Tuesday, May 10, 2016

White Pine Trail, Pioneer Park, Raincliffs, Mackenzie Country

Sun 08.05.16. Near Fairlie, Mackenzie Country, off SH 79, 12 kms along Middle Valley Road, a bronze plaque on Pioneer Park's stone gatepost read:

              This park has been preserved for posterity
      primarily through the vision, generosity, and zeal of
                      Major P. H. Johnson of Raincliff
                               who has dedicated it
                         To foster love of the Country:
To the care and preservation of our native Birds and Trees:
              and as a grateful tribute and living memorial
                    to our Pioneer Men and Women: who
              leaving all they held dear in their Homeland
                        set forth with Faith and Courage
              and laid the foundation of this New Nation.

                           NON SIBI SED POSTERIS

More bronze plaques on the other gatepost and on stones around a high country stone praised other settlers.

Pioneer Park had a DOC campsite amongst exotic & native trees with a short walk to Burke's Cottage ruin. Burkes Pass en route to Lake Tekapo was named after settler Burke.

Leah & I did the longer White Pine Trail through native forest, filled with totara, kahikatea white pines & matai trees. Main understorey trees: kanuka, whitey wood, pittosporums, tree fuchsias...

We heard many bird calls, saw a NZ pigeon & inquisitive fantails. As White Pine Trail crossed a stream several times, the walk was slippery when approaching & crossing the stream.

On top of Pioneer Park hill boundary, exotic forestry mess left by loggers spoilt the walk - encroaching gorze, windrows of branches, dusty logging roads. It will be years before pioneer plants cover forestry mess again.

At the DOC campsite, a DOC sign said the 4.5 km, White Pine Trail would take 3.5 hours. As expected, DOC time was wrong. Leah & I weren't fast walkers, but did the White Pine Trail in 2 hours 50 minutes.

Content Copyright mark JS Esslemont.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Stone Hut, Stone Hut Stream, Mt Gerald Station, Mackenzie Country

Wed 13.04.16. I parked my car at the end of Lilybank Rd, Mt Gerald Station, 37 km from Lake Tekapo village. My quest: Stone Hut by Stone Hut Stream, Mt Gerald Station. Afterwards I'd trek up an old farm road to a 1350 m spur on glacial terraces overlooking Godley River & McCauley River confluence. The spur descended the west side of Beuzenberg, forming Stone Hut Stream gorge.

From the carpark I wandered a McCauley River track (unmarked) past deer fenced, harvested, wheat fields on river terraces. A Claas Harvester was parked by a shed in the wheat fields. The unmarked track sidled NE round the wheat fields. I watched a flock of Canada geese wheel S to Lake Tekapo, over the river confluence, backdropped by Southern Alps ranges.

Beyond the N end of Mt Gerald / Beuzenberg W spur, Stone Hut, unmarked track rose 240 vertical metres eastwards, 3.5 kms, through grassland to Stone Hut by Stone Hut Stream. It took me 1.5 hours to reach Stone Hut. I wrote the following in the intentions book:

Wed. 13.4.16. Tea. 10.30. Hut to myself. From Fairlie / Lake Tekapo. Going higher to approx 1350 m then returning to Lilybank carpark this afternoon. Clear day. Magnificent views. Took me 65 years to get here. Ta Serah & Michael. Mark JS Esslemont. S Africa / NZ.

Climbing 350 vertical metres, 2 kms, I followed a steep, old, farm road on the right of Stone Hut Stream to the top of glacial terraces on Beuzenberg W spur, approx 1350 m. On the steep road, Mt Gerald Station / Te Kahui Kaupeka Park boundary fence blocked my way, so I clambered over a locked deer fence gate. It wasn't the first or last, locked, deer fence gate I clambered over that day. The road continued NE past a fork towards Mt Toby & the W side of Beuzenberg in the distance. The road crossed Stone Hut Stream & doubled back steeply up a SW spur of Mt Toby.

I turned right at the road fork & amidst snow tussock, on the glacial spur, I found an old trig beacon site, 1345 m, a steel pole stump, supported by rocks, similar to what I'd seen last year on the top of Mt Burgess. Nowadays trig beacons were vertical concrete hunks.

360 degree panoramas were seen from the top of Mt Gerald glacial terrace:

Eastwards: Glacial terraces & top of Mt Gerald, 1551 m.
Southwards: Mt Richmond Range, Mt Ardmore, Mt Hay. Mt Edward, Motuariki Island in Lake Tekapo, Mt John, Ben Ohau Range.
Westwards: Mt Joseph, Hall Range & Mistake Peak over Lake Tekapo. Mt Gerald Station, NE end of Lake Tekapo. Mt Haszard, Pikes Peak, Mt Radove, Taranaki Peak over Godley River Valley.
Nor'westwards: Lilybank Station below Razor Back & Mt Erebus. Mt Sibbald Range.
Northwards: Mt D'Archiac above McCauley River Valley.

