Saturday, January 24, 2015

Raincliff Forest Tracks

Flanking Middle Valley Rd, Raincliff Forest is about 17 kms from Fairlie, in hilly farmland below Southern Alps.

At Raincliff Forest carpark, a Blakely Pacific Limited sign board stated:

Originally planted around 1890 this 84 hectare forest is a managed unit now owned and operated by Blakely Pacific Limited.

It is Blakely Pacific's intention that harvesting and replanting will continue to recognise and preserve the unique character of this forest.

The forest contains a wide variety of exotic trees and you are invited to wander the marked walkways throughout this area...

The sign board showed the following Raincliff Forest tracks:

Hoare Track 60 mins
Mackay Track 40 mins
Johnson Track 15 mins
Burnetts Track 10 mins
Burkes Track 10 mins

Below Middle Valley Rd, a dirt road, Leah & I wandered part of Hoare Track, near Raincliff Stream. We also wandered Burnetts Track & Burkes Track which joined Hoare Track. Although a hot summer's day, mature forest gave us shade. Bobbing fantails entertained us in the understory when they flew around us checking us out.

Some mature, exotic trees we noted in Raincliff Forest:

* Redwood, Sequoiadendron giganteum
* Norway spruce, Picea abies
* Ponderosa pine, Pinus ponderosa
* Monterey cypress, Cupressus macrocarpa. Our old walking sticks are homemade Macrocarpa, so we were looking out for fresh windfalls. Prunings we found had lain around a while & were brittle, useless for good walking sticks.
* Oak, Quercus
* Ash, Fraxinus excelsior
* European larch, Larix decidua
* Radial pine, Pinus radiata
* Birch, Pendula
* Gum, Eucalyptus
* Oregon pine, Pseudotsuga menziesii
* Alder & Crack Willow along Raincliff Stream

Kiwis moan about wilding pines in Mackenzie Country. I thought pines were attractive & useful for windbreaks, inhaling carbon & stopping soil erosion. I hated all the Crack Willows polluting NZ river banks & lake shores. Why didn't Kiwis get rid of polluting Willows & replace them with native river trees?

An exotic / native mix of understorey plants in Raincliff Forest:


* Sycamore, Acer pseudplatanus. One of the exotics I loath as it's a prolific seeder.
* Holly, Ilex
* Gorse, Ulex europaeus, some pest sprayed
* Ivy, Hedera
* Blackberry, Rubus fruticosus


* Pittosporum eugenoides
* Pittosporum tenuifolium
* Fern species
* Broom, Carmichaelia
* Bush lawyer, Rubus cissoides
* Broadleaf, Griselinia littoralis
* Cabbage tree, Cordyline australis
* Whiteywood, Melicytus ramiflorus
* Wineberry. Aristotelia serrata
* Five finger, Pseudopanax arboreus
* Pepper tree, Horopito, Pseudowintera colorata

Tracks were well maintained, shared-use tracks with MTBs. As it was a hot, nor'wester day we had Raincliff Forest to ourselves.

Four days later we returned to wander Raincliff Forest tracks above Middle Valley Rd. We wandered the other bit of Hoare Track & Mackay Track, which formed a slender figure 8 walk. It took us about 2.5 hours, much longer than the recommended times on the carpark board. Presumably those times were for MTBs. Sometimes an MTB track parallelled the walking track, avoiding many wooden stairs up steep slopes. Besides tall forest trees, there were magnificent views of distant Fox Peak & Devils Peak, seen from the western extremity of Hoare Track.

Content Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Christchurch CBD Update, 4 Years Post Sept 2010 Quake & CERA Boss Sutton's Demise

Sat 11.10.14. It was 4 years since the Sept 2010 quake & we'd survived all the subsequent quakes & reconstruction disruptions during 2010-2013. In 2014 we'd moved to Lake Tekapo then Fairlie in the high country about 200 kms from Christchurch. We'd returned regularly to Christchurch to relocate our possessions, visit our adult sons, still working & flatting in Christchurch & for Leah's teaching meetings at Seabrook Mackenzie Centre, London St.

