Fotoeins Fotografie

questions of place & home

Posts tagged ‘Canterbury’

Air Safaris, Southern Alps, Westland National Park, Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, South Island, New Zealand, fotoeins.com, myRTW

Fotoeins Friday: Aoraki-Horokoau flyby, New Zealand

21 July 2012.

Approximate location: -43.546433, 170.144492 (43°32’47.2″S 170°08’40.2″E)
Approximate altitude: 3000 metres (9850 feet)
View azimuth: 170 to 175 degrees (south-southeast)

We’re up among New Zealand’s Southern Alps as the flight takes us over Westland Tai Poutini National Park and Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. I’ve supplied featured labels to help with orientation in this southeast view. Despite scale, height, and distance, I get the distinct feeling that I can just about leap out of the plane to a soft snow landing or if I could reach out with my hand, I could touch the nation’s two tallest mountains, Aoraki (Mount Cook) and Horokoau (Mount Tasman), sacred to the Māori people.

A visual account of the circular flight over southwest New Zealand can be seen here. The west coast on the nation’s South Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990.


During my year-long RTW, I made this photo on 21 July 2012 with the Canon 450D, 18-55 kit-lens, and the following settings: 1/3200-sec, f/5, ISO200, and 33mm focal length (53mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-9Zb.

My New Zealand: Grand Traverse over the Southern Alps

The majestic mountain spine along New Zealand’s South Island is known as “The Southern Alps”; the Maori Ngai Tahu name for these mountains is “kā tiritiri o te moana”. For many locations around the South Island, you cannot avoid or ignore the sight of looming towers of rock and snow.

Between visits to the Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier, I’d been thinking about whether or not I should have a look at the mountains from above. It would be beautiful, but it also seemed very expensive. What to do, what to do … it sounds stupid writing it out now, but a unique opportunity had presented itself, and I knew I’d have deep regrets if I didn’t take it.

I bit the proverbial bullet and hopped onto a plane with Air Safaris for a 50-minute “The Grand Traverse” tour including aerial views of various glaciers, Horokoau (Mount Tasman), and Aoraki (Mount Cook).


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KiwiRail Coastal Pacific train, Picton to Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand, fotoeins.com

New Zealand: Coastal Pacific from Picton to Christchurch

Previously: on board the Interislander ferry to cross New Zealand’s Cook Strait from Wellington on the North Island to Picton on the South Island.

There are cheaper or faster ways to travel between Wellington and Christchurch. But I love boats, and I love trains. So, an alternative is a trip with KiwiRail Scenic Journeys, combining boat and train. After 3.5 hours, the ferry across Cook Strait arrives in Picton at 1140am. I make my way out of the ferry terminal, and walk the short path to the train station nearby. My luggage on the ferry is automatically transferred onto the train, as I’ve paid for both legs of the trip in its entirety.

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New Zealand: Akaroa’s long harbour

Above: Black Cat catamaran.

It’s a cool grey morning in Christchurch, and I’m waiting outside the Canterbury Museum for a ride to Akaroa. Will the conditions improve by the time I arrive?

I’ve signed up with French Connection for the shuttle between Christchurch to Akaroa along State Highway 75. As the bus rolls onto the Banks Peninsula, the undulating hills gently rise and fall around the entire horizon. Some of the secluded bays and harbours look steep enough to have been carved by mini-glaciers. It makes a lot of sense, as Akaroa means “long harbour” in Kāi Tahu Māori.

It’s easy to forget Akaroa has French history and roots, but I realize I’m standing on top of an extinct volcano which last saw activity about 6 million years ago. Over time, weather eroded and gradually removed the top layers of the volcano. The post-glacial meltdown about 15,000 years ago saw the sea-levels rise and subsequently inundated the former caldera. It’s not the only extinct volcano around, as the nearby Lyttleton harbour was formed in a similar way.

I decide to go with a nature cruise on Black Cat cruises, and the catamaran heads out with six passengers and two crew. Within 30 minutes of leaving the dock in Akaroa, the skies clear as the breeze breaks and moves the clouds aside. Finally, in the open waters of the Pacific, the boat bobs gently in the light swell.

It’s a perfect sunny winter day, complete with the appearance of a pod of Hector’s dolphins and a couple of yellow-eyed penguins (hoiho).

But all too quickly, the cruise returns to the calm waters of the inner harbour, and the ship comes to a halt back in Akaroa. I’ll doze on the ride back to Christchurch, with lingering memories of the former volcano, and the dolphins who said hello to us earlier in the day.

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Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand

New Zealand: Christchurch red zone post-quake

The sight of overhead cranes.

The clang of jackhammers.

The constant rumble of dump trucks filled with debris.

The dust clouds surrounding sites slated for demolition or new buildings under construction.

After four earthquakes since 2010, over half of the buildings in Christchurch’s Central Business District (CBD) were destroyed or have been condemned; the number I got from informal conversations was 70 to 80 percent. The expected cost to the local economy and for reconstruction will be in the billions of dollars. These are staggering numbers. Before reconstruction can begin, there are buildings to take down, and mountains of rubble to take away.

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