New Zealand Day 21 – 02/07/2018

New Zealand Day 21 02/07/2018 Photo Album

We drove from Twizel to Christchurch on February 7, and upon our arrival we checked into a hotel across from the airport, returned the IMAX, and repacked our bags in preparation for a 9:40AM departure on Thursday morning. None of us looked forward to a day of travel back to the States, but Jane feared it the most, as she acquired a cough and sore throat during our last few days.

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Lake Tekapo on Our Way to Christchurch

Most of the road trip from Twizel was characterized by rolling farmland and pastures. We stopped at a rest area in Rakaia, and a statue of a huge leaping salmon caused me to initiate some online research. I learned that the Rakaia River is New Zealand’s premier salmon fishery with runs occurring in the January through April time frame, but salmon fishing was not in our itinerary.

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Rakaia Is the Salmon Capital of the South Island

We arrived at the Sudima Hotel in Christchurch by 3PM and quickly checked into our rooms. The hotel provided a shuttle service, so we decided to return the rental car as soon as possible to remove one chore from our morning list. John remembered that we needed to top off the gas, and that resulted in a fairly time consuming nuisance adventure. We used the phone app to navigate, and it led us astray twice, before we found the Allied Petrol Station. All the pumps were occupied by commercial vehicles with large gas tanks. We patiently waited for a pump to free up, but when we punched in the credit card information, it requested a PIN. We shrugged our shoulders in disbelief and embarked on another circuitous route to a BP station. This unwelcome tour of the airport surroundings involved circling endless roundabouts. Fortunately we eventually hit pay dirt and topped off at the BP.

With this task in the rear view mirror, we continued back to the airport car return, and shed the IMAX. The Hyandai minivan provided workmanlike transportation, but no tears were shed, as we said goodbye to the cumbersome boxy road warrior. At first we were perplexed by the walking path back to the Sudima, but after a false start we figured it out and crossed a busy roundabout and returned to the hotel.

Both parties completed additional packing, and then we rendezvoused at the lobby and strolled to the nearby bus stop. Twenty minutes elapsed before we boarded the number 29, and the Metro bus efficiently transported us to the Christchurch bus exchange. High Street was highlighted on the map as an area containing shops and restaurants, and its proximity motivated us to pay it a visit. We stumbled across a cool outdoor bar/food spot called the Smash Palace. A bus was situated away from the street, and it was converted into an outdoor bar. We approached the Kiwi bartender, and each ordered Bodgie brews, since they were on a happy hour special.

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Brews at the Smash Palace

After finishing our brews we explored more of Christchurch and found O.G.B, a trendy restaurant in an Old Government Building near Cathedral Square. Upon the completion of our dinners a brief walk of two blocks delivered us to an ice cream shop, where Brenda and John indulged in a cup of frozen dessert. Throughout our wanderings in Christchurch we were amazed by the ongoing construction, as the city continues to recover from the major earthquake in 2011. The devastation must have been massive, in order for the effects to endure for seven years.

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Christchurch Cathedral Displaying Damage from the 2011 Earthquake

We wandered back to the bus exchange and returned to the Sudima. I set the alarm for 6:30 in order to catch our 9:40AM flight from Christchurch to Auckland. We were about to return home, and memories of three weeks of travel adventure and spectacular scenery dominated our thoughts.

 

 

New Zealand Day 20 – 02/06/2018

New Zealand Day 20 02/06/2018 Photo Album

With our base camp established in Twizel we prepared to explore the Mt. Cook area. Mt. Cook is the tallest mountain in all of New Zealand at 12,218 feet. However, we were low on breakfast treats, so Jane and I hiked to the Town Center Cafe & Bakery. Here we spotted breakfast pastries on top of the counter, and we used some of our remaining NZ $’s to purchase two sultana scones, two blueberry muffins, and one apple crumble. Jane and I split the crumble, when we returned to our room.

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Spectacular Setting Prompted Two Photos

The Prices rolled by and picked us up at 10AM, and we continued on to a campground near Mt. Cook Village. The parking lot was jammed, and we nearly found ourselves locked in a big city traffic snarl, when a huge tourist bus attempted to turn around on a narrow dirt road loaded with pedestrians and parked cars. John somehow managed to execute a U-turn in advance of the bus, and we parked on the shoulder along the entry road. A longer walk was a preferred trade off to sitting in the van among the parking lot chaos.

