We have come a long way since the last post, and even longer since I wrote anything substantial on the blog. Now as I sit in our “Tourist Cabin” at the Newhaven holiday park it is difficult to chronicle all the places we have been.
I think that if I tried to write a detail chronicle it would not be interesting and the details of the places we went can wait until either Sue writes something or I post the GPS track I recorded.
Instead I will just write what comes to me:
The trip Tony Bridge planned for us was extensive which I have already mentioned is why there was little time to stop and write or edit images. Few people managed to download and backup each night the dozens of images they collected each day. This meant we all received huge value from the time we spent with Tony and I hope for other people that he manages to arrange and offer similar trips in the future.
We never really spent much time on the main roads, if there was a track between two points we took it, if there was a mountain to get around Tony found a track over the top. The result being we saw vast areas of the country side and were able to take in the true size of the land down here. Even Jill, who had many a flight over this area in a small plane, commented on how wonderful it was to see it from the tops of hills.
Tony also arranged all of the accommodation and we stayed in a selection of excellent places. The Vulcan Hotel at St Bathans will be know to many, but the Black Forest Station accommodation was out of the way and quite special. This is on the side of Lake Benmore near the northern end and it was a perfect place to stop for a few days (except we didn’t) because it had a large living area and four bedrooms. If it wasn’t so far I could see a quad bike trip to it being on the cards.
There were a couple of farm stays which meant we met some wonderful people and spent time in their homes. When you sit and talk in the evening you can learn a great deal about the area we are travelling through. Every place was comfortable and pleasant which is what we all wanted at the end of long day.
Most of the images posted so far have been straight out of the camera. I have been shooting with an IQ160 back on the Phase One 645 and a Cambo technical camera. The term phaseology moment was coined when Tony and others deemed the scene to be worth getting the Phase One camera out, if it was really special the Cambo was assembled. For the rest of the time and for the fun of the simplicity of it, I carried a Fuji X-E1 and a lot of the images posted came directly from that. For the readers of the trip blog I considered a selection of snaps showing where and what were up to would be interesting so they are not all meant to be art pieces.
Our last day led us over Thompsons track down into Cromwell. A short stop for lunch, and then on to Queenstown where we dropped off the other three Aucklanders to catch a plane home. This was the end point of the organized trip and we said goodbye to each other and to our guide Tony. He was heading back to Ranfurly to see a friend and then back home, a further 600kms on top the 1600 we had already made.
Sue and I came back over the Crown range and into Wanaka to meet up with Priscilla. We had arranged this trip to precede a reunion of the friends we met in 2008 travelling to Canada with Sally Mason and Don Kelly. This would be our second reunion as the group had got on so well during the trip and formed many friendships. That trip was chronicled in our blog at the time, which may be of interest to someone:
We had three days meeting up for meals with the group and on the last night played a number of slideshows made from the trip. As you might expect this brought back plenty of memories for people and a few comments from some who had not even seen the places depicted. Again showing how multiple photographers can see the same place completely differently.
During these three days Sue started to think about where we would head next. She had of course planned about 3 months worth of sight seeing for this trip and had to get back to something we could actually manage. Val had been a travel agent in a previous job so one evening worked with Sue to try to work out where we could or should be each day to get back to Auckland by the appointed date.
This was very helpful in working out when we should head home even if it was modified soon after we left Wanaka. We removed a couple of items as we left Wanaka because Sue started to realize that we would be rushing all over the place and after the action packed week with Tony a more relaxed pace would be welcome.
So we drove straight to the Catlins and booked to stay at Newhaven in Owaka.
Up to this point we had perfect weather and no problems. So we shouldn’t have pointed out the weather to our Auckland friends who now had rain. Because as we neared Owaka the car started to handle funny and very quickly the computer complained that the air suspension could no longer maintain and even keel. It had been for the last minute or so hiding the fact that we had a flat tire and it was not obvious until it gave up and flashed lights at us. Very clever I guess.
Followers of Facebook may recall I purchased some Cooper tires for this trip, not wanting to rely on road tires for some of the roads I knew we would be heading through. These are supposed to be near impossible to puncture so we run all over the place with complete confidence. Unfortunately this confidence has been dampened a little!
Luckily it was only about 4:30pm and the town was in sight so as I fought to jack the car up with the scissor jack suited to a Corolla, Sue walked up to catch the service station before it closed. They came down with a jack and took the tire away to repair. It was badly damaged and need two plugs. The tread at one point was worn way down in a manner that looked like it had been bulging. So it may be that we had a bad tire from the outset, which makes me think we are lucky it did not fail on a 30 degree incline on a dirt track somewhere!
We are staying at the Newhaven for four nights, using it as a base to travel too and from the sights nearby. So first thing Friday morning I went back to town (to get cell service) and got on the phone to source a replacement tire. These are not a common size so there are none sitting in a tire shop waiting to be purchased.
I spoke with David from Professional Tires in Takanini and he got on the phone to Coopers while I rang the nearest agent, the Nissan dealer in Balclutha. Both David and Justin (from Nissan) were fantastic, pressing home the urgency that we wanted the tire overnight for a Saturday delivery to Balclutha. This was not a normal service and they both spent some time talking to the suppliers and the warehouse in Timaru where there was “one” left, to convince them make the effort to send it urgently.
Friday was mostly raining so Sue and I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon at the Owaka museum, which is very interesting for a small town. We did not want to drive much on the makeshift repaired tire so we went back to the lodging and rested up. This was very pleasant in the end and probably needed. I have finished my second book already!.
On Saturday morning we went for a walk up the beach while we waited for the shops to open. Justin was to call us if the tire arrived and as luck would have it there is cell service on the beach so we got the call and the tire had arrived! Great news.
After getting the tire fitted we were more confident driving about and returned via Kaka point and Nugget point where the lighthouse photos are from. We also stopped at the Kaka point pub for a nice lunch.
Today we went and visited a handful of waterfalls and the Cathedral caves. The weather has been overcast and drizzly but not enough to prevent a walk in the bush. Although I did resist walking up the beach in the rain where there would be no shelter from the rain.
Tomorrow we head around the coast a bit into south Catlins to base ourselves at another beachfront location and explore that side. We are told that there is no cell service at all around there so I am using the Zenbu WiFi to post this before we leave Newhaven.
Most likely we will go dark again for 3-4 days until we start to head north again.
For anyone who read all the way to the end … Here is a link to some more images.