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Published: October 1st 2020
The ‘weather bomb’ continued overnight with all three elements,wind,rain and thunder continuing although by the time daylight was making an impact on the day there did appear to be an easing of the conditions.
One thing that had changed overnight was the wind direction which had moved from the west/norwest to the south and the air temperature outside had a definite chill to it.
The radio news had details of a number of road closures including Highway 63, because of snow ,which we would eventually get to in our drive to St Arnaud today.This put some doubt around us reaching our destination but there was really no option but to head south back to Westport and see what the road closure news by the time we got there around midday.
At least at Westport we had a few more options for a last minute change in accommodations if we couldn’t make it through the Buller Gorge to Nelson Lakes.
Being Tuesday, the National Superannuants,like two of our party of six,were out in force at New World Supermarket,Westport where we stocked up for the next few days as opportunities to shop at a supermarket will be limited.
We left the rain behind as we followed the highway into the Buller River Gorge.
The Buller River which rises at Lake Rotoiti,where we were heading for,is the last of New Zealand’s major rivers not to be dammed for electric power to be generated.Because of this, the bush scenery in the gorge is as it has been for many years,untouched.
A ‘boot’ lunch at a roadside pull off looked a possibility with trees alongside the river hardly moving indicating there was little or no wind to chill us down as we sat on the edge of the boots of both vehicles which are hatchbacks.However,all wasn’t as it looked and after a few minutes and a ham filled bread roll later we were back in the vehicles and on our way with the car heater tweaked to warm us up.
We took the obligatory stop just beyond Hawks Crag,a rock overhang,that used to be a problem to taller vehicles before it was reduced back so that trucks could get past.With the road width at little more than one lane it would take a massive job to remove the rock overhang completely to expand the road width to two
Carrying on towards and then through Inangahua we were on the lookout for a view across the Buller River where a magnitude 7.1 earthquake in 1968 left a split scar on the hillside where the main Apline fault line runs.
However,there was no warning that the site was coming up and as we arrived at the road sign indicating where the site was on the other side of the river it was too late to stop and little room to turn around as we drove on.
By the time we reached Murchison there was snow on the surrounding hills but none down at the level of the highway and so the thought of road closure ahead disappeared.
We switched off highway 6 to number 63 and the road gradually climbs towards the Nelson Parks Lakes of Rotoiti and Rotoroa and our next accommodation at the historic Tophouse Guest House,although we have two cottages that are behind the 1886 building which was built as a stopping point on the trip between Nelson and Westport/Greymouth/Christchurch by the inland route..
It had been a relative long,although easy, drive from Karamea and we would be saving ourselves until
tomorrow to take on one or two of the nature walks in and around National Park at Lake Rotoiti.
There was time for the boys to get out into the area around the cottages and throw some snow that had fallen overnight,and was still on the ground in the 4C temperature, at each other before dinner.
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