Sunday, May 31, 2009

That time of year - grab the sun when you see it!

No matter how I try to counteract it I seem to slow down this time of the year. And this year... maybe it's been worse due to the weather, for an early winter seems to have settled on this part of the world.

Yesterday was one of those days though: out-of-the box! So I made sure after gathering up my x/c ski gear and winterising my camper truck [chains easy to access, snow shovel stowed etc.] that I got my intake of vitamin D by going down to the nearby Lake Wanaka and simply sitting in the sun facing west near Beacon Point. I do admit however to making some landscape photos as the light became stunning and tangental.

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In recent weeks I've posted about dangers to our rivers in this the South Island of New Zealand and particularly the Clutha [which begins in this neck of the woods right where the above photos were made]. There have been some interesting and positive articles lately in the local paper with regards to the unique Nevis Valley. The Otago Daily Times...

Tribunal: Richard Fowler (chairman), Carolyn Burns and Rauru Kirikiri.

Application: To amend existing water conservation order to prevent damming or diversion of Nevis River.

Players: New Zealand and Otago Fish and Game Councils want the changes, Pioneer Generation and TrustPower are among those in opposition.

Yesterday: Evidence was heard from John Douglas, Brian Patrick, fisheries scientist Martin Unwin, Prof Alan Mark, Janet Ledingham and Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand executive member David Barnes.

Quote of the day: "It's a time warp in there." Janet Ledingham, of Dunedin, talking about the unique characteristics of the Nevis valley and river.


Otago men part of film [Got to see this one - many of these fellows are environmental legends]

Popularity of fishing cited in Nevis [I'm amazed and gladdened to note that one in every eight guys in our area hold a fishing license]

Father and son kayakers make impassioned plea for Nevis valley [Gordy taught me some kayaking in another life and so it's great to see his son out there doing it, and also involved in the tribunal and submission process at age 12!]

Lastly this week's heads up is to Robb's blog: well written words on how fear dominates in our society

Note: Phil Lloyd commented on posts relating to the Nevis Valley and gold mining, and has since been in touch via email. Here is his story:

"I spent two summer holidays in the 1970's with Lex Maclean and his parents working a goldmine just after the gorge in the upper Nevis. His parents were quite elderly even then and had moved to Milton after the population in the Nevis had dwindled away but they still came back to work the mine each summer.

I met up with Lex in Clyde last winter and he said they have no photos of those days, despite having many travellers call in and take photos.

I undertook to try to track down some of those photos but have had no luck so far. "

If you can help Phil please contact him:

+64 9 573 0421 or Phil.Lloyd@visy.co.nz

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Monday, May 25, 2009

A New Zealand aerial landscape photography outing

Over the weekend I was fortunate enough to fly to Christchurch and back to Wanaka and witness some stunning scenery.

Heading north this is the leading edge [to left of photo] of the weather system that played havoc with the Wellington area over the weekend...
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Lenticular cloud of an unusual nature with Lake Tekapo in the background...
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A flooded Rakaia river makes it's braided and muddy way to the east coast...
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But wait there is more! Having got to Christchurch today I returned!


An unknown [to myself] mountain...
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Many unknown peaks and peaklets - we have no shortage of these in New Zealand...
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Mt Cook in the middle, Tasman on the right, and La Perouse on the left...
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Looking SE along the nearly 7000 ft St Bathans Range - about 18 months ago I was fortunate enough to drive along this remote Central Otago mountain range with my cousin Michael in his 4wd...
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Mt Aspiring as I got closer to home...
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And again the St Bathans Range from just above Wanaka airport - a very familiar view which is seen from many Central Otago locations...
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Monday, May 18, 2009

The Nevis - just like the Clutha, another wild river at risk

In my last two posts I've written about the threat of four new dams, and published landscape photos of the Clutha River. While I gather steam on this one I'd like to draw your attention to yet another proposed travesty of our wild rivers and places. The nearby Nevis Valley - one of my favourite haunts.

Looking across to the backside of the Remarkables Mountains from the Duffers Saddle - the spectacular mountain range that Queenstown sits underneath of...
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The first use of the Nevis Valley was as a trail route for the Maori. When the gold rush arrived in the 1860s, two small settlements appeared in the lower Nevis. Now only the family at Ben Nevis Station occupies the valley.

Due to the remoteness of the valley, miners' workings have been left largely untouched and now provide an excellent representation of an original goldfield. These remains include everything from the cemetery and settlement buildings through to a woolshed and the first ski hut.... more>>


Apart from outstanding and unique landscapes, remoteness verging on wilderness, and historic examples of the gold era, the river itself is cherished by trout fisherman...
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The river valley is subject of New Zealand's Tenure Review process and in this instance it seems to be flawed... more>>

It becomes even more remote in winter...
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Gold dredges left modest pools of water behind...
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And the landscape was compromised years ago - back when it was thought OK to plunder the resources leaving a mess behind...
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In our quest for energy we're not alone. It'll become the currency of this world we live in, but it seems pathetic to flood our heritage and landscapes for what in the case of the Nevis is a very small generating capacity. Instead we have to embrace technology and think in new ways e.g. Auckland has to be the place in New Zealand that has one of the highest energy needs so it seems it is time to harness the energy in the tidal differences between east and west coasts on-site, so power is not lost through transmission line loss.

