Thursday, December 7, 2017

Misty Mount Nimrod, Hunters Hills

Wednesday 06.12.17.  At sparrows' I drove 35 kms from Pleasant Point to DOC's Mt Nimrod Scenic Reserve via Cave, Cannington & below Hunters Hills by Back Line Rd, the last 9 kms gravel road. Close to White Rock River, a wallaby bounced across the gravel, surprised during its dawn water quest.

After scorching summer days, a misty morn, I tried to text Leah to tell her I was on my way. No luck, Mt Nimrod Scenic Reserve campsite, at 400 m height, had no cell coverage. I would try higher up. I tried to text Leah at the beginning & during my tramps for safety & progress reasons. I left her with a Topo50 map with my intentions, just in case. Having climbed Rollesby Range, Dalgety Range & Grampian Range over the last 5 weeks, I hadn't seen a soul on my climbs, just flora, fauna & grand Alpine views.

Today would be different due to misty Mt Nimrod. For an hour I climbed the steep zig-zag track for about 1 km, through native bush in the Nimrod Stream gorge. The going was humid & slippery over wet rocks & leaf litter. Dominant trees were Melicytus ramiflorus whiteywood with some Fuchsia excorticata & Griselinia littoralis broadleafs. Understorey: mainly ferns & vines, like Ripogonum scandens supplejack & Rubus cissoides bush lawyer. On the way up, I surprised another wallaby which stopped, having a good look at me before vanishing into bush. At the top of Mt Nimrod Scenic Reserve track, bush diversified into Leptospermum scoparium manuka, tussocks, Phormium flax, Astelias & Dracophyllum.

At the top of Mt Nimrod Scenic Reserve track, DOC recently made a new track by a farm fence, joining at a new DOC gate the recently opened 5 km Hunters Hills Conservation Track, an easement through tussock grassland along Hunters Hills farm tracks to the Hunters Hills Conservation Area including Mt Nimrod, 1525 m & extending NW almost to Mt Nessing summit, 1601 m. The easement was part of a maze of farm tracks criss-crossing Hunters Hills.

At the start of the easement track, on a new DOC gate & a farm fence, contradictory DOC & police signs said:

Dept of Conservation
Te Papa Atawhai

Public access through
       private land

No firearms to be carried
Keep to marked access
Please leave gates as found
Do not disturb stock

                Police Support
           Safer Communities

Persons are advised this property is
Listed as a member on the national
          Anti-poaching register.
All persons entering must obtain
Permission from the landowner or
      Occupier before entering or
             Face prosecution.


The easement track sidled past Hunters Hills tops in the mist, which obliterated views. I passed through 4 new DOC gates, visibility about 50 m, often less. Farm gates & other farm track signs said:

       NO ACCESS

Alpine flora: Tussock grassland converted to farm grassland in places, associated with Discaria toumatou matagouri, Celmisia daisies, Gaultheria snowberries, Dracophyllum, Aciphylla speargrass, lichens, Scleranthus, Donatia, Cyathodes & sphagnum moss mats.

It took me 2 hours wandering up the 5 km easement track, well marked with DOC marker poles, except after the 4th DOC gate on a saddle where DOC marker poles weren't close enough to see in the mist. I wandered downhill on a farm track until I realised I'd run out of marker poles & slogged uphill again. (Hint: More marker poles near saddles DOC, or else I wouldn't be the only tramper lost in the mist!) 

Near the end of the easement track at about 800 m height when the mist lifted over Francis Stream Valley, 3 older gents passed me going fast. They each had the usual trampers' gear: map, boots, gaiters, shorts, shirt, jacket, water bottles in backpack pouches, hat, aluminium walking sticks. Camera & binoculars optional. By another DOC gate at Francis Stream I refilled my water bottle. During the 3 hours I wandered Hunters Hills Conservation area I saw no DOC marker poles, but enjoyed alpine flora.

After crossing Francis Stream the 3 older gents sidled around the NW end of Mt Nimrod, into the mist. Non competitive, I followed at a more leisurely pace, climbing the misty, stony track for 2 hours to about 1200 m height.

I stopped for lunch by lichen covered rocks in the mist. I texted Leah, no problem at 1200 m. Although my Topo50 map said I was on Mt Nimrod NW ridge, roiling mist obscured Mt Nimrod summit completely. Although I'd climbed through mist for 5 hours, I wasn't cold. Noon sun shone thorough mist, causing sunburn.