From the glacial terrace spur, I made a bee line descent down lateral moraine hummocks to my car at the end of Lilybank Rd:

Distances & times:

Lilybank Rd carpark to Stone Hut: 240 vertical metres, 3.5 kms, 1.5 hours.
Stone Hut to 1350 m spur on Beuzenberg W spur, glacial terrace: 350 vertical metres, 2.5 km, 1.5 hours.
Beuzenberg W spur, glacial terrace descent to Lilybank Rd carpark: 5 kms, 2 hours.

Hill walking fitness, Topo50 map, all weather gear, water, food, permission from Mt Gerald Station owners needed. Cell phone coverage was patchy, only when Lake Tekapo was seen.

Stone Hut was at the mouth of a gorge, Stone Hut Stream meandering down. In the 1980s Stone Hut was destroyed by an avalanche. Today's Stone Hut - wood & iron construction. Beware winter avalanches.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Camp Stream Hut / Mt Gerald Station / Te Kahui Kaupeka Park

Wed 06.04.16. I drove 30 km along Lilybank Rd, Lake Tekapo east shore, past Mt Hay Station, Richmond Station & Round Hill Ski Field turnoff. Further on, in Mt Gerald Station, just beyond Coal River Bridge, the turnoff to the DOC carpark, where the Camp Stream Hut track started, in Te Kahui Kaupeka National Park - Gathering of the waters. The DOC sign board at the carpark was wrong, stating the walk was 6 km to Camp Stream Hut. DOC website stating 9 km one way was more accurate.

From the Coal River carpark the DOC marker poled track followed a farm road beside high deer fencing, passing paddocks & streams in glacial kettle holes till it reached a farm gate at the Mt Gerald Station / National Park boundary. A DOC sign at the border gate stated 3 km Rex Simpson Memorial Hut, 4 km Camp Stream Hut. Wrong again. The rough track, one way distance to Camp Stream Hut was 7 km from the Mt Gerald Station / National Park deer fence.

Following DOC marker poles, through matagouri, then snow tussock, the rough track followed an old fence line up steep, glacial terraces till it reached another farm road with another DOC sign pointing to Rex Simpson Memorial Hut & Camp Stream Hut in opposite directions. The Camp Stream Hut trail followed the old farm road over a Mt Gerald Saddle, about 1400 m height through snow tussock down to meandering Camp Stream in a snow tussock valley between Mt Gerald east side & Mt Braun Elwart west side.

Mt Gerald Saddle gave grand western views of Lake Tekapo, Mt Mistake, Godley Valley & Alpine Ranges. Mt Gerald Saddle road gave eastern views of Camp Stream going down, past river terraces, to the back of Round Hill & Mt Richmond in the Two Thumbs Range. Camp Stream was bounded by Mt Gerald in the west & Two Thumbs Range in the east. Looking up valley, Mt Gerald west side showed no signs of glacial terracing.

At Camp Stream crossing another DOC sign gave directions, but no km distances to Camp Stream Hut, Rex Simpson Memorial Hut & Stag Saddle on the Te Araroa Trail. (3 000 km trail from Cape Reinga to Bluff). That signage was alarming, as I map estimated the distance from that Camp Stream crossing point to Stag Saddle, about 10 km, 700 vertical metres, a day's hike. With bad distance signs, DOC asked for idiot trampers to get lost in the mountains.

Round a curve on the road on Mt Braun Elwart southern ridge, Camp Stream Hut was on a river terrace below Mt Braun Elwart southern ridge & below another southern ridge terrace of a nameless mt. Mt Richmond, curved northwards past Round Hill, as a great wall of avalanche rock looming above the lot.

Camp Stream Hut was occupied, two campers scoffing in midday sun. I turned back & returned the way I'd come over Mt Gerald Saddle road.

My times: Mt Gerald Station / Coal River DOC carpark, farm road & rough track to the bottom of the glacial terraces: 1 hour.
Rough track, 500 vertical metres climb up Mt Gerald glacial terraces to another farm road: 1 hour.
Farm road over Mt Gerald Saddle to Camp Stream Hut: 1.5 hours.
Return from Camp Stream Hut to Mt Gerald Station / Coal River DOC carpark: 3.5 hours.

Total distance 18 kms. Total 700 vertical metres climbed. A full day's 7 hour walk, excluding pic & scoff times. Hill walking fitness, Topo 50 map, water, food, all weather gear needed. Cell phone coverage only where Mt John / Lake Tekapo south shore can be seen. No cell phone coverage when surrounded by mts, hollows, or valleys.

