Shakespeare Bay in #Picton can receive the world’s largest cruise ships e.g. Ovation of the Seas, seen here docked alongside timber for export (📷1). The other side of Kaipupu Point, Picton Harbour is the South Island terminal for inter-island passenger & freight ferries (📷2). Picton recedes as we head into Cook Strait via Marlborough Sounds (📷3); hello again #Wellington (📷4). We’ve swapped the van for a 🚗!

🚗 #Travel #RoadTrip #Nomad 🇳🇿 #Aotearoa #NZ #NewZealand 🤔🌲🧭❤️ #CREWmission 📷 #Photography

Logs in piles await loading for export; behind, a large cruise ship with a pale blue hull disgorges passengers onto waiting buses
A Cook Strait ferry loading at the Picton terminal
Picton seen from inter-island ferry, looking after between exhaust stacks
Mt Victoria, Oriental Bay & Wellington CBD, seen from the deck of an approaching ferry

Everything that has a beginning has an ending—and so it was with our road trip around South Island. Our circuitous route towards a Cook Strait crossing took in parts of North #Canterbury, #WestCoast, #Tasman, #Nelson and #Marlborough.

🚐 #VanLife #Motorhome #CamperVan #RV #Travel #RoadTrip #Nomad 🇳🇿 #Aotearoa #NZ #NewZealand 🤔🌲🧭❤️ #CREWmission 📷 #Photography

👀 More? See

A red plastic twin kayak beached on golden sands; a number of other kayaks are making their way up the coast

(4/4) 🎂 ONE YEAR on Mastodon & of full-time CREW missions in our vanship/ bachmobile/ waka whenua, “Curiosity”

❤️ #Wellbeing: The state of being comfortable, healthy or happy; Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened—after Jacobowski

Our well-being can be enhanced by simple things, such as watching the coming & going of the sun e.g.

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Well-being | Wohlbefinden

🇬🇧 Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened—after Ludwig Jacobowski

🇩🇪 Weine nicht, weil es vorbei ist, lächle, weil es passiert ist—nach Ludwig Jacobowski

Background image is of a pine tree silhouette against a beachside sunset

(3/4) 🎂 ONE YEAR on Mastodon & of full-time CREW missions in our vanship/ bachmobile/ waka whenua, “Curiosity”

🧭 #Exploring: Travel through an unfamiliar area in order to learn about it; The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have never looked at the world—Humboldt

We found the journey isn’t over, even when the road ends e.g.

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Exploring | Auf Entdeckungsreise

🇬🇧 The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have never looked at the world—A. von Humboldt

🇩🇪 Die gefährlichste Weltanschauung ist die Weltanschauung derer, die die Welt nie angeschaut haben—A. von Humboldt

Background image is of a motorhome on a gravel road approaching a ford

Rented sea kayak from Mārahau into Abel Tasman National Park—a South Island highlight. Prev enjoyed quiet winter walks on the famous track; it’s popular to paddle in & hike out. Into the lagoon at Apple Tree Bay (📷1) before crossing Astrolabe Roadstead to nth of Adele Is to see seals (📷2). A Lady in the Rock at sth end (📷3) B4 rtn via Fisherman Is (📷4). A 13km/ 3.5h loop.

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Looking across spit from lagoon at Apple Tree Bay to Adele Island; red bow of kayak visible left of frame
Double kayak closer to shore, with seal resting on rock above; person wearing life vest & see skirt right of frame, holding paddle
Some may see an obvious face in an offshore rock, looking to left with chin , ear, nose, eye & head covering; another offshore rock with tree on top in right of frame
View from rear seat looking towards bow of kayak, past paddler occupying first seat; offshore rock to right of frame

(2/4) 🎂 ONE YEAR on Mastodon & of full-time CREW missions in our vanship/ bachmobile/ waka whenua, “Curiosity”

🌲 #Rewilding: Restoring an area of land to its natural uncultivated state; We’re replacing the wild with the tame… headed for disaster—Attenborough

We’ve visited a number of ecosanctuaries aiming to restore #native species & habitats e.g.