I was high on adrenalin & endorphins. I returned from whence I came. No good summiting misty Mt Nimrod without any views. On my way back the mist lifted a bit, so I saw some pointy Hunters Hills, steep valleys, Nimrod Stream & the farm track maze. Due to mist, I never saw Mt Nimrod summit that day.


Climb: 800 vertical metres.

Total return distance: 16 kms.

Included one way: 1 km bush track, DOC Mt Nimrod Scenic Reserve.
5 km DOC easement track to DOC Hunters Hills Conservation Area.
2 km to 1200 m height NW track up Mt Nimrod.

Total time: 9 hours (excluding lunch).

Time included:

1 hour up Mt Nimrod Scenic Reserve bush track.
2 hours up DOC easement track from Mt Nimrod Scenic Reserve to DOC Hunters Hills Conservation Area.
2 hours from Francis Stream up to 1200 m, Mt Nimrod NW side.
1 hour down from Mt Nimrod NW side, 1200 m to Francis Stream.
3 hours down DOC easement track & Mt Nimrod Scenic Reserve track to DOC campsite.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Mt Dalgety Summit, Mackenzie Country

Thursday 23.11.17. I drove SH8 from Pleasant Point to the top of Hakataramea Pass, 965 m, via Albury, Fairlie, Burkes Pass, Dog Kennel Corner, Haldon Rd, Hakataramea Pass Rd, as I wanted to summit Mt Dalgety, 1752 m. Map ref: BZ17 088921.

Road distances:

* Pleasant Point SH8 tarseal to Dog Kennel Corner turnoff to Haldon Rd: 74 kms.
* Haldon Rd tarseal past Rollesby Range & Dalgety Range to Hakataramea Pass Rd turnoff: 16 kms.
* Hakataramea Pass Rd gravel road over 4 fords past Dalgety Range & Grampian Range to top of Hakataramea pass: 16 kms.

Last Wednesday I'd summitted Grampian Range. Since then, Mackenzie Council had graded Hakataramea Pass Rd, so ruts & potholes were smoothed over.

I parked my car near a closed gate at the top of Hakataramea Pass. There was no track to the top of Mt Dalgety marked on my Topo50 map, so I hopped over a fence & followed another fence E up a tussock ridge to about 1200 m where the fence took a sharp turn N. En route a ram had hung itself by entwining three of its legs amongst top 3 wires of the fence. It hung dessicated by Alpine winds & sun. A horrible way to die with views of Dalgety ridges & valleys each side & Grampian Range W the other side of Hakataramea Pass.

I left the fence & continued climbing, following goat tracks where possible through more tussock, Spaniards & Alpine plants. Notable were Gaultheria snowberries, Celmisia sessiliflora, orange & green Scleranthus, minute Hebes, like whipcord hebes, mat broom & coral broom, Carmichaelia genus. Coral brooms & mat brooms were stunted, foraged by ungulates. I passed a  host of cushion plants on my way up, including Haastia vegetable sheep & Raoulia scabweed covering rocks. There was also Hieracium hawkweed all the way to the top, ravages of over a century of Alpine sheep farming.

On my way up, a series of giant steps up the ridge, I passed several rocky outcrops, vertical ancient sediments, with wind funnels above & below the rocky outcrops. A windless, sunny morn, I had no wind hassles, but had to drink lots of bottled water, stopping dehydration. I saw a bull tahr trotting over scree, hiding behind the ridge. He wore a magnificent, white mane below his backward pointing horns. Other fauna seen: brown skinks scurrying over hot rocks, brown grasshoppers, flies pollinating alpine plants, ladybugs hunting on Donatia hard cushions, a couple of seagulls short-cutting over Haka Pass from Snowy River Valley to Hakataramea Valley.

I didn't stay long on Dalgety summit rocks as I was pestered by flies sucking my sweat. After snapping pics, I sat near the bottom of Dalgety summit rocks, admiring Alpine views & scoffing my lunch - scroggin, biltong, mandarins, water. Views:

