West Coast Sunset

What to do on a Friday night when you don’t actually have anything that you HAVE to do? Why, caching of course! We don’t often have a Friday night to ourselves it seemed, but we did this week – and the weather was beautiful too.

We had a little circuit out into the countryside planned. Our intention was to pick up four caches – including two puzzles that we’d had solved for awhile. However we got sidetracked by the amazing sunset …. and by the neighbour of one of the caches. He’d been getting curious about what people were doing across from his house, so he came out to have a look. So now he has a bit more of an idea about geocaching, and thinks that a scavenger hunt around the whole world sounds like a bit of fun!!

So now we’ve still go two caches for another weekend, and saw a really vivid sunset. This would have been amazing  to watch down at the beach.  Our photos don’t really do it justice. These are from three slightly different locations.

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Molesworth Station

 Last weekend PB & I went for a little drive. We headed north & inland to the thermal village of Hanmer Springs from where we planned to drive through the Molesworth Station. This is New Zealand’s largest ‘farm’ – it’s really more like what my American friends would know as a ranch. Here in NZ we call these large farms that are in the back ground ‘high country stations.’ Generally these stations run Merino sheep, valued for their exceptional wool, and some cattle, but Molesworth is entirely dedicated to beef cattle.  The Molesworth homestead is the highest permanently occupied in the whole of NZ. It is at an altitude of 900 metres (about 2 950 feet.)  

Most of New Zealand is coastal and consequently has rather mild weather pretty much all year. A few places do experience ‘ continental’ weather conditions as they are far enough inland. This area is one of those – it is bitterly cold here in winter & a good part of the station may be covered in snow for up to two months. In summer it can be viciously hot & dry! (But probably not as hot as an Arizona desert.)

It is only possible for the general public to travel through the Molesworth between the end of December & the beginning of April each year.  It’s 26 kilometres (16 miles) from Hanmer village to Acheron – which is the start of the trip from this end, then the part of the trip between the Acheron & Molesworth gates is around 60 kilometres (a bit under 40 miles) and finally the trip out the Awatere Valley at the Blenheim end of the Station is a further 100 kilometres  ( around 60 miles.)This is almost all on unsealed gravel roads. It’s not exactly a 4WD trip, but it is pretty slow & rough – and dusty, dusty, dusty!!

 We had planned to do the trip last summer, but cancelled due to family illnesses, so this year when we unexpectedly had a three day weekend free, we  went for it! The weather was perfect. Hot clear & sunny. Not perfect photography conditions though, but we still got some scenic and interesting shots. So – go look at the slide show & comments to see how our journey went.

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East Otago Caching

Over Christmas & New Year PB & I had a twelve day holiday. For once, we actually got to take the holiday that we planned. The last two years have been challenging ones with a lot of family illnesses & surgeries, and we have often had to change or put on hold our plans. So we were glad that we had the chance to do our own thing on this trip.  We’ve discovered that we’ve got to take our chances while we can.

We did spend the first few days over the Christmas weekend visiting family – as you do – then we flew the coop. Of course we got a few caches while we were doing family stuff as well – as you do – and even took some my family members to one cache. My Dad & little.sis quite enjoy finding the occasional cache ( little.sis plans to get her own GPS) but I think the other relatives find it a bit of a crazy hobby. 
 

Clarke's Mill

< This photo is from  Clarke’s Mill GC1TW3Q which is near the town where a lot of my family live.  We’d like to go back here when it’s open & see inside.  I didn’t realise that it ever DID open, so we’ll have to plan our timing better on some other trip.

  After the family visiting we started to head down the east coast, which is very different than our green & forested West Coast. There is much more rural land instead of wilderness, and rolling hills instead of wild mountainous ones. 
 
We had a night of not-quite-free camping at a Department of Conservation camping ground at Trotter’s Gorge . This was an amazing drive in, not so much for the scenery (because it was dark), but for the rabbits & hares running across the road. We lost count in the end – over a dozen!!  Rabbits are a pest problem here in NZ, but even so, we don’t usually see THAT many all on one short piece of road.

 

 

Campsite river

 By the time we arrived it was quite dark, so we didn’t really see the landscape around us, but in the morning we saw that we literally were camped in a narrow gully and that the river was quite pretty. 

 

 

 

"I got it!"

 

 There were – of course – caches. Where in NZ aren’t there caches!!! So we went to hunt a couple. They were both a good challenge despite quite descriptive hints, as the GPS reception under tree cover, in a gully was not too good.  Here is me at GC1BDHX  The Draw Bridge  

 

 

The next step on out trip was to head back out to the coast again. We picked up a few more caches 7 a few more photos – these ones are near GCYFQD   Katiki Beach .

Early Morning Beach

 

Wildflower

I favourite this cache just because I really enjoyed our morning stroll along the sand. You see, we don’t really have much sand on our West Coast beaches – especially right near our little town – and what there is, is greyish, not golden and, well….  sandy coloured!  

