Tag: Stairs

Southern North

Southern North

Cape Palliser, New Zealand – January 29, 2018

Cape Palliser is another of our favorite spots in New Zealand. Located on the southernmost point of the North Island, it has a rugged beauty. Add to that beauty a spectacular red and white lighthouse and herds of seals and one has the recipe for a beautiful outdoor experience. There are very few trees at this location. That adds to the stark look.

Nearing the small village of Pirinoa, one passes the little Burnside Presbyterian Church. It was a beautiful day for photographs. The church dates from 1875 and has a small cemetery off to one side. Other than flowers and trees, there is nothing else around.

The Burnside Presbyterian Church. A sign out front noted the church dates from 1875.

The Cape Palliser Lighthouse is literally at the end of the road. For much of its length, the way hugs the beach, which allows storms can wreak havoc on the road. In places, only one vehicle may pass at a time. Not long after leaving the small fishing village of Ngawi, the sealed road ends. The remainder of the way is simply a dirt road.

At the end of the road is a parking lot and, thankfully, a toilet. Towering above the parking lot is a large, rugged hillside, at the top of which is the lighthouse. I wanted a photograph of the lighthouse with the ocean in the background. I was not able to get a decent picture in the past because of the lens I had. The issue is that one can only stand so far back from the lighthouse without risking a fall down the hillside.

Just like the first time Leslie and I visited, 261 stairs were separating the lighthouse from the parking lot. None of my traveling companions were interested in taking on that many stairs. Being not quite as bright as the others, I decided I must go up. The reward for my ascent was a spectacular view of the lighthouse and the ocean. As a bonus, I was there all by myself.

The Cape Palliser Lighthouse.

As I was ready to descend, I saw three people who had just begun their ascent. The stairs are very narrow and very steep. I decided to wait until they made it up to the lighthouse before I started down. It is hard to say which is more taxing; the journey up or the walk down. Regardless, I shan’t have to worry about ever making the trip again…been there, done that.

Also, it is 261 down!

While I had been on my little adventure, my traveling companions explored the beach near the parking lot. At that point, the beach is challenging to travel across. That is due to the fist-sized stones covering the beach. It is hard to get stable, proper footing. Regardless, they did locate a lone bull seal napping on rocks at the water’s edge.

A yawning bull seal.

We got back in the car and began the return trip, stopping to look at various seal herds along the way. Just before the tiny village of Mangatoetoe, there is a small piece of land that juts out into the sea. The little peninsula forms a small, protected bay and some tidepools. Every time we have visited, we have always seen seals there. This day was no different.

By far, my favorite seal of the day was “Cruiser.” I am not sure if the youngster was a male or female, but it was undoubtedly mobile. That seal cruised all over the area. It seemed not a centimeter of the area was left unexplored. Something is mesmerizing about watching seals in their natural habitat. I know that is one of the things about New Zealand that I shall miss when we depart.

“Cruiser,” the very energetic seal pup. He or she cruised all over the rocks.

On our way to the lighthouse, as we drove through Ngawi, I noticed the Captain’s Table food trailer was not open. That meant if we wanted lunch, we would need to drive to Lake Ferry. As we entered Ngawi on our return, it was open for business. That was great news!

Adjacent to the Captain’s Table is a small camping area.  We ordered our lunches and then waited at a picnic table.  That did not last long.  The sun was very intense, so we gathered our food and sat in the air-conditioned comfort of the car to eat.

The food trailer. This is the only food commercially available in Ngawi. When it is open, it is a must stop!

After lunch, it was a leisurely drive back home.

The Burnside Presbyterian Church near Pirinoa.
261!!!
View from the Cape Palliser Lighthouse. This is part of the Matakitaki-a-kupe Reserve.
Truly in the rocks.
Just barely raising its head. Sorry to have disturbed you.
This must be how seals enjoy life.
Cruiser going up a “cliff.”
Ten seals.
One seal playing in the small inlet.
Life on the edge.
Two seals and a gull.
Cruiser and, maybe, mom.
That just cannot be comfortable…
Shortly after this shot, the seal had to abandon its post because of an incoming wave.
Cruiser checking out the photographer.
Another gull on the rocks. That sounds like a New Zealand cocktail…
“Cruiser,” the very energetic seal pup. He or she cruised all over the rocks.
Lounging seal. I guess the rock close to her head is a pillow??
A gull on the rocks.
Cape Palliser Lighthouse in the distance.
After a hard morning of swimming, this seal could not make it very far before a nap took over.
The nearby rocks must provide a sense of protection. Regardless, the flat rock seems much more comfortable than some of the other resting spots observed.
A female Paradise shelduck.
Gettin’ a little sun on the belly, ahhh!
Rocky beach near Mangatoetoe.
Awaiting lunch from the Captain’s Table food trailer in Ngawi.
In the backyard, waiting for the grill to heat up. This was after a hard day of seal watching.
Christchurch – Everything is Going to be Alright

Christchurch – Everything is Going to be Alright

Christchurch, New Zealand – November 2, 2016

Everything is going to be alright…according to the sign on the Christchurch Art Gallery.  The neon phrase is 46 meters (151 feet) long.  One cannot miss it, particularly at night.  Unveiled in 2015 as part of the Christchurch Art Gallery reopening following the 2011 earthquake it is one of a series of neon work done by Martin Creed.

