Monday, May 7, 2012

Westcoast recon trip for Knife making in Barrytown

Monday, May 7, 2012
oldbearnews editor uhu

so we are going to take a group of scouts over to the Westcoast again form some serious knife making - ok same as last year - different youth though!!
In any case - that is  just the excuse we Leaders (do not) need to go over for a bit of recce and personal good fun time.

A katabatic wind, from the Greek word katabatikos meaning "going downhill", is the technical name for a drainage wind, a wind that carries high density air from a higher elevation down a slope under the force of gravity. Such winds are sometimes also called fall winds. Katabatic winds can rush down elevated slopes at hurricane speeds, but most are not that intense and many are on the order of 10 knots (18 km/h) or less.  Examples of true katabatic winds include the Bora (or Bura) in the Adriatic, the Bohemian Wind or Böhmwind in the Ore Mountains, the Mistral, the Santa Ana in southern California, the Tramontana and the Oroshi in Japan. Another example is "The Barber," an enhanced katabatic wind that blows over the town of Greymouth in New Zealand when there is a southeast flow over the South Island. It is a wind that is known in the area for its coldness.   Oh and believe-me,  while really spectacularly to watch - it is COLD!!  I saw it for the first time on this trip and just had to snap this.
They say you can measure its width by literally the street your house is on - eg - the house on the left will feel its cold air - while the house on the other side of the street will be untouched and warm.  wicked

The other sight worth seeing was the mist rising from the see.  There were distinct areas that created more mist then others - pity that for both cases I had no video cam with me.

 Part of the trip is pre-walking the track we want the youth to hike on (check out the conditions etc.) and on this day the air on location was so still it gave perfect mirror conditions!  I was glad I dragged my cameras with me - despite the weight they had to the hiking gear!!
 Seeing I carried so much (personal) weight (and 6 litres of water) I sweated so much - that I   L O S T  weight!!!!! So much so that there was nothing left of me and I became a former shadow of myself.
 I F only.
 My hiking staff made for a convenient place to rest the bush shirt - made from wool and of course in Canterbury colours.  They keep you warm and dry and are often seen being worn by the farmers in NZ - but are equally good to go hiking in. I am not sure how popular they are in the rest of the world but here in New Zealand they are a real institution!!
 Lunch - yussss - home made brew - lamb / vegetables / garlic / a bit of pasta - uhhhh yummmmy!!  ( ok - so I boiled up some pork/beefbones at home for 3 days to get the stock - but hey - preparation is the key - right!?!?)

On the return trip we stopped at Arthurs Pass and slogged up to the aptly named Devils Punchbowl waterfall.  The local Maori have a different name for it (which escapes me now) but it is a spectacular fall (again I was glad I carried the camera gear)
Sadly this is also the place where a tourist decided to ignore safety warnings and 'disappeared' presumed to have drowned and washed away in/with the water.  Her body sadly has never been found despite extensive searches - which just gets to show that despite the beauty - there is danger in places like these, and are best admired from a small distance!! 
After the slog up to and back from the waterfall, it was time for a well deserved lunch.  We got good at making our own Subway sandwich and I dear say was, urm, better tasting! 
Brush's knife came in handy to cut up various fillings.  Pity - he had it just cleaned the previous day at the Barrytown knife-making place!!  Still nothing a good wipe could not fix on the day!! I am so gonna go over there and make another one! This time they have access to Damascus steel - so that will be fun to make!!

Further on, after the lunch we saw the place where some people 'manufacture' the famous wind.  Actually it was between Arthurs and Porters pass - a scenery worth in their own right - just breath taking. I thought I did well snapping this from a moving car.

Guess not many of you know the story of the giant Moa.  This used to be a large flightless bird - with the females of the largest species standing 3.6 m (12 ft) tall, and one of the most massive, weighing 230–240 kg.  The giant moa, along with other moa were wiped out by human colonists who hunted it for food. All birds in this genus were extinct by around 1500 in New Zealand. It is reliably known that the Māori still hunted them at the beginning of the fifteenth century, driving them into pits and robbing their nests. Although some birds became extinct due to farming, for which the forests were cut and burned down and the ground was turned into arable land, the giant moa had been extinct for 300 years prior to the arrival of European settlers.  WELL so the story goes.  However the local publican recons he spotted one bird from afar one day somewhere in the national park - and - well - you guessed it.  The story took on  a life of its own and to this day the truth is still a casualty.
Moa sightings remained fairly thin on the ground until the late 20th century, when hiking became popular in the more isolated national park areas of South Island. In 1993 the most infamous moa encounter yet emerged when former British Army commando Paddy Freaney, along with two friends, claimed to have come across one whilst bush walking in Arthur's Pass. Described as having brown and grey feathers and a wingless, tailless torso, the man-sized bird was spotted lurking on a valley floor. According to Freaney, ‘It looked straight at us, and then it was off.’ Freaney pursued the big bird with his camera, managing to snap off three photographs, one of which was to resurrect the moa controversy. Although indistinct, the photograph shows a spooky birdlike shape amongst the valley brush. Doubters have claimed the photograph actually depicts a large scrub turkey. Although the trio has stuck to its claim, no Moa sightings of any note have been lodged in the region since. Nevertheless, a curious entry was found in a log book in a nearby trailside shack. Discovered the week after Freaney’s sighting, it was actually made a year earlier, when a pair of German backpackers had scrawled: ‘We were very surprised to see two moas in the Harper Valley (adjoining Arthur's Pass). We had heard they were almost extinct.’  So who knows - some Moa may yet lurk around in the vast bush that is National Arthurs Park. 

Time to unpack and wash up - have fun

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