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Posts from the ‘Australasia’ Category

30
Apr

Edoras

It’s not often that you get to visit iconic locations from Middle Earth, but that’s what I did with my family this past weekend.  It reminded me how easy it is to ‘overlook’ the great hidden locations that might be tucked away near where you live, where-ever that may be.  This place is actually called Mt Sunday, since the locals used to meet here on Sunday’s … back in the old days.

Of course it’s been some time since the dwarves, elves, hobbits and ‘men’ -bustled about the village of Edoras (featured in the Lord of the Rings movie, The Two Towers).  However, watching that portion of the movie again … I can promise you that it truly is a windy place to visit.

From Christchurch, it is about two hours drive – the first 90 minutes was on sealed roads (although virtually no cars were travelling the same roads once turning off State Highway 1 in Rakaia … so an hour of peaceful drive), with the last half hour on gravel roads (again with very little traffic).  The first glimpse of Edoras is shown below.

We elected to take a picnic lunch with us, rather than simply take some obligatory photos and leave.  From the road, it was about 45 minute walk up to the top (although we took a bit longer since we stopped to take a lot of photos). It was fairly steep in some places, so I expect it would be quite slippery in the wet (since the track was generally over grass).  We purposefully picked a nice day, and that made the picnic much more enjoyable.

It was a peaceful place to visit, and provides some of the best 360 degree alpine panoramic’s that you will ever see. Photos don’t do justice to this mountainous valley, and even the video clips can’t quite capture the enormity of the place.  The rivers are clear, clean, fast flowing, and make a merry bubbling noise that soothes away any worries you may have.

Mt Potts Lodge is well advertised as you get closer, although when we went to investigate – were met by someone who didn’t speak English (which made it difficult to find out more). There are a delightful cluster of holiday houses at Lake Clearwater, en route, and with two lakes within walking distance … makes for somewhere to visit again in the summer (and a good option for a place to stay).

There are a variety of walking tracks in the region, and I’m keen to explore a little more.

17
Jul

Jet Boating the Rakaia Gorge

With a special thanks to my family for a great birthday present, I was given the chance to go jet-boating up the Rakaia Gorge recently with my brother.  However there is no photo that can adequately show the thrilling adventure of speeding through the beautiful scenery … although I’m very glad that we stopped several times to soak it in (and take some photos).

Looking up the Rakaia River

Looking up the Rakaia River

Although winter has just started, it was a gorgeous day for jet-boating.  The wind was very strong, enough to where I took my hat off so that it wouldn’t get blown off!  I also put my good camera in my coat pocket once I discovered that the memory card hadn’t been returned to the camera after downloading the last batch of photos.  These pictures were taken from a mobile device, so I’m thankful that new devices have such decent camera’s.

Jet boating these rivers is a blast, and the scenery isn't too bad either.

Jet boating these rivers is a blast, and the scenery isn’t too bad either.

Dad’s Recommendation:
Take a river jet boat trip if you ever have the chance. Especially when visiting the South Island of New Zealand.  However, check your camera for a memory card first!

2
May

Yachting at lunch

I like yachting. I especially like watching the America’s Cup or Round-The-World races.  However, I was captivated by another class of yachts that I stumbled across at lunch time a few days ago … model yachts.

Navigating the course in Hagley Park

Navigating the course in Hagley Park

While 12-15 pilots intently walked the shore making critical adjustments to their radio controls, the ducks and swans politely observed some unofficial right-of-way rules.  I must have missed the fleet start, so couldn’t capture a photo with more than 3-4 yachts in any one frame … so just imagine the lake is bigger, and there are more yachts out racing.

From my vantage point under a weeping willow, these few yachts appear to be racing to avoid the wooden spoon

From my vantage point under a weeping willow, these few yachts appear to be racing to avoid the wooden spoon

I must admit that watching these small, sleek yachts swiftly navigating a course of small bouys, all while enjoying the autumn sun and a gentle breeze, makes for the most enjoyable lunch time break.

Dad’s Recommendation:
Take lunch out into the park instead of eating out or staying in the office lunch room … and if you have the opportunity to watch some model yachts – take some time to do just that.

30
Apr

Sibling bonds

As a parent, I’m very interested in teaching our kids important life lessons – like ‘treat other people the way you want to be treated’.  Sometimes the lack of noticeable progress can be quite frustrating, and other times they clearly demonstrate that something has sunk in (even if it’s only briefly).

This past summer we visited Lake Tekapo for a few days, and I wanted to share one moment with you. Even although the lake water is quite cold due to the glacier runoff, I took the kids for a swim at a spot where the water was supposedly a little warmer. While there, they found a large concrete block some distance from the shore on which to sun themselves warm after getting sufficiently cold playing in the water. I snapped this photo while they were relaxing, sharing a snack, and soaking up the warmth of the sun. It seemed to capture a glimpse of the positive sibling bond that can be shared between brothers and sister – as opposed to sibling rivalry which is much, much more common.

Siblings sharing a relaxed and positive moment together

Siblings sharing a relaxed and positive moment together

It would be nice if they could have more of these moments of friendship and cooperation, even throughout the teenage years.  I am posting the photo as a reminder to myself that there’s always hope.

Dad’s Recommendation:
Don’t give up on an adventure just because the water is too cold, or some other seemingly unpleasant impediment … something surprising may happen as a result.

28
Apr

Just a little bit further … follow the road to the very end

It’s easy to visit the popular locations, those which are easiest to reach, the place that everyone knows about, and it’s usual the default / safe plan for your trip.  However, if you are prepared to be a little bit more adventurous – consider exploring what’s further down the road … and perhaps follow it to the very end.  Obviously it’s a good idea to have a glance at a map before you do this, as in some parts of the world the road may take you thousands of miles across a large continent.

Our family recently followed the road to the end, primarily to find the last beach along a particular volcanic harbour in New Zealand.  After passing several small townships, we reached the end of the pavement at a nice looking holiday-house type community.  However, we continued onto the gravel road, past the “No Exit” sign, and after a short, but adventurous, drive – we found a beach that our daughter later said was her “favourite beach in New Zealand!”  Best of all, we were the only ones there for most of the time we visited!

The surprising beach we found at the end of the road.

The surprising beach we found at the end of the road.

While this little beach looks remote, it was only about 10 minutes from the nearest shops, and about 40-45 minutes from the city.  We loved the fact that  it felt remote, and our view included no developed land (no buildings were in sight) plus a nice view out over the Pacific Ocean.

Feeling remote - not far from town.  (Note, if you sailed straight over the horizon, the next place you land would be Mexico!)

Feeling remote – not far from town. (Note, if you sailed straight over the horizon, the next place you land would be Mexico!)

We also explored a very short walkway, and found “the niftiest, coolest little rock cove in all the world” – according to our son Luke.  Mind you, I’m with him on this one as it was totally awesome – and photos can’t do it justice (it’s a 4D experience, not suitable for 2D pictures).  There were little caves and tidal pools, shells and shellfish, cool volcanic rocks, natural hanging gardens, old jetty piles from some bygone era, and lots of interesting things for kids of any age … or even those of us just young at heart!

Hidden cove with many treasures to explore.

Hidden cove with many treasures to explore.

You’ll note that I’m not sharing the exact location of these beaches … primarily because I don’t want to find it crowded the next time we visit!!  Obviously some of the locals know about it, but I’d prefer to keep it a well kept ‘secret’.

Dad’s Recommendation:
Check the map, but don’t be afraid of exploring a little bit further down the road!