Say no more…

I was in Christchurch as part of a team preparing for the visit of Secretary of State John Kerry.  His ultimate destination was “the ice.”  He was to visit some of the facilities of the United States Antarctic Program (USAP).  The departure point for flights to the USAP McMurdo Station is a corner of the Christchurch International Airport.  The flights are on Boeing C-17 Globemaster operated by the United States Air Force.

To make sure everything was ready for his visit, the team went to the USAP offices and clothing distribution center.  Those are in buildings just across the street from the airport.  The clothing distribution center is essentially a large warehouse with all sorts of winter-weather gear.  The gear is checked out and fitted to those making the trip.  During the fitting, the travelers are given an in-depth briefing on the dangers of the Antarctic and how to deal with emergencies.

Entry to the USAP terminal.
The Clothing Distribution Center.
Poster delineating what must be worn or carried on all flights.
The various clothing items that may be issued for a trip to the “ice.”
A Boeing C17 Globemaster.
One of the airport support buildings.

Before going to the ice, the Secretary had several engagements in Christchurch. As soon as there was a decent weather-window, he and his entourage were off to the airport. It is about a five-hour flight. He was to spend at least one night there, depending on the weather at the Antarctic.
While he was gone, we spent time preparing for his return. In the off-hours, I wandered around the city, taking photographs.My restaurant of choice became The Rockpool. It is a sports bar/pool hall/restaurant. One day for lunch, I decided to have a Whitebait Butty sandwich. Whitebait is a small fish, about the size of a sardine. It is a favorite fish in New Zealand. I had wanted to try it, so I took the plunge.
The sandwich is made up of a whitebait fritter and two large, toasted, and buttered pieces of bread. The fritter is egg and the fish. I thought it was good enough; however, I do not know that I need to have another.
The Rockpool is where I had dinner with some of the team as we watched the results of the U. S. presidential race.  At many points during the meal, there were collective groans throughout the restaurant as it became apparent that Donald Trump would win the election.  The newspapers the next day demonstrated the frayed feelings of New Zealanders as it related to our new president.

The Rockpool Restaurant and Bar.
A Whitebait Butty sandwich.
The November 10, 2016 edition of the Dominion Post.
The November 10, 2016 edition of The Press.

Walking around town, one does not have to look hard to see the remnants of the February 22, 2011 earthquake. The scars from that 6.2 magnitude earthquake are everywhere in the central business district. One of the most notable, or at least the most visited, would have to be the Christchurch Cathedral. The western ¼ of the Cathedral is gone, lying in ruin on the ground. There are supports in place to keep other parts of the Cathedral from falling. Unfortunately, it is no longer a place of worship, but rather a home for pigeons. If anything, it presents an eerie, but a strong memorial to the 185 people who were killed that February afternoon.
The Cathedral Square area seems to be becoming more and more vibrant. There are several art installations and frequent visits from various food trucks. The Christchurch Tramway streetcars also have a stop at the square. That means people are always coming and going from the area.

Panorama of the damaged Christchurch Cathedral.
Flag Wall by Sara Hughes (2014) at Cathedral Square.
Chalice by Neil Dawson (2001) at Cathedral Square.
View of Planted Whare by Chris Heaphy at Cathedral Square. The word “whare” is Maori for the house.
Food trucks at Cathedral Square.

About four blocks east of the damaged Cathedral, one finds the Christchurch Transitional Cathedral.  That is the “replacement” worship space for the Anglican parish displaced by the earthquake.  Locally it is known as the “cardboard cathedral.”  That is because it is made substantially of cardboard.  It is most visible when one looks at the cylindrical forms used to support the roof.  They are quite literally forms, used when pouring concrete in the ground for footings or foundations.  It is a unique look.

The Christchurch Transitional Cathedral.
The Christchurch Transitional Cathedral.

Just a few blocks north of the Transitional Cathedral is the Firefighters Reserve, a memorial to firefighters worldwide. Its focal point is steel beams from the World Trade Center donated by the City of New York to the City of Christchurch. It is moving in its simplicity beside the Avon River.

A plaque at the Firefighters Reserve, a 9/11 Memorial. “A Tribute to Firefighters. This sculpture was designed by Graham Bennett. The steel, from the New York World Trade Center site, was gifted by the City of New York to the City of Christchurch to honor all firefighters worldwide. 26 October 2002.”
Detail of the 9/11 memorial.
Steel beams from the Twin Towers.

On one of my walks, I visited the Canterbury Museum. In 2016, Air New Zealand celebrated its 75th anniversary. To commemorate that, the museum had a special exhibit. I thought it was fascinating. As a collector-come-hoarder (some would say) I particularly liked the numerous old advertising posters. My favorite was of the plane taking off in the evening over Wellington.
There was a darker piece of the exhibit. That was the area dedicated to the tragic November 28, 1979, Antarctic flight. On that day, an Antarctic sightseeing flight from Auckland crashed on Mount Erebus. All 257 aboard were killed.

