Published: March 6th 2012March 6th 2012
First a couple of corrections to previous blogs. Connie tells me that the guide at the High Country Farm near Queenstown was Lindsay not Leslie. Sorry about that. Also, yesterday I posted a picture of a one way bridge without much of an explanation. It turns out the road south from Greymouth was one of the last sections of highway completed (in the early ‘60s) due to the small number of people living on the west coast of NZ. Therefore, to save some money the Government decided that all the rivers could be crossed one car at a time. Since there are lots of rivers that means there are lots of one way bridges. After crossing a number of them on a first come basis, Connie figured out that there were some rules for the bridges. At each bridge either north-bound or south-bound traffic was given the right of way. We couldn’t tell for sure how the lane was selected, but it might have to do with which way had the better view of the oncoming traffic. We were able to navigate the bridges and continue north to the Wilderness Lodge at Lake Moeraki.
We arrived at the Lodge late
in the afternoon and were greeted by Anne, one of the owners. She was checking in another couple, Bill and Karen from Columbus OH. Small world. After they got situated she gave us the run-down. Each day there are two or three complementary activities and a number of bigger extra cost excursions from the Lodge. Generally the activities involve a walk through the rain forest, along the river or the Tasman Sea coast. The first (free) activity was a guided walk through the forest and a feeding of the eels in the river and got started about an hour after we arrived. So off we went and learned a bit about the trees and plants, and got to the riverbank with our guide, Nile. He had brought along some scraps of salmon from the kitchen and after dipping it in the water for a couple minutes the eels started to appear. Come to find out they will actually come out of the water after food so pretty soon there was a slithering mass of hungry fish at our feet. Connie was brave and offered a piece of salmon which quickly got snatched away. I don’t know who was quicker, the
eel getting the food, or Connie backing away. With the food gone, it was back to the Lodge for a little talk on the history of the area and the lodge with the other owner Gerry (Anne and Gerry are not only co-owners, but are husband and wife) and then a very nice dinner. Following desert, Gerry led us a few hundred meters north on the main road to see the glow worms. We couldn’t get a picture, but they are like lightning bugs except fixed in one position in the trees. Glow worms are also much smaller than lightning bugs and use the light to attract food as opposed to attracting a mate. This led Gerry to opine that Kiwis were more interested in a good meal while all Yanks thought of was sex. Normally this walk also includes looking at the night sky, but there was a heavy cloud cover and no stars were visible.
Unfortunately, those clouds turned into a constant rain by the next morning. We both decided to hold off on any of the activities in the hopes the weather would improve. Unfortunately it didn’t, but by mid day, we took a self guided
walk along the river and to the Lake. Late in the afternoon Connie decided to take the afternoon rainforest walk with Gerry. He is a professional biologist so she learned a lot. There weren’t any other activities that evening, but although we were checking out the next day, we could still participate in the 7:30am kayak exploration of the Moeraki River and Lake Moeraki. So both Pat and Connie loaded into kayaks and with some fits and starts went off on the water. After we got the hang of it, it was great fun and a beautiful trip. We were able to watch the sun come up over the mountains and there was barely a hint of breeze on the water. We saw a number of brown trout jump out of the water after insects, two pairs of black swans flying over the Lake, and a couple kinds of shore birds including one called a fern bird that Gerry was able to paddle within ten feet of. Later said he had never gotten that close to one before. All to soon it was back to the Lodge for a final breakfast and then back on the road bound for the glacier country about 100km north of the Lodge. We did notice it was pretty hard to hold our arms up on the steering wheel after the morning’s paddle, but otherwise we had no regrets on the stay and we would hardily recommend the Lodge to anyone traveling to the South Island.