What do you do when you’re bored?

Stephen had to go back to work today, back up to the mine. His flight left a bit later than normal, so it wasn’t a super-early start, but still too early for me to take Anzac for a walk and it was too hot when we got back. It did get cooler later in the day but we’ve been for longish walks (a 7km route) the last couple of days so I thought it might be a good idea to take a break today.

I did some work on the computer (researching some software that I want) then went out to look at some furniture; I want a small buffet/hallstand type cabinet to sit alongside my work desk to give me a bit more surface space. I didn’t quite see what I wanted, though. I also looked at some carpet; we need new carpet in the lounge and main bedroom. I found something I like, so we’ll progress on that soon. Then to the paint shop to get a couple of sample pots. I need to paint the internal doors and trim, and maybe (hopefully) most of the walls – before the carpet goes down.

Back home and a call to mum. BoB might be dark and sleek and sexy, but I had a few problems with the phone. To add to the hassles I kept getting an error when I tried to open the handset manual. Acrobat Pro couldn’t open .pdfs. Don’t know what that was about and in the end I installed Acrobat Reader and that worked. I also managed to register our old second handset to BoB. It’s not a clean registration, but it seems to work well enough so time will tell whether we want to keep a handset in the bedroom.

I got two more days posted to the New Zealand blog; lots of photos with one of them. Still not finished, I have four more NZ days to post.

The decision not to walk Zac proved to be a mistake. He got bored and went into the bedroom, pulled the oversheet off his bed, flipped his mattress, found the hole he’d chewed (he sniffs it out and knows when he has to turn the mattress over) and pulled out quite a lot of the wool filling. I’m going to have to fix that soon, but for now I packed the damaged mattress away and replaced it with the spare. I’ll have to keep an eye on him.

His favourite sleeping spot at night is between the window and the curtain in the bedroom. He loves to keep an eye on what’s happening outside. All you can usually see of him is is tail…and sometimes his little black nose.

Zac in his favourite sleeping spot

Zac in his favourite sleeping spot

Feelin’ hot, hot, hot…

This morning Anzac and I got up earlyish and went for a nice long walk again. Then after breakfast we went and picked up our new modem/phone combo – BoB. AAE had tried to deliver it last week, but Tanisha wasn’t home. We ordered it last weekend so we’d have it by today at the latest and we’d only be without Internet and phone for the weekend.

It was all very easy to connect and install – just plug it in and it basically does the rest itself. I do still have to enter phone numbers in the phone book, though. It looks good, sleek and black and modern, so much slicker than the old modem and phone. Our old phone base station wasn’t charging properly. The remote handset (the 2nd handset) still works well, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to register it to BoB and we’ll have a 2nd handset as well.

A hot day again today – up around 36C, I think, maybe even a bit higher than that. Tomorrow is supposed to be 33 and then back below 30 for the rest of the week. We had wanted to take the pups to the beach this afternoon but it would have been a bit too hot for them on the sand.

I got a few more days of the New Zealand blog posted today. I may even get it finished tomorrow!!

BoB

BoB

You aint seen nothin’ yet…

We were awake early again this morning so I took Anzac out for a long walk before it got too hot (35C again). We meandered through the streets down to Burns Beach, arriving a few minutes before 7am. There were cars everywhere, parking in any space, on the grass areas, everywhere halfway along Burns Beach Rd. People were pouring out, many dressed in wetsuits, most obviously preparing to hit the water. I though there must have been some type of surf swim happening. Until we got the walking track and I noticed the Fisheries rangers along the clifftop. I realised its Abalone season; today was the last day. The season is short and strictly controlled. You can collect abalone for one hour (from 7am – 8am) on a Sunday morning only, for four weeks. There are restrictions on the number as size as with other types of fishing and it’s very strictly controlled. Hence the close supervision by the rangers.

There were people everywhere amongst the rocks in the shallows, all waitin

Abalone season

Abalone season

Abalone season

Abalone season

Abalone season

Abalone season

Abalone season

Abalone season

g expectantly for the signal that it was 7am. I doubt you’ve ever seen anything like it, I certainly haven’t!

Home again…

The wind blew hard all night and reminded us that we are back in Perth, reputed to be the third windiest city in the world. No daylight savings means that the sun was up before 5am and I was awake with it. I had an appointment with the hairdresser, but wasn’t happy to learn that my hairdresser had left the salon, unexpectedly. I’m not so sure about the haircut I got. I don’t think it’s styled as well, the shape just doesn’t seem to be right, but it will probably be different once I’ve washed it myself.

