Saturday, 30 May 2015

Wellington, Dunedin, Christchurch, Mt Cook, Lake Hawea and Queenstown

May 2015

In our first week in New Zealand we spent three nights in the lush rural setting of Martinborough to the northeast of Wellington. One day we drove to the coast and walked up to the 'Pinnacles', a dramatic geological formation caused by erosion of very loose sedimentary soils.

The reason for the name is very obvious

Somewhere in this valley is a location used as the entrance to 'the paths of the dead' in the Lord of the Rings film.

I was fascinated to come across this beautiful sedimentary rock in which ancient seashells were imbedded.

Further along the coast we came across a beach with black sand. A most peculiar sight to my eyes.

Nearby was a colony of fur seals.

I was relieved to notice that this one was only sleeping. At first I had thought it was dead!

From Wellington on the North Island we flew to Dunedin on the South Island.

Charlotte, our principal host in Dunedin took us out on the Otago peninsula to visit Larnach Castle * .

This is the view from the top of the tower.

Two views of one of the beaches on the south side of the peninsular.

Early morning over Dunedin.

We subsequently travelled to Christchurch where we visited the Transitional Pro-Cathedral, known colloquially as the Cardboard Cathedral * . The interior is amazingly light because the cardboard tubes that support the structure are below a roof of transparent polycarbon.

The sides of the cathedral are made from shipping containers, converted into offices and this small side chapel.

After the workshops in Christchurch, Lyn and Ellen from the Christchurch Branch of the Sogetsu School took us out to the early French settlement of Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula.

We then drove southwest to Mt Cook...

...where we stayed at the Hermitage hotel.

This was the view from our room.

We walked along the Hooker river where puddles were covered in a thick layer of ice.

The second of three suspension bridges over the river.


Looking across the lake to the retreating Hooker glacier at the base of Mt Cook.

Icebergs 'calved' off from the glacier.

Next we travelled to Lake Hawea where we stayed in a 'crib' (holiday house) of an ikebana friend, Elizabeth, from Wellington.

A yellow flower beside the path...

...and masses of wild rose berries.

Beautiful and large turnips in a field.

The path beside the lake.

The view from Elizabeth's kitchen window.

The same view two days later.

Beautiful, but not quite what we expected. Being anxious that we might need to drive with snow-chains,after checking that the road was still passable we drove to Queenstown from where we were to fly to Australia a couple of days later.

View from our hotel window in Queenstown.

Queenstown is on Lake Wakatipu on which we took a cruise.

This view is from the Ben Lomond Scenic Reserve above Queenstown.