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Breathtaking View to the East

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First Swinging Bridge Over the Hooker River

The tramp was a three hour round trip undertaking, and it ended at a glacial lake, where we enjoyed spectacular views of Mt. Cook and surrounding peaks. The glacial lake next to our viewing point was filled with dense silt-laden glacial melt. The guidebook suggested that floating icebergs would be visible, but we only noticed one small one near the outlet of the lake. The river that carried gray sludge through the adjacent valley was more impressive to me, and we crossed it three times on suspended bridges supported by sturdy metal cables. Jane formulated an exit strategy each time we crossed one of the suspended structures, in case it collapsed during our time hanging above the river.

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Deep Slabs of Ice and Snow Near the Peak

Numerous waterfalls cascaded down the steep slopes on both sides of the river, and several significant ribbons of rushing water disappeared in a rubble of gray boulders and gravel. It was obvious that this was the source of the dense gray sedimentation that converted the water into gray sludge.

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Tasman Lake and Tasman Glacier

After we returned to the minivan, we detoured to another trailhead to view the Tasman Glacier. The sign informed us that the viewpoint occurred after a fifteen minute walk, but it neglected to tell us that the trail was a continuous climb up steps. The view at the top was interesting, as another glacial lake appeared just below a massive block of gray and charcoal ice. The return hike was tricky, but not physically taxing.

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Lots of Snow Up There

Upon our return to the IMAX we sped back to Twizel, and the Prices deposited us at the Lakes Hotel. After a brief happy hour with snacks, Jane and I sauntered across the highway to the convenient wood oven pizza truck. On Tuesday night we ordered a meat pizza to demonstrate that we were not in a deep food rut, and after ten minutes it was baked and ready for our consumption. It disappeared in the same amount of time that it required to bake.

Wednesday is a travel day to Christchurch, and Thursday we make our return to the USA. This was a bittersweet thought, as we neared the final day of our long anticipated New Zealand trip.

New Zealand Day 19 – 02/05/2018

New Zealand Day 19 02/05/2018 Photo Album

My earliest recollection of following professional sports was the 1959 World Series featuring the Los Angeles Dodgers vs the Chicago White Sox. I was eight years old at the time. More vivid memories play out in my mind, when I recall the !960 World Series in which Bill Mazeroski blasted his game winning home run in the ninth inning to defeat the New York Yankees. Since I grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania, I also have rich recollections of the 1960 NFL championship game at Franklin Field, when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Green Bay Packers. At the impressionable age of nine I worshiped the Philadelphia heroes of that team including Norm Van Brocklin, Tommy McDonald, Pete Retzlaff, and Chuck Bednarik. This glimmer of success encouraged me to become a lifelong Eagles fan, and although they fielded some impressive teams under Buddy Ryan, Dick Vermeil, and Andy Reid; they never managed to win a Super Bowl. I anxiously followed the 2017 Eagles, as they built a huge lead in the NFC, but my heart sank when Carson Wentz left the game against the Los Angeles Rams with a torn ACL. I was hopeful, but I realistically expected another disappointment in the playoffs.

Monday, February 5 was scheduled to be another relatively long travel day, as our foursome drove north and west from Dunedin to Twizel, a town close to the center of the South Island of New Zealand. I hoped for an earlier departure, but we managed to climb in the IMAX and leave the Euro 315 by 10AM. Since Super Bowl 52 began at 4:30PM Mountain time on Sunday February 4, I did some quick calculations and determined that the game began at 12:30PM on Monday, February 5 in local time. Actually I made this determination prior to our departure for New Zealand, since I clung to the small hope that the Eagles could advance to the big game. I was not certain that I could find a television in New Zealand tuned to the NFL Super Bowl, and with a planned stop along the way, it was now obvious that we would not reach Twizel by 12:30.

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Rainy Day at Moeraki

Initially our route skirted the coast, and it was here that we stopped and completed a twenty minute round trip beach walk to inspect the Moeraki Boulders. We discovered a series of spherical rocks that were formed on the ocean floor a long time ago. For some reason the east coast of New Zealand contains around twenty-five of these globes, and many display fissures and cracks. We touched and leaned on several and snapped some photos, and then we settled back in the IMAX and continued on a northeastern path, until we veered to the northwest just before the town of Oamaru.

