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Reisverslag The Southern Alps...or not?
19 januari 2014
The Southern Alps...or not?
It’s not so unexpected here, about 5000 mm of rain falls per year on the West coast!! This is the wettest part of the country.
For those who are not familiar with this kind of figures, when we have a really huge amount of rain during one day it might be 30 to 40 millimeters! And that would be really a lot.
Soooo …. Michelle, who wanted to give something special for the 20th anniversary, while Willem is under the shower, calls Wilderness Wings at Hokatiki airport and asks if they would have a scenic flight in the morning.
This company advertises that they do not only show the two main glaciers (the Fox Glacier and the Franz Josef), so well known (and a “must see”), but also many others and also they go much further away to show many of the other mountains of the Southern Alps.
The lady who answers the phone has to ask the pilot if the weather conditions are good and she comes back with the information that we have to be at the airport within one hour and then it will be alright. Hurray!!!
It’s a flight which we will never forget, incredibly beautiful. We are just in time to see the glaciers (from very nearby by turning around above them) and all the major tops. Only Mt Cook has a bit of the top in the clouds.
The pilot, Ben, is sooo pleased that he can fly and show us all the mountains. He hasn’t been able to do so for days. He is a very passionate man, tells us a lot and he is a very calm flyer. Not one who wants to show off his capacities as a pilot by doing all kinds of loopings, tricks, etc., like Willem experienced once before.
We are extremely happy with this experience; now even when the weather will be awful, at least WE will have seen the mountains, and indeed from the best spot, up above. On top of that (as tells us Ben) there are no roads and there is no other way to see most of New Zealand’s mountains by either flying or climbing.
We had already planned beforehand to go to the National Kiwi Centre in Hokatiki. They advertise with the fact that they show the kiwi’s. So before heading towards Fox Glacier township we pay this little centre a visit.
Now, it may be a bit stupid, but before coming to NZ we didn’t know that
a. the kiwi is a “night bird”, sleeping during daytime and active during the night with very poor eyesight,
b. there are at least 5 species of kiwi’s,
c. they were almost extinct because of the possoms, cats,weasels, ferrets, stoats and dogs (all animals introduced by the kind europeans and as there were no mammals on the island the kiwi evaluated as a bird without wings) and
d. they are very very shy.
This means that it’s very difficult to see a kiwi in nature and even in a park it’s impossible because they sleep during the day.
In this centre they keep one male and one female brown kiwi in an indoor park where they create an artificial night during the day and vice versa.
You are allowed to watch the kiwi’s but only when being very quiet and camera’s (unfortunately) are not allowed.
There are also a few other animals kept in this centre like the enormous longfinned eals up to 2 meters long. The females can get very old, up to 180 years. Grandma here in the centre is 160 years old, unbelievable. The very old ones live on the bottom of the deep lakes. We saw a few “big ones” earlier in Lake Rotoiti (in Nelson Park) and didn’t know then that they were only “babies”.
When after a few minutes our eyes start to get adjusted to the dark we screen the bottom of the little park for the kiwi’s and YES we find one, picking his way through the ground with his big beak ! It’s quite dark and difficult to see but we are very excited!! A few more people enter, all very quietly, the little corridor in a semi circle around the park. Everybody is very quiet but of course there is one ( teenage) girl who HAS to use her camera. And chases the second kiwi. When she keeps doing that I’m so angry that I have to say something (very Dutch of course…), though very quietly. The (german) father then tells her to stop.
The kiwi’s are fed and the light is a little bit brighter so now we can see them much better. They are quite large, bigger than most of our chicken!
A very very nice experience.
We didn’t have our capuccino yet today so before starting our last part of the trip of the day we have one before saying good bye to Hokatiki by passing along the port where a copy of an old ship is placed in memory of the many ships which sank at this spot.
In the meantime all mountaintops have been eaten away by the clouds. But fortunately the rain hasn’t started yet. The road is a beautiful one but we can only imagine how wonderful the landscape can be with the snowcapped mountains behind.
It starts raining, we pass the Franz Josef Glacier township, quite a lot of touristic activity there (the Dutch would call it “een kermis”) despite the bad weather, so we are happy to go to Fox Glacier (thank you Anne!), a lot more quiet.
Shortly after having organized our place at the campingsite it starts raining double cats and dogs. Our roof is even leaking….quite a lot….. a big drop every 10 seconds or so….. on the spot where Michelle’s head will be when we are going to sleep….
We are very optimistic and have chosen a place on the camping site where, IF the clouds have left tomorrow we will have the best view of all.
Foto's bij verslag (27)
22 januari 2014 12:20 | Door: Sissie
WAUW!!! Wat een geweldige vlucht moet dat geweest zijn...... Geen slecht cadeau :-) :-)
En wat een mazzel dat jullie dit net vóór het slechte weer nog hebben kunnen zien.
Ik hoop dat de Doubtful Sound niet helemaal verscholen zal zijn in de mist en de wolken. Ik had zelf op de heenvaart slecht weer maar terug heel mooi. Het voordeel daarvan was dat door de vele regen er honderden watervallen te zien waren.
Ik zal duimen.......