75th Anniversary sign.
A NAC plane flying over Wellington.
Memorabilia from an earlier Air New Zealand Antarctic sightseeing trip. About two and one-half years later, a sightseeing plane crashed, killing all 257 aboard.

Adjacent to the museum is the Botanical Gardens. At the entry-point, one encounters the Peacock Fountain. It is not named after the bird, but rather the man; John Thomas Peacock. Upon his death in 1905, he bequeathed a large amount of money to the Christchurch Beautifying Society. The Society used the money to install the fountain.
The 7.6 meters (25 feet) tall fountain is imposing. Erected in 1911, it was ultimately dismantled and placed in storage in 1949. Restoration efforts began in the 1980s. Very nearly half of the more than 300 pieces had to be recast. The rededication of the fountain in its current location was in 1996. It is indeed a sight worth seeing.
I found another fountain in the Gardens, the Regret Fountain. At roughly six meters (20 feet), it is not quite as tall as the Peacock Fountain, but it is impressive in its way. Sam Mahon is the fountain sculptor. The installation dates to 1997. That is a lever at the edge of the fountain beckoning people to push. When pushed, the fountain comes to life. I witnessed several people do that while I was there.

The Peacock Fountain at the Botanic Gardens.
The Regret Fountain.
Watching the Regret Fountain.
Trying out the Regret Fountain.

At the southeast corner of the park, at the end of a dirt path, is a Tudor-style house.  It is known as the Curators House and is now a restaurant.  I stopped by and noticed it was a Spanish restaurant.  That immediately put it on my list for that night’s dinner.

It was about a three-block walk from my hotel to the restaurant.  Once seated, I struck up a conversation with my server in Spanish.  She was surprised not only by me speaking Spanish, but Spanish with a Castillan accent.  That was fun to dust off my language skills.

The Curators House Restaurant.

For my starter, I had to have Patatas Bravas. Here it consisted of hand-cut potato wedges topped with spicy oven-roasted capsicum, tomato dressing, and aioli. That was one of my favorite tapas when we lived in Spain.
I followed that delicious tapa with Pescado a la Plancha (chargrilled fish). The menu described the dish as fish of the day with Canary Island style mojo verde, herbed vinaigrette, and sautéed seasonal vegetables. The fish of the day was an entire sole. It was easily the size of a dinner plate. I was not able to eat the whole serving, but what I had was so rich and delicious. I had zero room left for dessert. The walk back to the hotel helped settle my colossal meal.Later in the week, I stopped at the Christchurch Art Gallery. For such a small museum, they have an extraordinary collection. A couple of my favorites are the painting No! and the sculpture Survey #4. No! by Tony Fomison (1971) reminds me of the phrase, “talk to the hand.” Survey #4 by Peter Trevelyan (2013-2014) is impressive because the entire sculpture is made from 0.5mm mechanical pencil leads. I do not believe I could have come up with such an idea in a million years.
I also liked Portrait of O’Donnell Moffett by Rita Angus (c. 1939). I think what strikes me about that painting is the fact a copy of it appears on the wall of a building on New Regent Street. More about that soon.
On the exterior of the gallery, my two favorite pieces are Chapman’s Homer, a sculpture by Michael Parekowhai (2011).  I guess that is because the bull reminds me of Spain.  I also enjoyed the whimsical sculpture Quasi by Ronnie van Hout (2016).  Even though it is on the roof of the gallery, at five-meters (16 feet), it is easily seen from the ground.

Detail of No! by Tony Fomison (1971).
Detail of Survey #4 by Peter Trevelyan (2013-2014). It is a small sculpture made of 0.5mm mechanical pencil leads.
Detail of Portrait of O’Donnell Moffett by Rita Angus (c. 1939).
The sculpture Chapman’s Homer by Michael Parekowhai (2011).
Quasi sculpture.

About a block away from the gallery is The Arts Centre. The center is an extensive collection of neo-gothic style buildings dating from the early 20th Century. The buildings were severely damaged in the 2011 earthquake and had been undergoing painstaking restoration. The buildings were originally the University of Canterbury.

The Arts Centre building.
Stay by Sir Antony Gormley (2015).
Building on the grounds of the Arts Centre.
Detail of a stained glass window at the Arts Centre.

Maybe it is because there are a lot of buildings that no longer exist, leaving bare walls; but there is a lot of wall art in the central business district of Christchurch. They are each colorful and eye-catching in their way. One of those is the copy of the Rita Angus work on the north end of the buildings on New Regent Street. That area of two-story buildings dates to 1932. It is a genuinely colorful area of the CBD with many boutique shops and cafes. The pastel colors of the buildings repeat every fourth building. It can be a bustling area, especially when the streetcars pass along the pedestrian-friendly street.