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A Collection of Round Stones

For the next several hours we followed the Waitaki River, until we turned right on route 8, and then found the Lakes Hotel in Twizel. As explained in the first paragraph, I possessed a strong interest in the Super Bowl, and I frantically attempted to follow the game via my ESPN app and gametracker. This ploy actually worked fairly well for a time, as the Eagles built a 15-3 lead in the first quarter and early going of the second. Unfortunately we then passed through several sections of rural country that generated the dreaded no service message on my mobile phone, but the Eagles amazingly survived my absence.

Once we arrived in Twizel, we stopped at the Lakes Hotel, but a sign announced that the receptionist would not return until 2PM, the prescribed check in time. Not wasting any time we found the Twizel town center, and a woman at the information center directed us to the Top Hut Sports bar. John or Brenda prefaced our question about the Super Bowl by asking if she was familiar with the American game. She was clearly a bit offended, as she replied, ” we do read and watch television here in New Zealand.”

Sure enough when we entered the Top Hut Sports Bar, we were surprised to see five screens carrying the big NFL contest. I intently watched the remainder of the second quarter, and then Jane and I took advantage of the Super Bowl special and ordered two “American hot dogs” for NZ $6 each plus two craft beers.

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Super Bowl 52 Champions

The Super Bowl developed into one of the best ever, and my beloved Eagles survived the Patriots’ second half surge to become the new NFL champions. I was quite surprised by the number of customers in the Top Hut on a Monday afternoon watching American football, but we later learned it was a holiday in New Zealand called Waitangi Day. After the post game trophy presentation and interviews, when I admittedly choked up while listening to the Nick Foles interview, we returned to the Lakes Hotel, where we discovered that a credit card snafu left the Prices without a room. The receptionist called the nearby Mackenzie Country Inn and secured a room there for our traveling companions.

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Wood Fired Pizza Dinner Across from the Lakes Hotel

Once Jane and I unloaded our suitcases, we completed a one hour hike on the Twizel Walkway. This elevated our hunger, so we returned to the town center where we visited the Ministry of Works (restaurant), Jasmine Thai, and Top Hut; but all were extremely busy and required excessive wait times. We toyed with buying something at the supermarket, but eventually we returned to a wood fired pizza oven food truck across from our accommodations. It proved to be a great move, and we finally satisfied our burgeoning appetites. Being able to watch the Philadelphia Eagles become world champions surpassed my wildest expectations for February 5.

 

New Zealand Day 18 – 02/04/2018

New Zealand Day 18 02/04/2018 Photo Album

Sunday was a very active day for Jane and I in Dunedin, NZ. On Saturday we reserved mountain bikes from Dunedin iBikes, and Nick delivered them along with helmets on Saturday evening. He also suggested routes, so on Sunday morning we began to check them off. Our first ride took us east along the northeastern shoreline of Otago Bay. During this one hour ride we joined in the Masters Games, as a large group of race walkers shared our track.

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I Liked My Hired Bike

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Cruise Control Now

After we returned to the CBD (Central Business District) we headed northeast until we found Baldwin Street, allegedly the steepest street in the world. A crowd of people choked the base, and many groups accepted the challenge and ascended the six blocks of pure vertical. I wish I could announce that I completed the climb on my mountain bike, but I turned around at the location where the grade shifted dramatically and then returned to Jane for some photos. After surrendering to the hill we elected to swing back to the Euro 315 to remove some layers, as the 46 degree F temperature at the start quickly rose to the 50’s F.

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Teeth Sculpture at Our Turn

The last leg of our cycling adventure was to power our way east on the Otago Peninsula. The initial couple of miles were a bit dicey, as we maneuvered through a mix of city streets and bike paths. We stopped a helpful cycling couple at one point and asked for confirmation that we were headed toward the Otago Peninsula. Not only did they assure us, but they also outlined the next two turns including a “left at the teeth”. Sure enough after another kilometer we encountered a series of eight sculpted teeth, and just as they suggested, we were on the Portobello Cycle Track heading northeast.

Unfortunately the off road trail ended halfway through our outbound trip, and the remainder of the ride was along the narrow shoulder of Portobello Road. We survived and returned to the Euro 315 by 12:30PM, and Nick stopped by at 2:15 to retrieve the bikes.