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Rewilding | Renaturierung

🇬🇧 We’re replacing the wild with the tame… Our planet is headed for disaster—David Attenborough

🇩🇪 Wir ersetzen das Wilde durch das Zahme… Unser Planet steuert auf eine Katastrophe zu—David Attenborough

Background image is of a protected native NZ skink

(1/4) 🎂 ONE YEAR on Mastodon & of full-time CREW missions in our vanship/ bachmobile/ waka whenua, “Curiosity”

🤔 #Curiosity: A strong desire to know or learn something; A delicate little plant that, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom—Einstein

We learned of the incredible diversity among NZ #fungi & other #native “smalls” e.g.

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Curiosity | Neugier

🇬🇧 Curiosity is a delicate little plant that, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom—Albert Einstein

🇩🇪 Die Neugier ist ein zartes Pflänzchen, das neben der Stimulation vor allem Freiheit braucht—Albert Einstein

Background image of blue werewere-kōkako

#Nelson Market offers street foods, produce & displays of artistic flare, such as the steampunk-inspired creations from the workshop of an “Old Coot” (📷1) & upcycled metal sculptures that Bruce has been forging for 12 years (📷2). In #Māpua, Russel bends spoons into a stunning kōtare form (📷3) & the “Nut Job” ice cream donut at Hamish’s is a work of art in its own way (📷4).

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“Old Coot” holds a streampunk-looking gun that may or may not be a functional battery-powered neuraliser
Petrol tanks upcycled into penguins
A kōtare/ sacred kingfisher made of spoons, resting on a wood & steel bull rush
Donut, ice cream, marshmallows, Maltesers, 100s & 1000s, nuts and sauce. How’s your blood sugar?

Barewood Garden (6⭐️) located in #Marlborough’s Awatere Valley is open by private appt./ $20pp. 50 yrs in the making, planting surrounds a 120 yr old cob cottage (📷1) & adjacent 100 yr old wooden homestead (📷2)—where Joe has lived & farmed all his life. The garden is Carolyn’s passion, sheltered from wind by a screen of mature trees (📷3), with a pond (📷4). 🌸 #BloomScrolling

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In the Courtyard; a small blue table & chairs are tucked up amongst the pots next to the wall of the cob cottage; white picket fence behind
Windows on the front elevation of the wooden homestead look onto the wide veranda, which is cloaked in hanging wisteria & mostly obscured by ground vegetation
In the Portager (traditional kitchen garden); a tall windbreak shelters the fruits, vegetables & flowers; a brick path provides access to
A dingy is tied to a platform at the edge of a small pond, underneath the drooping branches of an established weeping willow; lilies & irises in foreground

A fiery dawn from pitch at Wards Beach (📷1)—the gentle sound of breaking surf soon thereafter shattered by the reverberating thrum of track-forming bulldozers (📷2). They had been fired up to launch crayfishing boats that had just arrived in the bay by truck (📷3). They do say “An early bird catches the fish”, don’t they (📷4)?

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Red sky at dawn looking out to sea & over the beach below
Bulldozer tracks across the pebble beach lead into the sea, under an early morning sky
Bulldozer and crayfishing boat enter the water at dawn
Crayfishing boat heads out to sea, breaking waves with the glint of a rising sun on its port windows

Ward Beach on the eastern #Marlborough coast hosts one of our favourite NZMCA park-over properties; there’s no ⛺️ camping in the adjacent reserve (📷1). The sway of NZ bull kelp/ Durvillaea antarctica with the sea swell is mesmerising (📷2). Spring beach & shore decorations include yellow-horned poppies/ Glaucium flavum (📷3) & naturalised bunnytail grass/ Lagurus ovatus (📷4).

