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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Visited the South Island, NZ for 18 days late Sept thru early Oct, landing in Christchurch, but the freezing rain was blowing sideways that day so we headed NW up the hills to our hosts' house in the small town of Oxford, sorta in the eastern-middle part of the island; then N to Hanmer Hot Springs; then drove W thru Arthur's Pass to Greymouth on the west coast; North from there to the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki; On to Cape Foulwind / Tauranga Bay seal colony; On to the old Denniston coal mine; Then back south to the Franz Josef glacier; Back east to Oxford via the KiwiRail scenic train ride; Then down into and around Christchurch ... saw the mass destruction from their 2011 earthquake :( Rode the gondola overlooking, well, everything, then down and around Lyttelton, their major sea port.

Typical very large tree outside Hanmer Hot Springs water park. They're trying to lock hands all the way around it ... there are 2 kids on the other side of the tree, too!


Typical South Island NZ views:




Castle Hill on the way to Arthur's Pass ... sorry, Castle Hill is behind me in this pic. This is looking from Castle Hill back toward the parking area:


OK here's Castle Hill ... a bunch of huge, smooth rocks you can climb all over. Must be 100' from the high point to the low:




 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Our hosts' mini van that hauled us all around, parked here at the Bealey hotel on the way to Arthur's Pass:


Another typical NZ view ... well, OK, if you've got your eye laying right on the railroad track!


Beach on the West Coast, ~10 miles N of Greymouth between Ninemile and Barrytown ... We're observing all the marine life in the thousands & thousands of little ponds on the rocks. Some crazy looking creatures in there:






A look up the beach the other direction (N) ... water is very cold!


The seal colony at Cape Foulwind ... sorry I'm not showing any actual seals, but they blend in so well with the rocks you can barely see them, and so they ocean and landscape end up making better pics:


 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
More of the seal colony at Cape Foulwind:


Path to the seal colony over-look deck ... OK, I gotta have a decent pic of a seal in my pics!








The old Denniston coal mine. A lot of guys died at these coal mines over the decades. A lot of guys. And they have all the figures on it posted in various spots around the place. Not a great place to work:


Scary looking deck-to-nowhere over-looking the old coal car tracks that hauled the coal from the mine on the mountain down to the coast:


Walking cows across the road. Note the official 'cow' warning sign on the truck at right!
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
The Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki ... got a few shots, then my camera battery died :( I learned the hard way not to trust it to last more than 1 day:




Footpath to the Franz Josef glacier ... that's it, the little white block of ice in the center of the pic sorta "pouring" thru the valley there just over the trees ... hard to see in this pic:


Waterfall on the way to the glacier:


... closer yet to the glacier ... but this seems to be the best pic I got of it :(:


Looking downstream at the glacier's river bed. Was dreary and light rain in this area this day, but it kinda seemed to go with the whole idea of a glacier:


Here's a little, 'mini glacier' I guess, just off the designated trail. They have a designated trail with warning signs because visitors keep going under the ropes off the path and getting killed by falling ice and rocks. They've gone as far as to make permanent signs out of newspaper articles detailing some of these deaths, with pics:
 

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Good to see you had a fun trip.

We stayed at the Japanese Resort in Hanmer Hot Springs on our first day, I think - about 3-4 hour's drive from Christchurch.

Franz Josef must've been quite a sight to see. Did you climb up the mountain path to get a good view?

The sea is very cold and often has very strong currents too... dangerous to swim in - most places! :eek:
 

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The pancake rocks were cool to see for us, I especially liked the pancake basins... Couldn't help thinking it would be a very cool place to build a restaurant (With glass walls) inside.
Not enough population to make it a worthwhile project though (Which is probably a good thing!).
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
The scenic train ride between Greymouth and Christchurch stops at Arthur's Pass, which has a 5.3-mile long train tunnel at nearby Otira, and when the train came out of the tunnel, it was snowing. It's a good mid-point place to stop the train and let people get out for a few minutes to look around ... and take pics of falling snow:






Typical views out the train windows ... the snow at Arthur's Pass was gone pretty quickly once the train pulled away:








The train's caboose is open-air, so no windows to block your view ... but also no windows to block the cold air! And MAN was that wind cold! Nothing a neck gaiter, gloves and ski cap couldn't fix, though:
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
...

Franz Josef must've been quite a sight to see. Did you climb up the mountain path to get a good view?
Miguel ... They don't let you get anywhere near the glacier anymore, not without a guide anyway, I guess. The designated, roped off path now stops well back from the glacier itself. You can see its ominous-ness, but can't touch it. Or get crushed by pieces falling off it :eek: Our friends did tell us that they had been able to get much closer the last time they were there, some years ago (5 I think).

The sea is very cold and often has very strong currents too... dangerous to swim in - most places! :eek:
Yeah! Not the place to go for a casual swim! Very cold water; rip currents; rocks; sharks ...