All is well around the house. There’s a hole in the back lawn that the dogs (Anzac mostly, I’d guess) have been working on. It’s in a popular digging spot that we’ve struggled to keep refilled with dirt and planted with grass. Anzac has also chewed a hole through one of the dog bed mattress covers, through and into the mattress itself so he can pull the woollen stuffing out. That’s all going to be a bit of a challenge to patch. He’s also chewed a hole in the cover of the other dog bed mattress in the bedroom. He’s always liked chewing on fabric – particularly if he’s awake and  bored and doesn’t have a toy to chew on. I have some curtain material from the curtains we had up in Jabiru. It’s thermal-backed calico. I think I’ll make pillowcase type covers out of some of it. They might hold up a bit better to his attention.

After some grocery shopping we took the dogs to the beach and a good time was had by all. It was a hot day (mid 30’s C) and was a very pleasant late afternoon beach visit.  Anzac loves the water, though the waves were a bit rough, and he runs around like a crazy thing, usually taking a nip at Kaz’s ears as he races past her. She’s so good with him, she’s so tolerant. Her ears have always been sensitive but she rarely objects to his harassment, she usually gets fully involved in the craziness herself.  She even got herself wet. She’s getting braver all the time and doesn’t hesitate now to run along through the shallows and will even go in far enough that her belly gets wet – just. They both love the socialising at the beach, though we do still have to put Anzac on the lead if there are other people or dogs. He gets easily distracted and excited and it’s easier to keep him close and under control on the lead.

The hole in the Dog Bed

The hole in the Dog Bed

New Zealand Day 26 – Akaroa – Home

We made an early start for our 90 minute drive to Christchurch airport.  We stopped only once along the way for a couple of photos of Akaroa Harbour from the Hilltop Café, the best vantage point across the valley.

Our flights were all paid for using frequent flyer points so we had no choice in the direction our trip home took. We flew from Christchurch to Auckland, then after three or four hours break we flew on to Sydney where we passed through immigration and customs. Then the final leg of the trip; Sydney to Perth and home.

The pups are as happy to see us as we are to see them. It’s good to be home, very good.

Early Morning View to Akaroa

Early Morning View to Akaroa

New Zealand Day 25 – Akaroa

Sunshine and warm air this morning! Oh so nice!

Akaroa is famous for the little Hector’s Dolphins that you see in the area. These dolphins are pretty special, only being found in the waters of New Zealand (and for that reason also known as New Zealand Dolphins). The biggest of them only grow to 1.4m and they are also known as panda dolphins because of their colouring – black, grey and white. There’s even a company that runs ‘swimming with dolphins’ cruises. That’s not really something that either of us were all that keen to do, though, so this morning we headed down to the harbour for our cruise with Akaroa Dolphins.

Our cruise was on one of the smaller boats and is known for being more personalised and had a great commentary. Akaroa Dolphins is  a family run business and the owners are 5th and 6th generation locals. There were only 20 passengers (capacity 50) so there was plenty of room to move around. Unfortunately the clouds rolled in as we left the pier, but that didn’t really bother us. We were there to enjoy ourselves and it was still a lot warmer than the other cruises we’d done.

As we headed out through the 17km long harbour we saw spotted cormorants and then a pair of white-flippered penguins. These are a sub-species of the little blue penguins and are only found in this area. No matter how often I see penguins, I still get a buzz from seeing them.

Then the dolphins appeared. There were a few feeding and they swam around the boat while they were catching fish. We didn’t disturb them for too long and soon came across another pod. These dolphins played around the boat for quite a while. They zoom along really quickly just under the water and then suddenly dive deep or come up out of the water, sometimes just cresting or sometimes jumping right out. They were swimming around and under the boat, just playing there until we moved on, and then a couple of them stayed with us, surfing the bow wave for a while.

The scenery along the coastline, both inside and outside the harbour, is great. This is a coastline that was formed by volcanoes so it’s pretty rugged. We sew several different species of seabirds and then came upon some fur seals playing in the water and lounging on the rocks. Several of these seals were quite active – a lot more so than any of the others we’ve seen. We also saw another yellow-eyed penguin but this one was pretty distant – halfway up a cliff face and we probably wouldn’t have spotted it if the skipper hadn’t pointed it out.

We really enjoyed the cruise and thoroughly enjoyed the wildlife; the dolphins were a real highlight.

After lunch we took a drive out to try to find an olive grower whose olives Stephen tried yesterday, but they had no signage so they were a bit hard to find and it turns out that they don’t have a retail outlet or tasting room at the property, anyway.  We did stop at another olive grove for a tasting but their olives were nowhere near as good.