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A pebble beach, looking towards a hill that shelters several motorhomes & caravans
Leathery bull kelp is green, large & tough; an incoming swell makes the long strands dance to the rhythm of the tide
Yellow-horned poppies/ Glaucium flavum have four golden petals and the plants leaves have a furry crinkly appearance
Bunnytail grass/ Lagurus ovatus is no named due to it’s physical resemblance to the tail of a rabbit

The titan’s nest contained 6+ 🥚 eggs, seen from the safety of a holed limestone wall (📷1). Once it was safe, closer inspection confirmed they were genuine (📷2). A few had bonded with the underlying rock as protection from the tides (📷3). A 🦖 hatchling left nothing but this man’s shoe (📷4)!

Ward Beach boulders are dolomite concretions uplifted in 2016, formed >65M yrs ago.

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Several concretions on the beach, seen through a hole in a limestone rock
A pair of smooth, spherical concretions surrounded by small pebbles
A concretion cemented to underlying rock
Erosion of the centre of the concretion has exposed its core; a slip-on shoe indicates scale

The vineyards of Wairau Valley seemed endless (📷1) although most of the big-label cellar doors/ wine & dine options are located between Renwick & Blenheim. Returned to Rock Ferry, a small boutique-like estate offering good food (📷2). Burnt some of it off on Wairau Lagoons Walk, where royal spoonbills roosted, pied stilts waded (📷3), & beaded samphire likes wet ground (📷4).

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Vines planted in rows on flat land, with valley enclosed by hills in distance
A plate of vegetarian pasta & beef with shoestring fries
The pied stilt (Himantopus leucocephalus), also known as the white-headed stilt (with black on nape of neck & wings), is a shorebird; a pair are seen wading in shallow muddy water
Salicornia quinqueflora/ beaded samphire is a grey-green succulent halophytic coastal shrub occurring in wetter coastal areas of AU & NZ; seen here either side of a wetland water course

The Wairau River flows along the line of the Alpine Fault; seen here at Kowhai Point (📷1). On the banks is the endemic NZ myrtle/ rōhutu/ Lophomyrtus obcordata, recognisable by its ♥️ heart-shaped leaves (📷2). We didn’t spot the endangered sedge Carex inopinata said to shelter here, but Digitalis purpurea was conspicuous (📷3). Wairau Valley is known for its vineyards (📷4).

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Clear water flows past rocky outcrops; yellow tree lupins have taken root in the gravel islands in the riverbed; pine forest in distance
Small green leaves in pairs, shaped like hearts
Purple foxglove/ digitalis, with spots on the inside of the conical flower
Plain’s covered in plantations of grapes for wine production; hills beyond

Transited through Tasman District, with an overnight stop in Murchison. On towards Marlborough via SH63 alongside Buller River (📷1) to St Arnaud. Morning tea stop in Kerr Bay, Nelson Lakes National Park (📷2). The endemic NZ longfin eels/ tuna/ Anguilla dieffenbachii plentiful beneath the protection of the jetty (📷3). Would be ideal weather to hike to Parachute Rocks (📷4).

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Gravel river bed set in partially forested valley, with ranges beyond under blue sky
Small wooden jetty juts out into clear Lake; Mount Robert dominates the mid ground; lake extends into distance left of frame
Three eel heads in frame, swimming in shallow water at lake edge, where algae covers the in-shore pebbles
View from Kerr Bay to the St Arnaud Range, which features a scree slope in the shape of a parachute

St James Walkway “smalls” (2/2). The truffle-like violet pouch #fungus, Cortinarius porphyroideus (📷1). A close-up of the headdress of an inquisitive endemic South Island robin/ Petroica australis (📷2). The #native NZ everlasting #flower or “Hell’s bells”/ Anaphalioides bellidioides (📷3) & snowdrop wood-sorrel/ Oxalis magellanica (📷4).

