Looking towards Porter's Pass skifield
It was beginning to snow when I left Hamner Springs yesterday and today the Southern Alps are getting another blanket of snow. I am happy to be writing this from the warmth of my house in Christchurch, with a roaring log fire to keep me company.
It was a joy to reconnect with the Southern Alps of New Zealand again after almost two years away. That spiny backbone that stretches down almost the full length of New Zealand, dividing West and East in a most distinctive manner, separating the wetter west coast from the drier east coast. There are only three motorable roads across the Southern Alps, Arthurs Pass, Lewis Pass and far to the south, Haast Pass. Apart from mountains, I love visiting river mouths and see the power of river meeting sea. I managed to see the mouths of the Hokitika and Grey rivers and spent time gazing at the Waimakariri, Taramakau, Grey and Hokitika Rivers.
View from near Mt. White Bridge.
I left of Monday day with my nephew Paul, who is about to leave for Pakistan to work for the Red Cross. We drove across the Canterbury Plains, and climbed up to Porter’s Pass onto that upland Alpine plateau. The winter sun draws out the earthy colours of the tussock, barren brown slopes up to sparkling snow-line and sculptured basins leading to piercing summits and a deep blue sky. Such beauty inspires awe in me.
At White’s Bridge we stopped to gaze at the braided Waimakariri and the peaks at the head of the valley. Passed Klondike corner where I have spent many nights coming off climbs and during the Coast to Coast endurance event.
Paul with the Waimakariri river in the background
Winding up to Arthurs Pass township The clusters of beech forest are impressive as the peaks on either side of the road hemn you in.
We drove to the Rolleston Otira Face lookout and watched the cloud roll down from the summit down that fluted face. I recall climbing the Otira Face in 1969 with late Keith McIvor. Later we traversed on to Philistine an enjoyable traverse in those days. Then again in 1995 climbing Rome Ridge with Bruce Watson and Bruce White, and descending by the Otira slide.
Paul took this photo of me while walking up the Temple Basin track
The waterfall from the track to Temple Basin
I did some skiing up here in the 90's and asked Myles Mackintosh if I sould use his photo: "Kilmarnock Spur" on route to Mt Davie (2280m) to show the great skiing at Arthur's Pass.
The new viaduct below Arthur's Pass which cuts 10 minutes off the time
The Hokitika River
I visited the Hokitika River which I rate as one of the most interesting in terms of history and raw beauty. Later that day I also visited the mouth of the Grey River and watched the mighty river pour into the Tasman Sea. I thought of those countless ships that were wrecked crossing the bar.
This shows the Hawea soon after she ran aground at the entrance to the Grey River at 1.30 p.m. on 30 October 1908. There was a heavy swell, and the crew was in imminent danger of being swept overboard. A line was cast on board by rocket and, as shown in this photo, the crew were brought ashore one at a time. The last man landed at 4.15 p.m., and soon after the Hawea broke up.
Murray and Pat Reedy
While in Greymouth I popped into see Pat and Murray Reedy who run Silk Road Adventures from their home south of Greymouth. They are a warm and innovative couple and few, if any, independent operators know Central Asia as well they do. They have a decade of hands on experience behind them and can deliver quality journeys at the right price. I was one of their trip leaders when they first started out and led a journey through Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, looking at the fabled cities and following the Silk Road. So I know first hand the emphasis they put on quality control and how hard they work to ensure that their products are amongst the best designed, planned and supported available.
You get plenty of choice when you travel with Murray and Pat, and can work with them to design your own itinerary or join one of a select small group. I am working with them on a trip I plan to do to Kashgar next year from Pakistan, to China and then on to visit my wife's parents in Kazakhstan.
With Pat and Murray's trips, you can choose to undertake one of their "great overland journeys" and you can join them or mix and match to suit your own interests from the itineraries that they have selected. If you want to learn more about Murray and Pat have a look at their website.
I visited Brian Ward (l) who runs Teichelmann's Bed and Breakfast in Hokitika
While I was in Hokitika I popped in to see Brian and Francis Ward who own Teichelmann's Bed and Breakfast using the old surgery of Dr. Ebenezer Teichelmann.
Teichelmann’s Bed & Breakfast offers a glimpse into New Zealand West Coast heritage, featuring fascinating memorabilia from days of pioneering exploration into the Southern Alps. Dr Ebenezer Teichelmann was a renowned mountaineer, photographer and conservationist and had this historic house built as his first home and medical rooms in 1910. I lived on the West Coast for some years and I researched extensively Dr. Ebenezer Teichelmann and published a book in 2006 on him.
Looking towards the Southern Alps from near Maruia Springs.
On Tuesday I drove from Greymouth up the Grey Valley, Springs Junction to Maruia Springs. Driving along the road through the Lewis Pass from Springs Junction to Hamner Springs is a scenic feast – rivers, mountains, mountain tarns and native New Zealand beech forests. We spent a night at Hamner Springs and then back to Christchurch yesterday. Thanks Paul for your superb driving and great company.
Later this afternoon I head off to Timaru where my eldest daughter and my three grand children live.I hope to head off to Mount Cook Aoraki early next week, weather permitting. As I write the snow continues to fall in the Southern Alps bringing much needed snow which will later fill up our hydro electric lakes.