Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mamabear is on a power trip

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
oldbearnews editor
The next day - it dawned just like it closed -- almost cloudless.  So after the usual routine (breakfast / shower / packing / leaving etc) we left the Garden of Eden (hmm more on that in a later blog) and made our way to the next pitstop - Arrow town.
Along the way - the tourists got really keen - yet again - to snap some images from a moving car. AHA -= this time - I was prepared - yet again - I re-filled the water tank and thus could wash off the bugs and dirt and grime and - urm other stuff so that a clean shot was enabled.  - hmm now how to get rid of the glare from the dashboard?  Having again driven past Mt Cook at Lake Pukaki and done a mental 'salut' to the old chap - we stopped at the next place - a displaced salmon farm - which does rather well from the increased passing tourist trade.  It used to be in the canals - but they had to repair them as they leaked - rather a lot lately (something about earthquakes and stress fractures). ohhhh - ok - in case you do not know - the water from the Lake Tekapo goes via canals to Lake Pukaki and from there through several (seven I think in total) power-stations via canals and natural river-beds.  In the first section of the canals used to be the  Salmon farm
 ( ---> )
and now re-housed further downstream until they are completely repaired - the canals that is not the fish!! :)   Then the main business will go back into the canals.  Reason for that is that the salmon have to swim constantly against the current and THAT my dear folks does make for a superior fleshy fish, so they say!! In any case - I almost wanted to buy a half kilo of nice fresh smoked Salmon for lunch/dinner - but I would have been the only one eating it- so it was not worth it.  You can however feed the little flippers and when you do they come to the surface and occasionally jump . .

Next up - a side trip - Mamabear always wants to stop there - ever since she worked for Electricorp in Wellington many years ago (and banked millions of $$$ on the companies behalf) urm - yeah she has this hankering to see this particular power station.  We have been there before and on occasions when the lakes are totally full and more rainfalls in or snow melt is expected they actually need to spill some as well as driving the turbines at full speed!! It is a sight that will astonish you.  However today - there was not a single drop being spilled - all was quiet!! Most disappointing. Along the way to the station we found these sheep loose in the undergrowth.  This was the closest we got to a NZ traffic jam.  It should turn out to be the ONLY contact with sheep on the road - something that disappointed me upon reflection.  You miss something if you have not been part of this wooly jam.  At least when Cousin Martina was here we encountered a beefy jam, with many a walking hamburgers just strolling down the road (being shifted for the afternoon feed).  Anyhow -= Moo-ving along
All along a certain male Austrian has said - I know there is this particular spot - I remember it well - from when I travelled with Elizabeth .  . . .   yes Wilfried - and as soon as we came round the corner and faced Lindies pass - there where shouts of joy and acclamation!!!  So naturally some several hundred images later - we could move along.  It is a pretty spectacular sight - not so much of a Pass in European Alps or even Himalayan terms - yet it is often underestimated.  It can turn cold and wet real sudden anytime and in winter time can be a miserably cold windswept snowy place to drive through. Once you come out the other end you stop - well in many places and first up Tarras - of the famous 'Shrek the sheep' fame. NZ is steeped in farming - originally with Sheep for wool and meat - and lately for Dairying - milk and burgers. In this case --->  Shrek (c. 1994 – 6 June 2011) was a Merino wether (castrated male sheep) belonging to Bendigo Station, a sheep station near Tarras, New Zealand, who gained international fame in 2004 after he avoided being caught and shorn for six years. Merinos are normally shorn annually, but Shrek apparently hid in caves, avoiding muster. He was named after the fictional character in books and films of the same name.
After being caught on 15 April 2004, the wether was shorn by a professional in 20 minutes on 28 April. The shearing was broadcast on national television in New Zealand. His fleece contained enough wool to make suits for 20 men, weighing 27 kg — an average Merino fleece weighs around 4.5 kg, with exceptional weights up to around 15 kg. Shrek became a national icon.  - Ahh yes I remember the circus back then!!

Next stop - for Photos - Cromwell town. Famous for its stone fruit growing region AND that the OLD town had to be moved to higher land as the Government build yet another dam that was flooding the valley. The Old bridge going over the incoming river is now some 15 meters below the current water surface. Some old aspects of the town have been preserved and are now a tourist attraction.  It created a mini boom in the building industry as a whole town needed shifting - so pretty much everyone got new houses! We stopped a bit longer then originally planned - it was a hot sunny day and a waste just driving through that.  Naturally the old Gal had to cool of and so stripped (hang on) - just so far-
urm of her shoes and socks and stood in the water for a bit - I am told it was refreshing.  I belief you dear! :) Cousin Doris needed to find out for herself and soon tested the waters - along with the  priceless reaction. Apparently it cooled enormously from 3.10 to 3.15pm :).  The place was also famous for another reason - it was the meeting point between two rivers - one a nice turquoise blue and the other a dark almost brown colour, and at the point of meeting - right outside Cromwell - you could see the two running side by side for a long time before the two waters mixed themselves up.  Something about buoyancy and water temperatures preventing a quicker mash!  Today due to the increased levels of water - you need to be higher up to see the effect.  We did not have time to climb along the hillside for a good photo opp.

Looking left and right up the rivers - you get the idea . . . .