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Violet/ purple mushroom-like fungus lying on it’s side
The top of a robin’s head; the interlocking feathers are clearly seen
A small white daisy
Five white petals with a green central area

St James Walkway “smalls” (1/2). So small & nearly overlooked, the #native carnivorous rosy sundew/ Drosera spatulata (📷1). Native #lichen Sphaerophorus stereocauloides, likely dislodged from the beech canopy (📷2) & Pseudocyphellaria homoeophylla, with cup-like fruiting bodies (📷3). The white-flowering shore hebe/ Veronica elliptica is also native to NZ. #BloomScrolling

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Drosera = dewy; spatulata = like a flattened spoon; red in colour
This lichen has branches covered in tiny protrusions that give it a frilly appearance
Pale green “leaf” with deep orange fruiting bodies
Multiple white flowers at the tip of a green-leaved hebe branch

Is the 4–5 day/ 67km St James Walkway from Lewis Pass too ambitious? Try a 6h/ 17km out & back trek thru Cannibal Gorge | Kopi-o-kai-tangata (named for 🦴 remains indicating a Māori tribe feasted on another). The beech-clad path into the Spenser Mts (📷1). There are several bridges (📷2) & creeks—some with waterfalls (📷3) to cross. Cannibal Gorge Hut sits in a clearing (📷4).

🚐 #VanLife #Motorhome #CamperVan #RV #Travel #RoadTrip #Nomad 🇳🇿 #Aotearoa #NZ #NewZealand 🤔🌲🧭❤️ #CREWmission 📷 #Photography

Beech forest draped in lichen clothes a valley, although the gorge within is hidden from this high vantage point; snow rests on the peaks beyond
A swing-bridge across the Maruia River Right Branch, with anchor points at either end hidden by dense forest
A small waterfall at one of many creek crossings; long exposure effect blurs water motion
Three-story bunk rooms within the Cannibal Gorge Hut, at the edge of a clearing well below the mountain peak

The Waiau Uwha River alongside Lewis Pass Rd/ SH7 (📷1), before we edged out of North Canterbury to re-enter the West Coast. Near the pass summit, the Alpine Nature Loop Track is one of our fav short walks—in any weather (📷2). Gloioxanthomyces chromolimoneus grew in ☀️ trackside (📷3). A slightly sulphuric dip at up to 42°C in the geothermal pools at Maruia Hot Springs (📷4).

🚐 #VanLife #Motorhome #CamperVan #RV #Travel #RoadTrip #Nomad 🇳🇿 #Aotearoa #NZ #NewZealand 🤔🌲🧭❤️ #CREWmission 📷 #Photography

Turquoise water in gravel riverbed with mountain beyond under blue sky
A tarn edged by lichen-draped NZ beech forest; snow remnants visible on distant mountains
A glutinous yellow fungus in boggy ground
One of the geothermal outdoor pools at Maruia Hot Springs (sauna, steam room & plunge pool out of frame); native forest covers mountainside in background

Another look at geology in sth end of Gore Bay. GeoTrips say the cliffs expose marine sediments of the Moturau Group (limestone, mudstone rich in calcium carbonate & greensand—from the Oligocene) & on top, Greta Formation conglomerates, laid down more recently in shallow oceans (📷1). Chunks have broken from the unstable cliffs & eroded to look like crocodile hide (📷2–4).

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A slice through time: cliff exposing sediments formed when this was an ocean floor during the Oligocene; layers demarcate different conditions/ materials
Cracks in the stone as a result of erosion give the surface an organic texture, somewhat like crocodile skin
Closer view of pattern of cracks
Fallen rocks still being actively eroded by sand, sea and sun

Returned to Gore Bay near Cheviot; the small campsite was full for #Canterbury Anniv. 3-day weekend. Wild sweet peas add a splash of colour to the foreshore (📷1). Good to see the driftwood tepees are being maintained (📷2). The collection of rocks tied to a fence—some with messages, seems to have grown (📷3). A good long beach for catching sunrise/ early morning walks (📷4).