Fri 05.05.16. My tramp to Camp Stream Hut from the S: From Lilybank Rd, 25 kms from Lake Tekapo village, I drove 3 kms up Round Hill Ski Field road & parked my car at the DOC carpark by Round Hill Ski Field gate, overlooking Coal River. A DOC sign indicated Richmond Trail 3 kms, Round Hill Ski Field 5 kms.

I went N. By Mt Gerald Station deer fence, I crossed Coal River & climbed the steep N bank by a tributary stream smothered in matagouri. Avoiding matagouri & deep snow tussock to the stream source, I wandered up moraine, N facing hummocks & glacial terraces to the edge of Coal River gorge - about 1 hour's tramp over alpine vegetation, like scab weed, mikimiki & snow tussock.

In snow tussock, sidling the S end of Mt Gerald, I crossed a high tussock valley with views of Mt Erebus NW & Round Hill SE, Mt Richmond behind.

Through tussock land, I tramped Camp Stream river terraces, between Mt Gerald S end & the S end of Mt Braun Ewart towards Camp Stream Hut on a river terrace above Camp Stream. E of Camp Stream Hut, Two Thumbs Range included 2 more mt ridges with the great wall of Richmond Range louring above the lot. A vast panorama, including 5 mt ridges above river terraces & valley streams, on my way to Camp Stream Hut.

I crossed Camp Stream & lunched at Camp Stream Hut. No one else in sight.

Inside: the corrugated iron hut had 3 small windows; 6 bunk beds; a wood burning stove; a wooden bench; kitchen bench; miscellaneous eating / water utensils; candle holders; business cards; intentions book.

Outside: Long drop toilet with a grand view of Round Hill & Richmond Range. Firewood was stored in 2 corrugated iron water cisterns & under corrugated iron sheets. An axe in a wood stump invited chopping. Red deer antlers hung above the wooden door. A sign on the door read:

     Camp Stream Hut
Mackenzie Alpine Trust  

Time: 3 hours from DOC carpark on Round Hill Ski Field road to Camp Stream Hut. Distance: 6 kms.

I returned to my car via the farm road on Mt Gerald Saddle, as above, recrossing Camp Stream & climbing to an old trig beacon, 1421 m on Mt Gerald S ridge. A longer return trek, distance 7 kms, time 4 hours.

Total time: 7 hours, excluding lunch. Total distance: 13 kms. 500 vertical metres climbed. Topo 50 map & tramping gear required, as above,

Content Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Te Araroa Trail

Sunday, April 3, 2016

CERA's Hydra Legacy after 5 years' Canterbury Occupation

Sat 02.04.16. The Weekend Press published a full page CERA notice. The CERA notice avoided mentioning the hydra legacy left by CERA:

* CERA's 5 years' post quake meddling in Christchurch City Council affairs, like putting a stooge observer into Council meetings & trying to get Council to speed up consents processing.

* CERA trying to force Council to sell its lucrative assets like Lyttelton Port & Christchurch Airport to pay for NZ govt's / CERA's expensive Blueprint precincts. Council's City Care maintenance company pertained.

* CERA doing nothing about ECAN stooges, er NZ govt appointed commissioners usurping former elected ECAN, causing Canterbury water affairs to go down the gurgler.

* CERA doing nothing about MOE's closures & mergers of post quake Canterbury schools.

* CERA doing nothing about EQC's ineptitude, EQC still fobbing off over cap $100 000 house repairs to insurers, more than 5 years post quakes.

* EQC's ineptitude, 1 000s of faulty under cap $100 000 house repairs, especially house foundation repairs, which needed to be redone by EQC's contractors.

* CERA's slow to start construction of CERA's Blueprint anchor projects, like Convention Centre, 35 000 seater roofed Stadium. Metro Sports Facility; all of which to date were vast demolition sites, leaving the CERA occupied CBD a fence cordoned mess.

* CERA supplied bread & circuses in the form of red zone quake walks to ruined Christchurch Cathedral, red zone bus tours, Restart Cashel Mall, revamped Hagley cricket oval, Margaret Mahy Family Playground, new Bus Exchange on Council land.

* CERA's terrorist target, the Blueprint Justice & Emergency Services bldg between Lichfield St & Tuam St. Stuffing cops, courts, corrections, fire & ambulance services & Civil Defence in one precinct was mad.

* Christchurch Cathedral ruin was still fence cordoned in Cathedral Sq. CERA did nothing to stop meddling ex politicians Burdon, Anderton & heritage fanatics from delaying the Anglican diocese rebuild of Christchurch Cathedral.

* Cathedral Sq: Central Library rebuild not done yet. Rydges Hotel & Millennium Hotel were still closed. Part demolished, asbestos riddled BNZ was still closed & graffiti messed. Novotel & Ibis Hotel. Hereford St were for sale, as CERA's Cathedral Sq was all but abandoned.