The old miners in the Nevis knew about wind energy [vexing as it is these days of huge examples also cluttering up unique landscapes] - these are 40 gal. drums cut in half and arranged on a shaft to capture the wind. This example still turns squeakily...
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The local newspaper the Otago Daily Times has published two articles if you wish to read further. Article 1, Article 2


Those of us who have the foresight to see beyond the dead water of artificial lakes need to spread awareness!

Note: Phil Lloyd commented on posts relating to the Nevis Valley and gold mining, and has since been in touch via email. Here is his story:

"I spent two summer holidays in the 1970's with Lex Maclean and his parents working a goldmine just after the gorge in the upper Nevis. His parents were quite elderly even then and had moved to Milton after the population in the Nevis had dwindled away but they still came back to work the mine each summer.

I met up with Lex in Clyde last winter and he said they have no photos of those days, despite having many travellers call in and take photos.

I undertook to try to track down some of those photos but have had no luck so far."

If you can help Phil please contact him:

+64 9 573 0421 or Phil.Lloyd@visy.co.nz

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Mist clouding the future of the Clutha

Following on from last week's post about a series of dams on the Clutha, it's obvious there are attempts to fog the real intention as locally we've been asked to indicate for or against.

Autumn fog and river mist on the Clutha in the early early dawn near Albert Town...
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...because in the last week I've learnt that a guy who rents a cottage and land from one of the big energy companies such as Contact Energy or Electrocorp beside the river down Luggate way has been told he will not be able to renew his lease or renting deal!

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So it seems there is real intent for one dam at least! And it's interesting, alarming and ominous that this information is being withheld.

Typical Clutha river bank between Lake Wanaka and Luggate...
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If you've missed last week's links and post there are a number of links to check out re aspects of the river and walkways/park that are planned.

Meanwhile I've had a pretty busy but worthwhile and fun weekend [bit late with this my Sunday post 'tho] because I was involved helping run an Outdoor First Aid Course with the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council

A scenario down by the Wanaka Yacht Club building...
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As one of the students remarked it was a good weekend for it, what with the early onset of winter weather prevailing. I see from my New Zealand landscape photography files that a few of us started Nordic skiing [touring] at the end of May last year, so it looks like climate change for us means earlier and earlier snow falls!

Mt Aspiring from the Snow Farm...
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This week's link to a good blog with a winter theme: Bob McKerrow and others aiming to be the first to reach the North Pole without outside help back in '86.

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Clutha River - dam plans threaten the river and plans for a park and trail

Often we take what is on our back door-step for granted and I'm as guilty of this as anyone. One of the major sources of the 338km long Clutha is only several minutes away from my door, and just lately with insidious requests locally from Contact Energy for opinions on 30 yr. old plans to build 4 dams I've been jolted so much my rose tinted spectacles have been shaken off!

The view looking west last Sunday from the Lake Wanaka outlet, where The Clutha begins in our neck-of-the-woods...
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I'm also aware theĀ Clutha Mata-Au River Parkway Group is working to create NZ's largest river parkway along the entire 338km long Clutha Mata-Au corridor, including a river-length Clutha River Trail. Given the success of the Central Otago Rail Trail we're already pointing out the benefits that could come from these plans, that would bring thousands of visitors per year to enjoy something that is truly unique and awesome.

The Clutha very quickly develops a distinct character a Km downstream...
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Thinking this through along with the recent successful dark avatar protest on twitter and other social networks to draw attention to an ill-conceived NZ Govt legislation with regards to copyright on the web it's occurred to me we don't have to take on this fight alone. With blogs etc. we can draw attention to these outdated plans on an international scale.

And this character has seasonal flavours...
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Three of our largest lakes, Wakatipu [the well known alpine resort town of Queenstown is on it's shore], and my [home] Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea spawn this amazing waterway renown for it's water colour, history and scenic route to the sea among other things.

And it's always so dynamic - alive to it's journey to the sea and at peace with it's path so-much-so it flows with astounding speed and purity...
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Through an ever changing landscape...
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All of this landscape inc. Mt Aspiring in the distance feeds the Clutha...
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Along the way it picks up side streams...
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It's embarrassing to me as a New Zealander to say that if we need more power that we should first conserve what we have: it must be too cheap, our cost for it, as we all waste it, especially businesses, and how we fail to build and design efficient housing that lies to the sun is nothing short of disgraceful. But wait, there is more: we also let large corporations play with pricing and supply, not to mention our Govt...

I often wonder why we allow power from Fiordland's Lake Manapouri to be sold to the Comalco Aluminum Smelter at Bluff for an undisclosed sum. From this I assume it's sold very cheaply, so why don't we claim back our energy and use it for ourselves? I think we'd make more from it!


We need to get away from the concept of "owning" water and land - we are only the caretakers!

If you wish to pass on your views to Contact Energy this email address was published recently in one of our local newspapers: cluthahydro@contactenergy.co.nz

They also run a forum [pity it's moderated - there is nothing transparent in this as they can choose to not publish opposition!]

And on their site there is a form for email

Lastly while I can't provide heaps of great New Zealand landscape photography of the route the Clutha takes to the sea, I here include a selection of some of the sources. The Shotover complete with troublesome "wilding" larches...
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The Wilken and Makarora river valleys...
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Matukituki River and Shotover Saddle in Mount Aspiring National Park...
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The Matukituki entering Lake Wanaka near Glendhu Bay...
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Site head's up for this week: If you'd like to know more of the nature of the Clutha, Pioneer Rafting have a flavoursome web site

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