🚐 #VanLife #Motorhome #CamperVan #RV #Travel #RoadTrip #Nomad 🇳🇿 #Aotearoa #NZ #NewZealand 🤔🌲🧭❤️ #CREWmission 📷 #Photography

Purple sweet peas grow wild amongst the foreshore grasses; a driftwood tepee is seen on the beach with cliffs at the south end behind it
View from floor of a driftwood tepee, looking skyward to apex
Stones tied to a wire mesh fence, some of which are decorated/ inscribed
A pebble & sand beach with the glow of early morning sun on the horizon out to sea

From tree lupins in the sand at The Pines Beach nr. Kaiapoi (📷1), turned inland to the foothills of the Southern Alps in North #Canterbury. Breakfasted on venison & whisky relish pie (📷2) at Sheffield Pie Shop (in Oxford #NotTheUK); top quality! Ashley Gorge on Inland Scenic Route (📷3); Waterfall Track has views over plains, Banks Peninsula, Summerhill & Pegasus Bay (📷4).

🚐 #VanLife #Motorhome #CamperVan #RV #Travel #RoadTrip #Nomad 🇳🇿 #Aotearoa #NZ #NewZealand 🤔🌲🧭❤️ #CREWmission 📷 #Photography

Yellow tree lupins on sandy beach; ocean beyond; footprints from spectators disturb the wind-made waves in the sand
Partially eaten pie in a paper bag showing filling inside pastry
Ashley River takes a path each side of a pebble bank midstream; forest on both banks & hills behind
Banks Peninsula on horizon right & centre frame; Summerhill & Pegasus Bay left of frame; cultivated plains & Ashley River in foreground

We circled back to #Christchurch via southern Canterbury, timing our travel to catch the early blooming of lupins in the Mackenzie Basin. You might even say we were “lupin north”! Before continuing with the northward journey there were several mop-up points of interest to visit (and revisit) in Christchurch City and on Banks Peninsula.

🚐 #VanLife #Motorhome #CamperVan #RV #Travel #RoadTrip #Nomad 🇳🇿 #Aotearoa #NZ #NewZealand 🤔🌲🧭❤️ #CREWmission 📷 #Photography

👀 More? See

Multi-coloured lupins line the shore of a turquoise lake; forest visible on opposite hillside

Birdlings Flat lies at the base of the 25km Kaitorete Spit; people fossick for gemstones on the long beach (📷1). Spent our 1st-ever night parked in lay-by (designated for self-contained vans) on a city street, in New Brighton, #Christchurch (📷2). Yellow lupins adorn the adjacent dunes (📷3). A soak at He Puna Taimoana; hot pools use heat pump tech to warm salt water (📷4).

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Yellow lupins & other flowering plants in foreground of stone beach; a turquoise sea seperate the view to a headland that has sheer cliffs
“Curiosity” parked in a lay-by; yellow lupins flower to right of frame
Tree lupins, sea figs & red-purple ragworts decorate the dunes backing a long & deep sandy beach; New Brighton Pier is seen jutting into ocean
Hot water baths with a view onto the beach

Ōnawe Pā loop track is a 6km/ 1.5h rtn stroll if you 🅿️ at The Duvauchelle Hotel—wise in a large camper. The pā was besieged in 1832 during NZ Musket Wars, when Ngāti Toa & Ngāti Awa massacred the defending Ngāi Tahu iwi/ tribe. Surrounded by sea at high tide, land access was via an isthmus (📷1) of mudstone (📷2). French Farm Bay from summit (📷3) & view back to isthmus (📷4).

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Ōnawe juts out into the turquoise harbour, linked to land by only a thin isthmus
Brown & cream swirls make patterns in the mudstone
Boats at anchor in a tranquil bay, seen from the pā summit; mostly pasture covers the hills behind
Long grass foreground; mown strip marks the path to the pā; the narrowness of the mudstone land bridge is clearly seen; there are no obvious archaeological remains

From a delightful park-over property (POP) at a farm on Le Bons Bay Rd (📷1), it was a short drive to Ōtepatotu Scenic Reserve off Summit Rd. The 2km/ 40min Ōtepatotu Track loops via the Lavericks peak at 755m, affording views over Akaroa township (📷2), Okains Bay (📷3) & to the Ōnawe peninsula protruding deep into Akaroa Harbour, anchored by a wafer-thin isthmus (📷4).