As Leah had another meeting in Christchurch, I dropped her off at Black Betty Cafe, Manchester St. Black Betty Cafe was so successful at New Brighton, it had moved to the CBD, opposite the tech. I had the afternoon to kill before I rejoined Leah at Seabrook Mackenzie Centre, so I wandered Christchurch's quake trashed & demolished CBD. Since I'd last wandered Christchurch CBD, mid Dec 2013, there was slow progress by CERA's CCDU, private rebuilds & Council activities, amidst dusty demolition sites, Wilsons carparks & few businesses trying their phoenix rise.

Notes I made while wandering Christchurch CBD:

St Asaph St: Still tatty - backs of part demolished / abandoned, High St bldgs were an eyesore.

Manchester St / St Asaph St / Tuam St cnrs, both sides of Manchester St, were still demolition site messes. There were many ragged demolition sites by Poplar St, High St, Tuam St, Lichfield St, Madras St. An indictment of CCDU's so-called, green E Frame. There were still part demolished & abandoned bldgs on High St, near Alice in Videoland.

Opposite EPIC, Odeon Theatre roof was gone from Manchester St road side. The unclaimed roof had lain there, an eyesore, for a couple of years. Half demolished Odeon Theatre was still an eyesore, theatre seats & part demolished auditorium were still exposed to the elements.

Tuam St: The old Council bldg, full of asbestos, was demolished in 2014. It made way for the new bus exchange. The post quake, temporary bus exchange had worked for a couple of years further along Tuam St.

Manchester St, E Frame, blocks between Lichfield St & Worcester St, several bldgs were demolished & sites were grassed for the E Frame. Bldgs like Majestic Theatre; quake trashed bldg by Bedford Row; abandoned Shooters & neighbouring bldgs; all gone. That area of quake trashed Manchester St was neatened up, at last.

Cnr Manchester St / Worcester St: Quake ruined Trinity Church / Octagon Restaurant was an abandoned eyesore. Kitsch photo art of quake trashed Trinity Church, covered N & S ruined facades.

Cathedral Square: Christchurch Cathedral was a ruined eyesore for 4 years. Nothing going on, the Cathedral was still surrounded by boards & fencing. Arctic promo boards in front of the W facade showed various Arctic scenes & research by various countries. The Maori plant whare still stood by the fence-closed entrance to the Cathedral W facade. Asian tourists happy-snapped Cathedral ruins.

Latest fascist propaganda / misinformation by The Press: Published aerial pics of E side of the Cathedral rather than the serial quake ruined W facade, tried bamboozling the public, especially outsiders, there was little quake damage to Christchurch Cathedral. If that was true, why board up & fence the Cathedral, stopping public access?

Cathedral Sq: Camelot Hotel, still closed; Novotel open; Cathedral Junction open; trams running; Heritage Hotel open; Millennium Hotel still closed.

Govt Life bldg in Cathedral Sq was being demolished, filled with asbestos pollution. Never mind passersby. Abandoned Gloucester St bldgs by abandoned Arcades bldg & Govt Life were also being demolished. Abandoned Gloucester St, Central Library, half demolished, was making way for CCDU's anchor, Convention Centre. Gloucester St Bridge was still closed for repairs.

Colombo St / Hereford St cnrs. BNZ asbestos ruin was still closed, part demolished, by closed Millennium Hotel next door. Opposite cnr, on ANZ demolition site, an office block rebuild was progressing.

There was a big, boarded rebuild site by Colombo St / The Crossing on Cashel Mall. Pagoda Restaurant bldg on The Crossing was still abandoned. Opposite, Ballantynes was humming. To make way for a rebuild, some Restart Cashel Mall container shops, opposite Ballantynes, had been moved closer to Remembrance Arch by Oxford Tce.

Abandoned Mad Cow bldg, Oxford Tce, was demolished to make way for the relocated container shops. Remembrance Arch was boarded for quake repairs. Remembrance Arch lions were gone for repairs. Saturday Flea market stalls & takeaway food carts lined Cashel Mall. Pre quakes, the stalls & carts used to be at the Arts Centre, Worcester Blvd.

