Monday, February 25, 2008

St Bathans Range and Twin Burn Run

For forty years I've stood on many a mountain top in Canterbury and Otago and been able to see the huge expanse of the St Bathans Range, so imagine my delight when I was able travel it's whole length yesterday. Yes, like many I've contemplated traversing it on foot, by ski or vehicle, but even to get to the start is a mission in it's own right. My destiny was for it to be via 4wd.

The first major stop for the group was to look at an alpine cirque close up and have a welcome walk-about before tackling the forth-coming, extremely bumpy and rough alpine section. To the left [nor east] is the Hawkduns, and St Mary's range, from the summit of which I know you can see Banks Peninsula, so as we're higher here I dare-say it'd be possible with binos. Further to the left and across the headwaters of the Manuherikia is the back of Otematata Station, childhood home of my cousin Deirdre. Further to the left again was Mt Cook...

A tele-shot of some vehicles with Mt Cook in the background...

An unexpected alpine lake nestled in a unique glacial cirque setting with surrounding bluffs...

A smooth part of the track showing the fragile alpine vegetation just below 2000 mts above sea level, and weathered fence posts that are now destined for removal under the new land tenure...

Like being in an air plane... here we look south down from the summit of the range at nearly 2100 mts. onto Dunstan Crk. which flows left to St Bathans. In the background tending right is one of the agriculturally developed Lindis river flats, which the main road passes through en-route to Queenstown and Wanaka. On the extreme left horizon it'd probably be possible with binos to see Saddle Hill which is just south of Dunedin...

Cousin Michael eases his lead 4wd vehicle around the most [mentally] taxing corner on the route. The drop off to the left is just as strong as the terrain on the right indicates. Each vehicle had to stop with it's nose over the drop-off, and reverse up the 30 degree incline to take a second bite at the corner. A situation that calls for cool nerves...

The tops were too windy for lunch and besides this high country farm hut had a drop [pit] toilet. So out came the deck chairs and the billy tea...

For 15 years cousin Michael and his friends in North Otago Search and Rescue have organised 4wd trips in our local mountains as fund raisers. Typically 20 to 120 vehicles will pay to come. The idea being that the route and permission is all organised. This run [high country farming area] Twin Burn has just been purchased by the New Zealand Dept of Conservation for $NZ4.8 million so there was much discussion by the group just how this amazing addition to the Crown Land Estate will be managed and what degree of access will be possible for recreation etc.

Our trip of 24 Kms took more than several hours inc. lunch and some photo stops, one puncture [amazingly good for 40 + vehicles in such extreme terrain], and we travelled at above 2000 meters for about an hour.

Cousin Michael, who with other members of North Otago Search and Rescue have over 15 years taken in excess of 7000 people into our local mountains in four wheel drives. In this shot, taken on the day as per above, we traversed the whole of the background ridge from right to left...
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Sunday, February 24, 2008

A busy week in the outdoors

I took time-out mid week for a quick trip up to Muellar Hut in Mt Cook National Park. I've been up there so often in all seasons I've forgotten how many times, but I never ever lose the feeling of awe each time I see these views on attaining the crest of the Sealy Range near the hut. My timing was great as I avoided the extreme heat of the day, yet got the last of the good light...

Left to right: Mt Sefton, Footstool and Mt Cook...

Mt Cook again as the sun sets casting a nice light in the far distance...

The moon and Nuns Veil...

Final sunset rays on Cook...

On the descent the next evening right to my truck in the valley floor I found some tents at the Sealy Tarns - a much nicer place to kip [I was tempted but had little shelter with me] than the busy hut above, which these days is more like a back-packers than a mountain hut...

Finally, did a 4wd trip across the remote St Bathans range near home [yet so remote] on the weekend, and I'll blog those photos tonight.
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Sunday, February 10, 2008

A varied week: web sites to farms

Dougal is back at school, and I'm back behind the keyboard. My tasks have been a bit exciting though as I've finally cracked how to make a shopping cart for my clients to buy from, and I thought it was going to be a real mission, but again I've found an amazing solution thereby bypassing a huge capital outlay, so smiles all around!

Yesterday Roger and I went for a walk up the East Matukituki valley in Mt Aspiring National Park. We got our feet wet, but there was so much to photograph we did not get as much exercise as we'd planned.


An old hut part of the original Mt Aspiring Station in the East Matukituki. The original Mt Aspiring Station homestead nearby was vacated long ago when the farming family the Aspinalls moved down valley a little to a warmer spot which means they don't have to repeatedly cross the dynamic west branch of the Matukituki river. The main building is now a school camp lodge and been extended in all directions. The garden though is a marvel of old trees and scrubs planted eons ago in this wild environment..

One of the locals...

More woolly locals...

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Tramping: Kepler Track ~ Fiordland NZ

Mt Aspiring College Duke of Edinburgh award - photos of myself, Dougal and his mates, and also landscapes...more>>

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008


I slept in, I had a great sleep [conscience must be clear then!]. I had two lovely talks with my cousin Deirdre, and one previous with cousin Trish, then presents to open, emails and phone calls and even a tweet on [I'm southernlight]. Dougal and I went out for dinner at Edgewater, and it was the perfect summer evening.

But among it all, for some reason on this very day, I learnt that just a couple of weeks ago a very close friend had an operation that is going to take some recovering from, and that another just lost his wife whom he'd nursed for years. It was all a strong message to me of the fragility of our lives! In fact I'm becoming quite adept at all this sort of thing, but I'm getting too much practice!
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Friday, February 1, 2008

Hendrika Josephine Couwenbergh ~ Rika ~

22.10.1935 - 18.12.2007

Spreading of ashes ceremony Waterfall Creek, Wanaka [Rika's favourite colour was blue - hence the flags which I believe got there thanks to Kaz and Greg]

Miek [grand daughter] with her father Rudy [son-in-law], and her daughter Nevada [obscured]. The place was chosen as one of Rika's favourites to "walk the doggies" as she used to put it - old Jenny in the photo of course...

Jenny and flowers on the rock Rika preferred to sit on for contemplation and meditation...

After it was all over...

For the ceremony this was Rika's choice of reading [St Therese of Lisieux]...

May today there be peace within.

May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be content knowing you are a child of God and let his presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.

the day started wild, but as Rudy said whatever the weather it would be perfect. It was!

everyone who attended was there to not only honour Rika, but I think in recognition of the unconditional love and wisdom she gave

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