New Regent Street looking south. Note the wall with the Portrait of O’Donnell Moffett. The original is at the Christchurch Art Gallery.
Wall art. This is on the west wall of the Isaac Theatre Royal on Gloucester Street.
Wall art detail.
Have you paid for your wall art? This was on the west wall of the abandoned building at 159 Hereford Street.
Wall art. The walls meeting in the corner is just an illusion. The wall is actually parallel to the camera.
Art on the west wall of 113 Worcester Street.

The Re:START mall is another unique feature of the post-earthquake CBD.  Since so many of the stores in the CBD were destroyed, the Re:START mall tried to pump life back into the area with stores in shipping containers.  That idea has helped keep the CBD shopping alive.  It is in a beautiful setting near the Bridge of Remembrance and the Avon River terrace seating.  There always seems to be an abundance of people in the area.

A portion of Re:START mall.
Champions mannequins are outdone by the reflection of mannequins in dresses.
The Re:START mall.
Avon River terraced seating.

One evening, even though it was raining, I went out for a photo walk. It was a little uncomfortable and challenging, but I think I got some excellent photos; mainly since I was working without a tripod.

The east side of the Bridge of Remembrance.
Quasi, a sculpture by Ronnie van Hout at the Christchurch Art Gallery.
The Worcester Boulevard bridge over the Avon River.
The Maori pouwhenua at the Christchurch City Council building. The inscription translates to the mooring post.
Koru.
A flock of Korus.
A silver fern.
Rose.
Kayakers.
Kayaks on the Avon River.
Punt boat on the Avon River.
The abandoned Harley building.
The building at 159 Oxford Terrace.
156 Oxford Terrace.
Waterwheel on the Avon River at the Hereford Street bridge.
A building being demolished across from the Cathedral.
Looking north on New Regent Street.
Building facades.
Bustling New Regent Street.
A streetcar turning onto New Regent Street.
Sidewalk cafe on New Regent Street.
A police car driving by the Cathedral.
Flag Wall.
Flag Wall and Cathedral Square.
The north wall of 156 Oxford Terrace.
A streetcar crossing the Avon River.
Detail of the Maori pouwhenua at the Christchurch City Council building.
The Firefighters Reserve.
Duck and eel.
Mamma and the babies.
Mamma and the babies II.
Mamma over the eels.
Avon River terraced seating.
Duck on the Avon.
The Avon River flowing by the Bridge of Remembrance.
The East side of the Bridge of Remembrance.
The east side of the Bridge of Remembrance.
Avon River as seen from the Manchester Street bridge.
Mural on the east wall of the UniMed building at 165 Gloucester Street.
Looking west toward the intersection of Hereford Street and Manchester Street.
The You Are Here Sign sculpture by Matt Akehurst (2011).
Side view of Quasi by Ronnie van Hout.
Detail of Chapman’s Homer.
Post-earthquake bracing.
Road Closed.
Street markings.
Sunning on the deck.
The Manchester Street bridge over the Avon River.
The Edmonds Clock Tower.
The Avon River from the Madras Street bridge.
Reflective Lullaby by Gregor Kregar (2013).
In the belly of the gnome.
The sculpture Bebop by Bill Culbert (2013) hangs over the main staircase at the Christchurch Art Gallery.
A streetcar along Worcester Boulevard.
NAC, the National Airways Corporation, was the forerunner to Air New Zealand.
A 1970’s Tahiti poster.
A TEAL poster with Maori designs.
A TEAL poster.
Travel posters from days gone by.
Entry to the Canterbury Museum.
Spring flowers.
The sculpture, Reasons for Voyaging by Graham Bennett (2007).
The back side of the elevator structure for the Christchurch Art Gallery parking garage.
Wreaths at the base of the Bridge of Remembrance.
View toward the west side of the Christchurch Cathedral.
The lobby of the Christchurch Art Gallery.
The sculpture Bebop by Bill Culbert (2013) hangs over the main staircase at the Christchurch Art Gallery.
Detail of In the Wizard’s Garden by George Dunlop Leslie (c. 1904).
Detail of La Lecture de la Bible by Henriette Browne (1857).
Detail of Soldiers in a Village by Joost Droochsloot (c. 1640).
Detail of Cottage Interior with Kitchen Maid artist unknown (c. 1660).
An abandoned building at the corner of Worcester Boulevard and Cambridge Terrace.
The Worcester Boulevard bridge over the Avon River.
Columns in front of the Christchurch Returned and Services’ Association. Gallipoli and Chunuk Bair are both sites in Turkey from WWI.
The wall of remembrance at the Christchurch Returned and Services’ Association.
Quasi, a sculpture by Ronnie van Hout at the Christchurch Art Gallery.
Directions and a bull on the piano.
Everything is going to be alright…
The Maori pouwhenua at the Christchurch City Council building.
The Worcester Boulevard bridge over the Avon River.
Hereford Street bridge over the Avon River.
The west side of the Bridge of Remembrance.
The office building housing the United States Antarctic Program.
Apparently, it is everywhere…

Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven

Cape Palliser, New Zealand – June 5, 2016

On the spur of the moment, we decided to drive to the Cape Palliser Lighthouse. The two-hour drive began by going over Rimutaka Pass, one of Leslie’s favorites…not. It is a very twisty-turny road, a two-lane highway with periodic passing lanes. The views are spectacular.
Just outside of Featherston, we turned south on Kahutara Road. Along the way, we drove across a bridge over the Ruamahanga River. It was very picturesque. I kept that in the back of my mind. Shortly after the crossing, we turned onto Lake Ferry Road and finally onto Cape Palliser Road. It was on Lake Ferry Road where we discovered the Burnside Presbyterian Church. A sign out front noted the church dates from 1875. The morning light made for a picturesque photo.