NE Rocky outcrops, Dalgety summit ridge to Rollesby Range & beyond to Hall Range incl Mt Haszard & Mistake Peak above Godley River Valley. Snowy Mt Erebus & Sibbald Range prominent. Snowy Two Thumbs Range incl D'Achiac peak, Mt Chevalier, Mt Edward, Mt Dobson prominent. Snowy Sherwood Range & Mt Fox prominent.
ENE Albury Range.
E beyond Hakataramea River, Mt Nessing.
S Rocky outcrops, Dalgety summit ridge, Mt Nimrod, Hunters Hills, Hakataramea Valley.
SSW Hakataramea Valley, Kirkliston Range.
W Hakataramea Pass, Grampian Range.
NW Mary Range, Lake Pukaki & beyond to snowy Ben Ohau Range, Mackenzie Peak, Dun Fiunary, Glentanner Peak, Mt Sealy prominent
NNW snowy Mt Sefton & Footstool prominent.
N Snowy River Valley, Lake Tekapo, Mt John, Fork River Valley, snowy Mt Stevenson & beyond to snowy La Perouse, Mt Cook, Mt Tasman prominent.
NNE Mt Joseph, Cass River Valley, snowy Gammack Range, snowy Malte Brun prominent.


Climb: 800 vertical metres from Hakataramea Pass top to Mt Dalgety summit.
Return distance: 7 kms.
Times: Ascent 3.75 hours. Descent 2.75 hours. A long day.

Essentials: Tramping, hill walking fitness, backpack, map, sturdy shoes, all weather gear, sunglasses, walking stick(s), food, water. Cell phone coverage if cell pointed to Mt John.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Grampian Range Summit, Mackenzie Country

Wednesday 15.11.17. I drove SH8 from Pleasant Point to Hakataramea Pass via Albury, Fairlie, Burkes Pass, Dog Kennel Corner & Haldon Rd, as I wanted to summit Grampian Range, 1921 m. (Map ref: BZ17 029891). At Hakataramea Pass, gravel road turnoff, a fence sign read:

                                                   BE AWARE
                                       UNLAWFUL HUNTING
                                   WILL NOT BE TOLERATED
                                            OFFENDERS WILL
                                            BE PROSECUTED
                       FIREARMS & VEHICLES MAY BE SEIZED
                                         MAXIMUM PENALTY
                       2 YEARS IMPRISONMENT $100 000 FINE
                                  OBTAIN PERMISSION FROM
                           THE LANDOWNER / PERMITS (DOC)
                                           BEFORE HUNTING

                        [Ph]...                                               NEW ZEALAND
              SPEAK UP, IT'S ANONYMOUS

Typical NZ cop sign touting for snitches, when cops were thin on the ground. The only cops I saw in Mackenzie Country were cops fining speedsters on SH8. Evidence of hunting / poaching I saw were dead wallabies on roadsides. SH8 farmers told us poachers spotlighted on their farms at night, taking pot shots close to their homesteads. I often saw road-kill wallabies near wooded spots on SH8 & passes.

A road sign read:




Hakataramea Pass, gravel road passed between Dalgety Range E, 18 kms long & Grampian Range W, more than 20 kms long. En route, I crossed 4 fords, streams trickling down to Snowy River below Dalgety Range. A stream crossing the road caused big potholes. 12 kms along Haka Pass, just beyond the 4th ford, a dead wallaby lay on the road, marking a farm track. (Map ref: BZ17 058919). My Topo50 map showed the farm track ascending Grampian Range to a scree saddle at 1800 m. Above the saddle, Grampian summit ridge track spit into a S farm track & N farm track. I would take the N farm track to Grampian summit, 1921 m.

From Haka Pass, I wandered up the farm track, zig-zagging up a steep tussock ridge, streams in valleys both sides of the ridge. Besides tussock grassland & spiky Spaniards, I saw many alpine cushion plants, mentioned in other blog posts. Notable were green or brown whipcord hebes amongst stones & many grey vegetable sheep clinging to rocks on steep slopes. Scab weeds & other cushion plants reminded me of zooanthids in coastal rockpools. Living scab weed branches were supported by dead scab weed branches, providing nutrients for the living.

A warm morning. A lone wallaby hopped down a tussock slope to a stream. Skinks scuttled across rocks. Brown crickets & bigger green crickets hopped about too. A lone falcon soared thermals, hunting while I climbed.

At about 1600 m, tussockland became steep scree, covered by snow patches & sparse alpine cushion plants. I compressed snowballs, sucking them, quenching my thirst, saving my bottled water for later.

From the 1800 m scree saddle, I didn't descend the farm track the other side, as it was still snow covered, making it difficult to pass Black Rocks. Instead, I followed a fence over scree, the last 100 vertical metres odd, to Grampian summit 1921 m. I added a stone to the cairn on the flat top, surrounded by stones & alpine cushion plants, mostly yellow. On the summit ridge I'd passed two farm gates, one bent by foul weather, the other still half covered in snow, amidst scree & cushion plants.

