Local Heart, Global Soul

September 19, 2012

Traffic Jam Kiwi-Style: Roads, Tunnels, The Coast …and Nature’s Nudists!

Filed under: NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We have left Kaikoura and are back on the road heading towards Christchurch.

We are driving on State Highway One  which follows the coast,  sometimes just meters from the sea  before cutting inland and weaving our way though hills until we reach the northern end of the Canterbury Plains.

We pass the “ghost trees”, a stand of trees that are completely bare of leaves… they have become a little bit of a landmark. Personally I think secretly that maybe we just passed the most flamboyant exhibitionists of the  nudist section of the tree world, because they certainly are rather a dramatic sight.

Since the highway isn’t  a multi-laned mega motorway we sometimes get stuck in a small queue of cars that are following a slower moving vehicle like the trailer in front of us.

Luckily Kiwi’s who are towing a boat, caravan, horse float for trailer generally use common sense and pull over periodically whenever there is a suitable spot to do so and let the traffic behind them pass and everyone we saw was patient and waited until this car with a trailer did just that a few kilometres further down the road.

Certainly tailbacks tens of kilometres long like those that can be considered normal in The Netherlands are unheard of here in New Zealand.

Granted, the Netherlands has over 17 million people crammed  in a country the size of the Canterbury province we are heading into and it’s road network is busy with traffic heading to and from various neighbouring counties as well, but seriously, if this is as bad as a traffic jam gets then we have nothing to grumble about.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 18, 2012

Kaikoura Icons, They Paint a Picture…

Filed under: ART,Mural,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Places and Sights,Traditional — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sitting eating our fish and chips in Hine’s Fish and Chip shop gives not just a view of the main street that leads to the waterfront, but also across the road, where we can see part of yet another mural.

Himself had dropped us off in the main street earlier and then gone to find a parking space and by happenchance the van was parked just around the corner from this mural so it wasn’t any distance out of our way to go and check this out.

The mural has been painted onto the side of a factory shop and depicts the iconic scenes and items for which Kaikoura is famous.

In the background of the mural stands the Seaward Kaikoura mountain range,  with part of the Inland Kaikoura mountain range peeking out from behind since both sets of mountains are parallel to each other.

In summer they are beautiful enough, but in winter with a capes of white snow down to low levels they are a stunning backdrop to this little town. In the extreme foreground are the round grey pebbles that make the beach-front here instantly recognisable.

On the right in for foreground a seal stares directly at us, behind the seal the flukes of a whale are emerging out of the water as the whale does a graceful salto in this southern corner of the Pacific Ocean.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sperm whales can be seen in Kaikoura all year round and they are frequently joined by Blue, Pilot, Minke , Beaked, Humpback, Southern Right whales and Orcas too.

To the right of the seal is a pendant in the shape of a Kowhaiwhai , which Māori believe represents the importance of strong and loving family ties. Historically were made out of whalebone but I think that cow bones are used these days.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Between the beach and the sea, to the left of the whale flukes is a  Māori pāua  necklace in the shape of a Koru, a shape that takes it’s inspiration from one of the yet unfurled fronds of the  New Zealand’s silver fern.

Nature knows how to mathematically and aesthetically impress: the form of the silver fern before it begins the unfolding process is a perfect example of the Golden Mean / Golden Ratio .

This is a mathematical ratio of 1 : 1.618, the proportions which are considered to be most one of the most aesthetically pleasing know to man since they represent perfection, perfect balance and divinity.

For Māori the form and symbolism the Koru has great spiritual importance and represents life, awakening, transformation, renewal, peace, harmony, tranquillity, and eternity.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In the background between the Koru and the large  pāua shell to it’s left,  dolphins play. Bottlenose, Common and Dusky dolphins are all found locally and if you are lucky you might even spot a Hectors dolphin (one of the world’s smallest and rarest) near the mouths of local rivers or by the Haumuri Bluffs.

At the far left of the mural is greenstone pendant,  known as  pounamu in Māori which is a type of  green nephrite jade found in New Zealand’s South Island.

Both greenstone and bone pendants have great spiritual significance too: they are meant to be worn against the skin where they can absorb the spirit of the wearer.The pendant is then passed down through generations, keeping connections with generations past alive and strong.

The twists in the pendant also have meaning: they represent the intertwining of two cultures,  friendships or lives. The loop is continuous so also represents eternal love, friendship or the lifelong bond between cultures.

The large  pāua shell in the mural is of course not just an icon of Kaikoura but also of New Zealand and I’ve written a little bit about it already here:   https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2012/07/21/new-763/

Finally, the seagull that wheels in the blue clear skies is generally typical of any beach anywhere in the world and here in Kaikoura is no exception…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 17, 2012

Seeking and Finding Hine’s…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The eatery we have been recommended to find in Kaikoura is  “Hine’s Fish and Chips”.

