Thursday, March 26, 2015

Weekend Reflections

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July 2013 - Calgary Alberta

Hubby and friend at Heritage Park.

Weekend Reflections

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Posting at Weekend Reflections.

January 2015 - Las Vegas NV

Day 28 - Franz Josef New Zealand

Saturday March 21 2015

Here's a map to give you an idea of where we are. We are on the South Island of New Zealand.
Yesterday we travelled from Churchtown up to Franz Josef. We have also been out to the Tasman Sea via Milford Sound.

We had booked the helicopter ride to see the glacier yesterday afternoon. We splurged and went for the total package. The resort got us a discount.

We walked out in the rain and had a quick breakfast at The Landing. It was lightly raining out but we could see there was a lot of cloud cover.

We check in at the helicopter place and are told that the weather is not cooperating, but we can probably do a twenty minute flyover but no snow landings, we decide to do whatever they can provide, It is the reason we are here.

How humiliating, you have to get weighed on this scale. And I had put on so many layers for the damp and cold!

It is determined that we can take off and we walk over with a guide, who happens to be Irish from Sligo, so we are all set.

I get the front seat with the pilot and John and another man are behind us.
Photos were taken from the helicopter and I have not photoshopped them even though I should but it takes time! Also it really was a grey and overcast day with rain.

Together with the Fox Glacier 20 km (12 mi) to the south, it is unique in descending from the Southern Alps to less than 300 metres (980 ft) above sea level, amidst the greenery and lushness of a temperate rainforest.

The area surrounding the two glaciers is part of Te Wahipounamu, a World Heritage Site park. The river emerging from the glacier terminal of Franz Josef is known as the Waiho River

The glacier is currently 12 km (7.5 mi) long and terminates 19 km (12 mi) from the Tasman Sea. Fed by a 20-square-kilometre (7.7 sq mi) large snowfield at high altitude, it exhibits a cyclic pattern of advance and retreat, driven by differences between the volume of meltwater at the foot of the glacier and volume of snowfall feeding the névé.

I think my ears are finally unblocked.

So now we have the day to wander around town It is still raining slightly.

Time for coffee. And some shopping. No, nothing was bought, just poking around.

Don't worry, I got each of you one of these.

We decided to get bread, cheese and wine for dinner as we would go out for lunch.
Some sights around town.

Outside the West Coast Wildlife Centre. We debated the $35 entrance fee, but couldn't really see the value.

We pick up some cheeses and breads for dinner as we decide we will go out for a good lunch. Back to the resort for a while and it continues to rain.

Lunch and a lazy rainy afternoon.
We walked to the Alice May pub which has an interesting history.

Alice May Parkinson was one of 12 children born to George and Isobella Parkinson in the back country of the Hawks Bay, New Zealand.

Alice May's family were relatively poor and strongly religious. Alice May worked from the age of 14 in domestic service and once she turned 20, she worked as a pantry maid / waitress in a hotel in Napier.

Alice May fell pregnant but after the baby was stillborn her lover rejected her not withstanding his earlier promise to marry her. After an altercation Alice May drew a revolver from her rain coat pocket and shot her lover 4 times before turning the gun unscessfully upon herself. Alice May was tried and sentenced to hard labour for the rest of her natural life by the New Zealand Chief Justice.

The Feminists of the socialist movement quickly formed a release committee for Alice May and gained widespread and popular support. Alice May became a household name with public meetings being held in Auckland and Wellington and two major petitions circulated New Zealand requesting her release from jail in 1915, 60,000 people signed the petition.

Finally after serving 6 years in prison Alice May was released in 1921 into the care of her mother.
Subsequently Alice May Married Charles O'Loughlin and together they went on to have 6 children. Jennie O'Loughlin is one of Alice May's Many grandchildren.

Fish and chips

Seafood chowder

Day 29 New Zealand - Franz Josef Train to Christchurch

Sunday 22nd March, 2015 - Depart Franz Josef

Transfer from Rainforest Retreat to Greymouth Railway Station, 164 MacKay St.
Transfer Type: Seat in Coach
Pick up: 9:05am
Drop off: 1:15pm

Not such an early rising this morning, we walk to the restaurant for breakfast where we have a free meal of bacon, toast, fruit and cereal with great coffee. It is a misty morning.

Back to get our bags and wait outside the resort for our Inter City bus.

These are not just modes of transportation between cities, the drivers are also tour guides. The buses are very comfortable. Again we are one  of the first on, but the front seats are taken, so next best are the seats behind the back door. Lots of space and no seat in front of you.

A Maori hostess outside another hotel.

Coffee break in Hari Hari.

The name has a Maori meaning, from Te Aka Maori/English Dictionary, as "to take/carry joy" or, as local legend suggests, "come together in unison" from a Maori canoe paddling chant/song. In recent years, Hari Hari has been increasingly referred to as "Harihari" with Maori meaning as "ambulance".

It is slightly inland from the Tasman Sea and the Saltwater Lagoon and is situated between the Wanganui and Poerua Rivers, 45 minutes south of the tourist town of Hokitika. State Highway 6 passes through the town on its route from Ross to the Franz Josef Glacier. The Westland District's largest town, Greymouth is 110 kilometres (68 mi), and Hokitika 70 km (43 mi) to the north-east. Ross is 46 km (29 mi) to the north-east, and Franz Josef is 32 km south west.

