Monday, November 23, 2009

A big day on the road visiting the past

The weekend just past I'd set aside to attend the raising of a memorial plaque in Kurow cemetery for my aunt and uncle who passed away a few years back. This involved motoring over the Lindis Pass to the Waitaki Valley and MacKenzie Country to meet with family. North Otago was where I primarily grew up, while my aunt Pat and uncle Jim worked and lived on the remote and very large Otematata Station for about 44 years.

Jim and Pat's new memorial mounted on some greywacke...

Across the aisle is great granddad Silas...

I was a bit late for the ceremony, but it suited my mindset to be alone, and so after reclining on the grass by the memorial and watering the poppies left at the graveside, I wandered about the other graves looking at the history - goodness even discovering folk I knew younger than myself are in residence! I quite liked the cultural difference of this memorial though, but some fresh and cool beers would be a nice touch....

Next I adjourned for lunch to the nearby Awakino Ski Field access road. These modest mountains, The St. Marys Range are where I cut my teeth in winter learning the art of looking after myself in the New Zealand mountains...

Away back in what seems like another age an older ski club member showed me some hidden graves of two very young children near the ski field access road, so in lieu of some exercise in worsening weather I looked for them and found to my delight that [presumably] the local farmer has tidied them up and planted roses. There is an enclosure each for the two little souls...

Grave of the two yr. old Emma Barrett who passed on in 1872...

Grave of 8 day old Jennett Robbie - also 1872...

Looking down the Awakino river to the Kirkliston Range in the Hakataramea Valley...

On the road again in changing weather - it went from gale-force nor west and about 33 Celsius, to sth east gale-force again, with a drop in temperature of about 15 degrees in an hour...

On the way back to Twizel to regain the company of my family I detoured a little to check out Benmore Dam. I found the visit quite thought provoking given the thinking behind my recent posts on the folly of building more dams on the Clutha River. I was just a kid when this monster was built. Many people don't realise too that it flooded an amazing white water gorge that few people have seen [myself only photographs], that was apparently unique in New Zealand and even more so in world terms...

Next I detoured again to Lake Ohau which is another one of my favourite childhood haunts [caught my largest trout there ever], and in my 20s and 30s the larger area became the focus of much tramping, mt.eering and powder skiing...

The end of a stock fence in Lake Ohau, and the block of mountains in the middle background is the Glenmary Range. The main peak Glenmary is about 8000 ft. and to the right slightly is the incredibly hard-to-reach Glenmary Glacier. I've had a lot of fun in them tha hills...

... and another fence near the Lake Ohau access road...

Many years ago I lived in Twizel for awhile and shifted this house onto two large sections. Apart from many years doing part time renovation on the house I planted about a hundred trees and put them on a trickle irrigation system. It paid off - although the house is long sold and I do miss it a lot, the trees give me great joy...ohau-16.jpg

On another topic some of you may recall a post or two back in Jan. this year about searching for missing tramper Irina Yun on Cascade Saddle in my current near-to-home Mount Aspiring National Park. Well a few days ago her remains were at last found, and fellow blogger and mountaineer Bob McKerrow has done a very good post on the story, which incidentally I think will help her family grieve. Well done Bob... more>>

Lastly, it's been my trend of late to use this place to draw attention to issues I don't agree with such as the damming of the Clutha River, and the Project Hayes Wind Farm [my grounds are simple - blatant use of our unique landscapes at the expense of our own wilderness values and those of our children]. So speaking of children you should read what fellow blogger Marg has written lower down on her weekly post about what our uninspired New Zealand Government is doing to New Zealand early childhood education... more>>

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Share |

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The context of events in life

Whilst Oct. was quite benign, with just lower temps. than normal and a bit more cloud, right now Nov. is still misbehaving: there has been a wall of grey/white obscuring the mts. for a few days now, and recently a wind that never relents as it tore off little branches and leaves off the trees here. But at least the sun has been shining!

A rare calm period, during these late spring windy days on Lake Wanaka...

Last week I posted about the successes of the campaign to stop Meridian Energy [Project Hayes] building a wind farm on the Lammermoor Range in Central Otago, and as mentioned to Marg. who comments here, I find it wrong that we actually have to fight inappropriate ideas forced on us. As if reading my mind I then noted the Otago Daily Times had just published such an article called "Campaign took its toll on project opponents"

The basic problem with Meridian Energy's Project Hayes [and Contact Energy in the case of proposed dams on the Clutha River] is that their mandates [self imposed or otherwise?] are not aligned to support the full gamut of human needs. If they were these sort of institutions could benefit all aspects of our lives. At the moment they do not!

This all seems to come about by the limited capacity of either the individuals concerned flavouring the ethos of the organisation, or the organisation being of such a mind-set, that it/they only attract an energy [no pun intended] which is limited by the context of the inherited levels of awareness of the observers. Motives determine the goals and therefore the end result has little in it to benefit an energy situation that needs a solution. Or you could say the situation is poorly understood - the acquisition and need of energy by human beings goes way beyond electricity!

Therefore a low energy struggle ensues. Rather than "lifting the game" the institutions pull down the big picture ideals of people who could contribute so much, but become engaged in a drain of energy and resources such as reported in the above mentioned Otago Daily Times article.