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Lighthouse Is Where the Royal Albatross Hang Out

The Otago Peninsula ride peaked our curiosity, so we studied some maps and our guidebook after lunch. John and Brenda were scheduled to be picked up by a commercial tour service, so the rental minivan was available to us. We jumped in the Hyandai IMAX and completed the 45 minute drive to the tip of the Otago Peninsula. This was my first extended stint driving the IMAX while steering from the right side and driving in the left lane. It was certainly a challenging start, as Portbello Road was a two lane highway that twisted and curved endlessly along the contour of Otago Bay.

The Royal Albatross Centre was situated at the end of the road, but a $30 NZ charge for the guided tour dissuaded us from that option. Instead we took advantage of the plethora of information in the Royal Albatross Visitor Centre. We educated ourselves on the various species of albatrosses and shags (duck-like bird) and their life cycles and studied photos in case we were able to observe any of the large resident birds. We exited the visitor center and began our self-guided nature walk.

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Looking North from the Viewing Platform

The Pacific Ocean (east) side of the point featured three wooden viewing platforms. We stood on all of them and marveled at the powerful wind and surf in front of us. We now attempted to put our recently gained knowledge of the appearance of shags and albatrosses to use, and we peered intently into the sky north and south along the coastline. Much to our satisfaction we spotted six albatrosses, as they glided in the strong air currents along the ridge high above. In addition several shags flapped their wings and powered their way by our viewing platform. Jane carried the binoculars, and they were invaluable for zooming in on the majestic albatrosses.

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At Least Seven Seals in This Photo. Three in the Water.

Once we soaked in the bird watching spectacle, we crossed the parking lot and descended to Pilots Beach on the bay side of the point. Another viewing platform existed here for observing the arrival of the blue penguins, but we decided against waiting for the 6-8PM show. Instead we chuckled at the frolicking fur seals on the rocks to our right. In total eight chubby mammals occupied the rocky shoreline.Three glided about in the water, while the others lazily basked in the warm sunshine. I was amazed how clumsy these creatures were on land, yet they morphed into sleek water acrobats once they entered the ocean.

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We Stopped at Wellers Rock. Who Knew?

After the multiple wildlife shows we began our return drive along Otago Bay to Dunedin. After ten kilometers we noticed a sign for Wellers Rock. Since my last name is Weller, I could not overcome the desire to stop and investigate the origin of the name of this landmark. A rectangular plaque was embedded at the base of a large rounded rock next to the bay, and it stated, “1831 – 1931, THIS TABLET MARKS THE LANDING PLACE OF WELLER BROTHERS (WHALERS) WHO FOUNDED THE FIRST WHITE SETTLEMENT IN OTAKOU (OTAGO) IN 1831”. I eagerly snapped a photo, and I was shocked to learn that I had famous ancestors in New Zealand!

We continued on and returned to Dunedin. We changed into comfortable clothes for dinner and visited The Reef, a seafood restaurant four or five street numbers away from our hotel. Jane ordered a shellfish bowl, and I chose prawns. Oohs and ahs echoed about the dining room when my dinner arrived, with eight shrimp displaying heads and antennae. The large orange prawns were stacked on a metal skewer that dangled over my plate from an L-shaped hanger. It was a striking presentation. We savored our meals and reminisced about our wonderful day in Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula.

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Complete with Beady Eyes, Legs and Antennae

 

 

New Zealand Day 17 – 02/03/2018

New Zealand Day 17 02/03/2018 Photo Album

Our itinerary required us to traverse southern New Zealand from Te Anau to Dunedin on Saturday. We crossed from the west coast to the east coast of the South Island, if one includes our two hour return from Milford Sound on Friday. The route provided unending views of paddocks (fields) populated by sheep, cows, deer, and beets. Deer are raised extensively in New Zealand as a source of domesticated meat, and venison is a standard item on most restaurant menus.

The weather turned quite chilly, and the high temperature in Dunedin peaked in the mid-50’s. It was a radical change from the heat wave we experienced during the middle week of our roadtrip. We found our lodging at Euro 315 in the center of Dunedin, and then Jane and I strolled down George Street to a food court in a mall, where we split and inhaled a lamb souvlaki. We returned to the hotel by 2PM to check in, and then we surveyed the city map and embarked on a two hour walking tour.

First we searched for a bike hire business called Bike Otago, but we were unable to locate it and concluded the shop moved. Next we sought the New Zealand Shop on the Octagon, and Jane purchased a gift for our cleaning person. The third stop was the Cadbury World chocolate factory on Cumberland, but we declined the tour and instead purchased a Cadbury Caramello bar.