The pancake rocks were cool to see for us, I especially liked the pancake basins...
I kept thinking that if somebody fell into those basins, they'd be a goner! With all the large waves and rocks, I don't know somebody would survive.

Couldn't help thinking it would be a very cool place to build a restaurant (With glass walls) inside.
Not enough population to make it a worthwhile project though (Which is probably a good thing!).
Yeah, neat idea. And it seems some do try to make a go of commercial places, but that seems like a recipe for financial ruin to me ... since like you said, prob not enough visitors ... which you're right is def a good thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
More train pics:


Walking between two of the train's cars:




The train dropped us off at the Springfield train station, since we were staying in Oxford, about 40 mins NW of Christchurch (where the train ends):


Another landscape pic, this one from the Springfield train station:


Christchurch gondola:


Christchurch from the gondola:


Lyttelton Harbour from the gondola:
 

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I think Arthur's pass is classed as one of the 10 most scenic driving routes in the world.

We gave it a miss on our trip there, because of bad weather - perhaps next time we'll experience it... :)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I think Arthur's pass is classed as one of the 10 most scenic driving routes in the world.
I heard that, too ... or maybe it was the drive along the West Coast ... or hell maybe both.

We gave it a miss on our trip there, because of bad weather - perhaps next time we'll experience it... :)
We got real lucky with the weather. Only a few rainy days the whole time, and no days with 100% rain. Snow twice: Once at Arthur's Pass where the train was stopped, and then in Oxford the night before we left ... large flakes the size of a US quarter, but still kinda slushy. Made us wet pretty quick after landing on us!

Oh, and on the train ride east through Arthur's Pass where it was snowing, within about 1/2 hour later the snow and clouds were gone and mostly sunny skies again. It was like NZ just wanted to let us see a little snow, then return us to our regularly scheduled great views. And ... the next day Arthur's Pass was closed altogether to road traffic due to snow. Like I said ... we got very lucky with the weather.

BTW, on the drive west, Oxford to Greymouth, this Duc and MV Aug were following along with us, stopping at several of the same places we did. Of course it's a single road in the middle of nowhere (although spectacular), so makes sense that many people will stop at the main sights. Anyway, these guys timed it right as they had perfect, dry road, no rain, no snow weather for their 3-hour curvy NZ mountain road ride.

Riders at Arthur's pass:




... and pulling away from us on the Otira Viaduct as we over-looked it:
 

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After touring there (in a similar vehicle to that you guys traveled in - a grey import from Japan, no less!) I would really love to tour the south Island on a bike someday.

Spectacular roads & scenery.... although I hear the police are nasty with their speed traps, I never got stopped once nor even saw a police trap! :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #14
After touring there (in a similar vehicle to that you guys traveled in - a grey import from Japan, no less!) I would really love to tour the south Island on a bike someday.

Spectacular roads & scenery.... although I hear the police are nasty with their speed traps, I never got stopped once nor even saw a police trap! :eek:
Yeah, we saw very few police cars. So few that I asked about it, and my bud said there just aren't very many around ... of course this was outside the big city (Christchurch). There are def police in Christchurch, especially dealing with all the problems caused by the earthquake (looting, trespassing, etc)

Anyway, biking the South Island would be fantastic! (better of course if you can avoid the rain; they told me the West Coast gets 100 inches of rain per year)
 

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I went riding

Mrs and I rode out to the NW corner of WA and southern BC. Met with a couple of the Geezer Gang (GWRRA gents and associates of mine). They tell me I'm too young to be a member of the Gang so; we've actually met up before so they're kind of old friends of ours. Weather was fabulous all the way there and back, over 2500 miles of sun drenched bliss and great roads.
Mt Robson was shrouded in smoke from the forest fires, but still ok. Overlooking Osoyoos BC. Cliff and Ron (GWOF pals/Geezer Gang); some of you NW corner locals may be familiar with the Blue Mountain Cafe, great food, especially the chowder. Hwy 6 BC north of Nelson, Arrow Lake ferry/Galena Bay. Had a fleeting chance to get a stunning picture of Mt Baker on one of our day runs, but traffic didn't co-operate; was one of those places where you just really can't stop.
Trying to work out the logistics and gear to get out there next year on the SP. Not sure what shape my bones will be in after 2500+ miles on the rocket, but can't be all bad right? So I limp for a few days....
 

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We love whitewater rafting so we always try and get a splash or two in when we're able. The hoorah picture was actually before getting in the raft! Illicilleweat River was a bit lower than we've seen in previous years, but still hit some solid 3's and 4's. Air temp was mid 90's, water a pleasant 39f. The guitar player is Wes Mackey, great blues man. Works mostly out of Vancouver BC these days, formerly from the Chicago area years back.
 

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