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Camper van in a field surrounded by lush green but steep farmland
View across bush & farmland to Akaroa Harbour, with a glimpse of the township
Rocky foreground; in the distance is the inlet of a bay, with a river reaching the ocean at one end of it
Onawe, a thin strip of land protruding into Akaroa Harbour, with surrounding hills

Le Bons Bay (📷1) on Banks Peninsula was home to French settlers; the name may be that of a sailor who made landfall here to confirm it wasn’t Akaroa Harbour! A fur seal was resting on the sand (📷2); yellow-eyed penguin visit too. The surrounding rugged hills are volcanic (📷3). The estuary is a protected nesting site (📷4) for variable oystercatchers/ Haematopus unicolor.

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Both headlands forming the vay are shown; sandy beach; rocks to left of frame
A seal rests on the sand in the middle of the bay, near the water’s edge
Rugged hills reflected in wet sand of the beach
Estuary looking towards sea at low tide

Akaroa on Banks Peninsula was much more popular than during our autumn visit: the freedom camping area was full, so we had to look elsewhere for overnight parking. Noted during a wander: the Coronation Library c.1875, housing reference books as well as 2nd hand sales (📷1); 1 of many lovely heritage homesteads (📷2); 1 of many old cars on NZ roads (📷3); a whaling past (📷4).

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Inside the historic library—no longer serving cognac by the fire; a French flag hangs on the far wall, reflecting the town’s early settlers origins; bookshelves to either side of a long reading table
Wooden heritage home with wisteria hanging from the porch & dormer windows projecting from the corrugated iron roof
An d car (Cadillac?) with cattle horns mounted on the bonnet, parked in the street
Cast iron pots used in processing whale products, displayed on a pedestrian walkway

Flowers seen during a walk in Orton Bradley Park on Banks Peninsula included digitalis in many colours, purple thistles, Scotch broom/ Cytisus scoparius with flecks of dark orange (📷1); endemic mikoikoi/ Libertia ixioides from the iris family (📷2); vetch/ Vicia sativa (📷3); & miner’s lettice/ Claytonia perfoliata, with flower inside the leaf (📷4).


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Broom flowers with flecks of sark orange marking the otherwise yellow blooms
Small white iris with three petals
Purple petals bent like a boomerang
A round green leaf with small white flowers dead centre

Enjoyed a 9km/ 3.5h loop walk around perimeter of Orton Bradley Park (via interlinked Tablelands, Waterfall Gully, Magnificent, & Hunters Gully trails). Views from this working farm to Otamahua/ Quail Island (📷1); across the valley towards Mt Herbert at 919m (📷2); of waterfalls dropping from basalt cliffs (📷3); & of Mt Bradley at 855m (📷4). Busy on #Canterbury Anniv. Day!

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An island seen from farmland; Port Hills beyond
Mountain viewed across valley; digitalis in foreground
Waterfall from basalt cliff, long exposure effect to blur water
Green flanks of Mt Bradley rise to a plateau, topped with yellow vegetation (either broom or gorse)

You’d be hard pressed to find a NZ campsite with on-site gardens & trails as extensive as those at Orton Bradley Park, on Banks Peninsula. The Rhododendron Dell comprises the collections of the #Canterbury Rhododendron Society, beginning with 220 plantings the were enhanced from 1985–2016 (📷1–3). There’s an attractive café too (📷4)—should your car lack a fitted kitchen!

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Person walking on path through rhododendron dell, which is set amongst taller trees; flowers line the path
Close up of rhododendron flowers (purple)
Close up of rhododendron flowers (white/ pink)
Cottage café, with wisteria above & lavender below the porch

Visited Six Extinctions exhibit at pop-up #Canterbury Museum (📷1). Mass extinction = 75+ % of species lost over short time (~2M yrs). Occurred during:

1. Ordovician 86% e.g. Endoceras (📷2👈)

2. Devonian 75% e.g. Dunkleosteus (📷2👉)

3. Permian 96%

4. Triassic 80%

5. Cretaceous 76% e.g. 🦖 T-rex (📷3)

6. Anthropocene ?% Clear correlations btw 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 & loss of biodiversity (📷4).