The ODT also recently published the remarks of an elected counsellor who was criticising the positive and far-seeing results of the Environment Court. What was interesting to me were these two comments left by readers, who have presumably do have a "lifted game":

Submitted by RedTussock on Fri, 13/11/2009 - 7:49am.
Gerry whilst I enjoy your advocacy for common sense can I ask that you endeavour to do some research on what is happening elsewhere in the world. In the US a 345MW Concentrating Solar Power project cost $US200 million to build. It takes up no more land than a large vineyard, costs less, and does not blot the skyline with wind towers. CSP stations produce power during non sun light hours. The technology for new, cheaper, and better alternatives has advanced in the last few years to the point where the expense of wind power both monetary and geographically is hard to justify. The new alternatives are better.

Submitted by Ian Smith on Fri, 13/11/2009 - 11:41am.
Does anyone seriously consider that at the end of the economic life of these towers, (and it will come), the perpetrators will be summoned on-site to spend many millions of dollars restoring the landscape to its former pristine state? Of course not, it will become a graveyard of rusting hulks and a further monument, (as if one were needed), to mankind's greed and stupidity.

I therefore wonder at what seems to be a very limited view of the goals and solutions proposed by Meridian Energy, Contact Energy and the current New Zealand Govt!

The Blue Lakes of St. Bathans. A legacy left behind by the resource gathering of earlier generations. In this case a pretty and interesting slice of history, or should I say "sluice"...

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Share |

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wind Farm - Environment Court decision in favour of landscape values

There has been an encouraging result out of the Environment Court, recognising the unique scenic wonders of Central Otago's block mountains. The Court was sitting to decide on the suitability of a huge wind-farm on the Lammermoor Range, and they've ruled against such development.

I was always amazed at the audacity of such a development on such a special landscape - two aspects really: the obvious visual impact, but also the glossed over infrastructure of roads to be built and how to maintain same.

The Otago daily Times has published a few articles recently:

Project Hayes: Gone with the wind

'Silent majority' not acquiescent on wind farm

To give you an idea of the landscape I've published a series of landscape photography efforts I've made over a few years of 4wd wanderings on these mountains. Taken in summer I might add - winter would be a whole 'nuther ball-game!

It's really a fine weather road I've used...

Two Land Cruisers in expedition mode about to head over the southern end of the Lammerlaw / Lammermoor range...

Descending, and now to where there is some green grass, we're now well down of the Lammerlaw range. Note the rocks for gate posts..

On the Paerau - Patearoa road we stopped to let a mob of sheep by on the hottest of hot summer days, and because we had a fridge full of beer we gave the astonished farmer walking with them a bottle of ice-cold Speights...

We deviated and came out to Ranfurly on this trip for a coffee and minor supplies. Ever since the advent of the hugely successful Central Otago Rail Trail, it's been pretty sophisticated in Ranfurly...

Ranfurly lady...

The historic Styx Hotel and Styx Jail/ Gaol ["Styx" is also known as Paerau] lies nestled beside the Taieri River at the foot of the Dunstan Trail. There used to be a hotel on both sides of the river because of its importance as a stopping place, and in case there was a flood...

This chain in the historic Styx Jail was possibly more of a lock-up for protecting gold bullion during overnight coach stops than it was for prisoners...

Here a local artist at Styx paints beside the meandering Taieri River, actually in this area home of the extensive Taieri River wetlands...

The altitude is deceptive but does add to a "big sky" feel...

At a welcome creek of really pure water filtered by mosses etc. we re-filled our vehicle water bottles...

Rocks used as fence posts abound in this area...

I'm sure perceptions will now be altered by planners such as those hatching plans for dams on the Clutha River! However there are people out there with different agendas: "Wind farm group laments decision"... more>>

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Share |

Monday, November 2, 2009

Nostalgia is not what is used to be!

As I get older it seems everything becomes more dynamic almost daily. But when we live in this paradise called New Zealand, and Wanaka the growing town I live in, I lament some things that pass under the guise of progress. Our new govt. seems bent on turning back the clock too as they seemingly contemplate undoing good work on legislation such as the Resource Management Act, and there are mutterings about our privacy and rights being compromised, and exploration mining in National Parks, and did I mention the insidious way an Aust. Company is starting to promote more dams on the Clutha River.

Why too does John Key remind me of Tony Blair associated with "over the top" regulation and eroded privacy! We need to learn from history!

Life here was once more fun, but if I get "down' about this I remind myself to look up at the mountains - they endure and are a constant, along with the westerly sighing and sometimes roaring as I write.

It was only 16 years ago I was part of a horse trekking company right here in town, but for many reasons, not the least being traffic and urban sprawl taking over grazing, we shut it down several years ago.

We used to mainly take clients up Mt Iron...

I forget the names of these neddies but one might be Monty. I'll never forget Barney though: he'd play fetch with a tennis ball, use his teeth to untie the hitching ropes on other horses, go under electric fences and stick his head in the kitchen window to see what was happening, and he was a big horse too.

One night he escaped from his solo occupation of a paddock near Mt Iron, and he galloped past our house to be with his mates grazing down by lake. We heard the thunder of hooves and simply exclaimed, "that'll be Barney - we better go and let him in the paddock". Imagine if that happened today - what a fuss there'd be! And there was another time when about twelve of them got out at 8 am one Sat. and galloped towards town. We headed them off on the out-skirts, but oh what fun and how magnificent a sight. But if that happened today it'd be chaos of one sort or another and I doubt anyone would be amused - probably more scared and we'd probably make national TV news!

Feeding out post snow storms was always pretty, but it was wise to put out many small piles of hay so the horses would not all fight over one. They get quite hungry in these conditions...

A few valleys were easier to access back then too...

We used to do the odd trip overland to the lake outlet - the start of the Clutha River in fact, and the Asians used to love the colour of the grass...

Bye for now - got to fly - work time!

Labels: , ,

Share |