* Insurers' slow claims settlements.

* SCIRT's incompleted & shoddy road repairs.

* CERA's land grab, er acquisition or taking of 7 000+ red zone, residential properties & scores of CBD commercial properties for CERA's 20 odd Blueprint projects like the CBD East Frame. To date NZ govt / CERA had not mentioned what it would do with all the red zone, residential property & red zone, commercial property it land grabbed. I expect a lot of the land would end up owned by local Ngai Tahu tribe, bosom buddy of NZ National govt.

Five years post quakes, CERA's legacy not only included the above mess, but monstrous hydra buds, forming more obscuring bureaucracy, interfering in Christchurch Council affairs. The notice read:

  Te Mana Haumanu ki Waitaha

                                                 THE CANTERBURY EARTHQUAKE
                                                 RECOVERY AUTHORITY COMES TO AN
                                                 END ON MONDAY 18 APRIL 2016

CERA was established by the Government to lead and coordinate the region's recovery in the wake of the devastating earthquakes of September 2010 and February 2011.

This short-term organisation was given a five-year lifespan and will be formally disestablished on Monday 18 April 2016.

In October last year the Transition Recovery Plan was publically released which explained where some of CERA's functions would move to and which ones would be wound down. That transition started in December last year when the first of CERA's functions were taken over by other Government agencies.

Ther Transition Recovery Plan is published here www.cera,govt.nz/transition and physical copies are available to read at Christchurch Libraries.

What you need to know

The agencies that inherit CERA's functions will be the contact points of information once CERA office is closed. 

Regenerate Christchurch

Regenerate Christchurch is a new joint Crown-Council entity which will oversee the long term development and enhancement of the central city, Christchurch's residential red zone and New Brighton. It will do this by engaging with communities, stakeholders and decision makers. [Council played second fiddle to Regenerate Christchurch padded with govt stooges].

Otakaro Limited

Otakaro Limited is a new Crown company established to deliver key anchor projects and precincts in Christchurch and manage any potential future sale of Crown owned land in the central city. [Dispose of NZ govt's / CERA's land grab]. www.otakaroltd.co.nz 

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)

On 1 December 2015 LINZ inherited the remaining responsibility for:
* Demolitions and clearing of Crown Owned property in the residential red zone.
* Maintenance of Crown owned land in the residential red zone.

LINZ will not be making decisions about the longer-term use of the residential red zone.


Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)

On 1 December 2015 MBIE took over responsibility for:

* The remaining residential rebuild work, including finding solutions for emerging residential rebuild    issues and monitoring the pace and rate of insurance settlements.
* Analysing progress of the rebuild, providing procurement advice, and informing and engaging with    the construction market.


Ministry of Health / Canterbury District Health Board

On 1 December 2015 the Ministry of Health, working closely with the Canterbury DBH, took on some additional leadership responsibilities for coordinating psychosocial health work.

On 1 March 2015 they took responsibility for monitoring and reporting on community well being.

www.health.govt.nz              www.cdhb.govt.nz

Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet

On 1 March 2015 the Greater Christchurch Group, a business unit within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) was established). The Group's responsibilities include:

* Providing policy advice to Ministers and Government on the regeneration of greater Christchurch,
   including the future uses of the Christchurch residential red zone.
* Monitoring and reporting on the overall progress of regeneration.
* Part funding and jointly governing repairs to horizontal infrastructure such as roads and
   underground pipes.          
* Administering the new Greater Christchurch Regeneration Bill.


CERA's website www.cera.govt.nz will be archived for general reference and can be found through the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet's website www.dpmc.govt.nz from 18 April 2016.

However, for all inquiries and up-to-date information please phone the appropriate inheriting agency.

John Ombler
Acting Chief Executive
Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority"

Ombler took over CERA after former CERA boss Sutton resigned under a female staff abuse cloud.

CERA didn't say that most of the CBD rebuild after 5 years & rebuild elsewhere after 5 years (new residential developments, shops & offices) was done by the private sector, not CERA.

After CERA was disestablished on 18.04.16 into the above govt tentacles, CERA documents, websites, internet connections were absorbed into a CERA Document Archive, ceraarchive.dpmc.govt.nz managed by the Dept of the Prime Minister & Cabinet. So all my CERA links on my blog received a "CERA has been disestablished" link, referring readers to the Dept of the Prime Minister & Cabinet. That amounted to state censorship where former CERA links, like media releases & CERA reports, were available on the internet, but were henceforth blocked by state censors, er archivists.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See CERA's / CCDU's Blueprint Projects & Precincts, including Bus Exchange.

See Christchurch Our National Disgrace (National Business Review).