Oxford Tce: The Terrace rebuild was stalled with steel skeleton incomplete, unpainted steel joint panels on painted girders were already rusting!

Cnr Gloucester St / Durham St Nth: Provincial Council bldg was still closed for quake repairs. Opposite, Amuri Courts demolition site, a crane was still on site while the office block rebuild progressed. Opposite, Cambridge Tce cnr, 5 storey office rebuild was almost complete, with wavy glass walls & green glass panels.

Worcester Blvd: Art Gallery was closed & fenced for quake repairs. Arts Center was still closed & fenced for quake repairs.

Rolleston Ave. Canterbury Museum was humming. There was a new display of old Arctic, portable plyboard huts & another display of modern Arctic modular constructions, some portable, as Arctic ice / snow moves. I watched a movie of Sir Edmund Hillary's 1950s expedition to the South Pole, his Sno Cats falling into crevasses en route. It renewed my interest in the Arctic Sno Cat & tractor on display in the museum.

The Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre was complete.

Cnr Durham St Nth / Chester St West: Abandoned NZ Radio bldg & Spicers bldg had been demolished, an office rebuild was progressing on site.

Cnr Durham St Nth / Kilmore St: On Crowne Plaza Hotel demolition site, Pallet Pavilion was gone. The relocatable wooden Arches were still standing. Gap Filler wooden office was still on site. A small digger landscaped the site with new soil by replanted grass.

Kilmore St: Quake trashed Town Hall was still boarded, nothing going on there. The road was repaired with new tarseal in front of Forte Health glassy rebuild.

Peterborough St: Road repairs were progressing by Manchester St intersection. CERA's regrassing, diagonally opposite St Lukes demolition site, was overgrown, like 9 months ago when I'd last wandered by. The shabby vegetation insulted families of those who'd died in nearby Pyne Gould bldg collapse, during the 22.02.11 quake.

Barbadoes St Cemetery by Avon River: I viewed many grave stones toppled by quakes. In the CBD all along slumped Avon River banks, the banks were restored with black material laid on river mud & pinned with steel pins. In places riverbank repairs narrowed the river to constrict & speed up water flow.

Fitzgerald Ave, by the post quake rebuilt, northbound bridge, overlooking Oxford Tce: While I contemplated red zone demolition sites, across Avon River, where my eldest son Jake had once flatted in the Avon Loop, who should pull up in his van but my youngest son Luke. What a coincidence.

18.11.14. After TV 1 news & The Press reports, what a precious poodle CERA boss, Roger Sutton turned out to be. One of his female minions complained that Sutton got fresh with female staff, hugged female staff, calling them "honey" & "sweetie" & told sexist jokes, so Sutton announced his resignation at a press conference, even admitting mea culpa, but whining about his exhaustion.

In my teaching career in SA I'd met crude bosses like Sutton, who went through divorces, socially & emotionally retarded, making snide remarks about women & sexist jokes & leering at other men's wives, expecting other men to support their filthy minds.

Over 41 months or so since the 13.06.11 quake, Sutton had overseen formation of NZ govt red zones & NZ qovt green zones in quake trashed areas - demolitions of 1000s of houses in residential red zones & demolitions of 100s of houses & commercial bldgs in Christchurch CBD red zone.

Sutton had overseen SCIRT infrastructure road repairs, far from complete & a constant irritant to road users, due to numerous detours & sloppily repaired roads.

Sutton had also overseen NZ govt blueprint for Christchurch CBD, but all that the CBD had was dusty demolition sites, abandoned bldgs, a few struggling businesses & some rebuilds or revamps done by Council or the private sector - some repaired hotels, New Regent St restored businesses, repaired Cathedral Junction, Restart Cashel Mall container shops on demolition sites.

No NZ govt blueprint anchor projects were built, so far. As for the so-called green Frames, many bldgs were demolished in the E Frame to make way for parkland & as an afterthought, new housing. The S Frame was filled with perfectly OK, quake surviving businesses, like car dealerships, which were screwed around by Sutton's CERA until January 2015, when Sutton left. CERA then decided not to purchase most of those viable S Frame businesses & backtracked on it's S Frame, wanting just a few green lanes, whatever that meant. Suttons' legacy would be a study of fascist govt, disaster management cockups.