My Aunt tells me that they have enjoyed the reputation of being the best fish and chips in the area for decades from both locals and visitors and that in the past  a few international food writers have featured it in their magazines and books.

Although the signs on the top of the building  and items inside still pertain to Hines’s, after talking to the man who is serving our meal I found out that the place has been under new management for a good few years now.

I cheekily ask if there is any hope of getting their fantastic and famous batter recipe for their fish, and with a grin and a laugh the man politely refuses.

It was a long shot but I figure that if you don’t ask, you will never get anything in life so even though in reality I never expected him to say  “yes”,  it was worth a try.

The man who takes our order and serves us is really friendly and I’ve already got a very good impression of the place: any restaurant that warns customers that their order may take a little extra time because they are making your meal from scratch is definitely well worth frequenting.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

As usual whenever I’m reviewing  an eatery, I ask if they have a business card. Unfortunately they don’t have, and since we started at the wrong end of the shops and it took a bit of searching, I’ve added a photo that I took from a tourist brochure and added an arrow to mark roughly were Hine’s is located, should anyone who reads this ever wish to visit.

Since we are forewarned about the waiting time for our meal, Himself, the hitch-hiker guy we picked up outside Picton and who is our guest for lunch, and the kids are all busy looking around the main street whilst I sit and wait in the fish and chip shop.

We certainly weren’t disappointed with our lunch… we are (once again, we’ve been making a habit of this, this holiday) eating at an unconventional time since it’s three thirty in the afternoon (which also logically accounts for the ravenous appetites) and the fish and chips were one of the best I’ve ever tasted.

We will have no problems to return here on any future trips… Hine might not run this place any more but the quality of the product should ensure that the reputation of the place lives on.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The donations box for the local Rescue Helicopter…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 16, 2012

Having a Whale of a Time in Deep Water…

Filed under: ART,Mural,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Welcome to my retrospective journal as I detail our travels in New Zealand at the beginning of this year.

At this point of our trip we have left the stormy weather of the North Island behind and are heading south in the South Island along State Highway One.

We’ve been reminded by and Aunt and Uncle of a brilliant eatery that’s somewhere on the main street by the waterfront, and we are walking around trying to find it.

This place is the fabulously named “Pot Belly Bakery Cafe” and whilst it’s not actually the place we are looking for,  it has us stopped in our tracks as we investigate the amazing mural painted into the side of it.

It’s a little bit of a pity that there are shade umbrellas intruding into the image but you can at least get an idea.

The water is so well painted that it really feels like you can feel the cool water of the sea… but as for getting this close to a whale in real life… we can all only dream.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 15, 2012

Kaikoura: Where One Lobster Is Almost Whale Sized…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The kids have burnt off only a fraction of their excess energy after the seal-walk that wasn’t…  so we assure them that it’s not too far to Kairoura and that we will make a decent stop in the town.

It’s practically impossible to miss that Kaikoura is famous for Whale Watching and for Lobsters… like many things, when I was a kid it was a loosely kept secret, there were no queues, no mass tourism per se and if you “knew someone who knew someone” who had a big enough boat then there was a good chance you could catch a whale watching trip of your own.

I did, several times in my early twenties, and both time braved some pretty bad sea-sickness to try and catch a sight of a whale up close. I do have to admit that on the first trip out the sea was millpond calm and yes, I was still sea-sick.

On the second trip it started off calm enough but after being out for some hours it  started to come up choppy so we were forced to race at a rather breakneck speed to shore as the swells around us got bigger and bigger.

I didn’t feel so self conscious on that trip because  there was only one’of the half a dozen passengers on the boat who wasn’t sick, but by the looks of him that was only due to the steeliest determination I have ever seen, before or since.

I remember marvelling at how clamped shut his jaw was and how his face remained set in one stony facial expression the entire trip back.  Upon reflection as I write this down,  I now wonder how many days it might have taken before he could move his face again.

On both of these trips the skippers had put underwater microphones into the water as we bobbed out over the deep water so that we could listen for whale calls. We could hear them there were kind of clicking noises as the sounds were picked up (technology is sure to have advanced massively these days) and there had been sightings in both spots earlier in the day but sometime the whales take on air, make a very deep dive and stay submerged  for hours.

Like most things connected to natural events it’s largely a matter of luck, and on both occasions we didn’t have any.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

These days Whale Watching is the biggest commercial earner for this small town, I hear that the boats used these days are far bigger and that booking is essential in the summer high season. We find path that leads to a board-walk along this part of the beach.

Little Mr is the first to spot the whale watching helicopter (I’ve been on that too in the past, but that’s another blog post) and to come running up the beach as fast as his legs could carry him (not easy running on all these loose stones) to breathlessly demand that I take photographs please.