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Rex Simpson Hut, Mt Gerald Station, Mackenzie Country

Mon 07.03.16. I drove along Lilybank Rd, below Two Thumbs Range, from Lake Tekapo village, 30 kms along Lake Tekapo E shore, past Mt Hay Station, past Richmond Station, past Round Hill Ski Field turnoff, deep into Mt Gerald Station. Just across Coal River Bridge, I turned right at DOC's Te Kahui Kaupeka (Gathering of the Waters) sign & parked my car 800 m along the road at the DOC carpark. A DOC sign at the carpark stated it was 2 km to Mt Gerald Station / DOC boundary; 5 km to Rex Simpson Hut; 6 km to Camp Stream Hut.

I'd found DOC signs false in the past. My Topo50 map, guesstimate distance from the DOC carpark to Rex Simpson Hut - 7 kms. DOC did straight line estimates on a map & didn't include all the curves & loops in a tramp.

It was an easy walk to DOC's boundary sign, past a matagouri banked stream, flowing in a glacial kettle hole down to Coal River & Lake Tekapo & past red deer paddock fences. At the boundary gate another DOC sign read: 3 km Rex Simpson Hut; 4 km Camp Stream Hut.

A month ago I'd set off to find Rex Simpson Hut, but beyond the boundary fence, DOC marker poles were obscured by matagouri, so I missed the uphill turn at the third marker pole. From there the path followed an old fence up glacial terraces, first through matagouri, then tussockland. Instead I wandered along Mt Gerald Station boundary fence, a high, red deer fence, to Mt Gerald Stream fencing & back. Along the way I found a red stag skull with 10 point antlers, which I backpacked 8 kms to my car.

I counted 4 dozen cattle grazing in matagouri land beyond Mt Gerald Station fence. Every stream I crossed was full of cow shit! Soft ground near the streams was eroded by cattle hooves. Why did DOC & ECAN allow cattle to pollute high country streams?

The tramp to Rex Simpson Hut was steep, beginning at 800 m at the DOC carpark, then rising 500 vertical metres to a farm road in tussockland at 1300 m where another DOC sign read: Rex Simpson Hut 1 km, Camp Stream Hut 2 km. After nearly 3 hours uphill tramping to the sign, I knew the DOC signage was false, as my walking speed was 2-3 km / hour, on flats or in high country.

Rex Simpson Hut nestled on a Mt Gerald N-S slope with grand views of Lake Tekapo, Alpine ranges, Godley River Valley & McCauley River Valley. Rex Simpson Hut was locked, owned by Alpine Recreation. A small side room with 2 bare bed boards was left unlocked for anyone caught out by bad weather. After using the stinking long drop toilet, I returned to my car. Estimated return distance: 14 km. Walking time: 5 hours. Hill walking fitness, food, water, all weather gear required.

Mon 14.03.16. I climbed up to Rex Simpson Hut again, 2.5 hours this time, as I knew the way. I wanted to climb above Rex Simpson Hut to lower Snake Ridge, 1500 m. Snake Ridge went all the way up to Beuzenberg Peak 2073 m, a distinctive ridge & peak in the the Two Thumbs Range, seen from Lake Tekapo village about 30 kms away.

At a stream above Rex Simpson Hut I topped up my water bottle & slogged up to lower Snake Ridge top through snow tussock & over rocks & bogs. There is a path to lower Snake Ridge top, but it's obscured by tussock. I found the path later on my way down.

Snake Ridge top, undulating at first, then sinuous, gives grand views W across flat topped Mt Gerald 1551 m, Godley River, Lake Tekapo, Mt Mistake, Pikes Peak & Gammack Range. Beyond I saw snowy Mt Tasman, but Mt Cook was hidden by cloud. SW across Lake Tekapo, Old Man Range, Ben Ohau Range & other ranges are seen. Mt John is a glacial, scoured lump SW side of Lake Tekapo. E side of Lake Tekapo progressively larger lumps are seen: Wee McGregor, Mt Hay, Mt Edward, Mt Ardmore, Mt Richmond, above Round Hill Ski Field.

From Snake Ridge top, NE across Camp Stream tussock valley, Mt Hope 2086 m is seen, Stag Saddle joins Mt Hope to Beuzenberg Peak, all forming Camp Stream headwaters. From lower Snake Ridge, where I turned back at 1 pm, a full day's climbing is needed to ascend Snake Ridge to Beuzenberg Peak & return to Rex Simpson Hut.

My walking times: Coal River, DOC carpark up to Rex Simpson Hut & lower Snake Ridge top - 4 hours. Return to DOC carpark - 3 hours. Estimated distance - 18 kms. Height: DOC carpark to lower Snake Ridge top - 700 vertical metres. Hill walking fitness, all weather gear, food, water, NZ Topo50 maps required. Terrain: steep & harsh, no cover.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Beuzenberg Peak pics (Southern Alps Photography).

