5/21/2016

Travelling Highway 6, New Zealand


Our journey took us beside Lake Wakatipu

From Invercargill, we travelled with Brian and Avis to Arrowtown, on Highway 6, surrounded by stunning views everywhere we looked. Our mountainous route hugged the shore of Lake Wakatipu, and climbed the Devil's Staircase, as we headed for the Crown Range. The road was too steep and narrow to stop to take photos, but fortunately the powers that be had provided two safe places to pull over. Our first stop was the Devil's Staircase Lookout.


Brian, Avis, and David beside Lake Wakatipu at Devil's Staircase Lookout




The higher we climbed the more magnificent the view


Our next stop was the Crown Range Lookout, with a bird's eye view of the countryside.




Which ever way we looked, the view was beautiful

As we continued on our way, our route took us through the Cardrona Valley, an historical area dating from New Zealand's gold rush era.


I just had to stop and take this shot of the Cardrona Hotel, 
with its vintage car, permanently parked outside.


Even though it was summer, there was still snow on the mountain tops

What a journey we had. New Zealand is an amazing country, with unique scenery. It should definitely be on everyone's bucket list.

Elizabeth Coughlan

5/15/2016

Maple Glen Gardens, Southland, NZ


Maple Glen Gardens

I have never seen so many shades of green in one place, as I did in Maple Glen Gardens. This work of art, hidden away in Southland New Zealand, about 40 minutes' drive from Invercargill, is overlooked by most visitors to Southland.


Brian, David, and Wayne walking through the gardens

Maple Glen is a 25-acre private garden, lovingly developed over the last 47 years by the owners, Bob and Muriel Davison. We would never have found this magnificent garden without our local guides, Brian and Wayne, but it was well worth the trip.


The garden was immaculate everywhere we looked...



…with beautiful floral displays


…and even a field of sheep


David took some great photos with his phone


Does anyone know the name of this plant?
The colour is stunning


We enjoyed watching the ducks…


And the wonderful views


Hmmm… looks like someone’s taking a break


Photographers are always lagging behind the group,
but I eventually found them, and joined them.
(Brian took this photo with my camera)


There were birds everywhere, but these pigeons were the easiest to capture!


The guys take a well-earned rest after all the walking we did

If you ever find yourself in the south of South Island, New Zealand, then this garden is a wonderful place for photographers, birders, and gardeners. Entry is free, but there is a donations box if you want to contribute towards the upkeep of the gardens. There is also a nursery, where you can buy many of the exotic plants.

Thank you, Brian and Wayne, for taking us on great day out in Southland.

Elizabeth Coughlan

4/23/2016

Invercargill, South Island, New Zealand


We travelled in style from the Greens to the Healy’s, for our first reunion,


… in this classic Chevrolet, courtesy of the Greens’ son-in-law, Warren

From Wellington, we flew to Invercargill, at the southern tip of South Island, to stay with friends we hadn’t seen since 2008. What a wonderful welcome we received!

While we were there, we took the opportunity to visit Stewart Island, even further south! The climate
there is unpredictable at latitude 47°, but we were fortunate to go there on a fine day, with no rain. (The island’s rainforests are a testament to the frequency of its rainfall.)


As we waited for our ferry to Stewart Island, we saw this beautiful sailing ship,
The ‘Spirit of New Zealand’

The ship was built in 1986 by the Spirit of New Zealand Trust specifically for Youth development. Every year, groups of trainees, aged between 15 and 18 years, take up the challenge of learning about
the sea, and how to sail a tall ship.


David in Oban, Stewart Island

Stewart Island is 30 kilometres (19 miles) south of New Zealand's South Island, and is best known for  its conservation areas of native birds and plants. We only went for the day, but it is a popular place for camping along hiking trails, and for sightings of the Aurora Australis at night.


The Police Station on Stewart Island

As you can see from the size of the police station, the population is very small, less than 400 local
inhabitants.


We saw the sign, but didn’t see the kiwis!


We walked up hill, and down to the Ulva Island Ferry


David waiting for the ferry


Sign at the ferry station

Ulva Island is an unspoilt rainforest, a natural haven for rare birds and plants. The sign is to remind visitors the importance of keeping predators away, especially rats which devour birds eggs, hatchlings, and kill native plants.


Ulva Island (Te Wharawhara)


Steps up to Flagstaff Point


View from the top

Mail for Stewart Island used to be delivered on Ulva Island, and the residents used to row across to
collect their post, and a raised flag on Flagstaff Point signalled that the post had arrived. It became quite a festive occasion as friends from different settlements could meet up.

We trekked around the island as quietly as possible, so we could see the wildlife. Here are some of
the unique birds we saw.


The elusive Weka

The Weka cannot fly, but is able to walk and swim long distances. It feeds mostly on insects, birds' eggs, lizards, and sometimes even other birds.


New Zealand Wood Pigeon (Kererū)

These are larger than the pigeons seen in cities throughout the world, and we saw several swooping
through the forest.


Stewart Island Robin (Toutouwai)

The ferry boat driver told us just to step into the forest, and the birds would come. He was quite right. As we walked off the path, we disturbed the insects they eat, and immediately a Robin came hopping along.


Kākā

This is quite a destructive bird. It strips the bark off trees to get at the insects underneath.

We had a wonderful day on Stewart Island, and I will definitely want to visit it again, perhaps for longer than just one day.

Elizabeth Coughlan

4/14/2016

Wellington NZ's Own Gezi Park


The protesters’ banner attached to the railings overlooking the green

I was living in Turkey during the Gezi Park demonstrations against the government's plan to raze that
small green space, and build a shopping mall. Although the demonstration was peaceful, and non-
threatening, the police reacted violently with tear gas, and water cannons, inflaming the situation. I couldn't help but compare this with the attempt by residents of Wellington to prevent their local council from selling or leasing this tiny green space to a private developer.


Jack Ilott Green is a tiny sanctuary among concrete high rises

I will admit that the park doesn’t look much, but that is because the local council have stopped all maintenance on it, according to the protesters.


Collecting signatures for the petition to the Wellington City Council


This was the sign behind the protesters’ table.

I love it when the people speak. I believe this petition has already collected over 8,000 signatures.If the developers do move in, perhaps they can have an ‘Occupy Jack Ilott Green’. Although, unlike 'Occupy Gezi Park’, I can't imagine the New Zealand police donning riot gear, bringing in water cannons, and tear gassing the protesters, so perhaps ‘Occupy Jack Ilott Green’ is the way to go.

More information can be found on  http://savejackilottgreen.my-free.website/ and
https://www.facebook.com/savejackillottgreen/

Elizabeth Coughlan

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