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Jane Bought a Caramello

A bit of backtracking took us to Stuart Street, and then we intersected with the historical Dunedin railway station. It was a fine piece of architecture surrounded by manicured landscaping. We browsed the station a bit, and then we returned to the Octagon via Stuart Street, and there we selected the Thistle as our preferred establishment for happy hour. Jane sipped a glass of wine, while I sipped a hot cup of tea in keeping with my ongoing cold. From here we returned to the Euro 315, and we reserved bicycles for a half day of touring on Sunday via a phone call using our Skinny mobile service.

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The Landmark Railway Station in Dunedin

During our walk we identified a Japanese restaurant called Tokyo Garden that was advertising a pork ramen special, so this became our destination for an evening meal. Salmon and chicken sushi preceded our ramen bowls, and we were both quite pleased with our meal. After dinner we made sure to return to the Euro 315 before Nick of Dunedin iBikes dropped off two bicycles and helmets for our Sunday ride. We concluded our travel day with a visit to the New World Market, where we bought a few breakfast items.

New Zealand Day 16 – 02/02/2018

New Zealand Day 16 02/02/2018 Photo Album

After a day that featured extended drenching rain on Thursday, Jane and I reveled in the gorgeous weather that arrived on Friday. The storm moved on, the skies cleared, and cooler temperatures developed, as we completed the two hour drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound. We began our journey at 7:00AM, and this early departure enabled us to arrive at Milford Sound in time to snag a parking space in the closest lot to the terminal. This meant no shuttle was required, and we had fairly easy access to the minivan in case we forgot something.

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Looking Back as the Lady Bowen Pulls Away

We finished the short ten minute walk to the tour cruise terminal building and registered for our 10:30 tour and kayak adventure. The young lady behind the counter informed us that we were eligible to grab a 9:45AM departure, so we jumped at the option. Jane and I boarded the Lady Bowen and snagged prime spots on the lower bow of the boat, and we were pleased to learn that the wind was behind us on the outbound leg.

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Bowen Falls on Our Right

We passed a ridiculous number of waterfalls, and our guide explained that the heavy rain on Thursday boosted the volume of water cascading down the steep fiord walls. Jeremy added that Milford Sound is one of the wettest places on earth. As we approached one of the more voluminous falls along the left side of the fiord, Jeremy instructed one of the galley mates to bring two racks of glasses to the front. The young man dutifully responded and placed the racks on the smooth flat area on top of the wall on the bow, and then the pilot of the boat taxied beneath the waterfalls to fill the empty cups. Earlier Jeremy informed our group that the water was so pure, that one could safely drink it, and he was about to make his point.

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Approaching Another Falls for a Close Look

As if this were not enough excitement, my dear wife, Jane, remained stationary, as she guarded the glasses with her life, and then the ice cold glacial melt pummeled her from above. Even the guide was astonished by her act of bravery. I remained on the front deck long enough to snap a photo and video clip, and even this brief exposure caused my fleece and shoes to get wet, before I scurried into the cabin. Jane on the other hand toughed it out and drenched two layers of clothing in the process. Fortunately she had the presence of mind to stuff her phone beneath the wet outer layers.

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Jane Next to the Racks of Glasses

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A Larger Colony of Seals

We continued on our way and viewed several colonies of fur seals and numerous gulls of varying sizes. When we reached the mouth of Milford Sound, we reversed our course and made our way to the Underwater Discovery Center. Here the kayakers were outfitted with life jackets and rain pants, and Jane and I climbed into our single crafts. The guide lowered the platform, until we were floating in the ocean, and like a cluster of bumper cars we managed to exit the covered shed and headed to the sound.

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A Pro

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Fighting the Current

We paddled into the mouth of the Harrison River and listened to the guides relate Maori legends. As this transpired, we drifted over a patch of aquatic grass, and we instantly became a tasty buffet for the resident sand flies. The stories finally ended, and Jane and I bolted up the river against the swift current. I made it two-thirds of the way toward the top of the inlet before every stroke merely served to offset the velocity of the current, and I was paddling in place. We turned around and glided back with the aid of the current, and then we completed a large circle and arrived back at the launch shed.