Monday, February 15, 2016

Earth Surfing, Valentines Day Quake, Christchurch

Sun 14.02.11, Christchurch, 5.7 mag quake, depth 15 km, 15 km east if Christchurch, 1.13 pm. (Geonet) Resurrection of the Pegasus Bay Faults which were quiet since the 23.12.11 quake swarm,

Leah & I were in Timaru at the time, 162 km S of Christchurch, having lunch at a Pak n Save cafe. Leah felt the quake. I didn't. She was right. On our return to Fairlie we checked out Geonet & texted our sons who text replied as follows:

Luke, Berwick St rental: "Big! Biggest one I've felt in a very long time. Very jolty, rolled on for quite a while. Lots of aftershocks since." Luke did quake salvage work the last couple of years, dangerous work in an active quake zone.

Jake, Cassels Brewery, Garlands Rd: "I'm totally fine. House etc & friends all good. No worries:) When the quake hit it just so happened that all of us 6 chefs were congregated all in the same area of the kitchen when stuff got a bit wobbly. I instinctively took my earth surfing stance & had my 23 cm knife pointing outwards from me, gripped in my right hand:) Luckily no one else was standing too close to me. Ha Ha." Jake pulled trapped colleagues out of a collapsed restaurant bldg during the 22.02.11 quake.

Jakes "earth surfing" was apt, if one wasn't diving for cover, or rushing for a door frame, for protection. As seismic waves rolled underfoot, with bent knees & arms akimbo, it was like a wave battering. I once described to an Oamaru friend that surviving a big quake was like being bashed at the bottom of rugby scrum, or being dumped by a huge wave. Absolutely no control.

I updated my Facebook status letting family & friend know we were all OK. Several Like responses & compassionate comments from family & friends. Snarky, troll comments I had after the 22.02.11 quake were absent. Trolls had slithered back under their rocks.

Over the next few days, TV1 & The Press reported there were no fatalities, but there were rock falls at Godley Head, Whitewash Head, Sumner's Richmond Hill & Peacocks Gallop. There were reports of liquefaction at Kairaki Beach & Parklands roads were liquefactioned again, with sink holes & sewage leaks: Bower Ave, Broadhaven Ave, Courtfield Cl, Hurst Pl, Linkwater Way. I'd seen those Parkland roads badly liquefactioned after the 23.12.11 quake swarm. Psychological eh John?

Christchurch Cathedral's west facade crumbled more, despite the so-called, steel, "Battering Ram" buttressing the facade.

EQC was accepting claims for the Valentines Day Quake. Given EQC's ineptitude over the last 5 years with shoddy repairs, 1 000s of repairs & claims still unresolved & insurers still waiting for EQC to decide on over cap $100 000 properties for previous quakes, some Valentines Day quake claimants could wait another 5 years for their claims to be resolved by EQC & insurers.

Sun 21.02.16. A Cathedral Sq protest protested about EQC & insurer delays in resolving claims. Deja vu the 08.08.12 protest I'd attended at Clarence St & Princess St, protesting EQC & insurer delays. The revolting thing about the latest protest was that 5 years post 22.02.11 quake, 4 500 repair / rebuild claims were still unresolved & 5 500 repairs on EQC / Fletcher shoddy repairs claims were unresolved. What were PM Key, CERA minister Brownlee, CERA minions, Human Rights Commissioner & others mouthing about Cantabrians being carpers & moaners doing about the EQC's & insurers' dismiss / deny / delay / defend scandal?

Sat-Sun 27-28.02.16. Was in Christchurch for Leah's teaching business & to visit our sons. On Sat I wandered Christchurch's CBD. Lots of rebuild, Cashel Mall: The Terrace, with new steps on Avon River bank; BNZ; ANZ; a huge parking garage behind The Crossing on Lichfield St; Justice & Emergency Services Precinct going well, between Lichfield St & Tuam St. All those new bldgs had sturdy steel frames. Quake survivor Pagoda House, Colombo St was dwarfed by BNZ & ANZ. Rebuilds darkened Cashel Mall again, forming a W-E wind funnel from Bridge of Remembrance.

Not Funny: 5 bldgs red sticker cordoned (27.02.16) by Council on New Regent St, as dangerous after 5 years of quakes. Council only woke up to the danger after the Valentines Day quake. Par for the Council, like Council libraries closed for repairs long after quakes - South Library, Fendalton Library, Bishopdale Library...

Christchurch Cathedral ruin: Still fenced cordoned after 5 years of neglect. Cracks had widened on all exterior walls. Many loose Oamaru whitestones, cladded corners, buttresses, window arches. Heritage fanatics were mad wanting to restore the rubble walled ruin. I wandered around ruined Christchurch Cathedral, coolpixing weedy neglect, widened cracks, loose stones & protest slogans, chalked on flagstones, curbs & boards on abandoned Millennium Hotel. Next door, abandoned BNZ part demolition was covered in graffiti. What a mess CERA left Cathedral Sq after its 5 year occupation.