Then we went back into town and bought ourselves a very cute NZ Fur Seal to take home.

We had tea tonight at a Tapas restaurant. The food was very good; an enjoyable last night in New Zealand.

Akaroa Dolphins Boat

Akaroa Dolphins Boat

Murphy - Ships Dog

Murphy - Ships Dog

On Board

On Board

On Board

On Board

Taking Photos of Dolphins

Taking Photos of Dolphins

On Board

On Board

Chief Photographer

Chief Photographer

Hectors Dolphins

Hectors Dolphins

Hectors Dolphins

Hectors Dolphins

Hectors Dolphins

Hectors Dolphins

Volcanic Pile Crosscut by Dyke

Volcanic Pile Crosscut by Dyke

Spotted Cormorants

Spotted Cormorants

White Flippered Penguins

White Flippered Penguins

New Zealand Fur Seals

New Zealand Fur Seals

Akaroa

Akaroa

More Roses

More Roses

Our Very Own NZ Fur Seal

Our Very Own NZ Fur Seal

NewZealand Day 24 – Lake Tekapo to Akaroa

Today dawned crisp and clear without a cloud in the sky. We watched as the full moon set behind the peaks. We were on the road early and had a good run to Akaroa. The high country plains gave way to busy highways, trees and agriculture. We made only one stop along the way; to take a photo of the big salmon at Salmon World in Rakaia (they call themselves the Salmon Capital of New Zealand).

The drive into Akaroa is up some more of the steep and windy, but pretty, road that we’ve become used to in New Zealand. Thankfully not a dirt road! Akaroa was originally settled by the French and still has a big French influence. It’s a small town at the end of a long harbour in an area that was formed by volcanic eruptions – the Banks Peninsula. It’s a couple of hours drive from Christchurch and a much quieter option for our last couple of nights.

We’re staying in a cottage on a bush property about a kilometre out of the township. We can see the beautiful harbour from our deck (and from inside) and there is constant birdsong. The majority of birds that we’re seeing are New Zealand Bellbirds and they come quite close to feed in the Flax flowers. Unfortunately the highway is also quite close so that’s a bit of a drawback. The Bellbirds have a lovely call, though, so it’s not so bad. We’ve also seen and heard quail, not an uncommon sight on our journey.

We’ve walked up and down and around the shopping centre, checking out all of the tourist traps and cafés and we’ve booked onto a harbour cruise tomorrow morning. There are roses in full flower in almost every yard – so beautiful.

It’s a lovely evening to be sitting outside listening to the birdsong and taking photos.

Early Morning Light over Lake Tekapo

Early Morning Light over Lake Tekapo

Full Moon Setting Over the Peaks

Full Moon Setting Over the Peaks

Big Salmon at Rakaia

Big Salmon at Rakaia

View to Akaroa from the Road in

View to Akaroa from the Road in

View of Akaroa Harbour from our Cottage

View of Akaroa Harbour from our Cottage

Bellbird Feeding on Flax Flowers

Bellbird Feeding on Flax Flowers

Bellbird with a coating of Pollen after Feeding on Flax Flowers

Bellbird with a coating of Pollen after Feeding on Flax Flowers

An Akaroa Street

An Akaroa Street

Akaroa Lighthouse

Akaroa Lighthouse

Roses and French Flag

Roses and French Flag

Roses

Roses

Akaroa

Akaroa

New Zealand Day 23 – Lake Tekapo

Today we had a fairly quiet day. It started off very cloudy and the cloud was slow to lift. I did laundry, the last lot before home and we went for a walk into the village and back.Stephen turned his salmon fillet into sashimi.

After lunch we went for another drive up to Mt John Observatory and got to see Venus through a small telescope.  Today was a particularly good day to see Venus and Stephen was even able to see it with his naked eye.

As we drove back from the observatory we saw a Harrier Hawk harassing a swan on her nest with 5 cygnets. We turned around to go back for some photos of the cygnets and by then the hawk had gone.

Then it was into one of the cafés where we were able to log onto the Internet and catch up with email and upload another blog post. I’m only running 12 days behind! I do have a pretty good excuse, though; it takes me ages to choose the few photos from the hundreds taken each day, then I have to resize them and once uploaded I have to insert them into the posts. It’s all very time consuming and we’re busy having a holiday!

The sky was clear and it was looking promising for a good star-watching night so we went to enquire about the night-time observatory tour. There were seats available on the 11:30pm tour; it goes for two hours. That’s way too late for us. We have an early start tomorrow as we’re moving on to Akaroa for our last two nights.

