Local Heart, Global Soul

October 31, 2018

The Rapids Are Here Somewhere…

Filed under: NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,West Coast /Westland Province — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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New Zealand is known for it’s extreme sports. Bungy Jumping took it’s cue from one of our island neighbours: Vanuatu where traditionally it’s done with vines from the jungle and a rickity tower also tied with vines. . A.J. Hacket incorporated bundles of elastic, harnesses for feet and torso, and tradition turned adventure sport entered the western world. Since then New Zealand has led the way in ingenious, scary, but safe ways to get an adrenaline rush. River rapids and river boating might be one of the few to have not originated here but the country does have some of the world’s best rivers to do it on. I caught sight of these paddlers setting out for a river trip.

The South Island is known for it’s “braided” rivers, some of the branches are shallow, others deep and very fast moving, don’t let the tranquil look of the water fool you, you need a an experienced guide here because rain from higher up in the mountains can swell these rivers in a matter of hours into raging torrents. I got some aerial photographs of one of these “braided” rivers, (the Waimakariri River just outside of Christchurch) in this post:     I’m leavin’ on a Jet Plane, Don’t know when I’ll be back again… , the photographs you need are several pics in. When snow melt or even a decent storm happens in the Alps then these rivers can be solid water from bank to bank and I know of at least one occasion that the  Waimak river was “in flood” to such an extent that the water was lapping over the road deck of the bridge.  The temperature on the West Coast when I took these photographs was almost 30 C  (86 F) but these waters are glacier fed and icy cold, and the speed of the water in some of these branches can easily knock you off balance. These rafters are certain to find some adventure, and some fast rapids can literally just be around the corner…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 3, 2018

A Cairn To Inform, So That Rocks Do Not Build Into Walls To Divide Us…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My father is a fisherman, well sort of a “semi-retired’ one these days since he no longer goes out very much, but one thing I have heard him complain about for years is the amount of irrigation water farmers do and want to take more of, from the big Canterbury rivers each year, regardless of how high or low the river levels are.

River levels are partly determined by rainfall in the Southern Alps, partly by small springs and the rest by snow melt, but as everyone knows, weather patterns have not recently been what they were a century or even half a century ago.

I had thought that this was an old issue and one that had been long since sorted, until I heard about the sharp rise of dairy farming in the South Island.

Historically most of the South Island’s dairy industry has been located in Southland, at the bottom of the island where copious rainfall grows lush grass for the livestock, so I assumed that expansion had taken place here.

Instead I was horrified to hear that it was taking place in the Mckenzie Country, where sunshine hours abounded but in the driest area of the South Island. Where was the water coming from for pastureland? It’s being taken from the rivers.

It’s being taken not just in small quantities either, it appear that the farming industry is hell-bent on using every last drop of water if they see a short term profit in it.

For me this goes deeply against the grain, my ideology here is very much aligned with that of Maori; we should stewards of the land and not masters of it. We should surly use resources wisely and leave the earth in good shape for future generations, or most preferably; in even better shape.

Not only is the McKenzie Country area one of outstanding natural beauty, it also an important one for tourism and furthermore has it’s own ecosystems, flora and fauna, and weather patterns that it is famous for.This is the area of New Zealand closest to my heart and the thought of it being messed with like this makes me very angry. It was therefore to my horror that I read the messages attached to this cairn in Christchurch’s Cathedral Square. I can but hope that the environmentalists and people supporting them can persuade the government to overturn this policy in farming that can only harm the natural landscape and the countries long term future.

I’m not sure if readers find the text on the plaques easy to read or not: I’ve written it out in typed text to make it easier for anyone who may find it difficult.