Possums are a real threat to the wildlife here.
In New Zealand there are no predators and lots of very palatable vegetation. As a result, possums have a huge impact on New Zealand ecosystems.

While possums feed mainly on leaves, they are also known to take buds and flowers, fruits, ferns, bark, fungi, invertebrates, native birds and eggs, land snails and carrion.

Evidence shows stoats and possums are eating kea. Researchers using nest-cameras have witnessed the gruesome reality inside defenceless kea nests invaded by stoats and possums in South Westland. Find out more abut possums eating kea.

A stop for lunch in Hokitika 40 kilometres (25 mi) south of Greymouth, and close to the mouth of the Hokitika River.

.Founded on gold mining in 1864, it was a centre of the West Coast Gold Rush. By late 1866, it was one of New Zealand's most populous centres.

On September 16, 1867 there were 41 vessels alongside the wharf at Hokitika, in some places three and four deep. In 1867, the port of Hokitika ranked first in New Zealand in both the number of vessels entered inwards and in the total value of exports (principally gold). It became the capital of New Zealand's short-lived Westland Province from 1873 until the abolition of provinces in 1876.

Back on the bus for the last leg to Greymouth. 

Greymouth to Christchurch

Train: The TranzAlpine

The TranzAlpine scenic train journey travels between Christchurch and Greymouth, from one coast of New Zealand to the other.
From your carriage you'll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River.

Your train then climbs into the Southern Alps before descending through lush beech rain forest to the West Coast town of Greymouth - a great base for visits to Punakaiki and the always popular

There are 16 tunnels and 5 viaducts, the highest being thestaircase standing at 73 meters.

We arrive at 1:15 in time for our 1:40 departure by train. John waits for the luggage and I check in to be told that the train is and hour and a half late so come back at 3 PM. Annoying because we were looking forward to having a few hours to look around Christchurch.

 We head over to the pub to pass the time.

Back to the train station and there is a further delay.

This is the Tranzalpine often regarded to be one of the world's great train journeys for the scenery through which it passes. The journey is 223 kilometres (139 mi) one-way, taking about four and a half hours. There are 19 tunnels and four viaducts, with Staircase Viaduct being 73 metres (240 ft) high.

There are assigned seats which are very comfortable with headsets to listen to the commentary along the rails. there are also plugs to charge your electronics.
This is probably not the fastest way to travel, but we had the time and it was relaxing.

Otira is a small township seven kilometres north of Arthur's Pass in the central South Island of New Zealand. It is on the northern approach to the pass, a saddle between the Otira and Bealey Rivers high in the Southern Alps.

It was originally a stop on the Cobb and Co stagecoach from Canterbury to the West Coast. The railway line was then built from Greymouth to Otira, with the pass navigated by coach, until the railway tunnel opened in 1923. During construction of the tunnel, Otira housed about 600 workers and their families. In the 1950s the town had a population of about 350, but this had dropped to 11 in 1988 and recovered to some extent to 44 in 2010.

The township is principally old Railways housing, much of which was constructed in Hamilton and shipped south to be reassembled on site. As well as the railway station, there is a pub, a fire station, and 18 houses, 14 of them tenanted in 2010.

Lots and lots of fog today.

The landscape changes constantly.

Arrive: Christchurch Station at 6:05pm Sunday 22 March 2015
Christchurch Railway Station
Troup Drive, off Clarence St. Addington

Transfer from TranzAlpine Express Train Station to Rydges Latimer Christchurch.
Transfer Type: Seat in Coach
Pick up: 6:05pm
Drop off: 6:35pm

Rydges Latimer Christchurch
30 Latimer Square, Christchurch 8011
Duration: 1 night

We finally disembark at 8 PM and the Supershuttle woman is waiting with our names on a board.

Driving into town it was obvious the devastation from the 2011 earthquake which rocked the city.
Buildings are boarded up or fenced in, many have been torn down. The driver said that tourism is finally returning to the city.

The February 2011 Christchurch earthquake was a powerful natural event that severely damaged New Zealand's second-largest city, killing 185 people in one of the nation's deadliest peacetime disasters.

The magnitude 6.3 (ML) earthquake struck the Canterbury Region in New Zealand's South Island at 12:51 pm on Tuesday,22 February 2011 local time (23:51 21 February UTC). The earthquake was centred 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) west of the port town of Lyttelton, and 10 kilometres (6 mi) south-east of the centre of Christchurch, New Zealand's second-most populous city. It followed nearly six months after the magnitude 7.1 Canterbury earthquake of 4 September 2010, which caused significant damage to Christchurch and the central Canterbury region, but no direct fatalities.

The earthquake caused widespread damage across Christchurch, especially in the central city and eastern suburbs, with damage exacerbated by buildings and infrastructure already being weakened by the 4 September 2010 earthquake and its aftershocks. Significant liquefaction affected the eastern suburbs, producing around 400,000 tonnes of silt. The shallow earthquake was reported to be felt across the South Island and the lower and central North Island. While the initial quake only lasted around 10 seconds, the vicinity and depth of its location to Christchurch in addition to the previous quakes were the reason for so much destruction.

We head to the hotel in downtown Christchurch but it is late and by the time we check in we head to the restaurant for dinner in Bloody Mary's,it is full so we head to the bar and decide to eat there.

Delicious fish and chips for both of us.