The Burnside Church.

Soon, we were parallel to the coast, driving through some farms. We looked to the south and were surprised to see a snowcapped mountain on the south island. Researching after the fact, I found the peak is Mount Tapuae-O-Ueneku. It is nearly 9,500 feet tall. Surprisingly, the distance between the mountain and us was approximately 90 miles. We also saw Mount Franklyn. It is almost 7,700 feet tall. At nearly 140 miles, I am surprised we could see the peak.

Mount Tapuae-O-Ueneku is on the right. Mount Franklyn is on the left. They are both on the South Island.
Mount Tapuae-O-Ueneku.

That morning, the ocean was a fantastic shade of blue. From the farmland, the road descends several hundred feet to the coast. The way at that point is right beside the ocean. Imagining driving along that road during a strong southerly storm sent chills down my spine. I am sure the waves are treacherous during such a blast. With that idea in mind, a precariously situated house caught my eye. I stopped at the beach for some photos. We could see a blue beach home nearly ready to fall into the surf. It appeared the house was vacant for some time. I was a little surprised the home was still there as opposed to being razed and removed. The home was teetering, seemingly awaiting the next storm and its inevitable destiny with the ocean.

Precarious!!
Looking across Palliser Bay toward Turakirae Head.
Bird tracks.
Rock in the sand.
The southerly storms have obviously pounded this section of coastline.

We stopped at a rocky point less than a mile from the Cape Palliser Lighthouse. The rocks seemed similar to those at the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki; although there were no blowholes there (see Greymouth). The ocean was relatively calm that morning. Regardless, at that particular point, the sea was quite agitated. The crashing waves mesmerized us.

Rocks near Mangatoetoe.
More of the jagged rocks near Mangatoetoe.
Surf at the rocks near Mangatoetoe.

The parking area at the end of the Cape Palliser Road is directly at the base of the stairs that lead to the Cape Palliser Lighthouse. From the parking area, the stairs looked more like an overgrown ladder than actual stairs. In continuous operation since October 27, 1897, the lighthouse is 60 feet tall. Ships as far as thirty miles from shore can spot the light. The red and white paint scheme makes the lighthouse very visible against the brownish-gray of the hillside on which it sits.

At the base of the stairs, we saw a sign with the sad note, “…261 steps it takes to reach it.” From our point of view, it indeed appeared it was the stairway to Heaven. I must admit I was shocked to hear Leslie declare she was game to climb the stairs. We enthusiastically began our ascent. In increments of 50, someone using a felt marker on the sides of the stairs reminded one of their progress to that point. We stopped frequently. Ultimately, we passed that 261st stair and stood on the concrete pad at the base of the lighthouse.

Cape Palliser lighthouse showing the Stairway to Heaven.
WARNING Please take care use these steps at your own risk.
Seashell at the base of the stairs.
The lighthouse as seen from about halfway up the stairs.
Tread number 200…
Kirikiri Bay.
Made it to the top!!
Straight up the side!
Cape Palliser lighthouse.
Some visitors.
A long way down!

The view from the lighthouse was commanding. A woman with some friends and a group of children pointed out to us where we might find fur seals when we descended from the lighthouse. None of her directions included the parking area below the lighthouse. We soon found out otherwise. Nevertheless, looking down the stairs, it again appeared as a stairway from heaven. Even though gravity was working well, going down was not easy. By the time we reached the base of the stairs, I had thought my knees would pop.
Back on level ground, we decided to walk the short distance to the beach. I stopped there to take some photographs. While I was taking a picture, the woman that gave seal directions to us at the lighthouse called out to the children, essentially saying no, no. The children had run in front of my shot, so I thought she was chastising them for that action. When I lowered my camera, I saw that she was commanding them to stop before they got too close to a seal. Sure enough, there within about fifty feet of me was a fur seal. The seal, lying on its back, raised its head and grunted toward the children. Once sure the children were no longer a threat, the seal lay down again, belly pointing to the sun.

The moment of a seal discovery.

We have seen seals before, but never in their natural habitat. I began channeling my inner David Attenborough, snapping photographs wildly. After several shots, I stepped more to my left, looking for a better angle, stopped and took several more photos. I repeated that motion several times, never getting closer to the seal, just looking for a better perspective. On my final shuffle, the snort of another seal startled me. My inner Attenborough nearly soiled my britches. This snorting seal was about fifteen feet away, hidden in a bedding area amongst several small bushes. As soon as I stopped, the snorting stopped. That seal went back to sunning itself too.

