Published: February 17th 2008January 24th 2008
The abundance of these Spiders webs made me uneasy, especially being on my own and the light failing, and more my occasion for falling on/into things.
Remember the last entry? Where we told you about our fun had in the children's play area on the flying fox? Well you can imagine the grins that emerged on our faces on reading that the biggest flying fox in New Zealand which was next to the biggest swingbridge in New Zealand, was a few kilometers up the road just near to Westport. We made haste towards Buller Gorge and happily presented our fare for a tandem ride on the fox which also granted us free entry to the goldmine area there, the fault line from a huge earthquake, and a chance to look at a big tree. My pre-fox giddiness reached a premature peak on my finding a mushroom I had decided was pure fiction - see the photo. I really thought that a red mushroom with white spots was a home for fairies only in special places in the world that humans didn't go to. Maybe the trail to the big tree site (the big tree was a swiz) had been that neglected by tourists so a fairy had completed a "self build" in those parts? (What an episode of Grand Designs that would be!) But it was a
highlight to my day, so it's mentioned here in the journal. Thom was surprised by this discovery too, but I am more than sure that he doesn't love fairies as much as I do. He did do a little "child-like glee dance" with me next to the mushroom, in our disbelief at finding the mushroom.
Love is....... when a man will dance with you and share your happiness about a mushroom.
With the mushroom glee, we plugged ourselves into the tandem fox and flew back to the entrance. It was great fun. Fast, provided great views, zippy, and all of the above.
Our day definately turned into a lucky one as that night under a very pink sunset, we spotted a Kiwi bird and then an alive possum (they are usually squished on the road) at our free rest-stop overlooking the ferocious Tasman.
Our next day of trucking on towards the glaciers was just as action packed. We checked out the Pancake Rocks AKA Punakaiki, which are flint-looking layered rocks coming out of the sea. Where the ocean has done it's erosion jobs the sea has formed lots of tiny holes in the rock and when the tide
is just right the holes become blow holes and the sea shoots up out of them. We saw this on a slight scale as the tide was not perfect, and it was a windy day, but I have since read that this phenomenon has occured in other spots in New Zealand and in some cases the sea eats away a little hole underground for some remarkable distances then shoots out the ground Kilometers in-land. It'd be like discovering the most disappointing spring ever, finding one of those. We passed through Greytown and looked in on the Jade Boulders in the gallery there and then were laughing most heartily at the following radio snippet which is a great example of rural Kiwi DJ-ing (to be read with your best strong Kiwi accent):
"You're with me XXXXX on ?FM, 60's, 70's and 80's. Today I saw a couple of Kea birds stapled to a road sign and for a second thought, those bloody kids!...... But then again, the birds could have already been dead and y'know, you can't blame a couple of young blokes for trying to nail a couple of birds can you.... Here's Jessica Simpson!"
As we'd made our way
Nelson Lakes NP.
to the glaciers, we started our day of tramping out towards Frans Josef Glacier. My feet were still minced from the Abel Tasman but I heroically completed the 2 hours it took to get to the terminus and we were both thoroughly impressed. It's quite difficult to put into words how interesting a big chunk of ice with water flowing out of it is, but even though we could not afford to get up onto the ice itself we were amazed by nature once again. There was a big line where vegetation completely stopped all around the river that flows out beneath the glacier (this water is a weird cloudy colour from the sediment it picks up on it's journey) and this line was where the glacier used to reach. There was also a sign at the car park that stated that in 1750-something the glacier was up to that point. These facts got us to thinking about the human causes for global warming and so on, and how seeing it's affects first hand was pretty frightening to be honest. We tried to take some solace in the information that explained how glaciers are constantly receeding and then growing, but
What is he doing? Nelson Lakes NP.
even with this in mind it doesn't seem to add up to take some blame away from our destructive species. This mood stayed with us all day and on to the Fox Glacier which also informed us of similar geological goings on. But I once again found myself reminicing to childhood days of sucking on fox's mints or fruits (the fruits were much better I think) and imagining where that polar bear on the wrapper in my little podgy hand lived. Lord! the power of branding on a young mind ey? And then here we were at Fox's Glacier. No polar bears to report on though...... I think that falls into the scrolls on Marketing Poetic Licencing.
I later nursed my feet and did my best at remaining open minded by the works of Jonathan Swift (the introduction was way too A Level for me, it seems to be paying off now though) whilst Thom covered his entire body with a sheen of insect repellent to protect against the ravishing capabilities of more Sand flies as he went to photograph Lake Matheson, which promises rewarding reflections of the Southern Alps. You can see the fruits of his labours right here......he
The sound of silence.
Even in NZ, where nature is king, and quiet is easily found, the silence that was present here was unbelievable! Nelson Lakes NP.
doesn't think they are "much cop" but I'm planning on making him a pretty penny in the postcard business on our return. Thoughts and feelings on these most welcome as usual.
There are more photos below