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Jane in Relaxation Mode...Finally

After we returned our gear and enjoyed a brief rest, we descended to the Deep Water Emergence. Because a layer of tannin colored fresh water blankets the lower layer of ocean water, creatures that normally only live in the dark depths of the ocean occupy Milford Sound. The Deep Water Emergence experience enabled us to view a variety of life from the deep. This viewing time concluded the tour, and we boarded the small cruise ship and returned to the terminal building.

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The Stream That Created the Chasm

On the return drive to Te Anau Brenda, John, Jane and I stopped once to complete a short hike to The Chasm, and at a few additional overlooks to snap photos. When we returned to Te Anau, Jane and I battled the wind and walked downtown to The Ranch, where we both enjoyed lamb shank dinners. Yum.

New Zealand Day 15 – 02/01/2018

New Zealand Day 15 02/01/2018 Photo Album

Thursday was once again a travel day, and we spent most of the morning driving from Glenorchy to Te Anau. Steady blowing and drenching rain persisted during our entire trip, and it continued throughout the afternoon in Te Anau.

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Fiordland Film Got Us Excited

It was an ideal day to rest and catch up on some chores. Jane and I finished two loads of laundry, and then I enjoyed a brief nap, while she walked downtown in the rain. While on her stroll she stopped at the Southern Discoveries office, and she made inquiries regarding proper outdoor wear for our boat cruise and kayaking adventure. The folks at Southern Discoveries recommended a thirty minute film on Fiordland National Park; so Jane, Brenda, John and I caught the 6PM showing. The cinematography and aerial shots were breathtaking, and we all eagerly anticipated our boat tour on Friday.

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Excellent Pizza

After the film we walked a few blocks to Ristorante Pizzeria Paradiso, where I was pleased to discover vegan non-dairy cheese was available for my pizza. It was a small thing, but much appreciated nonetheless.

Diamond River (Day 14) – 01/31/2018

Time: 11:00AM – 2:00PM

Location: Diamond River

Diamond River (Day 14) 01/31/2018 Photo Album

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A Morning Rainbow in Glenorchy

Gale force winds greeted us on Wednesday morning in Glenorchy. At one point I stepped outside and marveled at a huge rainbow in the southern sky, so I returned to the room and snatched my camera for a couple photos. The change in weather was welcome after the last week of intensely hot weather, but wind is a four letter word for fly fishermen. My guide on Tuesday, Nick, suggested that I return to the Diamond River on Wednesday and even showed me the best section and productive techniques. When I heard the rushing air on Wednesday morning, I decided to take my time, and for this reason Jane and I did not reach the carpark until 10:25.

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Jane Captured My Cast Nicely

Jane brought her book and beach towel, and we tramped for thirty minutes, until I reached the lower end of the section suggested by Nick. The wind was already in a blustering state, but I spotted a couple sporadic rises, so I unhooked my blow fly and began to cast. In the middle of the stream I noticed a decent brown trout, as it darted to the surface and snatched some form of unidentifiable food. I executed quite a few drifts over this area between frustrating gusts of wind, but I was unable to interest the sighted fish in another meal.

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Ready for Action

As this scenario was playing out, I observed a couple splashy rises ten feet out from the opposite bank. I responded and moved upstream, until I was above the last rise, and I began shooting casts toward the far shore. With each cast I extended the drift ten feet. I also adopted the ploy suggested by Nick of walking downstream at the same pace as the fly to avoid drag, and then allowed the blow fly to swing across the river, until it was below me. Finally I extended the rod over the water and stripped line to bring the fly back toward me, and then I allowed the fly to drift downstream along the near bank, while I wiggled my rod tip and fed line. The entire process enabled me to prospect for bank dwellers on both sides of the river with relatively long drag free drifts.

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Quite a Bend

I repeated this sequence three times, and on the fourth circuit a fish slashed at the dry fly, as it began to drag across the river. This elevated my optimism, since my fly was attracting interest, and it identified the location of a trout. Another cast and drift was ignored, but on the following effort after a long twelve foot drift, a nose emerged, and a fish chomped on the fly. I responded with a swift hook set, and a combative brown trout responded with a noble battle. I was forced to slide down the bank, where a tiny side creek entered the river in order to be in a solid position to fight and net the brawler on the end of my leader. I applied side pressure and guided the brown just below me, and then it made several attempts to dive into some thick aquatic moss. I was having none of it and managed to leverage it into my undersized net. The curled fish in front of me was heavy and in the eighteen inch range. While this episode was unfolding, Jane snapped some photos and video clips. What a thrill! I landed my first quality New Zealand trout without the assistance of a guide.

