Sunday, June 27, 2010

A great day out on SAR training

The story this week is similar to one of a year or more ago: a local Search and Rescue training day on 4wd drive preparedness and deployment in typical and unique South Island New Zealand high country braided river bed terrain. A great day out with friends it was too!

This year a new Police 4wd was initiated into the training day. To me it seemed incongruous to see what is a common sight on our roads in this environment, but it's really such a good idea that the need has been recognised and resources committed...albertburn-15.jpg

Local farmer Mike on the left, whose life and livelihood integrates crossing the Makarora river on a daily basis discusses the line with my neighbour PC Mike [in orange] and our group...

After a deep immersion we examine where water got into which parts of the engine area, and where to watch and seal off so the vehicle stays functional [and intact!]

Since farmer Mike, apart from being a fundamental corner stone of our group, has a farm to run we took time to allow him and his dogs to muster some cattle...

They were a docile bunch, and the dogs had to work very hard to get them onto better food uphill...

Lunch just up the hill from the cattle. Head of Lake Wanaka beyond...

Looking down at the Nottingly River. Sadly John Sarginson a legendary run-holder of Mt Albert Station drowned in this creek. You can see a hut near by the large trees in this photo, and towards the right back from the lake by a poplar is where the original Mt Albert Station homestead used to be prior to being abandoned and subsequently burning down [1930 I think]...

Above mentioned hut... so awkward and remote to get to it's sometimes thought to be mythical

We travelled down the lake shore even further to an even more legendary, but seldom visited sheltered cove on Lake Wanaka to the site of an old wharf. By my calculations it's been 25 years since I've been here, and on that occasion with one close friend we were focused on getting to the East Matukitul valley on a 4 day tramping and mountaineering adventure. So this visit was very special to me, and that I had time to absorb this amazing spot and it's history. Sure you could get here by boat, but few do as there are no launching areas nearby despite the Haast/Wanaka highway just being across the lake. To have driven here by 4wd was rather unique as well...



The training continued though and we tested a new winch...


Mike poses by his Cruiser...

We head carefully home driving with the current rather than against it. These lighter vehicles tend to want to float too, so just like on foot, it's critical to go with the flow...

I made this shot out of the Land Cruiser's window! The Makarora is one big river...

Mountains and shadows [the upper fuzzy profile of ridges is the shadow caused by the setting sun highlighting the mountains behind the "real" looking ones, and the shadow is in essence projected onto the low cloud we suffered all day]
... and "yes" dear readers, the new camera is wonderful. I can't believe how the technology keeps improving so dramatically. Mind you learning all it's features may take me months!

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

A rainy day in Wanaka

After months of reading and research last week I took delivery of a new S90 Canon compact digital camera. So this weekend with my good friend Roger in town, and with some dismal damp weather it was an easy call to have a catch-up and make some photos somewhere nearby and a bit different to our usual landscape photography:

Fish and Game's old Wanaka Hatchery on Bullock Creek...

Then the nearby Wanaka Cemetery...

I've always been a bit of an angel fan...

This used to be a joinery factory, then it became a gym, or was it a backpackers or both... it looks disused now though...

We had an audience - Roger's dog came with us and she was the drawcard...

I love my new camera. I wanted low light performance and it's got it.

This shot I made a few days ago is a hand held one. I also love the silence that pervades as the coldness deepens...

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

A mixed week of different environments

Looking at the choices of photos to post here today it seems I've been about a bit including a trip to Southland that was work and friend related, yet I seem to have made what I've made while walking and not driving.

With less rainfall of late and more precipitation falling as snow the lake is dropping after the highs of a few weeks back...

Last week's south east storm sure drifted things in at the Snow Farm cross country skiing area...


Diamond Lake track is always worth a wander on a dull winter's day. No sign of ice though for skating...

A few of you are aware I've been kitting myself out with a new camera. The top most shot was made with it, and I'm really pleased with how it's shaping up. I always go for compacts figuring that the best camera is always the one I have with me. I'm pleased to say that now the output quality of such cameras has come of age. Learning to drive it fully though, will engage me for sometime!

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

An early start to skiing

I started cross country [nordic skiing] several years ago and one reason for the switch from downhill was that the only area in NZ where you can indulge in this addictive sport [world wide it's much more popular, with good reason, than downhill], is on my doorstep at the Snow Farm up the Cardrona valley.


Since those early days I've realised through observation that the area, on the lower Pisa range, gets rather unique weather. In fact storm systems that come from east or slightly either side of, demand respect. We've just has such a cycle, and as expected, we're skiing early this year.

Dave and I started climbing and tramping back in about '72, and in '74 we became consummate ski bums, with a nomadic flavour: that year we skied at every Sth. Island ski area, and eventually published a guide book about them all. However the book was minor - it was the contacts we made and the adventures, especially ski touring, that were to mould our perspectives of travel in our wonderful mountains. He lives locally like myself, and it's pretty special to ski with him every winter...

Our ski days are based around this lodge - in bad weather we stick close to it. Other times we can range far and wide if the grooming allows us to use lightweight ski equipment. For me it feels like dancing on a good day, but this aside I really like being able to travel in this wild alpine environment, with no noisy lifts, and especially not needing to carry mountaineering equipment...

Adjoining the ski area is a larger business - the proving grounds for cars and accessories, even snow blowers, where testing can be carried out capitalising on the fact it's winter here right now, yet summer where all the gear is made in the northern hemisphere. So in places there is a lot of gear about just waiting to be used...

The light today was extraordinary - here we see a less common view of the Remarkables...

About 20 of us indulged on the perfect snow...

Meanwhile the next weather system approaches. This one is a classic: warm moist air coming down from the north and heading in a south east direction exactly towards us. Meanwhile the scene is set for cold dry air from the south to drive under this tomorrow. This pushes up the warm moist air, and as per the laws of physics when moisture laden air is forced to rise it can't hold as much water as it cools. It's going to be interesting!

The big "A", Mt Aspiring...

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Change of seasons

In about the last ten days or so we've gone from the delights of autumn to the chills of winter. No mucking about this year!

The Crown Range last Sat...

The Sat. prior I was swanning about with my cousin Michael up on the Old Woman Range looking for game. We had a great day out - just a tad muddy underfoot in places and a chill wind...

A little ice rims a puddle in the rocks...

The sky and blue tussock are a great source of pleasure to me...

Wind, water and ice have sculptured this landscape...

We came back empty handed from our scout for deer, but in many ways I don't have the heart to witness a deer dropped by a bullet, despite liking venison occasionally, so it was satisfying to make a few photos as we pottered along...

In the last few weeks I've posted about the world child mortality rate due to poor water, and recently I came across some more news that at least shows an improvement, but we've still a long way to go:

More Children Living Past Their 5th Birthdays Than Expected
Good news this month in the Lancet, which reports that more of the world’s children are surviving the first five years of their lives. After looking at data from the last four decades (1970-2010) in 187 countries, their latest report concludes that global child mortality rates are dropping faster than previously projected. Awesome, right?

But wait. The report also projects that in 2010, 7.7 million children will die before their 5th birthday — that’s two million more than the entire population of Denmark. It’s hard to celebrate the good news when confronted with such an awfully large number — even if the figure has shrunk by 4 million since 1990... more>>

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