Sutton's CERA had planted lots of grass in demolished red zones & in the East Frame in the demolished CBD. The trouble with expensive planted & mown grass was that mown grass didn't allow natural plant succession in the red zones, encouraging local fauna back to the red zones.

So far, all the rebuild CERA had done was fiddle with blueprinted CBD Avon River banks, by revamping CBD river bank paths & gardens. So Sutton's legacy was many govt demolitions, no govt rebuilds.

To quote Sutton's indifference when CERA made risible govt offers to red zoned, bare ground, landowners: "Here's the offer. Have a nice day." I doubt many red zoners would weep for Sutton's self destruct.

Fri 19.12.14. While Leah had a Xmas function at London St, I wandered the gritty CBD again & found rebuild work going on at Poplar Ln, where Jake had flatted pre quakes. Odeon Theatre was still part demolished, a post quake eyesore. TV news had featured a Johnny-Come-Lately touting his forthcoming book of quake trashed bldgs & had shown him sneaking into fence-cordoned Odeon Theatre demolition site, to take pics. I'd taken many pics of post quake Odeon Theatre. The latest news flavour of the month was photographers sneaking into quake trashed bldgs, like ruined Christchurch Cathedral & taking pics. That was an indictment of CERA's slow demolitions & slow quake recovery.

Besides graffiti on quake ruined walls, so-called art was also found on quake trashed walls or walls of revamped bldgs, like a bowing ballerina painted on the back wall of revamped Isaac Theatre Royal. The latest art was colourful, fibre glass giraffes all over the CBD,

Majestic Theatre demolition site on Manchester St was a Council carpark.

Cnr Manchester St & High St: Workmen were revamping the tram line.

I wandered down High St during lunch hour & found Brick Farm, a gritty gastro-pub, full of boozy men, no women, amongst quake ruins. Stranges Ln, between Lichfield St & High St, had 3 busy, new gastro-pubs in a new bldg & a pre-quakes, brick bldg across the lane. Stranges Ln spooked me, as I didn't trust the old brick bldg.

Cashel St / High St crossing: Three diggers were parked on top of a massive concrete rubble pile, ready for a rebuild.

Christchurch Cathedral ruin was just as disreputable as it was months ago. The Wizard was back jabbering to tourists before the ruin, an apprentice Wizard in tow. A man dressed in white leggings, white shirt, black waistcoat & tricorn hat, presumably a new Town Crier, chatted to a hobo. Men played giant chess nearby. The Council Library & Government Life bldg were demolished at last, making way for NZ govt's Convention Centre.

Victoria Sq: Victoria Square apartments were almost demolished, also making way for the new Convention Centre. Repaired Colombo St Bridge looked good beside ruined Christchurch Town Hall.

Content Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Victim upset by Suttons conduct (The Press / Stuff Co)

See Resignation of CERA Chief Executive (NZ State Services Commission)

See Land for anchor projects reduced (The Press / Stuff Co)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Christchurch Quakes: Post Quakes, Academic Research Permissions

Since my many blog posts on the 2010-2013 Christchurch quakes, I've received many requests from all over the world & New Zealand for use of my quake pics in various publications, or for various research reasons. A lot of varsity students, under grad & post grad, want to use my pics for various theses. I allow permission to use a pic or 2, if the permission request is courteous & precise, asking for one or two specific photo permissions. If several photo permissions are asked for, or a whole blog post is asked for, the student or requestor is obviously trying to scam my intellectual property.

Most annoying are those who use my blog pics & don't bother to ask. They think because I've published on Blogger that my intellectual property is theirs to steal.

For example, some email correspondence I've had over the last couple of weeks - the reader will soon see why the first request from a Canterbury University, geography researcher is irritating & declined by me & the second request from an Austrian archeology researcher is perfect & why I gave permission to use my intellectual property.

I left punctuation, grammar & spelling errors as is & used only initals for privacy reasons.