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Extinction is an ongoing part of the natural interaction of animals and plants with their environment and with each other. However, five truly massive extinction events that decimated life on the planet have left clear and dramatic evidence of their size and impact in the fossil record.

Yet life survives these catastrophes. Typically, while mass extinction events can wipe out distinctive animal forms of that era, the fossil record reveals that life responds to new opportunities with new evolutionary adaptations.

These extinction events, known as The Big Five, have been largely driven by geological factors such as meteorite impacts, massive volcanic eruptions, or the position of continents. But did you know that we are well on our way to a sixth mass extinction, one that is all our own doing?

This exhibition explores The Big Five extinction events throughout Earth's history and examines the causes of the Sixth Extinction crisis and what we can do about it.
Endoceras was a shelled cephalopod, similar to a modern squid, that lived in the Middle to Late Ordovician period. Its remains have been found on many continents, including North America, Europe and Australia. Endoceras were one of the largest predators of the time, preying on trilobites and early fish species. It is estimated that larger individuals would have grown up to 5.7 metres, making it the largest cephalopod by length known from the fossil record.

Dunkleosteus was one of the largest placoderms (armoured prehistoric fish) to have ever lived. From the ten known species, the largest and most well-known is Dunkleosteus terrelli, which grew up to 8.8 metres long and weighed up to 4 metric tonnes. Its super strong jaw and size would have made Dunkleosteus one of the top predators of its time. Its remains have been found in North America, Europe and Africa. Dunkleosteus became extinct in the Late Devonian extinction.
Tyrannosaurus lived throughout what is now North America. Tyrannosaurus rex is one of the largest known land predators and is estimated to have exerted the strongest bite force of any terrestrial animals. By far the largest carnivore of its time, it was most likely a top predator, predominantly preying upon other dinosaurs. It was the last known member of the tyrannosaurids and among the last non-avian dinosaurs to go extinct during the End Cretaceous extinction event.

This skeleton is a cast of the largest known specimen, nicknamed Scotty. The original is housed at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Canada, the skeleton measures almost 13 metres in length and would have weighed close to 9 metric tonnes in life.
Anthropocene is unofficially the present-day epoch. It is denoted by significant biological and geochemical changes including global warming, rising sea-levels, changes in the chemical composition of the atmosphere oceans and soil, habitat loss, a high rate of extinction and microplastics in terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

The ultimate effect on the biosphere of climate change combined with habitat fragmentation, invasive species, pollution and predation is a sharp increase in the rate of extinctions.

Current estimates put the extinction rate at 100 to 1,000 times greater than the background level and the rate is projected to increase by an astonishing further tenfold this century!

The Anthropocene looks set to become Earth's sixth great extinction event.

The Anthropocene is already leaving the evidence in the geological record, hence the motivation for proposing official recognition!

The Quarternary Megafauna extinction killed off more than 178 of the world's largest mammal species from 52,000 to 9,000 BC.
These extinctions closely mapped human migrations across the worlds continents.
Overhunting is thought to be the leading driver of these extinctions.

Expansion of human activity has seen:

* Climate change
* Ocean acidification 
* Plastic pollution 
* Habitat destruction

🎂 Marking 12 months on the road in our 🚐 vanship/ bachmobile “Curiosity” today.

Thank you for the adventures so far! 🙏

She’s come pretty close to being the 🇩🇪 eierlegende Wollmilchsau/ 🇬🇧 egg-laying wool & milk producing sow we sought out 😀

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Motorhome seen from rear, with bikes on back, pointed towards sunset
Motorhome crossing a ford, seen from front in overcast weather, with native bush surrounding
View of kitchen area showing gas hob, sink, fridge, extractor hood and bench top
Dinette area with seating for 4–6, table under window & over head lockers

🚴‍♂️ Cycled a mix of Te Araroa, Alps 2 Ocean & local cycle trails around Lake Tekapo; see Willow Bay (📷1). 🌲 Pine cones on Takapō Regional Park trails were hard to ride over! Tekapo River & Control Structure/ SH8 bridge (📷2), seen from Cowans Hill Trail. Further up the hill are many tarns (📷3) & good views over the Mackenzie Basin & adjacent ranges (📷4).