Clouds played above my head, while I admired alpine views: E, Rollesby Range, Dalgety Range, Mt Nessing. S, Hakataramea Valley. SSW, Kirkliston Range. SW Benmore Range, Lake Benmore below. W, Mary Range, Lake Pukaki, snowy Ben Ohau Range beyond. NNW, snowy Mt Sefton prominent. NW, snowy Mt Cook Range, snowy Mt Cook & snowy Mt Tasman prominent. NNE, Mt John & Lake Tekapo. Snowy Mt Stevenson prominent. NE, snowy Malte Brun prominent. Snowy Gammack Range. Snowy Hall Range. ENE, snowy Two Thumbs Range, snowy Mt Edward, snowy Mt Dobson prominent. Snowy Sherwood Range & snowy Mt Fox prominent.

I texted Leah from Grampian Range summit, no problems, as long as I pointed my cell towards Mt John. Any other direction, my texts didn't get through, like aiming my cell towards Hakataramea Valley, a waste.


Climb: 1000 vertical metres from Hakataramea Pass to Grampian Range summit.
Return distance: 12 kms.
Times: Ascent 4.5 hours. Descent 3.5 hours. A long day.

Essentials: Tramping, hill walking fitness, map, all weather gear, backpack, sunglasses, food, water, walking stick(s). Cell phone coverage if cell pointed to Mt John.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Dalgety Range Summit Ridge, Mackenzie Country.

Mon 06.11.17. I drove SH8 from Pleasant Point to Mackenzie Pass via Fairlie, Burkes Pass, Dog Kennel Corner, Haldon Rd & Mackenzie Pass Rd, the latter 9 kms gravel road to Mackenzie Pass top, between Rollesby Range N, 11 kms long & Dalgety Range S, 18 kms long. Having summited Rollesby Range last week, I wanted to climb to the Dalgety Range summit track, a remote area, far from tourists. The summit track was about 8 kms long with another 3 kms climb needed to summit Mt Dalgety, 1752 m.

Several hundred metres beyond Mackenzie Memorial on Mackenzie Pass, I parked my car at the roadside near a Mackenzie Stream tributary at about 700 m height (Map ref: BZ17 073037) where a grassy farm track marked on my Topo50 map rose to electricity pylons marching across Mackenzie Pass. It was a nor'wester warm, spring morn, so I started my tramp wearing shorts, T shirt, trainers, hat & backpack. Walking stick essential.

After the farm track petered out beyond the pylons, I climbed tussock land & waded though patches of Discaria toumatou matagouri & Aciphylla speargrass till I struck the main farm track zig-zagging up the NW end of Dalgety Range. The farm track climbed E roughly parallel to Mackenzie Pass with grand views of Rollesby Range N & Albury Range E.

When I stopped to catch my breath, turning round I had grand views of arid Mackenzie Basin & snowy peaks: Stafford Range, Ben Ohau Range with Mackenzies Peak, Razorback, Kaimakamaka Peaks, Dun Fiunary, Glentanner, Mt Sealy & others. As usual Mt Sefton & The Footstool were cloudy. Mt Cook further N was clear & snowy, Mt Tasman below ditto. Below those mighty peaks I saw snowy peaks & valleys: Gammack Range, Mt Stevenson, Braemar Dome, Fork River Valley, Mt Joseph, Cass River Valley, snowy hulk Malte Brun above, Hall Range. Looking N across Mackenzie Pass, I saw Rollesby Range with snowy Two Thumbs Range peaks & snowy Sherwood Range peaks beyond.

For a while, Dalgety NW ridge I climbed overlooked Mackenzie Stream SW flowing down a valley & snowy Grampian Range distant SW. As it had snowed last night, the S end of Dalgety Range & Grampian Range summit was sprinkled with fresh snow. En route, a wallaby froze in tussock above me, letting me snap 2 pics. When I said, "Hullo Mister Wallaby," it bounded down hill, joining sheep. I'd encounter 2 more live wallabies on my tramp & 2 dead wallabies, presumably shot at the highest point I reached on the summit track.

