Thursday, 20 December 2007

From South to North...

As Mark wheeled out from Kaikoura this morning, the 21st of December, so my stint as guest editor started. Mark had just over 100 miles to go to the ferry at Picton, when he crossed from the South to the North Island.

Hopefully the weather will be kinder today than it was yesterday. Mark reported over seven hours of rain, probably the greeny (?) shading on the rainfall radar of the New Zealand Met Service image below.
Image: New Zealand Met Service

Mark is travelling through the Canterbury and Marlborough districts today. The landscape is similar to that of the previous day: mountainous interior and a glorious undulating coast road just a short distance from the sea.

One of the first major features will be the crossing of the Clarence River. This is another of those spectacular braided rivers which Mrs. V has been mentioning for a couple of days now. I remember a textbook which we used for my 'A' level over 25 years ago now having a spectacular image of the Rakaia river on the front.

One of the things that I picked up from the image is that right at the point where the river should meet the sea, there is a lagoon (marked as Lake on the Google Map above), and the river has carved a new route to the sea further south. This delta is a constantly shifting feature. It's possible that there may well be flecks of gold amongst the silt, because the hills have attracted gold prospectors for over 150 years from the early 180os onwards, seeking the motherlode.

Beyond the river, Mark would have cycled towards Parikawa where he would have been cycling on a series of coastal terraces produced and uplifted during the Pleistocene.

North from Parikawa, Mark could, if he were feeling brave, have taken the road to Valhalla !

He may then pause at Kekerengu, where there is apparently a tea room and restaurant that is highly recommended. Flickr user Hot Meteor posted a picture of a rather delicious looking sandwich he enjoyed there...OK, lunch break over...

Beyond Waranui, the road then turns to the North and away from the ocean as it approaches the district of Marlborough.

Lake Grassmere is known for its salt manufacturing and the Google Earth image shows a remarkable geometry to the area. The Te Ara: Encyclopaedia of New Zealand has a wealth of information on salt manufacturing. Sea water contains 2.8% salt, and the concentration is slowly increased through evaporation and concentration ponds.
The image below is from Flickr User Taniwhaiti and made available under Creative Commons license. It shows one of the salt pyramids which begin to appear during the summer months.Kaparatehau is the Maori name for the region, which apparently means "wind ruffled waters".

This is a connection with King's Lynn as the town was also involved in salt making, and salt was part of the town's early wealth: the Lynn in question was a 'lake' or lagoon which no longer exists.

This week we have seen the announcement that Peter Jackson is going to be involved in the making of 2 films based on JRR Tolkien's "The Hobbit". Peter Jackson was of course the director of the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy. New Zealand had a tourist bonanza as a result of the filming of these movies. There is a rather large map of the FILMING LOCATIONS, which shows that once Mark gets to the North Island, he will be passing several of the locations. I'll return to that theme later.

As Highway 1 approaches Picton the landscape changes dramatically, and the road drops down onto the flat Wairau plain as it passes through Blenheim: the largest settlement for some time. The wine industry continues to be important here. There are also several salmon farming operations, including one in Tory Channel, and the hills inland have ski tourism.

The Wairau road then travels into Picton.
I was intrigued by Nelson Square which then led on to a series of very familiar road names. It reminded me of one definition of suburbia which I like: where the developers chop down the trees and then name the streets after them...
The ferry from Picton operates via Marlborough Sound. There are 3 vessels operating the route: the Kaitaki, Arahura and Aratere. The ferry takes 3 hours to cross the Cook Strait before arriving in Wellington. It is operated by INTER ISLANDER, and has been described as "one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world" (which certainly beats the local King's Lynn ferry)

There is also a connection with Captain James Cook and King's Lynn. In 1770, James Cook 'discovered' (always a contentious concept) the strait and realised that New Zealand was split into two main islands. On his next voyage, which started in 1772, one of his crew was a George Vancouver from King's Lynn (the town's shopping centre is named after him) George Vancouver went on to become more famous himself.

There is a VIRTUAL JOURNEY that you can take on the ferry company's website.

On arrival, a supporter of the journey, Jonathan Kinsella of the British High Commission has apparently arranged some media coverage, and is also arranging for a free ferry crossing.

I have several friends in the North Island of New Zealand, so expect a few of their images over the next few days. Here is one detail from the ancient forests which have been a backdrop to the recent days...
Image by Simon Hathaway.

If you have any comments on the post, or suggestions for the next few days, please add them as comments.
I look forward to following Mark for the next week.
Alan Parkinson
AKA "Mrs V"


Anonymous said...

Hi I took the photo of the wood and black volcanic sand, it was taken on Karekare beach,about an hour North West of Auckland, on the same day we found a stranded man o war and saw Blue penguin tracks,It's a wild place and worth a visit, not a beach for family swimming though the undercurrents being dangerous,Simon Hathaway.

Mrs V said...

Thanks for letting me use the picture Simon. I'll be adding more of your pictures over the next week or so to highlight some of the remarkable landscapes that Mark is about to cycle through, and buildings like the Tirau dog...