I obliged his request and then sat and sweated on the board-walk  for the safety of my DSLR when Kiwi Daughter took  her first  few photos of the surf  breaking on the shore. ( This stony beach and crutches being completely incompatible).

Himself and the kids collect a few stones from the beach to add to our “beach archive collection” and mindful of the impending excess baggage charges we would invariably incur if  no action was taken, Himself spent the next 15 minutes sneakily removing a sizeable quantity of very decent sized stones that Little Mr thought to be the most excellent specimens on the beach, and replacing them with their far tinier cousins.

The joke is that when I pulled the tiny plastic bag of stones out of the suitcase in The Netherlands, Little Mr proudly pointed out “his” stones, completely oblivious to the fact that the ones he pointed to were a tenth or a twenthieth of the size of the ones he chose on this Kaikoura beach.

One day when he’s older he will read this blog and realise he’s been hoodwinked all the while. I might have to tell him that I decided to clean them and that they shrank in the wash. Do you think he will buy that?

More squeals of excitement erupt when the kids spot a “shark” in the water… err no kids,  it’s not a shark, it’s a seal and I do my best to grab a photo but it keep diving and moving further away. Eventually the kids grow tired enough to realise that their stomachs are rumbling and our next task is to look for a very special and even (gasp) world famous eatery.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwi Daughter)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This isn’t the eatery we are looking for, but when they boast that the lobsters from Kaikoura are huge… they weren’t joking!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 13, 2012

The Sea Waves Back…

Filed under: ART,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The North Sea close the the Hague might get a bit of a decent surf up on some stormy days but since it’s all consists of sand, real “crashing” of waves as in the sights and sounds you get whilst standing on a rocky beach are impossible to find.

Here on the Kaikoura coast the foul weather has been left behind in Cook Straight and we are enjoying blissful sunshine and a very warm day.

(We learn later that our friends in Wainuiamata endured several days more of torrential downpour and high winds whereas here in the South Island the weather had been not only picture perfect for weeks but continued to be so for the week following too).

As is customary when travelling with kids in cars, the inevitable  little voice in the back seat piping up “I really need to pee pee” means parents begin scouring the road for suitable rest stops or at the very least suitable bushes or trees to pull over at. Luckily a small bay with a grove of long grass and easy off road parking appeared around the second corner so we pulled in and Little Mr. removed himself from the van in great haste and quickly made for the tall grass cover to relieve himself.

Kiwi Daughter and I have been doing really well with the arm bands but the stop is still a welcome break from being in motion, especially after the Ferry  so when she asks if she can step out and get some fresh air I suggest we all do.

Once again I’m interested in trying to catch some waves… not on a surfboard of course, but with the camera.

During this drive we were on the lookout for the baby seal ‘creche” at Ohau point  (the one we missed on the trip north) which I figured couldn’t be too much further down the coast… I was right and between each of  these two beach stops I managed to get some  good “wave study” photos for my arty album.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 12, 2012

A New View Around Every Corner…

Filed under: NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are back on the road again, this time travelling south between Picton  and Kaikoura.

We see not only the usual stuff: kilometres of landscape, bridges, the mainline train track and logging truck  but also a few bits for light entertainment (depending on who you are in our car).

For everyone: a giggle at the giant fibreglass hand  on top of a building holding a mobile  phone with a globe close by… for Little Mr. a police officer in his car who’s probably pulled the boatie up for speeding,  for me the bicycle atop the little shed-like building and the bright yellow sign “Peddlers Rest Cycle Stop”  and for himself the sea and beaches of the Kaikoura coast. The drive is by now becoming a relatively familiar one and we enjoy the relaxed pace.

It might be State Highway Number One, but even on New Zealand’s longest  highway, apart from a few passing lanes (mostly on hills so that you can overtake trucks)  you  are light-years away from a motorway experience so it’s far from mundane and there’s always a new view around the next corner.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 14, 2012

The Evidence Puts Little Mr. Against the Rails…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Little Mr. and Kiwi Daughter got talking about the train on the Kaikoura Coast last trip here, where I managed to stop and video one coming out of a tunnel  and racing past us.

Himself then mentioned that so far on our journey north we haven’t seen any  trains at all and we start an informal competition to see who might be the one to see a train first.

My challenge is to photograph one for Little Mr. who’s ademant that I “probably won’t be quick enough anyway” …

humph…charming isn’t he?

To prove that he is wee man of little faith I keep the camera ready on my lap and hope that the train doesn’t pass in any place where the road and track take different paths.

Close to Blenheim I am finially rewarded and after a frantic fuss getting the lens cap off in a hurry (Duh) I manage to get shots of the little freight tain coming towards us.