After I'd passed 3 farm gates & the top of a slip louring above Mackenzie Pass, the farm track turned sharp S at about 1300 m (Map ref: BZ17 097026) becoming the rocky, summit track winding along Dalgety summit ridge past rocky outcrops & wind funnels. The nor'wester coming off Mackenzie Basin cooled, causing me to become hypothermic, despite having climbed for 2.5 hours. I stopped & put on my winter gear, longs over my shorts, windcheater jacket with hood over my hat, gloves, which soon warmed me.

I wandered the cold, rocky, summit road for about 1 hour viewing alpine plants like Geranium sessiliflorum bronze crane-bill, Carmichaelia crassicaulis coral broom, Carmichaelia monroi dwarf broom, Raoulia scab weed, Celmisias, Dracophyllum prostratum, Gaultheria depressa snowberry, green & yellow Scleranthus, tussocks, Raoulia vegetable sheep at bitterly cold wind funnels. On the summit track I passed three more farm gates & patches of snow which increased towards Mt Dalgety summit, 1752 m.

From the E side of Dalgety summit ridge, I saw Albury Range with green Rollesby Valley below & the tops of Devils Peak & Fiery Peak beyond. E beyond Tengawai River, rolling green hills & farmlands to distant The Brothers hills & the Pacific. SE I saw Mt Nimrod Range & Mt Nessing Range, with a glimpse of green Hakataramea Valley farmlands between Mt Nessing Range & Dalgety Range.

From the W side of Dalgety summit ridge I saw arid Mackenzie Basin & snowy Alpine ranges described above: Stafford, Ben Ohau, Mt Cook, Gammack, Hall... Sprawled across arid Mackenzie Basin were smaller ranges & hills from N to S: Mt John with a glimpse of Lake Tekapo, Old Man Range with Tekapo Military Camp below, Mary Range with a glimpse of Lake Pukaki beyond. SW Grampian Range & Benmore Range. Also a glimpse of Lake Ohau at the S end of Ben Ohau.

On Dalgety summit track I scoffed my scroggin, 3 mandarins & biltong. Water essential, as I was hungry & thirsty after my 3.5 hour climb to a high point on Dalgety summit ridge, 1426 m (Map ref: BZ17 097998). There I found 2 dead wallabies, dessicated & mummified by sun & cold winds. Maybe a hunter had left them there, warning live wallabies, pests in Mackenzie Country. There was still a long way to go on Dalgety summit ridge to Mt Dalgety snowy summit, 1752 m.

I'd planned to tramp to 1588 m on Dalgety summit ridge, where I saw a distant aerial installation. But my Nikon battery expired at the 1426 m high point & the nor'wester was biting, so I returned from whence I came. Tomorrow's another day. I would've needed to tramp another 8 kms along the summit ridge to summit Mt Dalgety, 1752 m.


Climb: 700 vertical metres.
Return distance: 12 kms (incl 3 kms farm track climb, Mackenzie Pass Rd to 1300 m start of summit track & 3 kms along summit track to 1426 m).
Times: Return 6 hours (incl 2.5 hours climb to summit track, 1 hour on summit track to 1426 m, 2.5 hours return).

Essentials: Tramping, hill walking fitness, map, backpack, walking stick(s), sturdy shoes, sunglasses, all weather gear, water, food. Cell phone coverage if cell pointed to Mt John.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Rollesby Range Summit, Mackenzie Country

Mon 30.10.17. A sunny day. As I wanted to climb to Rollesby Range summit ridge, 1377 m (Map ref: BZ17 095068) I drove SH8 from Pleasant Point to the top of Mackenzie Pass, 780 m, via Albury, Fairlie, Burkes Pass, 709 m, left at Dog Kennel Corner along Haldon Rd, turnoff at Mackenzie Pass Rd, a gravel road, 9 kms to the top of Mackenzie Pass. I didn't drive the shorter route from Pleasant Point via Albury to Mackenzie Pass, as there was lots of gravel road, dusty & nasty for my old Toyota Corolla.

Mackenzie Pass tops a saddle between Rollesby Range N, 11 kms long & Dalgety Range S, 18 kms long. I wanted to climb from Mackenzie Pass top to Rollesby Range summit ridge, which sloped downwards towards Burkes Pass. My Topo50 map showed a farm track up to the summit ridge. On my drive up Mackenzie Pass from arid Mackenzie Basin, I stopped by Mackenzie Stream to look at the Mackenzie Memorial, a grey, granite pyramid on a plinth beside the gravel road, inscribed in Gaelic, Maori, English:

                                                                    THIS SPOT
                                                            THE FREEBOOTER
                                                           WAS CAPTURED BY
                                                           JOHN SIDEBOTTOM
                                                            AND THE MAORIS
                                                      TAIKO AND SEVENTEEN
                                                   AND ESCAPED FROM THEM
                                                             THE SAME NIGHT
                                                               4th MARCH 1855

Hence Mackenzie Country was named after freebooter & sheep rustler James Mackenzie.