PERMISSION REQUEST 1. Thurs, 18 Sept 2014 email, from student GA, University of Canterbury:

Hey there Mark my name is GA, I am a 3rd year student at University of Canterbury, and I am currently participating in the 300 level Geography 309 Research methods in Geography Our research group consisting of myself, JD, NF & WAH, has been assigned to working with the Peterborough village community [in Christchurch quake trashed CBD] with DL as our community representative [a landscape architect] to develop an interactive mapping tool to archive past, present and future images and memories under the supervision of Professor EP.
We are hoping to have permission to utilize images from your website and the possibliities of linking your website to the mapping site software. [GA conflates website & blog post].
Could you please advise us as to any legal requirements relating to copyright regulations... [So much for Prof EP's supervision].

My Tues, 23 Sept 2014 email reply:

Beware. You're dealing with emotive Copyright property & potential theft of intellectual property. I spent many hours taking, editing & uploading quake pics at considerable personal & financial costs & now many people want them. Lots of my blogging time is spent tracking down Copyright theft of my pics through Google searches & giving permission for use of my Copyright pics, for those who ask. Browse my Woza Mark & Woza Wanderer blog comments, you'll see what I mean.

I don't mind my specific quake images being used for varsity research purposes with my Woza Wanderer citing. I've already given several varsity students permissions to do so, amongst other permissions. As it stands via Blogger, anyone in the world can ask for my permission to use my blog pics. Why does Canterbury University want to control my blog pics?

Your linking / archiving suggestions sounds like Canterbury University wants to control use of & own my Copyright pics & Content. Over 3 quake years, I blogged scores more quake posts, more than just the snow job post. You're vague about varsity linking & archiving. I'd want to know in future specifically who'd want to use my Copyright pics, especially for their own financial gain. After all those thousands of images & content are mine & my family's copyright intellectual property. Archiving it under control of Canterbury University, it becomes Canterbury University intllectual property & no longer mine & my family's property.

You need to tell me what benefits / financial gains I get to have my Content, Copyright pics & intellectual property linked to by Canterbury University & archived by Canterbury University...

PS. I suggest you read Google's copyright info on Blogger. Read my blog post via Dr Karen Putasi's NZQA & theft of my copyright pic for NZQA year 13 biology exam purposes, a couple of years ago. The internet Copyright scene in NZ & NZ govt control / lack of control of it is nasty. Kim Dotcom's Mega Upload & Mega stories pertain. As for legal requirements, read NZ Copyright Act for the Copyright info you require. Christchurch Central Library had copies of the Act when I last looked.

Student GA's Tues, 23 Sept 2014 email reply:

Hi Mark sorry if my email was taken in the wrong context, the university of Canterbury is not to blame.
Our research group think you image collection of the CBD and blogg are amazing and can understand that you have concerns. we were willing to annotate all images with you name etc, and the link would have followed the Images intending on directing additional viewers to your blogg.
We are sorry for the misunderstanding.
Take care and nice work...

My Wed, 24 Sept email reply:

Again you are vague. Context is a weasel word for deception.

Let me be clear. I have NOT given you or any other UC student named by you or UC geography faculty permission to store, use or manipulate my copyright Woza Wanderer blog material, including pics & content, in any way. If you or others you mention have already done so, please delete, as it is my intellectual property, created at my cost & my legacy to my family.

I suggest you consult intellectual property lawyers. I'm astounded that prof EP you mention has not already supervised so...

My Sat, 27 Sept 2014 email to prof EP, University of Canterbury:

With reference to my email exchange with your student GA, my email address list was hacked within 2 days. That makes GA a possible suspect. Everyone in my email address list was emailed by [cultural] [The spam email to my email address list was about 4 EU countries, Poland, Turkey, Czechoslovakia & Bulgaria trying to improve students' English & studies via cultural activities].

Given GA's tone of entitlement to my intellectual property, I suggest you supervise GA regarding others' intellectual property & goodwill pertaining to UC....

No response from prof EP.

PERMISSION REQUEST 2. Thurs, 7 Oct 2014 email from Dr AK, Carnuntum archeologist, Austria:

Quite recently I happened to find your blog containing data on and pictures of the earth quake at Christchurch.

