Sunday, September 18, 2016

Week 9. Mt Gerald Station, Family Visit, Mackenzie Country

Fri 16.09.16. I drove Leah from our Fairlie rental to St Josephs School, Fairlie, for Leah to teach there. I wandered around Fairlie. Grey rain clouds loured over Two Thumbs Range & Sherwood Range.

Sat 17.09.16. I drove us to Academy Motel, Creyke Rd, Christchurch, so we could pick up Leah's Durban sister at Christchurch Airport. (Rangitata River & Rakaia River flowed full after Friday's Alpine rains). Leah's sister had visited her Sydney grand children & would stay with us a week at our lake house at Mt Gerald Station, NE end of Lake Tekapo.

Christchurch Airport parking was horrendous, as Christchurch Council owned Christchurch Airport & had a monopoly on ripoff parking. (Minimum $12.50 for the first hour...) Car hire firms like Hertz clogged the airport carpark with rental cars. Surrounding airport businesses all had private carparks making it impossible for the public to get free parking anywhere near the airport. Nearby roads had yellow dotted lines roadsides, stopping free parking for miles around. Christchurch ratepayers thus subsidised tourist parking & out of town business parking at Christchurch Airport, without free parking for ratepayers or locals like ourselves.

Evening: Had a Corianders takeaway supper with Luke in our Academy Motel room. Leah & her sister enjoyed telling Luke how he resembled his Durban grandfather in tallness, kindness & work ethic.

Late evening: We visited Jake at his Woolston Club restaurant to arrange a visit to our lake house at Mt Gerald Station. Jake had moved flat again, this time to Shetland St to be close to his Woolston Club work. Despite work & study setbacks during quake years 2010-2013, our sons persevered & stayed in Christchurch for the long haul. They stayed in disgustingly expensive rentals, the rental market inflated by greedy landlords, grasping real estate agents & rental managers.

Sun 18.09.16. Morning: Wandered Christchurch Botanic Gdns, viewing blooming magnolias & daffodils. Leah's sister enjoyed seeing post quakes resumed, punters on Avon.

Midday: Shopping at Northlands Mall.

Six years post quakes, Christchurch still had a long way to go, repairing quake trashed roads, repairing quake damaged bldgs & building new ones. Although NZ govt's Blueprint Justice & Emergency Services Precinct, Hereford St, was being completed, NZ govt & Council still dithered over building other Blueprint anchor projects, like Central Library, Convention Centre, Stadium, Performing Arts Precinct, Metro Sports Facility in the CBD, the latest excuse being asbestos pollution buried in Blueprint demolition sites by errant demolishers. Fence cordoned, Christchurch Cathedral ruin was a blot on the landscape, symbol of Council's & NZ govt's botched quake recovery. Never mind EQC's repeat repairs of 10 000 botched house repairs & EQC trying to get repeat repairs cash settled instead of insisting on proper repairs by Fletcher's contractors.

By September's end, EQC boss Simpson was promoted to GNS Science, another govt agency. What a farce! Since the 2010-2013 Canterbury quakes, Simpson had bossed EQC with all its faults & insults to Cantabrians.

During our Mackenzie Country sojourn, over the last 3 years, every time we returned to Christchurch we were caught in traffic jams due to road detours & road cone obstructions. A lot of Christchurch CBD had 30 km speed limit to protect cyclists. Council was trying to make the post quake CBD pedestrian & cyclist friendly, but unfriendly to motorists, a recipe for slow CBD recovery.  

Afternoon. After a pit stop at our Fairlie rental to pick up bedding & drinking water, I drove us back to our lake house at Mt Gerald Station.

Evening: TV watched Sat highlights of ABS vs Springboks Christchurch test match. ABs thrashed Boks. Late evening: TV watched Rio Para Olympics, Men's Sitting Volleyball, Bronze Medal, Egypt vs Brazil. Egypt won.

Mon 19.09.16. School day Mt Gerald Station. Last week of the school term.. Cool weather forecast this week. Snow patches still on surrounding high Alps, like Mt Gerald, Mistake Peak, Pikes Peak. Deciduous willows showed spring leaves. Other deciduous trees, like larches, were still bare. Mountain paddocks were greening after spring rains.

Late afternoon: I drove Leah to Lake Tekapo School for her lesson preps. While returning to our lake house Leah's sister snapped pics of the Alpine sunset over Lake Tekapo. Clouds pouring over Tekapo Saddle showed that Fairlie had a cloudy day.

Tues 20.09.16. School day Mt Gerald Station. The 2 boys rode their Honda motor bikes to school.

I parked my car at the end of Lilybank Rd by the carpark. Like my Macaulay River Valley walk last week, I crossed Ribbonwood Stream & Ninety Five Stream, but instead of wandering Macauley River's true left bank again, I crossed two paddocks, passed a farm shed & wandered uphill towards Stone Hut Stream.

It took me 1 hour 15 mins to reach Stone Hut by Stone Hut Stream. Distance from Lilybank Rd carpark: 3.5 kms. As it was cloudy I deigned climbing higher up Stone Hut Stream gorge towards Beuzenberg's Snake Ridge. Instead I scoffed my biltong & mandarin lunch in Stone Hut & read the visitors' book: ferret & possum trappers; geology surveyors; deer, tahr & bunny hunters; X country skiers; school tramping groups; wanderers like myself & locals.

In reality Stone Hut was an old, corrugated iron hut, with 6 bunk beds; a wood burner stove; wooden table & two wooden benches; kitchen sink, motley kitchen utensils & an outside corrugated iron, long drop toilet with grand Alpine & river views.

On my return to my car at the end of Lilybank Rd, a cold wind blew from Lake Tekapo & western ranges, so I was glad of my trusty, brown wind cheater. In my absence a wag had written PRIVATE CAR PARK in the dust on my back windscreen. Irony: I drove the station owner's Subaru Outback. Not a soul in sight, in a vast Alpine landscape.

Late afternoon: I drove Leah & her sister to the end of Lilybank Rd for snowy mountain & river views. In a chilly wind, we wandered moraine hummocks overlooking braided Godley River, Macauley River & streams from Mt Toby & Mt Gerald. We watched the sun setting over Pikes Peak.

Wed 21.09.16. Last school day Mt Gerald Station. Treasure hunt around farm bldgs for the children & a visit to the horse paddock. I tidied up the 2 ex school rooms to morph them into bedrooms again for our sons' visit to Mt Gerald Station.

Thurs 22.06.16. Drove Leah & her sister from Mt Gerald Station to Geraldine for shopping & lunch. Stopped en route to look at the daffodil farm. Afternoon: Detoured off SH8 to Pioneer Park for tea. Pit stop at our Fairlie rental to collect drinking water for our lake house at Mt Gerald Station.

See Christchurch anchor projects plagued by land contamination (The Press / Stuff Co).

See EQC looking to cash settle remaining remedial work (The Press / Stuff Co).


See Outstanding EQC boss Simpson quits (The Press / Stuff Co).

Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

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