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Best Fish Landed Without a Guide

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A Bigger Smile

After this bit of fun, Jane and I moved upstream at a slow pace, as I scanned the river for additional surface feeding activity. The constant wind made spotting rises and fish quite a challenge. I stopped a couple times in quality segments to employ the Nick Clark cycle method, but I never observed another rise. The ferocity of the wind accelerated, so we decided to move directly to the lake. Nick suggested that I should not underestimate the lake, as quite a few large trout cruised the shoreline looking for food.

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Wildflowers by the Lake

Whitecaps greeted us at the outlet from the lake, and I quickly abandoned any thoughts of fishing. We sat in the midst of some small yellow wildflowers and snacked, while we admired the spectacular scenery.

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Showing the Photographer

On the return hike I stopped at two locations and blasted some casts toward the far bank. After the wind generated a discouraging tangle, I replaced the blow fly with a Jake’s gulp beetle. On a downstream drift ten feet out from the bank that I was standing on, a small brown trout elevated and nosed the terrestrial. Two casts later I drifted the beetle through the same area, and the eleven inch brown crushed it. Catching a fish on a fly I tied was my last action on Wednesday, as the wind raged with utter fierceness. In fact when we returned to the Bold Peak Lodge later in the afternoon, we discovered that there was a “power cut” (outage), because some trees between Queenstown and Glenorchy were blown down on power lines.

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Creaky Dock at Kinloch Lodge

After we stowed our gear in the van, we drove farther around the lake to Kinloch. The Kinloch Lodge was recommended by our New Zealand travel advisor, but we were unable to secure a booking because vacancies were not available on the dates we stayed in the area. We wanted to see what we were missing. The lodge rested on a hill overlooking Lake Wakatipu, and it appeared to be a charming and well maintained establishment. It was obviously a step up from the Bold Peak Lodge, but Jane and I were not exceptionally disappointed.

Fish Landed: 2

 

 

Diamond River (Day 13) – 01/30/2018

Time: 3:00PM – 5:00PM

Location: Thirty minutes from the carpark.

Diamond River (Day 13) 01/30/2018 Photo Album

After we departed from the Routeburn River, Nick headed back toward Glenorchy to the Diamond River carpark. Nick described the Diamond as a spring creek, and it did in fact display spring creek characteristics. It flowed consistently between high banks, and thick aquatic vegetation lined the riverbed. The water projected a deep green color similar to the Pennsylvania spring creeks that I grew up near rather than the blue aqua shade of other New Zealand streams such as the just vacated Routeburn.

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Attractive Deep Run

While I fished sporadically during the remaining two hours of my guided fishing day, Nick was mainly preparing me for a solo trip on Wednesday. He told me that under more advantageous conditions, fish rose frequently and consequently were fairly easy to spot. On Tuesday late afternoon, however, the wind was brutal, the air temperature was oppressive, and six fishermen had just pounded the area. We knew this because we passed them on their way back to the carpark.

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Diamond River Is a Jewel

Nick demonstrated how to cast across the stream to the opposite bank and then walk downstream with the pace of the current to enable a long drag free drift. This step was followed by a surface swing, and then he walked back upstream while extending the rod out over the stream as far as possible. The last tactic was to feed out line to create a nice downstream presentation along the bank. It was readily obvious to me that this cycle created several long drag free drifts along each bank, and typically those areas are the home of large brown trout. I was sold. I practiced this technique a few times and managed a refusal over a light colored shelf on one circuit.

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Ready to Catch Some Fish

Within the last thirty minutes I shot some long casts to the far bank, and as I shuffled through the grass, the fly drifted fifteen feet when a large mouth appeared. I paused, and just as Nick shouted “set”, I reacted and felt the momentary weight of the hook catching the lip of a decent fish. Alas that was the best I could on the Diamond River, but the two hours whet my appetite for a return visit on Wednesday.

Routeburn River (Day 13) – 01/30/2018

Time: 9:00AM – 2:30PM

Location: Routeburn River

Routeburn River (Day 13) 01/30/2018 Photo Album

I scheduled a solo day of guided fishing out of Glenorchy on Tuesday, January 30. My left eye was once again sealed shut when I woke up in the morning; however, I began using the antibiotic drops that Brenda procured for her eye, and the medication seemed to show signs of effectiveness. I was not feeling great, but I swallowed the prescribed dose of cold medicine and stuffed more in my pocket for later in the day. I was not about to let a cold ruin a day of guided fly fishing in the Southland Region of New Zealand.

