garden.
Below is a link to learn more about our native harakeke.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Flying home from Christchurch

If you decide to visit us by plane these are the views you may get from Christchurch to Hokitika, clouds permitting! Aoraki is there in all its glory.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Back home 2018

Great to escape winter for a two month stint, this time in Italy, the Dolomites and Croatia, with a trip to Kuching, Malaysia on the way home.

See our blog

Lots of nice things about being home though, the snow clad mountains are pretty when they decide to show themselves off.

Okarito 3 mile lagoon views
Coast on the 3 mile walk
Low tide makes an easy walk

Views from Ribbonwood

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Chalet Lookout Track

View from Chalet Lookout

These markers once guided the way but now buried

Lunascape, a far cry from the walk through the forest that once was

The slip that is the source of all the rubble

One of our favourite tracks in the Fox Glacier area has been severely damaged by a massive slip. A once popular track is now lying under the rubble of rocks. It is closed by the Department of Conservation but if you are careful and know where to go you can still get to the platform for magnificent views at the end of what was once the track.

Monday, April 16, 2018

John Foster, Master of Photography

We were lucky to have John and Robyn stay with us this season. John is a professional photographer see his link  John Foster Photography
Our cottage is in the foreground and house - on a fine day, these are the views of the mountains and glaciers from every room window. We are situated on Greens Road, just far away from the State Highway to feel peace and tranquility. State Highway 6 runs into the village. We are just 5 kms and 5 minutes drive away from the conveniences of the village.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Native clematis arrives in the garden - a harbinger of spring

Our native clematis has flowered in the garden more profusely every year - this spring is no exception.
Find out more in this link about New Zealand clematis

Friday, October 13, 2017

Peters Pool named after a 9 year old boy, Peter Westland, who camped here by himself in 1894

Making the most of this warm spring day we wandered to a view we often see but today was photo worthy! When Peter camped here the glacier was in full view, reaching around the corner with the terminal face just at the back of the lake. This is a Kettle Lake left behind by the retreating glacier hundreds of years ago. Large blocks of slower melting ice left huge depressions in the valley floor. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

A night under the stars at Alex Knob

Great to be on the tops

                  Annual pilgrimage 2017

From the top of Alex Knob we surveyed the scene below us feeling exhilarated after the grunt up. We were pleased we took the gamble to cart up all our gear to camp as so often the tops cloud over. The views of the Franz Josef Glacier, the Main Divide and Tasman Sea just got better with dusk falling.

The mountain is named after Alexander Graham (Alec.) He was one of New Zealand’s most skilled mountaineers. Through the early twentieth century Alec guided many parties up the Alex Knob track and to the Franz Josef Glacier. He and his brother Peter were well loved guides.
Views out over the Franz township and coast

Setting up camp
Just us and the keas 

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

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.

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.
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.
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.