The farm track-zig zagged up a tussock ridge, overlooking a gorge with a stream flowing down to Mackenzie Stream. Wilding pines grew on Rollesby Range tussock slopes. They'd be hard to fell on such steep slopes. From about 1000 m height, Alpine tussocks & speargrass associated with mat plants like Raoulia scabweed & vast mats of grey cushion plants & Alpine plants, like Celmisia & Senecio daisies, Gaultheria snowberries & green & yellow Scleranthus. Dominant plants: tussocks & rust coloured Dracophyllum shrubs with leathery stems & leaves. I saw Hieracium weed amongst that lot too, but not as polluting as Hieracium I'd seen on stations bordering Lake Tekapo.

There was little fauna on the way up: 2 seagulls enjoyed the winds over Mackenzie Pass. I wondered if they've ever seen the sea, inhabiting local lakes & tarns. A wallaby bounded to cover by the stream when it saw me. There was wallaby dung on the farm track & I picked up 4 used bullet cartridges, evidence of hunting. Dried cow dung was in the lower part of the track. There were no sheep on the tussock slopes.

At about 1100 m the track plateaued along the tussock ridge a bit, before curving upwards along the head of the gorge, then steeply zig-zagging to the summit ridge at 1377 m (Map ref: BZ17 095068). On top, the track went slightly below the rocky ridge. At 2 big rocks on each side of the track, I left the track to summit the ridge & found a weather station with anemometer & weather vane, with solar panel electricity supply. Along the rocky summit there were 3 more installations: aerials with solar panels & a tin shed at the 4th installation.

From Rollesby Range summit ridge, grand, snowy Alpine views:

E: Spring green Rollesby Valley & stations. Single Hill Range. Albury Range.
ESE: Distant Pacific. Spring green farms. The Brothers hills.
SE: Mt Nessing Range. Mt Nimrod Range.
S: End of Dalgety Range above Mackenzie Pass. Distant Otago Ranges.
SSW: Dalgety Range. Grampian Range.
SW: Arid Mackenzie Basin & stations. Greys Hills. Benmore Range. Distant Otago Ranges. Stafford Range. Ben Ohau Range.
W: Mary Range obscuring Lake Pukaki. Ben Ohau Range,
NW: Arid Mackenzie Basin & stations. Ben Ohau Range incl Dun Fiunary, Mt Glentanner, Mt Sealy.
NNW: Arid Mackenzie Basin & stations. Mt John. Old Man Range, Tekapo Military Camp below. Cloudy Mt Sefton & The Footstool. Cloudy Mt Cook & Mt Tasman. Braemar Dome. Mt Stevenson. Fork River Valley. Mt Joseph. Cass River Valley. Gammack Range. Hall Range.
N: Two Thumbs Range incl Mt Edward, Mt Maud & Mt Dobson obscuring Lake Tekapo. Mt Dobson ski field road & ski lift seen. Sherwood Range incl Mt Fox.
NE: Spring green Burkes Pass. Rollesby Valley & stations. Single Hill Range. Albury Range. ENE: Distant High Claytons. Devils Peak.


Climb: 600 vertical metres from Mackenzie Pass summit to Rollesby Range summit ridge.
Return distance: 9 kms.
Times: 2.5 hours ascent. 2 hours descent.


Tramping, hill walking fitness, backpack, map, sturdy shoes, sunglasses, water, food, walking stick(s), all weather gear, as Alpine weather changed quickly. I summited Rollesby Range in windless, bright sunlight. On top, wind & clouds arose within an hour. Cell phone coverage if cell pointed to Mt John.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Mary Statue Photo, Catholic Cathedral, Christchurch 22.02.11 Quake

03.10.17. Blog reader's email request for a high resolution photo of the Mary statue, which moved 180 degrees during collapse of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament north tower, 22.02.11 Christchurch quake:

I have been scouring the 'net for a photo of the Catholic Cathedral taken between 2010 and 2011 quakes to put to rest a 'discussion' about whether the statue of Mary in the upper window of the north Tower actually did a one-eighty during the Feb 22nd quake. On your blog... down the bottom of the page you have a photo of the Cathedral but its not high enough resolution to be sure the statue is facing inwards (if it is we expect to see the white veil at the top and the blue cloak down from there - If facing out, it will be predominantly white.