After the startling encounter, we walked back to our vehicle. We drove back along the Cape Palliser Road; we stopped at one of the locations that the woman at the lighthouse said held a fur seal colony. We parked the vehicle and walked down to the beach. Soon we spotted our first seal, lying on a rock. Then we saw several more lying on the grass. Suddenly, it seemed seals were everywhere. We stood there for quite a while, just watching. We also noticed the seals come with their colony odor. It is unmistakable. I am not sure which is worse; the seals’ odor or the Gannets’ odor (see Gannets Everywhere ).

The wake-up stretch.

Rousing from slumber.
It was like I was not even there.
A soft place for a nap.
Are you looking at us???
A perfect spot for a nap.
Seal colony near Mangatoetoe.
I interrupted at least one nap.
The eyes opened, but nothing else on her moved. She was very relaxed.
Seal colony near Mangatoetoe.
Not my idea of comfort.

When we tired of watching, we walked back to our vehicle. Once there, Leslie decided to sit down. I decided to walk to a rock formation. I hoped to get a different view of the sea. Instead, my inner Attenborough stumbled across several hidden seals, each providing a surprised grunt as I unwittingly stepped too close. They did provide me with some excellent photo opportunities. Deciding I could not get to my desired vantage point without ending up in the middle of the seal colony, I opted to return to the car.
As I noted earlier, our trip was spontaneous. That meant we had not packed a lunch. When I returned to the vehicle, Leslie suggested we stop at the small food trailer in the almost as small fishing village of Ngawi. That sounded like a great idea to me. On the way back to that village, we saw a sign warning of penguins crossing. We have seen several such signs on our New Zealand travels, but we have yet to see a penguin in the wild.

The small food trailer is right on the beach at the edge of Ngawi. Several people stood at the front of the trailer when we arrived, waiting to order. Leslie chose the fish tortilla while I decided on the cheeseburger. We also each ordered chips (French fries) and fizzy drinks. The lunch cost us about US$16. Not bad, considering the number of chips they gave us could have fed Ngawi for two to three days!
We ate across the street from the trailer, sitting on a bench next to the Ngawi Community Hall. Leslie said the fish tortilla (essentially a soft-shelled fish taco) was the best in the world. My cheeseburger was perfect. Something different was the pickled red beet added to the burger. It took the place of a sweet pickle. As we walked back across the street, Leslie told the two women operating the trailer how much she enjoyed the fish tortilla. That thrilled them to no end.

CAUTION
The one and only lunch spot in Ngawi.
Ngawi Community Hall.
Taking a boat back home.

As Americans, I think our thought of a traditional fishing village includes a marina. In Ngawi, the “marina” was full of diesel bulldozers. The bulldozers and some tractors attach to boat trailers. The trailer tongues are extraordinarily long. The bulldozers back the trailers into the surf to launch and retrieve the fishing boats. It is fascinating to watch. This method of boat delivery to the ocean is the same as what we experienced when we visited Kapiti Island.
On the drive back toward home, I recalled the beautiful view on the bridge over the Ruamahanga River. This time, I parked just on the other side of the bridge. The bridge is a very narrow, two-lane bridge. There is no room for pedestrians. Luckily, there is not a lot of traffic. Leslie and I walked to the center of the bridge. I was able to take several good photographs. At one point, a car driving over the bridge slowed to a crawl to see precisely what I was photographing. Once they saw it was merely a landscape, the sped on across.
We drove back over Rimutaka Pass and arrived home around 16:00. It was a beautiful day trip.

The Ruamahanga River looking toward the Aorangi Forest Park.
Fisherman on the Ruamahanga River.
Cattle in the distance.
A fence with shoes for some reason.
The hillside facing the ocean.
View of the ocean from Cape Palliser Road.
The rocky beach at Ngawi.
This is how fishing boats are launched at Ngawi.
The Pacific Ocean just keeps rolling in.
A bay near Mangatoetoe.
Waves crash against the opposite side of the rocks.
Our magic carpet.
The green paddocks and hills of New Zealand.

TranzAlpine Train & Christchurch

TranzAlpine Train & Christchurch

Christchurch, New Zealand – February 23, 2016

We departed Greymouth at about 14:30, some 40 minutes late. We were on-board the KiwiRail, TranzAlpine train, heading to Christchurch. It is called the TranzAlpine because it bisects the South Island of New Zealand, going over and through the Southern Alps. Our impending journey was about four hours long.  We were all excited for the penultimate portion of our tour of the South Island.

