Sunday, January 26, 2014

Austrian visitors cross the rain divide - yet again

Sunday, January 26, 2014

oldbearnews editor
Today was going to be a nothing day.  Well sort of.  Due to the weather some time before the Austrian intrepid travellars arrived we had a major slip near the Haast Pass.  It effectivly cut the westcoast off from the bottom of the south island and took weeks to clear let alone in re-making the road. Milk tankers coming in from Wanaka had to make a 1000km detour - which in itself created problems (two drivers on board who had to share driving duties as you can drive only for so long without breaks etc)
In any case  by the time we came to looking for places to book - we decided after a long in-house conversation not to risk the Haast Pass and head back over Arthurs Pass and go south from there.  The Haast Pass at this time is and was passable - but not from 6pm - 7am and then only one car at a time, and then only if it is not raining, and then only with two guys at either and with stop/go signs watching - NOT the cars - but rather the hillside for any loose rocks that may still come down, and of course it could close at a moments notice and we just decided not to risk that. I know - chicken eh??  Well in this case it was better safe then sorry --- sooooo we had to come back via Arthurs Pass and bunk down in Methven for a night and then carry on from there to Arrowtown.  It was meant to be a nice relaxing day - no sightseeing etc.  W E L L
We went to bed hearing the occasional plink plonk of water on the roof and by the time we woke up - it truly rained - like you have not seen for a good while.  Now we need to understand that by Westcoast standards this was a gentle drizzle . . . .   ^^   In any case below is a poem from a anonymously guy posted  in a paper and prominently found in many tramping huts in NZ.

    It rained and it rained and rained and rained
    The average fall was well maintained
    And when the tracks were simply bogs
    It started raining cats and dogs
    After a drought of half an hour
    We had a most refreshing shower
    And then the most curious thing of all
    A gentle rain began to fall
    Next day was also fairly dry
    Save for the deluge from the sky
    Which wetted the party to the skin
    And after that the rain set in

    – Anonymous tramper, 1984
    - Also found in 1931
      (Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle, Volume XXVII, Issue 1336,
            15 September 1931, Page 3)

 Trying to capture the "drizzle" from UNDER the veranda.  No point in being outside - you get soaked within seconds.   So far the tourists had it lucky with sunshine all the way - even if the temperatures were not overly summerish.  Well on the upside - no need to worry about sun-burn and sunscreen smell nor about the sandflies!!
 From time to time it got heavier, and then some
 Just when you thought it could not get any worse - it did
When the humid westerly airstreams from the Tasman Sea reach the West Coast, they rise over the mountains and cool. Water vapour condenses as rain, which drops on the coast and the Southern Alps. Once over the mountains, the air descends and warms up, and the moisture evaporates. The winds then cross to Canterbury, on the east coast, bringing much drier weather.
Europeans know this as the Föhn wind, which can whistle through Canterbury in excess of 140km!  
The drive up to Arthurs Pass - the wind screen wipers could not keep up.  
 Getting moody as well - inbetween the showers
 Otira gorge bridge. The region can expect up to 11000mm of annual rainfall.  It is one of the wettest in the world.  Of course it does not rain EVERY day there - just when it does - it feels like you are standing under a gigantic waterfall
 Up at Arthurs Pass with the rain-over bridge to the left - still remarkably not spilling as much as would be expected
 Typical - when it rains on the Coast,  Canterbury is dry-ish - this view from top of Porters Pass - and soon it stopped altogether.
 Coming back we just had to stop at Sheffield again - famous NOT only for its Donut-Simpson link fame - but also for its home made pies. We stopped there with the meremaid as well last year and it is a good place as any, to sample the best NZ has to offer.  The lamb/kumara/mint pies are delicious as well as the chicken/curry/thai creation. The canivores enjoyed their lunch while Doris had a special sandwich and enjoyed that. 
I can, I will and I do - enjoy this one   :)
 After lunch it was a case of where is the nearest toilet stop - on the Domain; and so naturally the children ooops visitors had to work of the pounds gained from the pies.  This is a clasic image,  with one person using style and the other trying to keep up with grunt!!  Who is using the style and doing with panache? ? ?
 Tarzan he will not be - rich with expressions though he will!!
 Another photostop on the way.  This particular colourfull field is winter growth for the coming season for the diarying industry.
Guess who is driving????  
 It was a good joke - you just had to be there.  I can't even remember what it was - just that it was good!!
 Stopping at the Rakaia george - and admiring the wonderful blue water.  Incredibly the braided rivers of Canterbury are semi empty most of the time - but on occasions when there is a REALL rainfall in the alps they can fill up and instead of the shingle you see here - all you see is a raging muddy brown torrent.
Needless to say the image turned out to be - a waste of data!!!  Still it made for a good mexican stand-of picture.  Who has the faster draw???
Well guess that said it all - in response to the previous picture!! 
 By the time we got back to Methven - it rained again.  I was a bit concerend when booking the complex - no credit card asked for, no email etc - just yes we got a place and do turn up.  Well Methven is a winter sport resort place and a starting point for many days sking in Mount Hutt - in summer time however it is relaxingly empty - evidenced by the fact we were the  o n l y  guests in the Motel complex.
 Time to do what I should have done before Christmas.  Well - I made a start.
Yet again - drinking NZ beer ought to be easy, so surprise surprise that night after night there is a annual ritual baptism of the table. I am confident that by the time he leaves our shores again it will be a mastered skill . . . .    :)
(that of drinking from the bottle without baptising the table)     

I filched this image of the net as it best sums up the prevailing weather patterns in the South Island.  The alps to sea distance on the westcoast is at times less then 10 km while on the east side is 150-200km.  It is also one reason why often you will not see Mt Cook as his top is often in clouds.  Fingers crossed we will see the best of Mt Cook later.  Jolly Australians - keeping the sun to them selves and sending us their rain - something they are missing themselves  judging by the dry bushfires they keep having.  ^^

Have fun

 bear print

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