[My referred to pic was a N angle shot taken of Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Barbadoes St, on 15.09.10, post 04.09.10 quake, the 7.1 mag Darfield quake, shaking Christchurch to hell, the first of 15 000 quakes shaking Christchurch in a 3+ year period. If the emailer had clicked on the pic he would've seen the white inward facing veil & blue cloak underneath. If he'd searched my blog further, he would've found Mary statue pics I took during Mar 2011, post 22.02.11 quake, showing the outward facing Mary statue. See blog post link below]. 

I would love to see a high res copy of this - I'm certainly not wanting to prove a miracle or anything, but the truth is important to me. So either it is a remarkable seismic phenomenon or maybe someone went into the Cathedral even though it was closed to the public and turned the statue - admittedly unlikely. [Agreed. There was tons of collapsed rubble on the roof of the tower office housing the Mary statue].

But as you can imagine, dated photographic evidence is what speaks to me as a scientist... A photo from early February 2011 would be the absolute clincher... [My clicked on 15.09.10 blog photo IS the clincher!]

See Wednesday 15.09.10. Day 12 after Christchurch Quake, Dallington.

See Now You Know, Red Zone, Christchurch Quake

See Ferry Road Demolition & RC Cathedral.

My email reply:

... I took and blogged over 20 000 quake pics before / as soon as citizens were allowed into Christchurch quake trashed CBD. My pics are not as high resolution as you want / need, as I used 3 cheap digital cameras (1 Nikon, 2 Samsungs) in my quake wanderings over 3 years in Chch & surrounding quaked towns 2010-13 incl.

It was impossible to wander quake trashed, Chch CBD for at least 28 months post 22.02.11, as there was a military state of emergency, then CBD military cordon, with numerous cordoned / arbitrarily changed checkpoints into the CBD where the quake trashed RC Cathedral was / is.

Unauthorised entry into the cordoned CBD red zone invited instant arrest by cops or NZDF soldiers. Post quakes, only CERA officials, cops, military & a few Council & govt personnel & vetted media & contractors were allowed into Chch CBD red zone, where the RC Cathedral was / is. At times bldg owners were allowed military / cop escorted entry to their quake trashed bldgs in the CBD red zone to retrieve belongings. Over many months post quake, CERA opened parts of the CBD to citizens when perceived safe, after many demolitions of quake trashed bldgs.

Should you want high resolution pics of the Mary miracle spin, I suggest you research The Press / Stuff Co articles. I remember one article which had pics of the Mary spin, maybe better resolution than mine. I saw & photographed many heavy objects twisted & spun on their vertical axes by quakes, like houses, stone gateposts, war memorial obelisks & granite grave obelisks. Check out my 2 Selwyn St Cemetery blog posts showing many grave obelisks toppled or spun on their vertical axes by the quakes. Much heavier than the Mary statue.

See Selwyn St Ghosts, 5 Months Post Quake

Many bridge horizontal concrete spans were rotated on their horizontal axes, 1 000s of tons weightier than the Mary statue. Check out my Bridge St Bridge post, Avon Estuary.

See Ten Avon River Bridges, Spans & Quakes.

Trust this resolves your skepticism. I was 82 kgs weight during quakes, spun & twisted quite a lot while trying to walk / run to safety during quakes.

BTW the Mary statue faced inwards in the RC Cathedral tower office window pre quakes, but faced outwards towards Barbadoes St post 22.02.11 quake, a 180 degree spin of the statue on its pedestal caused by the quake. No miracle, just quake physical forces. Check out EQC's Geonet website, if you want details of seismic scales, vertical accelerations, etc during quakes.

See Geonet.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A Trip To Wellington

02.10.17. A letter to my adult sons summarizing Leah's & my trip to Wellington:

Sunday: Parked our car at Timaru airport for the week. Sunny flight Timaru - Wellington. Grand views of snowy Alps, farms, roads & Pacific. Flying over Christchurch, we saw the quakes' red zone along Avon River & how CERA had demolition gutted Christchurch - great swathes of green - Avon loop where you'd flatted Jake - Dallington, Horseshoe Lake, Bexley...