We decided to drive out past the baby cygnets again and pay a visit to the Lake Alexandrina wildlife refuge. Two of the cygnets were out swimming with dad while mum was tidying up the nest with the other three. The wildlife refuge was a bit of a disappointment – we saw 3 baby plovers and a rabbit. It was just open bare plain. No real wildlife to be seen. And at the end of the dirt road was the fishing camp on the edge of the lake! No sanctuary for the fish.

As we headed back we decided to take a short detour to the local airport to see what was happening as far as scenic flights. We ended up taking a one hour flight over the Alps, around Mt. Cook with views over several glaciers, including Franz Josef, Fox, Murchison and Tasman, and of the west coast and the Tasman Sea.  It was fantastic. There were 6 of us on the flight and the pilot chose Stephen to sit up front next to him so he’d get the best view for photos.  The mountains looked beautiful. The late afternoon light was fabulous on the snow. The glacial lakes looked stunning. The clouds were rolling in on the west coast so the views of Franz Josef and Fox were limited but even the white fluffy clouds filling the valleys with snowy peaks poking through looked amazing from above. The views were indescribably superb.

What a way to end our visit to the Lake Tekapo region! The only downside was that Stephen took the flight company’s advice to adjust some settings on his camera for optimum photography through the plane windows. All of his photos came out very blue! They are going to require a lot of Photoshopping to correct them. That’s close to 600 photos! Luckily I took lots of photos with the little camera!

The Riverside Walk from Highview into Tekapo Village

The Riverside Walk from Highview into Tekapo Village

Tekapo Bridge Spillway

Tekapo Bridge Spillway

Highview - Our Holiday Apartment is the Top Floor

Highview - Our Holiday Apartment is the Top Floor

Swans with their 5 Cygnets

Swans with their 5 Cygnets

Mother Swan with 3 of her Cygnets

Mother Swan with 3 of her Cygnets

Mother Duck on her Nest with a Couple of her Ducklings

Mother Duck on her Nest with a Couple of her Ducklings

One of the Downy Little Lapwing Chicks

One of the Downy Little Lapwing Chicks

Tekapo Air Safaris

Tekapo Air Safaris

Inside the Plane

Inside the Plane

The View as we were Gaining Altitude

The View as we were Gaining Altitude

Braided Rivers

Braided Rivers

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Above the Clouds

Above the Clouds

Rugged Peaks

Rugged Peaks

View to the West Coast

View to the West Coast

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier

Rugged Peaks

Rugged Peaks

Southern Alps

Southern Alps

Murchison Glacier

Murchison Glacier

Murchison Glacier

Murchison Glacier

Sheer Slopes

Sheer Slopes

Stephen and the Pilot

Stephen and the Pilot

Rugged Beauty

Rugged Beauty

Glacial Lakes

Glacial Lakes

Mt Cook

Mt Cook

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

Tasman Glacier

Tasman Glacier

New Zealand Day 22 – Aoraki/Mt Cook

What a glorious day!

It was cloudy when we woke but most of the cloud soon burned off and we discovered that last night’s rain had fallen on the higher ground as snow. All the hills and mountains were freshly dusted white.

Lake Tekapo was looking gorgeous; turquoise surrounded by snowy white peaks. We decided to drive up to Mt Cook, about an hour away. We diverted along one of the hydro canals and past the Mt Cook Salmon farm. Stephen ducked in for a quick look and decided to stop there to buy some on the way back.

The Mt Cook turnoff is back towards Twizel, we were retracing the path that we took the other day when we first came to Lake Tekapo. We once again stopped at Lake Pukaki. The view today was so very different. Today we could see the mountains behind the gorgeously blue lake. The views all day really were fantastic. Mt Cook sits amongst the other peaks of the Southern Alps at the northern end of Lake Pukaki, all snow-capped and looking brilliant in the sunshine with the blue sky and the blue lake.

We arrived at Mt Cook Village and had a look in the Dept. of Conservation Info centre, then had lunch at the ‘Old Mountaineer’s Café’. The owners of this café fought the DOC for ten years to be allowed to build and open the business in Mt. Cook village; until they did so the DOC controlled the only accommodation and eateries. The owners have years of experience as mountaineering guides and have written a book about their experiences and the battle to build and open the café. I know I’m going to regret not buying the book!

Anyway, lunch was delicious (if expensive – but what isn’t around here?) and the views are incredible. Mt. Cook is so majestic.  We couldn’t help commenting over and over on just how beautiful it looks.