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My Guide's Fly Box

My guide, Nick Clark, picked me up at 7:30 at the Bold Peak Lodge. Tuesday developed into another very hot day with the high around 30 degrees C. We drove a short distance and began our fishing adventure on the Routeburn River. I waded wet, and throughout the day I was quite pleased with my decision. I began fishing in a section of the river that was characterized by fast water with many pockets, deep runs, and short pools. Nick set me up with an irresistible, and I began prospecting the likely spots. Tuesday on the Routeburn was my closest New Zealand experience to my favored style of Colorado fishing. The water was very similar to Colorado high gradient streams, and Nick actually commended my casting, pace, and ability to keep the line off the water to prevent drag. It was confidence boosting to receive positive feedback on my casting compared to suggestions for improvement.

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Absolutely Stunning Water

In the early going I landed two rainbow trout in the eleven inch range on the irresistible. While I was blind casting to likely holding positions, Nick scanned the water ahead and spotted larger trout, and this supplemented my style with some exciting sight fishing. One of the first such encounters with a larger fish resulted in a refusal. I lifted the rod quickly and flicked a cast to the left, although Nick actually implored me to strip the line in for a fly change. I instinctively tossed the cast before I heard his command, and I never saw my fly, but Nick followed it and saw a fish eat. He shouted “set”, and I reacted quickly, but the fly came hurtling back toward us. I was disappointed by this sequence, but nevertheless exhilarated by the short jolt of action.

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We Began with an Irresistible

For a few of the football shaped dark spots sighted, Nick changed the top fly to a Goddard caddis and then later a parachute Adams. He also experimented with a pheasant tail nymph dropper, but these moves failed to deliver results. We concluded that the big boys were extra moody and quite skittish.

At one point the parachute Adams got snagged on an overhanging rock, and Nick instructed me to break it off. I did so, and as he searched his box for a replacement, I asked if we could try one of the hippy stompers I recently tied. Nick was game to try something new, so he knotted one with a peacock dubbed body to my line. The change paid off somewhat, as I landed two small rainbows in short order. My confidence in the hippy stomper temporarily elevated, but after fifteen minutes of prospecting some delightful fast areas with no interest from the trout, we reverted to the irresistible.

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So Clear

The next sequence was the highlight of my day. A nice deep wide run flowed along a large bank side rock that displayed a white high water mark stripe along the top edge. As we moved closer, Nick and I simultaneously spotted a solid rise within a couple feet of the opposite bank toward the tail of the run. I positioned myself slightly above and across from the scene of the rise, and I began to shoot casts increasingly closer to the far bank. As I was doing this, the target fish came into view, and we could both identify it as a tantalizing large rainbow. On the fifth cast I placed the irresistible within two feet of the rock with the stripe, and it slid downstream along the base of the rock wall with no response.

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Lovely Pink Stripe

I extended another cast to within a foot of the rock, and unlike the previous cast I allowed the fly to dead drift to the very lip of the run. Just before the dry fly was due to drag next to an exposed boulder, a mouth appeared, and it crushed the spun deer hair attractor. Nick shouted “set”, and I reacted simultaneously with his instruction. Now the fight was on. Initially the rainbow shot upstream, and I managed to apply side pressure and brought it to a position twenty-five feet directly above me. But then the resisting trout had other thoughts. It made four successive runs downstream, and I recklessly followed over slippery boulders and rocks while applying side pressure. I was reenacting scenes that I witnessed on Instagram. In a last ditch effort the trout raced into some fairly fast pocket water and stopped next to a large exposed boulder closer to the opposite bank. I lifted my rod high above my head and waded to the middle of the river and coaxed the recalcitrant fish between two rocks and then added side pressure and brought it to the bank below me, where Nick scooped it. High fives broke out, and I admired a New Zealand rainbow trout in excess of twenty inches.

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Big Shoulders

We continued our upstream progression, and I added another ten inch rainbow and a twelve inch brown to the fish count. Both of these fish showed a preference for the irresistible. We stopped for lunch at 12:30PM, and after a forty-five minute snack, we resumed the upstream dry fly prospecting. The quality of the water declined, and the temperature rose, so we decided to return to the car in order to move to another stream at 2:30.

Fish Landed: 7