Cathedral Sq, chalked protest slogans:

JACK + PACK [Referring to shoddy jack & pack, foundation repairs by Fletchers contractors]

VULNERABLE [To flooding & liquefction according to EQC assessments]


THE FLAG OR THE PEOPLE [Referring to PM Key's flag referendum]











Fun things: Margaret Mahy Family Playground, many kids enjoyed themselves. Parents lolled below poplars on Avon River bank. No shade over the playground, yet.

Oxford Tce: 5 years post quakes, below abandoned Rydges Hotel, Our City, abandoned, scaffolded, fence cordoned. Ditto quake trashed Provincial Council bldgs on opposite Avon River Bank.

Cambridge Tce - Durham St Nth. Office block rebuild going up on Central Police implosion site. Glass & steel, office block rebuilds loomed above quake trashed, Provincial Council bldg.

NZ govt's Blueprint Convention Centre. 5 years post quakes, no rebuild yet. Just a vast, cordon fenced, dusty demolition site between Victoria Sq / Cathedral Sq & Colombo St / Oxford Tce.

After 3 years' cordon closure, Gloucester St Bridge was being restored by SCIRT. I wrote in a SCIRT suggestion booklet, hung on a cordon fence: 5 YEARS! TOO SLOW!

Gap Filler activities, like food trailers, Commons sports, dancing, band playing, by the Wooden Arches on Crowne Plaza Hotel demolition site near Town Hall restoration. At Last!

Year of the Monkey, Chinese New Year, Lantern Festival, Hagley Park. 1 000s of viewers. Troupe of monkeys, CERA's last year of Christchurch occupation. CERA morphed into another troupe of Regeneration Christchurch monkeys, organ grinded by National MPs Key & Brownlee. Another 5 years!

Mon 29.02.16. Leap Year Day quake, 3.32 am, 4.3 mag, 5 km depth, 5 km S of Christchurch. Port Hills fault again. We'd returned to Fairlie. But our sons awoke to strong jolts. There were so many known & unknown, crustal faults in & around Christchurch, when one ruptured, another soon ruptured, different faults rupturing for the Valentines Day & Leap Year Day aftershocks.

Content Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Submarine faulting beneath Pegasus Bay (NIWA).

See EQC has about 5500 shoddily repaired homes to fix (The Press / Stuff Co).

See Christchurch quake Still waiting for repairs 5 years on (The Press / Stuff Co).

See Hundreds protest outstanding EQC & insurance claims in Cathedral Square (The Press / Stuff Co).

See PM John Key's opinion of Christchurch's recovery (The Press / Stuff Co).

See A city of two halves new quake reignites old battles (The Press / Stuff Co).

See New Regent St owner agrees to engineering inspections (The Press / Stuff Co).

See Quake claimant to fellow IAG customers clog the system (The Press / Stuff Co).

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Catlins Coast Letter

10.02.16. A letter to our sons:

Hope your trip to Nelson & beyond went OK Luke & that everything's OK at Cassels Brewery Jake. I didn't feel Tuesday's mag 5.7 Kaikoura quake, too far south. Did you?

Leah's now back into her second week's teaching at Lake Tekapo & I've climbed Mt John 4x since her return, to get hill-walking fit again. I climbed once with Leah last weekend & the other 3x mingled with tourists, mainly Chinese. Nice sunny February weather. I'm hoping to find 2 DOC huts up Lake Tekapo on Mt Gerald Station & do more Mt Hay Station tramps this summer. Hopefully Leah will start Monday evening, yoga classes at Lake Tekapo, so I'll have looooong Mondays for my walks. As it's high tourist season, thousands of tourists pass through Lake Tekapo daily, with overcrowding at the camp site & public toilets. And rubbish discarded on the shore too. The new pedestrian bridge to the Church of the Good Shepherd is a good wander.

Our Catlins Coast trip we did in the last week of Leah's Xmas holidays:

Day 1: Drove Fairlie to Dunedin & stayed at Leith Valley camp site, in wooden chalet rooms. That weekend Dunedin had a vintage car rally, so the camp site was full of vintage campers & vintage cars too. Wandered Dunedin Botanic Gdns & student rental streets near University of Otago. We saw those streets on TV when students' booze up shenanigans hit the news. Some rentals have odd names above doors. Wandered varsity grounds too, Bought Thai takeaways near the camp site.