From Wellington airport, bussed to CBD. Checked in Cambridge Hotel, Cambridge Tce, near Queen Victoria statue. Wandered Courtenay Pl, Dixon St, Manners St, mingling with tourists & locals. Lots of cafes, restaurants, hoboes & barber shops. New World shopped, Wakefield St near our hotel.

Monday: Stormy. Te Papa, Our Place. Meals at museum cafe. First floor, I disliked the Gallipoli exhibition glorifying war, a couple of giant ANZAC soldier statues, few artefacts, a series of wall photos & descriptions. Top floor, I preferred the Darkness & Light, Maori exhibition, better Maori artefacts & descriptions. I gave short shrift to a bearded volunteer trying to explain Waitangi Treaty to me. I said: "I'm deaf. You're wasting your time!"

Tuesday: Stormy. Visited Wellington Museum, Jervois Quay - Harbour Board bldg, old wooden warehouse. Interesting 100 Years exhibition & artefacts. We ham steered an old sailing ship's wooden wheel & sat on giant, wooden, Harbour Board chairs. Lunch at Mojo cafe, escaping the rain. Visited old, wooden St Pauls church, near Parliament. Explored Parliament bldgs, incl the Beehive. Saw Minister Brownlee scuttling off behind the Beehive. Ilam constituents re-electing him daft, due to CERA excessive, post quake demolitions, EQC & CBD Blueprint debacles & delays.

Wednesday: Cloudy & cool. Walked Leah along Vivian St to her teacher conference at QC Hotel, Cuba St. QC Hotel was built on Salvation Army land as Peoples Palace 1904. Enlarged 1906. Revamped, enlarged again 2003. Reopened by PM Helen Clarke as Trekkers Hotel. I mingled with tourists and locals along Cuba Street, a death trap in future quakes, due to old, quake prone bldgs, loose brick walls, facades & parapets. Whenever I wandered Cuba St I got that creepy feeling I felt post Christchurch quakes near dangerous bldgs.

By Lambton Quay, caught the Cable Car to Botanic Gdns. Grand view of Wgtn. Lovely tulip show at main gates. Botanic labels few throughout. Cafe supper, Cuba St, crap steak.

Thursday: Walked Leah to QC Hotel. Visited War Memorial below Massey University. Found Gallipoli, Simpson & Henderson, stretcher bearers' & donkey statue on War Memorial steps. I'd seen it 23 years ago, forgot how small it was, compared to the giant War Memorial tower. Didn't pay ripoff admission fee to the Memorial Museum. New WW1 unknown soldier's grave at top of War Memorial steps, black polished granite.

Across War Memorial square, new ANZAC Memorial: raw red stone columns, Australian ground, amongst grey flagstones, NZ ground. Polished, grey granite panels on the red columns, engraved with ANZAC campaigns & aborigine carvings. Visited Wgtn Art Gallery & Library. Leah had teachers' supper at Te Papa. I dined at McDonald's, Courtenay Pl.

Friday: Walked Leah to QC Hotel. I breakfasted at Felix Cafe, bottom of Cuba St. Snapped CBD pics. Some bldg windows were boarded due to recent Kaikoura quake. Also old, brick bldgs with EARTHQUAKE PRONE BUILDING, yellow stickers. A 6 storey, modern bldg was being demolished near the Beehive, similar design to the CTV bldg which lethally collapsed during the 22.02.11 Christchurch quake. Halfwit Wgtn was slow to learn Christchurch quake lessons.

Saw opening ceremony, Maori Darkness & Light exhibition, Te Papa: PC history - Good Maori natives, bad Euro colonials. Many Maori in traditional costumes, dancing & singing. Some male dancers with spiral tattoos on their naked bums. Wondered if they knew how similar those spirals were to Celtic spirals? Boring speeches on live video near the whare exhibit. No mention on exhibit artefacts about ancient Maori cannibalism.

After Leah's conference ended we sunny afternoon wandered Oriental Pde, grand harbour & caldera hill views. Plenty joggers & beautiful people, same as I saw 23 years ago when I'd freedom camped there below Norfolk pines. Supper at Pasha Cafe, Dixon St, with a Korean friend.

Saturday: Return flight, Wgtn - Timaru, delayed 2 hours due to Marsden Refinery pipeline break. Jet refuelling took precedence over our small prop plane refuelling. Air crew were embarrassed & apologetic days after the pipeline break. Dumb fuel security organizing by NZ govt & farmer digging up stumps by the pipeline causing the break. Arrived back at Pleasant Point after dark.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.