‘In order to advance the massive irrigation schemes proposed for the Canterbury Plains, the hard won conservation orders on our headwaters have been disestablished, our elected Enironment council have been diembodied, and our right to appeal to the Environment court has been removed. Indeed, Cantabrians are now subject to laws seperate fom any other province of our country: This is a breach of the Bill of Rights and its principles of natural justice. It is the will of the people who built this cairn that it remains here until democracy entire is returned to us.”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A visiting tour group getting information about the history of Canterbury, Cathedral Square etc…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

” A cairn by tradition is a mound of stones at the edge of a river by which travellers in the high country indicate a place of departure and a place to regain the shore. This cairn is constructed of boulders from the Rakaia, Selwyn, Waimakarari and Hurunui rivers and has been placed here by citizens concerned that democratically evolved protections of these waterways have been broken. This cairn is a marker, it marks the river of unease that presently flows through our community, a river whose turbulent waters threaten to divide us.”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

February 26, 2014

Trading Old Style Grandeur For Modern Day Commercial Grey…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Generally where you have commercial river traffic you have to have commercial buildings and warehouses for them to load up from and to deliver to.

On the Dutch river Zaan some of these commercial building are over a century old, due to the Netherlands  long history of commercial sea trade.

We explain some of the signage to our visiting friend “Velvetine”, for instance “Rijstpellerij”  is where rice is husked. We note the old fashioned way the “ij”  has been written, the “i”  has  been shortened and the “j” stylised and together this typically Dutch letter combination could be mistaken as a “U” to non-Dutch eyes.

Some of the buildings are plain in an “industrial grey” sort of way, others, generally the older buildings sport the air of grandeur and ornate decoration that was standard around the beginning of the 1900’s. A few large merchant houses stand close by, also beautiful pieces of architecture in their own right. The rain is making photography a little bit of a hit and miss affair but at least as the tour comes to a close the skies appear to be clearing just a little and we hope to have missed the worst of the bad weather. We have enjoyed the boat tour but now it’s time to pull back in to the Zaanse Schans boat dock and disembark…

(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)

(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)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zaanse_Schans

September 2, 2012

Not Quite the Regular Way to Catch a Train…

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

We leave the winding road of the Akatarawa Valley Hill road and  join State Highway slightly north of  Upper Hutt.

In 1855 New Zealand’s biggest (recorded) earthquake occurred here and some 5000 square kilometres of land was lifted out of the sea, especially along the  coast line.

It’s hard to believe that before the quake the quickest and easiest way to travel between the Hutt Valley and Wellington was by sea and that the river was deep enough for tall masted sailing ships to navigate a good distance up the valley.

The quake lifted the land so high that it reduced the depth of the river dramatically, putting an abrupt end to  transport by sea, but on the positive side there was now space for a road around the western edge of the harbour, which today has evolved into a busy motorway and railway link that connects to the rest of the North Island. In the meantime Upper Hutt and surrounding communities became commuter towns that serviced Wellington so there are many commuter trains on these rails too.

Much to our children’s delight we spy one such commuter  train going down the valley alongside us. The kids urge us to “catch it” and Himself  in their eyes, heroically managed the task but we didn’t let them in on the secret that  the train had a slower speed limit on the rails than we did on the highway and that even driving well within our limit, that with clear road in front of us it was inevitable that we would catch it anyway.

Gotta keep the mystery of childhood alive don’t you think? Why spoil the adventure and the thrill of the “chase” ?

We are heading back to our friends house in Wainuiomata for a few days and so later as we take a short-cut through Petone we are treated to the dazzling sight of one of the biggest Pōhutukawa trees I have ever seen. In full flower it stood like a fiery beacon and made a stunning neighbourhood landmark. We  spent one night  with our friends here on the way northwards in December, now it’s time for a proper visit.

(Here’s a link to more information about the 1855 quake:    http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/historic-earthquakes/3 )

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(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)

December 14, 2011

An Unexpected Wilderness…

Filed under: GERMANY,Places and Sights,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Just a simple photographic post today…

Himself and I managed a weekend in the German town of Kleve a few years ago and when we went for a late afternoon walk around the central part of town which also included the large hill there the castle stands.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that on the back side of the hill, there was a large forest like area with a river running though it.

I love it when I go somewhere and discover some unexpected wilderness where I expected to have only found suburbs.

This place is surely a wonderful asset, and even though it’s March,  the days are short and cold, we still saw people jogging and walking here.

I can imagine it would be a great place for a picnic and forest walks  in summer and best of all…

…it’s just  literally minutes from the town centre.

May 2, 2011

Whoa! …A Bus Drives straight into the River Maas!