I am in the process of editing the acts of a scientific congress having taken place at Carnuntum / Austria in 2013 with the topic "The Carnuntum Erath Quake in Context", dealing with aspects of an earth quake which more or less obliterated the Roman town of Carnuntum around AD 360. In one of the articles submitted, its author, MK, who originally developed the theory that a quake once hit this place, needs a picture of a toppled wall which has without doubt been destroyed by a quake, as a parallel to prove that walls can indeed look like this after such an event (archeologists normally have no objection against the interpretation that an earth quake hit a site, but geologists tend to doubt any evidence not supported by seismograms, which are quite hard to come by for antiquity, but this is a lengthy discussion with which I don't want to bother you).

You have published online, in your blog, the picture attached, showing a perfect sample of a toppled wall at Christchurch, quite similar to what they do indeed often look alike in our excavations and this image would fit perfectly well as an illustration for Dr. MK's argument. I therefore request, with all courtesy, your permit to use the image in question, downloaded from your blog, in print in the above mentioned volume. This is a scientific, non-profit publication and therefore I hope to receive your permit cost free. You will of course be mentioned as author of the picture, therefore I kindly request that you tell me the name you want to be shown...

Dr. AK

Grabung Carnuntum
Archaologischer Park Carnuntum...

I gave Dr AK permission to use my Christchurch quake, toppled wall pic in his Austrian publication. It wasn't my first such permission, nor I expect my last.

Content Copyright Mark JS Esslemont

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Jack Lovelock Track, Fairlie

Named after 1936 Berlin Olympian, Jack Lovelock Track is a flat, 8 km, circular walk along Fairlie outskirt roads.

Starting along School Rd towards Albury Range, pass Fairlie Primary School, then wander out of town amongst sheep paddocks till tarseal becomes dirt road.

A couple of kms out of Fairlie, turn right along Jack Lovelock Track, pass sheep paddocks & farm land, cross 3 fords, then briefly join Te Puke Rd, which joins Nixons Rd back to town.

Westwards are great views of Albury Range, then nor' eastwards - Mt Maud, Mt Edward, Two Thumbs Range, Fox Peak, then eastwards to Ashwick Flats & Devils Peak.

Part rural paddocks, part town, Nixons Rd has newer houses including a homestay & a variety of farm animals - horses, sheep, kuni pigs, alpacas.

Content Copyright Mark JS Esslemont

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Kakahu Bush near Geraldine

On the Geraldine - Fairlie road, about 16 kms from Geraldine, there's the Kakahu Bush turnoff, which goes about 1.5 kms along a dirt road to Kakahu Bush.

The approx 8 km Kakahu Bush walk starts at a Victorian lime kiln, built of stone in 1876. The surrounding hilly geology is mainly limestone & some low grade coal, which Victorians burnt with limestone to change calcium carbonate to calcium oxide in the lime kiln. Nowadays lime fertilizer is just crushed limestone without kiln heat. Several birds, like sparrows, use the poke holes in the lime kiln wall as nesting places.

The walk is as long or as short as one wants. It consists of 3 stages:

1. Approx 30 minutes - From the lime kiln carpark, along Kakahu River bank, the track goes beside crack willows to the Sanatorium glade, signified by two large pines & an old oak. In spring there's gorse pollution in the bowl of hills surrounding the Sanatorium site.

2. Approx 40 minutes from the Sanatorium glade through steep Kakahu Bush to Hanging Rock. Kakahu Bush consists of kanuka forest, Kunzea ericoides, with the usual understorey & birdlife, like fantails. Some understorey plants: prickly mingimingi, Leptecophylla juniperina; soft mingimingi, Leucopogon fasciculatus; tree fuchsia, Fuchsia excorticata; five finger, Pseudopanax arboreus; broadleaf, Griselinia littoralis; whiteywood, Melicytus ramiflorus; various lancewoods, pittosporums & ferns... In places gorse pollution, Ulex eoropeus & blackberry pollution abounds.

