Thursday, August 4, 2016

Week 2. Mt Gerald Station, Power Cut, Mackenzie Country

Fri 29.07.16. Leah taught at St Josephs School, Fairlie. Afterwards I drove to Christchurch where we stayed at Academy Motel, Creyke Rd, by Canterbury University.

Sat 30.07.16. Leah attended a teachers' literacy course at Halswell Library, a new post quakes library. I did a circular walk past 40 Nottingham Ave where we'd lived for 8 years after emigrating from RSA. to NZ. I wandered Westlake & saw exotic & native trees grown bigger since we saw them planted years ago while Westlake transformed from quarry swamp to parkland. I returned to Halswell Library via Halswell Junction Rd, huge post quake housing developments along Halswell Junction Rd.  

Evening curry meal with our sons at Nobannos Restaurant, Ferrymead, the first Bengali restaurant in NZ. Nobannos Bengali owner told us he battled for customers at Ferrymead, post quakes, whereas pre quakes in Christchurch CBD he'd easily filled 90 tables / night with customers. That confirmed what we knew about post quake hospitality collapse. Jake had battled to find permanent chef jobs post quakes & shifted through several chef jobs & flats post quakes, His last job was at Cassels Brewery, The Tannery. Woolston. When the owner's CBD restaurant folded he transferred his CBD staff to Cassels Brewery, Woolston, thus cutting Jake's work hours. Jake shifted to Woolston Working Mens Club with guaranteed work hours.

Sun 31.07.16. I drove from Christchurch to Mt Gerald Station via Rakaia, Geraldine, Fairlie, Burkes, Pass, Lake Tekapo.

Mon 01.08.16. School day, Mt Gerald Station. I wandered swampland on Coal River S bank to Coal River mouth flushing Alpine waters to the NE shore of Lake Tekapo. I counted 11 kaki, 2  southern pied stilts, a multitude of dozy, paradise shelducks & Canada geese.

Mt Gerald Station owner reclaimed his 4WD Suzuki Jimny & lent us a Subaru Outback runabout. The Subaru proved to be a good gravel / snow  / mud car on corrugated Lilybank Rd - big snow wheels, anti skid tech, good traction. After school I drove Leah to Lake Tekapo School to prep teaching aids.

Tues 02.08.16. School day, Mt Gerald Station. I crossed Coal River Bridge on Lilybank Rd & wandered S for 3 kms to the DOC turnoff to Lake Tekapo shore. Map ref: BY17 038463. There I saw 2 kaki & many paradise shelducks. I wandered across Coal River delta back to our lake house.

After school, a windless, sunny afternoon, Leah & I wandered Coal River bank to Coal River mouth. A chamois bolted across a swamp when it saw us. We saw no kaki, but saw an Australasian harrier soaring, hunting. The snowline on Mt Mistake & Pikes Peak above us was 1200 m. Thaw waters glistened on lower slopes.

Wed 03.08.16. School day, Mt Gerald Station. Great excitement when 2 electricians arrived from Fairlie in a snow storm to fix the 2 classrooms' power. They made a separate circuit for the 2 classrooms & another circuit for our dining room / lounge to reduce electricity overload. Mt Gerald Station owner came along to check a generator for emergency electricity during grid power cuts.

School break: The children made snowmen in the garden while farm dog Jimmy gnawed a rugby ball. The snow storm had dumped snow on the Alps from the peaks down to Lake Tekapo shore.

After school from Coal River Bridge, Leah & I wandered along snowy, DOC Kahui Kaupeka (Gathering of the waters) road which followed Coal River N bank about 800 m to the DOC carpark for walks up Mt Gerald. Along the snowy, muddy road several snow melt streams flowed through culverts to Coal River. Last summer when I'd wandered the carpark road the streams were bone dry.

Thurs 04.08.16. School day, Mt Gerald Station. Morning snow storm.

Afternoon: I drove along snowy Lilybank Rd to Lake Tekapo School for Leah to teach a lesson. Afterwards she attended a Pilates class at the Community Hall, Aorangi Cres. Late afternoon: I drove down snowy Burkes Pass to our Fairlie rental.

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

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