Day 2: Drove Dunedin to Balclutha to Kaka Point on Catlins Coast. Lunch at rainy Balclutha. Drove beside wide Balclutha River a bit to Kaka Point with great views of the bay where Balclutha River meets the Pacific. Drove a dirt road to Nugget Point & walked a DOC track to the light house with views of a seal colony on rocks below & Nuggets / stacks scattered in the sea beyond the light house. Looking southwards from Nugget Point I counted 4 headlands & bays.

Catlins Coast consists of a series of rugged headlands & bays with hilly farmlands behind, where the tarred road sidles the headlands. We drove dirt roads to reach the coast.

We had blue cod, chips & salad supper at the only bar / restaurant in Kaka Point. A sandy beach walk settled our food. We slept at a B & B near the restaurant.

Day 3: Busy. Drove southwards to Surat Bay, a few cribs at Newhaven & more cribs at Pounawea across the bay. Great views of Surat Bay from Pounawea camp site.

Drove to Owaka with its new aluminium, waka sculpture. Saw Owaka Museum & its history of Catlins Coast shipwrecks. Saw an Owaka house with hundreds of teapots in the garden.

Drove to Purakaunui Bay: Sheep on the dirt road, two seals on the beach & DOC campers nearby. The tall cliffs by the bay are worth the side trip. A good surfing bay.

Drove southwards: Walked to Purakaunui Falls, Drove further south & walked to Matai Falls & Horseshoe Falls above. Walked a bit of the Rail Trail through a rocky, bushy cutting.

A Rail Trail information board read:

"The building of the Catlins River Railway line between Balclutha and Tahakopa was started in 1879 and completed in 1915. It closed in 1971. The line was of great significance for the 19th and 20th century settlement of the Catlins, as it provided reliable transport for people, timber, farm produce and supplies before roads and road transport improved.

'In common with many early branch lines it was very tortuous, with deep cuttings. Because of the nature of the country many steep grades were encountered.' (Russel Glendenning - legendary local railway man).

The 1 in 40 average grade of this section of the line was one of the steepest in the South Island railway system and the fully laden trains struggled to keep going uphill when the rails were slippery."

Further south we enjoyed views of Tautuku Bay & Peninsula from Florence Hill Lookout: Waves rolled in from the Antarctic, a bushy sandy beach below.

Drove through coastal bush & stopped at Papatowai for a windy, beach walk & coffee at the Lost Gypsy Gallery, a hippy bus filled with funny gadgets for sale.

Drove south through native bush & walked to Lake Wilkie, a glacial, kettlehole lake, in native bush. A farmer wearing gum boots, was worried about a drunken worker, lost in the bush. We told him we'd seen the drunkard, waving a beer bottle, wandering way back on the main road. The farmer drove off to find him.

Didn't see Cathedral Caves - closed for the day.

Drove south through more native bush & walked to McClean Falls.

Drove south through coastal bus to Waikawa where we settled into a two bed room house opposite Waikawa Museum.

Early evening we drove to Curio Bay to see the fossil forest at low tide: There were many lengths of petrified wood on a tidal rock platform. I slipped on kelp while coolpixing. Like at Lake Tekapo, there were many tourists along Catlins Coast. Leah chatted to a Chartres Frenchman cyclist, who'd already cycled Australia & was now doing NZ. Leah told him we'd visited Chartres Cathedral during our 1981 Eurrail trip.

A bronze plaque on the roadside near the fossil forest read:

                                                   "CURIO BAY FOSSIL FOREST

This forest grew in the Jurassic period. About 160 000 000 years ago. In a semi-tropical climate and consisted of trees like the kauri and lesser trees such as cycads and conifers. As well as fern like plants. Grasses & flowering plants had not yet come into existence.

The forest occupied the low swampy coast of a land that once extended south from this point. The coast continued north-west from this area across northern southland. And most of the rest of NZ was beneath the sea.

The forest was killed suddenly by being buried under a flood of ash from a volcanic eruption on the ancient land. And the ash now forms the hard sandstone beds in the cliff edges. Long after the ancient land disappeared and present NZ emerged. These sandstone strata were cut back by action of the sea. To reveal the broken logs and stumps still in the original position of growth. The present rock shelf around the stumps is the original floor of the Jurassic forest.

Known fossil forests of this age are very few throughout the world. And this the most varied and remarkable of them all.

This forest is absolutely protected and it is an offence to damage or destroy it in any way, or to remove any souvenir from it."

Day 4: Returned to Fairlie via Catlins Coast again, Dunedin & stayed a night at a two bed room holiday home at Waikouaiti. Nice sandy beach there, a big hill, Cornish Head above the north end of the beach.

Our new Nikon Coolpix camera worked well, so we have pics to show. Lots of native bush & bird life along Catlins Coast, like spoonbills, gulls, pied stilts, oyster catchers, paradise shelducks, NZ pigeons...

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.