After lunch we drove out through the Tasman Valley and walked up to the viewpoint for the Tasman Glacier. It’s not as pretty as the other glaciers we’ve seen, it’s covered in rubble left as the glacier has melted from the top down, but awesome never-the-less. It’s New Zealand’s longest glacier and you can only see a comparatively small part of it. This glacier ends in a lake – Lake Tasman – that has icebergs floating in it; great chunks of ice that have broken off the end of the glacier.

There are several other glaciers up there amongst the snowy peaks and valleys. Everything looks stunning! But you can’t just hang around and gaze at snowy peaks, blue lakes and sunshine. If nothing else, you’d soon get very cold! We headed back and stopped at the salmon farm again on the way home.

After tea at the Japanese restaurant again we went and had a look at the historic little stone Church of the Good Shepherd and the nearby statue of the Border Collie sheep dog, without which the Mackenzie District could never have been successfully farmed.

It’s a beautiful evening, with the mountains all still visible as the sun sets, but once again not a good night for star-gazing due to high cloud.

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Sheep being moved on the Road to Mt Cook

Sheep being moved on the Road to Mt Cook

Aoraki/Mt Cook

Aoraki/Mt Cook

Mt Cook National Park

Mt Cook National Park

Mt Cook National Park

Mt Cook National Park

Mt Cook National Park

Mt Cook National Park

Mt Cook Village

Mt Cook Village

Mt Cook

Mt Cook

Mt Cook

Mt Cook

Mt Cook National Park

Mt Cook National Park

Glacier Walk

Glacier Walk

Mt Cook National Park

Mt Cook National Park

Glacier Walk View

Glacier Walk View

Tasman Glacier

Tasman Glacier

Lake Tasman

Lake Tasman

Tasman Glacier

Tasman Glacier

Top End of Lake Pukaki

Top End of Lake Pukaki

Top End of Lake Pukaki

Top End of Lake Pukaki

Icebergs in Lake Tasman

Icebergs in Lake Tasman

Mt Cook National Park

Mt Cook National Park

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki

Mt Cook Salmon Farm

Mt Cook Salmon Farm

Church of the Good Shepherd

Church of the Good Shepherd

Sheepdog Monument

Sheepdog Monument

View from Bedroom Window Highview

View from Bedroom Window Highview

New Zealand Day 21 – Lake Tekapo

We woke to overcast but brighter skies this morning, with a small patch of blue sky that grew as the morning progressed. The cloud didn’t completely disappear, but it didn’t need to.  The turquoise lake with its backdrop of snow-capped mountains is so pretty – it’s spectacular.

We drove up Mt John to the observatory. The views from up there are amazing. It’d be great to do a night-time tour of the observatory and get to see the stars through the telescopes, but there is too much cloud around for that. The skies here are supposed to be extremely clear and starry – when it’s not cloudy. We’re here for another couple of nights but I don’t think clear night skies are in the forecast.

From there we drove back down and went to have a look at Tekapo A Hydro station. The canal leading from the power station is just as blue as the lake and very obviously a good place to fish. There were two fishermen trying to catch a rather large fish that kept jumping out of the water near them. I’m sure it was laughing at them as it jumped!

We had lunch in one of the trendy cafes in Tekapo and did a quick Internet check. We don’t have any internet access where we are staying. We needed to order a new modem so that there’s a chance it might arrive before we get home. Hopefully it will and Tanisha will be there to sign for it, otherwise we’ll be without phone or Internet for the weekend when we get home and we’ll have to pick it up from the post office on Monday.

After lunch we drove along the eastern shore of the lake, out towards the Roundhill ski area. The views across the lake were beautiful. There was sunshine, blue skies and fluffy white clouds. The amazingly blue lake in the foreground and the snowy peaks of the Southern Alps lined up on its far shore, all a splendid sight.

Back in our holiday home we are sitting in the living room looking out the big picture window and over the blue lake to the gorgeous snowy peaks beyond and wondering how much of a view the place will have when the land for sale next door is developed. I guess there’ll still be the view of the peaks further south from the balcony, the bedroom and the other windows along that side of the house.

And now there’s thunder so we may yet get rain tonight.

It did rain a little but the sun stayed on the peaks across the lake until sunset. There was also a vibrant rainbow. As we go to bed it’s raining again, heavier and steadily this time.

Mt John Observatory

Mt John Observatory

Lake Tekapo Village from Mt John

Lake Tekapo Village from Mt John

Lake Tekapo from Mt John

Lake Tekapo from Mt John

Today's View from Highview

Today's View from Highview

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Tekapo A Hydro Station

Tekapo A Hydro Station

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Tekapo Rainbow

Tekapo Rainbow