Filed under: Places and Sights,THE NETHERLANDS — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Whilst we were on our tour  boat waiting to start the tour of Rotterdam Harbour, we happened upon an extraordinary sight, a large yellow bus in the Maas River where it connects to the inner harbour!

Everyone in our group rushes to the side of the boat to look, there are people on board the bus and it is half way submerged … it doesn’t look good at all.

But this is no ordinary bus and no, it’s not sinking at all.

In fact it’s carrying passengers, going about it’s business  and motoring along at a steady speed in the water, as buses do. (ok, ok,  granted, usually they don’t do their motoring in the water).

This bus is very different to all other buses in one very large respect, because it’s  amphibious and is especially and uniquely designed to drive both on land and in water.

We saw it first as it surprised and amazed us by “sailing” (? …”sailing a bus” doesn’t quite sound right does it?)  past us in the River, and later in the day as we were coming out of the Maritime Museum we serendipitously chanced upon it again as it’s passenger pick-up and return point is by co-incidence just a few meters from the Maritime Museum entrance.

This means I was lucky enough to get both water and land photos of  it and have already chalked it up as an excellent activity to take some of our expected summer visitors on.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 19, 2010

Oops,We are in Spain but We’ve Left the Kids Behind in Portugal!

Filed under: PORTUGAL — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Parents who travel  with younger children in car for longer journeys soon realise that you have to do quite a lot to keep them occupied and entertained.

A ratty disinterested child can quickly sour the mood of the whole car and turn your driving adventure into a nightmare.

Silly games are one of the best and most simple aids… the sillier the better.

Use whatever is to hand going out of the window, a game of reverse “I Spy”… where the kids are rewarded for “finding”  silly things like a cow wearing a straw  sun-hats.

They may spot the cow and the straw hat separately of course, and you can add high heeled shoes, a pink skirt,  striped pants, a sun umbrella, a jet ski, or whatever weird and wonderful combinations you or your kids can think of.

Todays silly game is ” Oops we’ve left the kids behind in another country!” It’s a game that doesn’t last long but it does raise a laugh.

We are crossing from Portugal to Spain by bridge over the Minho  River, and somewhere in the centre of the river is the actual border between the two countries.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is of course the European Union so there are no customs posts, just a sign at the beginning of the bridge  to tell you that you’ve entered Spain (or Portugal if you are travelling in the other direction).

Yes, I know that the “Espagnha” is crossed out on the sign and ” Galiza” is spray painted underneath, that’s because this, the Galician region of Spain is partly self governed but many aspire to complete autonomy.

This is a small and very literal sign of their unwillingness to call their region “Spain” and all the local signs on the various Portuguese routes into Galicia that we saw have been marked in a similar manner.

So, we use one of Little Mr’s toy cars and a crack in the pavement before the car ride to illustrate the imaginary line in the centre of the river that is the border.

We show him that if we were to stop the car in the very centre of the bridge then in theory,  Mama and Papa in the front seats would be in Spain, but that the kids in the back seat would still be in Portugal.

Kiwi Daughter “gets it” right away, Little Mr. is still a tad unsure…

So, we are in the car a short time after the demo with the toys, and approaching the bridge that will take us to Spain.

Himself and I start with ” Hey we are in Portugal, we are in Portugal, …but look at the sign,  we are almost in Spain!”,  (we go over the idea of where the “border” is, one more time for Little Mr’s benefit) .. we intensify the pattern as we progress over the bridge, until the point when we are in the middle, then we change to an alarmed “Oh Oh, My Children, where are they?  I am in Spain and I have left them behind  in Portugal!”

This is followed by a relieved, ” Oh Thank Goodness they have caught up, they are now in Spain with us too, Hey we are all in Spain!!!” …. By now Kiwi Daughter is laughing because she got it and Little Mr is laughing because Kiwi Daughter and everyone else is.

So, this is the Kiwidutch Family ” We’ve Left the Kids behind in another Country” Game… of course if you can count the actual nano second moment that it happened then good luck to you… and I can only hope to have inspired you to invent equally silly games for car travel.

We are in Portugal, We are in Portugal….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are in still in Portugal, We are still in Portugal….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are getting closer, very close now…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Mama and Papa are in Spain, but AGGGGHHHH the kids are still in Portugal!!! (cue the giggles…)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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