3. The track continues upwards through kanuka forest to The Pinnacles, seen from a hilltop paddock across a bushy valley. A track direction board shows the last loop of the walk around The Pinnacles as 1 hour duration. From Hanging Rock, within 10 minutes we'd wandered onto the hilltop paddock, where we had lunch overlooking The Pinnacles, great lumps of limestone rock in thick bush. We opted not to go around The Pinnacles, as it was windy, so we returned the way we came. Friends texted us that it had snowed that morning at Lake Tekapo & Twizel, so The Pinnacles wind had a cold bite.

Return to the lime kiln carpark was easy downhill. In all we walked about 4 hours.

The Pinnacles & Kakahu Bush can be glimpsed from Geraldine - Fairlie road.

Content Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Our Road To Friendly Fairlie, New Zealand

In a southern Alpine valley, friendly Fairlie is the junction town between coastal Pacific settlements and high Mackenzie Country. Our old flax mill cottage in Talbot Rd has grand views of snowy mountains.

Our road to friendly Fairlie began 19 years ago when we emigrated from East London, South Africa, to Christchurch, New Zealand, where our sons grew up. Over the years in Christchurch, we rented 3 houses in Sumner, Halswell & Burnside.

After Leah accepted a teaching post at Lake Tekapo School, 43 kms from Fairlie, we relocated to Lake Tekapo, where we were accommodated in a holiday home until we found suitable housing.

We mingled with tourists at shops & restaurants on the lake shore & at Tekapo Springs below Mt John. We went for walks around The Cairns golf course & up Mt John to the Observatory & Astro Cafe.

We went on school excursions - ice skating at Tekapo Springs; skiing at Round Hill ski field; watching DOC release rare black stilts at Glenmore Station wetland, between Lake Tekapo & Lake Alexandrina; seeing stars & planets at Mt John Observatory; a scenic flight over Southern Alps; Albury cross country.

Lake Tekapo Alpine views are magnificent - western Ben Ohau Range going to Mt Cook & eastern Two Thumbs Range going to Mt Sibbald, with Mt Stevenson, Gammack Range & Hall Range in the middle, forming the Mackenzie Basin.

Lake Tekapo is tourist oriented and many houses are expensive holiday homes, closed for most of the year. We looked at "cheap" $400 pw rentals, unaffordable for us.

Down Burkes Pass, in the middle of winter, we relocated to a $200 pw rental at friendly Fairlie. Having endured Christchurch damp winters, I prefer Fairlie's crisp frosts. With supplied stove, heat pump, wood burner & washing  machine, our Fairlie rental is better value than our old Christchurch rentals, which were only supplied with stoves.

Comparing our Christchurch and Fairlie electricity bills, the latter reduce about 70% in winter, as we use a wood burner with wet back for heating. Example:

               Our Sept 2013, Meridian bill for our Christchurch 3 bedroom rental - $298.45
               Our Sept 2014, Meridian bill for our Fairlie 2 bedroom rental - $91.67

From our kitchen window we see golfers' mighty swipes, as they tee off at Fairlie Golf Course. As our back garden gate enters the course we regularly wander the course. Along nearby Opihi River, a walkway goes all the way to Kimbell.

We visit our adult sons who work & rent in Christchurch. Their individual rents in quake-damaged houses are more than twice our Fairlie rent. During post-quake years, Christchurch rents inflated astronomically, like Lake Tekapo rents - far too expensive.

Returning from Christchurch, on the road to Fairlie, we stop at Geraldine for petrol, or to dine at a cafe, or re-supply our juices, jams and chutneys at Barkers factory shop. We explore gorges near Geraldine: Te Moana Gorge; Waihi Gorge; Orari Gorge.

On the road to friendly Fairlie - Valley Brewing Company, Gapes Valley, we quaff local brews. On top of Mt Michael, at Farm Barn Cafe, we savour delicious food & Alpine views.