 These two photos are from near a place called Shag Point  (yes, really!) There are a few caches there, some we got on a previous trip, but we found three more this trip – and had a DNF. The seagull got photographed during our DNF, as there were too many people about for us to have a really good search.  There is an ‘official’ seal viewing lookout in this are too, but we saw more seals & closer at the cache called  Seal Watch  GC274P5 .  Probably a case of the locals knowing where the best viewing really is.  

People Watching

Seal Watching

 

We also did a few caches around the little town of Palmerston  Some of the caches here, I have to say, were not that great. But it was still worth the stop as there are a few good ones too. Our most interesting one was Sir John Makenzie GC25YDV   .  This was a real stealth challenge, and I’m sure in the end we quite obvious, but sometimes it’s the only way.  Again a few photos – including the rose & statue got taken while searching for this one!! I really do wonder about people sometimes, as I’m sure one of the dozen or more that passed by MUST have wondered what we were doing.

 

Decoy Photo

Zealandia

 

 

Machines ‘Upsized’!

I now have really big diggers & trucks tearing up the road outside my house.
My water went off this morning & when I looked out the window they seemed to be doing stuff in an ever widening pool, then a pump started up. I bet THAT little episode wasn’t on their plans.

From the spare room window

From my back gate

I’m beginning to understand why the Christchurch residents have had enough of aftershocks!!

Road Works!

THIS is why my house feels like it has a permanent earthquake at the moment. The council are laying a new sewerage system in our neighbourhood. We get four months of noise, mess, shaking & road closed –  this week will be the worst as they are right outside our house.  We are at an intersection, so we will have the noise & machines for twice as long as most people. The whole house is juddering & shaking. The poor dogs look quite surprised from time to time when there is a particularly big judder.

 

I just hope my poor postie can still get through.

Gallery

Lake Kaniere

This gallery contains 8 photos.

 I wanted to share a few more photos of our weekend trip, so I’m trying out the new ‘Gallery’ format that this blog theme has. PB took most of these photos – the better ones of course!!  

Lakeside Weekend

 We are road trip kind of people – kind of a ‘vacational’ hazard of being  geocachers. However this past weekend we went to the lake with a bunch of people that we know from another club that we are in.  Admittedly we are somewhat pretenders to this particular group. We consider a 4-5 hour tramp (hike) a hard day’s exercise, and to them it would just be a short stroll. But never mind, we can all aspire to something!!

And we had a really fun time actually staying in one spot, for two whole days!!! We only found two caches, but we may have inspired a couple of families with young children to take up caching, so it’s all good. J

We went to a place called Hans Bay on Lake Kaniere. It was a really busy spot right on the lake front, but there was a quieter spot or two up in the camping area and some other bays & walks where it was possible to be the only people there. 

We did a reasonable amount of walking – 10 kilometres that I measured, and lots of other incidental stuff (it was quite a trek from our camping spot to the toilets in the middle of the night!!)

A really beautiful walk in this area that we did part of is the Kaniere Water Race Walkway . There’s one cache on this part of the walkway and the children we were with had fun finding it (and I’m pretty sure some of the adults had a bit of fun too!!)

Earlier in the day PB and I canoed out to this cache:  The Floating Ball of Memories.   We have no idea about the cache name, but it was a wee adventure for us to get out there! We borrowed an inflatable double canoe from one of the families, and showed our novice skills be going around & round several times before we made it out to the island.

This is the view back to the ‘mainland’ from our landing spot.

PB scouting out the way forward on top of the island.

 

We did do a bit better on the way back though. Not quite so many circles!

One of our new young friends & her ‘mom’ came & found it too, after they figured out who the strange people were shouting at them from the island. We could see them – but they couldn’t see us!  

We also picked up the cache: Moneydork’s Launching Pad, and hid a cache of our own: Rose Creek, at a peaceful little spot we found, on our first evening walk, just a little further around the lakeside. There is also a couple of caches near the beautiful Dorothy Falls 

We’d found these one on a previous trip, but we still drove round to look at the waterfall & the lake views. The lake was very high this weekend – usually it is possible to walk on a little white sandy beach at the lake’s edge here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also got in a bit of swimming (you won’t catch me putting any pictures of that on here!!)  – you didn’t notice how cold the water was once you were numb, and a bit of reading,

and provided support to the eeling party. 

Most of the rest of the group were too squeamish to tie the meat onto the string, but I have done way more gross things in biology labs, so it was no big deal. We saw two big eels – we didn’t actual ‘catch’ them as such, but they sure were attracted to the meat, and the junior scientist amongst us was delighted and would have stayed there all night trying to get them to come to the surface!! So, an awesome weekend, beautiful weather, interesting new friends of all ages, and fun activities.    

Let’s do it again next year!