Two passengers ready for the journey.
Two more passengers…

Our seats were in carriage H, the last enclosed carriage of the train. Behind carriage, H followed the last carriage of the train, the observation carriage. The unique thing about the observation carriage was that it was completely open. There was nothing to come between the camera and the photo. I spent more than half of the four-hour journey standing up in the observation carriage. When the tracks turned just right, I could capture the front of the train.
While not having any glass to introduce glare into my photographs was nice, the observation carriage came with its own set of challenges. First of all, when the train was moving at full-speed, I had to mind my cap. With the wind blasting in from both sides, it could have quickly relieved me of my cherished hat. Secondly, moving that fast, I estimate 100 to 120 kilometers per hour (62 to 75 mph), it was challenging to keep one’s balance. I know that added some camera shake to many of my photographs. Regardless, it was an exhilarating experience.

Watching the sites fly by.

The trip is not an express, stopping at seven small towns between Greymouth and Christchurch. The stops include Kokiri, Moana, Otira, Arthur’s Pass, Springfield, Darfield, and Rolleston. At times, the tracks paralleled a road. At other times, the train tracks were the only thing to be seen in the valley. Frequently, the train traveled parallel to streams and rivers. It is incredible to me to see how clear the water is in New Zealand. It is so clear that it makes it very difficult to fly fish. The fish can easily see when someone approaches.

Crystal clear stream.
Crystal clear stream II.

Each passenger received a set of earphones. I did not use them; I was too busy going back and forth to the observation carriage. Lorraine thought the narrative available through the earphones enhanced the journey. The narrator shared history and tidbits of information all along the route.

Listening to the narrative while on the journey.

The town of Otira is at the entrance to the Otira Tunnel. On the Christchurch side of the tunnel is the village of Arthur’s Pass. The tunnel is just over five miles long. Part of the reason for the stop at Otira is to couple an additional engine to the rear of the train. The reason for the second engine is safety. In case there is a problem in the tunnel, the engines can pull the train to safety, regardless of which direction. The trip from Otira to Arthur’s Pass has a gain in altitude of over 800 feet. While Baldwin Street is steeper at 1:5 (see blog entry Otago & Olveston), the pitch of the tunnel is 1:33. Opened in 1923, the tunnel was the seventh-longest tunnel in the world at that time. The observation carriage was closed during the trip through the tunnel.

The train stopped on the Arthur’s Pass side of the tunnel, to allow the uncoupling of the second engine.

Preparing to couple onto the rear of the train at Otira.
Otira depot.
A colorful building in Otira.

With all the stops and because of our late departure, we were an hour late arriving in Christchurch. We disembarked and walked to the front of the train to retrieve our baggage. My bag was the absolute last one to come off the train. The last bag in hand; we walked outside the station. We abruptly discovered taxis were scarce. Many of the taxi drivers tired of waiting for the late train. They departed to find other fares. That left 30 or 40 passengers waiting for taxis. One by one, taxis dribbled back to the station and loaded with crankier and crankier passengers. I do not think we were grumpy, but I know we were thrilled when we were finally able to get in a taxi.
Unfortunately, I was not familiar that Corporate Cabs operates in Christchurch. Had I known, I could have made a reservation ahead of time. That would have meant a cab would be there waiting for us regardless of our arrival time. Oh well, live and learn!On our way to the Ibis Christchurch hotel, I asked our driver if he had been in Christchurch when the big earthquake struck February 22, 2011. He said he was. Liquefaction destroyed his home. As we drove along, it was apparent that Christchurch was not back to 100 percent. Many buildings still stood damaged. The driver said that wherever there was a vacant lot, there had been a structure there before the earthquake.
I felt sad for and about the city. It seemed to be only a shell of its former self. The central business district should have been bustling with people, business, and commerce. It was not; it just seemed to be “existing.”
By the time we made it to the hotel, we were all tired and hungry. We checked-in tossed our bags in our rooms and made a beeline for the hotel restaurant.
The next morning, after breakfast, we were ready to explore Christchurch. Just around the corner from the hotel is the Christchurch Anglican Cathedral. Construction on the Cathedral began in 1864. It took 40 years to complete. The 2011 earthquake partially destroyed the Cathedral in a matter of seconds. Indecision and inaction, except for some bracing and some screening fencing, means it remains in a state of disrepair. It was sad to see it in that condition.

The earthquake damaged the cathedral.
Into the damage…

Very near the Cathedral, we discovered the Christchurch Tramway. The Tramway is public transportation utilizing restored streetcars dating from the early 20th Century. The tickets we purchased allowed us to use the Tramway throughout the day.

Another of the Christchurch streetcars.

We got off the Tramway at the Canterbury Museum. The main building of the museum dates from 1870. There have been some building additions since then.
Our first stop in the museum was the Christchurch Street area. The area housed multiple storefronts reminiscent of the 1870s Christchurch. Each of the storefronts contained period artifacts. We truly got the feeling of walking in Christchurch in the late 19th Century. One exit from the Christchurch Street exhibit led directly into an old gallery area containing 19th Century costumes and decorative arts.
One of the unique exhibits in the museum is the Paua Shell House that has some actual portions of and furniture from a real home in Bluff, New Zealand. Fred and Myrtle Flutely covered their home in Bluff, inside and out, with paua shells. Leslie and I both like paua shells. They are beautiful; however, I think we will stop short of doing our house up with the shells. It took Fred and Myrtle 40 years to cover the home. I am sure it was a real conversation piece while it was located in Bluff.