It does however make for a lovely spot to picnic / swim / sail / or just simply relax.  I am told the fishing is not half bad either!!

There goes the sunnies again - more reflections!!

See - urm - well - ahem - cough - urm - ok - urm - NO comments required!!
I KNOW I am getting greyer!!

So once we had indulged enough of sun and water and Cousin Doris found her circulation again in the feet, it was time to go up the Kawarau gorge.  The Kawarau Gorge with its towering cliffs and rugged hillsides provides some of the most spectacular scenery in Central Otago. The Kawarau River drains Lake Wakatipu (urm - of Queenstown fame) and, on its way to join Lake Dunstan, tumbles and roars through a series of rapids and swirling eddies.  The gorge once supported a small town with two pubs, a school and a post office but that has long disappeared. On the far side of the river the remains of mining claims can be seen. About 10km from the Cromwell end of the gorge the Goldfields Mining Centre operates a demonstration centre with a working exhibition of gold mining techniques. Visitors are invited to try their hand at panning and with a little bit of luck there will be colour in the pan. There is good parking and an excellent view of the rapids from the bridge. The Mining Centre is open daily, includes a gold gallery and cafe, and caters for large or small goups of visitors. (humph - they neglect to tell you that this is a Chinese mining settlement on display and - yes they did suffer more then everyone. Discrimination was rife even back then)
A little further on is the Roaring Meg Power Station and the site of the natural bridge across the Kawarau. In times of flood the river has raced right through the power house and it is a tribute to its construction that it still remains operational. A few hundred yards west of the powerhouse is a rough track that leads to the natural bridge. The track is now used by tourist operators to gain access for river surfing and canoeing/kayaking operations. Here the river is confined to a narrow rift barely 1.2 m wide. It plunges through the gap with frightening force but it did not deter the early goldminers who used it as a crossing place. A number who jumped never lived to tell the tale. The river has claimed many lives and swimming is not recommended.
In 1924 a company was formed with the object of blocking off Lake Wakatipu and draining the Kawarau so that gold could be picked up from the bottom of the river. Special gold mining claims were taken out and work began on the construction of ten massive gates at the outlet of the lake (Kawarau Falls Dam). There was no lack of investors wanting to put money into the venture but the project was doomed to failure. The gates were completed in 1927 and it soon became obvious that although the level of the river dropped, its bed would never be laid bare. Strenuous efforts were made to improve the situation to no avail and the venture was eventually written off as a failure. The gates and dam now carry State highway 6 across the top and remain as a monument to man's endeavour. 
Ha - so far for today's history lesson - another interesting   F A C T  is that it is host to numerous local winemakers A N D a certain AJ Hacket Venture!! Yes Bungy jumping was born here in NZ - right on the old Kawarau Bridge, something that was noted with great interest to the foreign travellers.
Not to be deterred we carried on to Arrowtown - a former Gold mining town (and yes you can still go and pan AND find gold in the Arrow-river). We needed a treat so chose to walk into the old town and searched for a good place to eat.  This was a good place as any and the best part was we saw numerous  folk go either way past our table.  People watching is one of Mamabears favourite past times!! Just at the end of dinner we nearly missed it - I cottoned on to the guy on the street taking pictures of what must have been sky and went and looked and then called the two camera carrying dudes from our group and asked them to snap a few - the setting sun and low dark cloud and hills made for a spectacular late sun-shower!!

You could never ever paint a better picture then these that our maker provides for us!! And they are free!!!
Along the way we found a wanted poster of a guy who had - hmm I think his crime was to take to many PICTURES, and strangely - he looked vaguely familiar.  No wait - was it the fact he used Fuji as a film???  If I spot him round someplace I will no doubt urm - hand him over to the correct film authority!!  In any case this is much better image then the grainy security camera images we might have seen later!!

Part of the stroll along the main shopping street, was checking out the shops for tomorrows short incursion and then it was back home to the motel - the long way - seems even in a small town with only 10 or so streets you can still get lost if you FORGET to take your street map with you - eh Mamabear? Once home the discussion entered around the possible 'bungy jump' that featured regularly on Facebook conversations and who was going to do just that.  (Home of the world’s first and most famous of leaps, this 43m Bungy Jump is still the most popular Bungy site attracting thousands of thrill-seekers every year.  Attached by your feet, you can choose to bob above the water, touch it or be fully dunked. Also unique at the Kawarau Bridge Bungy, it’s the only place where you can Tandem Bungy! Experience the thrill of a lifetime, you won’t regret it!)  <---so the  sales pitch goes - hmmmm Tandem jump - we come back to that later!!!
It is after all not every day that you get to toss yourself voluntarily of a high bridge.  We ended up ringing the place to see about costs and bookings and - short story we had to commit to this right NOW! So - now is a good time as any - one poor soul did just that - there will be a jump tomorrow at 10.15 am!!!
Wohoooo wonder how the nerves are overnight and how much sleep Doris will get . . . . .

here is a teaser:

I tossed this one in from the net - it shows what should have been and usually is.  More often then not - the cars are stationary and the sheep go around you . . . .

Night - this is going to be fun tomorrow

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Wilfried Mayr said...

On taht day I was feelindg quite ill, buit nevertheless it was great!
Arrowtown is amazing!

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