WHO said that Kiwidutch was slow on the draw? …No No, my son… I have evidence to prove it.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 12, 2012

Thanks to an Under Water Mountain Range…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now that we have seen some seals and taken a short  break…it’s time to  continue our journey northwards to Picton.

I took a few photos of Kaikoura when we passed through…   it’s little wonder that you can see references to whales and whaling here: because naturally the place is famous these days for its’ whale watching possibilities.

In other photographs I tied to capture the various hues of blues  and turquoise colours in the sea,  also a tell-tale signs that the whales are close by because the coastline here has some very special undersea geography that bring whale here in vast numbers.

If you were to set sail  east from Kaikoura and  ventured far far out into the Pacific ocean, you would eventually hit the Chatham Islands.

Now imagine a massive underwater mountain range, deep under the sea connecting the Chathams and New Zealand.  Basically this acts like an undersea wall, with very deep water on either side.

Plankton and other  microbial sea life get swirled around on the deep undersea currents and hit this wall, eddying up in a large circle and it’s this large whirlpool of food that brings whale here to feed.

The other piece of the undersea geography puzzle is that at Kaikoura the continental shelf  makes a sweeping dent from the Pacific  towards land, coming within three kilometres of the South Island so it’s possible to travel by boat the short distance from land and see whales in their deep water feeding areas.

What was one hundred years ago a whaling station for hunting whales is now a multi-million dollar tourist industry for whale watching.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The mountain range in front of us are called the Seaward Kaikoura’s…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

and the even bigger ones behind them are called the Inland Kaikoura’s…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Kaikoura is also famous for lobster…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The camera doesn’t do it justice, you have to see it to believe it….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The top of the South Island becomes drier and the distinctive rows of grapes tell you that you are entering the famous Marlborough wine region … the road winds onwards and we follow where it leads.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 11, 2012

Watch Out For the Babes in Charge…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You have joined me on a slightly retrospective tour of New Zealand … well at least part of New Zealand.

Family Kiwidutch were there December 2011-Janurary 2012 and after some weeks in Christchurch we are now heading to the North Island to visit more friends and family.

We know that just north of Kaikoura there are masses of seal colonies.

They are easy to spot, a quick look out of the window as you drive on State Highway 1 on the edge of the coast and you’ll probably see some lounging on the rocks close by, but even more interesting is that my uncle and aunt have told us that there’s a bay with a stream that runs unto it where for some unknown reason baby seals head inland up the stream.

The weird part of it is that no adult seals join them, it’s like a self-run baby-crèche.

Apparently sometimes the spot upstream is packed with baby seals, sometimes there are just two or three and sometimes there are none.  Why they band together in a group seperated from their parents like this is unknown, and like most things goverened by nature there is no guarantee that they will be there when you pass by.

Time of day and the season of the year have a lot to do with it, but even that appears to vary so basically the trick is to find the place, take a walk with your camera and keep your fingers crossed that it may be your lucky day.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We’ve worked out that the bay we need to find is either just before or just after Ohau Point which is a short drive north of Rakautara, which is about half way between Kaikoura and the Clarence River.

We are heading north, have passed Rakautara and see a sign with a seal on it… but on the other side of the road there is a train tunnel and no stream. Still, we stop and investigate and find that just off the road there is a small viewing area, some information signs and below us, seals galore.

There are adults and babies, and the more you looked the more you could see as what often first appeared to be bolders or black stones suddenly stretched and moved…more seals and we could count in the end.

Some prefered the shade and some were obviously serious sun lovers, and while we were a decent distance away for safety reasons and my camera did an O.K. job, this is a moment when a long telephoto extra-zoom lens would really have come in handy.

The break from sitting in the car did us good and everyone had fun spotting one seal after another. We piled back into the van and lo and behold, just around the next big bend in the road, there was the exact spot where the river and the seal baby-creche was… Duh! …sign posted and all.

But we need to get to Picton on time and we’ve just had a rest break so we aren’t stopping here now. The good news is that now that we know what the spot we are looking for looks like, we can stop there on the way back to Christchurch on the return leg of our journey. Let’s go seal spotting…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Where are we? North of Christchurch, East coast of the South Island…

(photograph edited © Kiwidutch)from TopoMap NZ CD Rom

(photograph © Kiwidutch) Map photographed from NZ lands and Survey Atlas

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Kaikoura Coast… (looking south)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

These rocks are on the extreme left of the previous photo…now look at the dark spot bottom right of the photo…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Let’s zoom in…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

… and zoom in even further… four baby seals in a rock pool of water …playing with seaweed?… three bigger babies and one really little one.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

View looking north…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The viewing area…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There are at least nine seals in the next photo…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

How on earth does he get up there?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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