The Canterbury Museum.
Out for a ride.
In the peloton…
Paua shells.

Departing the museum, we boarded the Tramway again. This time we got off on the famous New Regent Street. The street is a block-long collection of pastel-colored two-story buildings, dating from the mid-1930s. The ground level shops were a mixture of coffee shops, cafés, and boutiques. After walking the city for a while, it was back on the Tramway.

A streetcar on New Regent Street.

Our next stop was the Christchurch Art Gallery. Since it was lunchtime, we first stopped at the Fiddlesticks Restaurant and Bar that is directly across the street.

Detail of Ana Reupene Whetuki and Child (Ngati Maru) by Gottfried Lindauer (1880).

There is an outstanding collection of art in the gallery. From the second floor, one can see the Maori totem in front of Christchurch City Hall from a window. When we left the museum, Hillary was able to pose with her best haka face in front of the totem.
After the haka pose, we waited across from the museum for the next Tramway. After 15 minutes, we still had not seen a Tram. I finally called the Tramway company. The person that answered the phone told me the Tram was no longer running that day because of issues beyond their control. We discovered later that the track along New Regent Street was closed. Some newly discovered earthquake damage on one of the buildings caused the closure. I certainly did not notice anything dangerous about the premises while we were there earlier in the day. But then again, I was not looking for anything. After hearing that news, we strolled back to the hotel for some well-deserved naps.

From one tiki to another…
Posing in front of the Maori pouwhenua at the Christchurch City Council building.

When we woke up, we had one more stop we wanted to make, the “Container Mall.” The actual name of the development is Re: START Mall.  A few blocks from our hotel, this area is several retail stores housed in uniquely positioned metal shipping containers. The idea is to replace temporarily the shopping spaces damaged or demolished because of the 2011 earthquake. I have certainly never seen another mall like that one.

I could not keep the earthquake out of my mind.  The ground on which the mall is situated was no doubt the location of multiple buildings; buildings that were destroyed and subsequently razed.  Colorful paint on many of the containers made the setting a little less industrial.  Additionally, there were several pieces of whimsical art throughout the mall.

View of the Re:START Mall from above.

The shopping was uneventful. None of us purchased anything. We strolled back to the hotel and prepared for our departure from Christchurch the next day.
After a leisurely breakfast and morning, we hailed a taxi and headed to the Christchurch airport. The airport was rehabbed after the 2011 earthquake. Our wait went like clockwork, taking off on time.
The flight was uneventful. It was a little bumpy on our approach into Wellington; however, it was not as bad as the first day Leslie, and I arrived a few months ago.

The train on a left bend.
Off into the distance.
At times, there seemed to be a lot of nothingness.
The train on the right bend.
A weathered peak.
Looking forward from the observation car.
A desolate mountain.
Closer view of the mountain peaks and river.
Looking down into a valley and at the river.
Mountain peaks.
Majestic mountains.
View up a valley.
A home at Otira.
Otira homes and a playground.
Homes across from the depot at Otira.
The stream running along the valley floor.
The meandering stream bed.
The train making a fairly tight left turn.
The Grey River near Greymouth.
The rail behind.
A dam on the Grey River.
A small lake by the tracks.
The stream feeding the small lake.
Limbs
Geese
Making a left.
The Grey River on a gray day.
A wide valley.
Colorful building in Otira.
The Otira market building.
Awaiting the arrival at the Otira depot.
One of the Christchurch streetcars.
Art in the Re: START Mall.
A woman and her dog.
Infinite definite.
A woman feeding cats.
Photo and mural.
A double-decker container coffee shop.
Colorful panels at the cathedral.
A cairn near the cathedral.
Riding in a streetcar.
View toward the front of a streetcar.
Contemplating the ride.
A group of school children preparing to enter the Canterbury Museum.
A corrugated car.
Detail of the paua shells.
Antarctic cat.
A sarcophagus with very detailed painting.
The Peacock Fountain.
The pastel facades that are New Regent Street.
Crossing to the sunny side.
At the end of New Regent Street.
A long, lost family business…NOT!!
The south end of New Regent Street.
Passengers in a streetcar.
The main streetcar stop at the end of New Regent Street.
The opening to New Regent Street.
Looking in the opposite direction from the New Regent Street stop.
Watch out for the toro.
Detail of Cass by Rita Angus (1936).
Modular 3, Series 2 by Ray Thornburn (1970).
Detail of Pip & Pop: The newest new wold.
Detail of Clearing up After the Rain, Foot of Otira Gorge by John Gibb (1887).
Detail of The Dutch Funeral by Petrus van der Velden (1875).
Povi Christkeke by Michael Tuffery (1999).
Detail of Povi Christkeke by Michael Tuffery (1999).
My Sister, My Self by Michael Parekowhai (2006).
Bull on the piano.
Detail of The Physician by Gerrit Dou (1653).
Museum stairs.
Detail of the bull on the piano.
Museum lobby.