Near Farm Barn Cafe, a roadside plane table shows the panorama around Fairlie - High Claytons, Mt Walker, Devils Peak, The Brothers Range, Albury Range & beyond to Dalgety Range, Mt Nessing & Mt Nimrod, on the way to Timaru. In the opposite direction, Southern Alps seen from our Fairlie home - Mt Edward, Mt Maud, Tekapo Saddle, Two Thumbs Range, Mt Dobson, Mt Fox, the latter two with ski fields.

Our old Toyota Corolla chugged up Mackenzie Pass, where sheep rustler James Mackenzie was caught on 4 March 1855, then escaped. Our Toyota is serviced at Mackenzie Country Motors in Fairlie, where I bought snow chains, just in case.

Leah buses to Lake Tekapo School. Some days I drive her there. While waiting for her to finish teaching, I ramble - Cowans Hill; the pine forested Regional Park by Lilybank Rd; azure Lake Tekapo shore; larch forested Mt John.

Leah teaches four days a week at Lake Tekapo School & teaches on Fridays at St Joseph's School, Fairlie. We leave our footprints in both Alpine towns. As Leah's students & colleague are involved in farming, we visit some sheep stations in Mackenzie Country - Mt Hay; Mt Gerald; Haldon Arms; Blue Mountain.

We visit the town library at Mackenzie College next to Fairlie Primary School. There's a kindergarten and play group too.

There's a swimming pool, a squash club, a rugby club. There's a variety of shops and accommodation establishments. There's Fairlie Heritage Museum and art galleries at Kimbell and Burkes Pass.

On Main St, near a bronze statue of James Mackenzie & his sheep dog, we buy pies at Fairlie Bakehouse; fish 'n chips at Fairlie Country Cafe; Thai Takeaways at at Kai 'n Thai. We enjoy pub grub and pool at Fairlie Hotel & restaurant fare at the Red Stag.

We do minor shopping at Four Square supermarket, Fairlie. Major shopping, twice a month we drive to Timaru, about 60 kms away. At Pleasant Point we drop into Legends Cafe for a meal, by the revamped railway line and museum. En route to Timaru or Geraldine we explore country roads, hills & valleys, like Raincliffs, Kakahu Bush, Totara Valley, Monavale, Pareora Gorge.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont

Monday, September 8, 2014

Rare Black Stilt / Kaki Release, Godley Peaks Road

Tues 02.09.14. In a Glenmore Station wetland, off Godley Peaks Road, Lake Tekapo side, we watched 55 rare black stilts / kaki being released. Black stilts are raised in captivity at the DOC Breeding Centre near Twizel.

DOC staff, volunteers, members of the public, girl Guides from Geraldine & school groups from Waituna School & Lake Tekapo School attended the release. DOC staff laid the black stilt release boxes in a line in the Glenmore Station wetland then school children simultaneously released the black stilts.

With excited chirping the 2-9 months black stilts flew up in groups, then flew around the wetland looking for feeding & nesting sites. DOC staff had already laid plates of food on grass around the wetland. Staff said they would return periodically to feed the black stilts & check on them.

Each black stilt had an aluminium ring on one leg for ID & research purposes. DOC staff said only about 30% of black stilts would survive predators like feral cats, stoats & hedgehog egg thieves. Black stilt eggs are brown with dark green speckles. Without culling predators, DOC was dumb supplying stilt snacks for predators. The wetland fence was predator proof, but that didn't stop black stilts nesting & breeding elsewhere, in wetlands lining Lake Tekapo, below Two Thumbs Range in the east & Stevenson Range, Gammack Range & Hall Range in the west.

A DOC info sheet stated: 

Black stilt / kaki  - Rarest wading bird in the world - population fluctuates - generally around 80 adults. Once found throughout NZ but now only in Mackenzie / Waitaki. Lay 3-4 eggs. Feed on mayflies, caddis flies, midges, water boatmen, snails & small fish. 

DOC staff said black stilts were at The Cairns golf course in Lake Tekapo town. I'd walked around The Cairns golf course many times, but hadn't seen any black stilts there. Shelducks & mallards yes, but no black stilts. In future, I'd look out for black stilts, as there were several kettle holes filled with water at The Cairns golf course.

Content Copyright Mark JS Esslemont

See Black stilt / kaki (DOC)