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Entrance to stoney lake beach under shade of willows, in frame left & right; turquoise lake mid-distance with snow-capped mountains on horizon
A concrete dam/ control structure across the residual Tekapo River; the lake is seen beyond; green vegetation including pine trees to either side
A tarn set in tussock grassland, upon which two Canada geese rest; mountain range beyond
Multiple tarns in tussock grassland, which is edged by the foothills of adjacent mountain ranges

Lake Alexandrina is filled with rainbow trout; those in baches or caravans take to small rowboats to fish for them (📷1&2). The lake is a nesting site for Australasian crested grebes/ kāmana/ Podiceps cristatus (📷3&4). Good divers but poor walkers, they spend their lives on water, build floating nests, carry chicks on their backs & are known for elaborate mating displays.

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Small boats overturned beneath a willow tree on the edge of Lake Alexandrina; the lake encroaches on the grass, which looks marshy
A “lawn” of waterlogged moss beneath a willow tree on the lake edge, with a small roof sheltering several boats
A pair of grebes; “It has a slender neck, sharp black bill and head with a distinctive black double crest and bright chestnut and black cheek frills, which it uses in its complex and bizarre mating displays.”
A pair of grebes, one showing the double head crest better

You can drive up to the observatory on 1,031m Mt John (📷1), or climb up via the Tekapo–Mt John Walkway. Alternatively, follow the walkway alongside the lakeshore for a flat return stroll. You’ll still get good views of Two Thumb Range opposite, seen here after overnight snow (📷2) & to Motuariki Island (📷3). Glimpses of Lake Tekapo’s northern end from Godley Peaks Rd (📷4).

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Different coloured lupins flowering on the lakeshore, with Mt John behind
Two Thumbs Range with a dusting of snow reflected in Lake Tekapo; overcast above
Motuariki Island, looking dark due to lighting conditions, is reflected in the lake; ranges beyond
Looking over trees at turquoise lake with snow-capped peaks in distance

With the focus on #spring #BloomScrolling, should we mention there’s a lake at Lake Tekapo? If you missed our previous visits, it’s known for the turquoise colour of its waters—due to suspended glacial silt. The 💦 level was lower than we’d seen it before (📷1&2). Tourists also flock to the rather dull lakeside church (📷3&4). But as they say: “Location, location, location!”

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Clouds and blue sky reflected in clear shallow water of lake; stones of the lakebed are readily seen; a row of stones is above water a little way into the water
Looking from stones of lake edge to far bank, where clouds partially obscure a mountain range
A small church reflects in the turquoise waters of Tekapo River
The Church of the Good Shepherd, with lupins in foreground

Lake Tekapo lupins: duotones in focus. Lupin genetics must be interesting, as some plants could not decide which slice of the 🌈 rainbow to pick. A number have evidently decided to boycott choice & go with two colours at once (📷1–3). Even the endemic NZ magpie moth/ Nyctemera annulata (📷4) came to inspect them—dressed in a duotone outfit, no less!

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Lilac and pink flowers of lupin in close-up
Violet/ purple and white flowers of lupin in close-up
Lilac and white lupins beside lake edge
Black moth with white markings on wings and to lesser extent on body, sitting on a green lupin leaf

Lake Tekapo lupins in multicoloured splendour. They are more advanced now (📷1–3) than they were in Lindis Pass, but intel suggests the back half of Nov (thru early Jan) would provide a real feast for the eyes. Californian poppies, aggrieved by all the attention on lupins, are getting in on the act too (📷4)!

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Multiple colours of lupins along shore of lake; manmade structure to right of frame related to power station; Mt John in background
Colours lupins including yellow in front of turquoise lake
Lupins in pink and purple beside lake beach
Orange poppies in foreground with lupins out of focus behind

We crossed the Lindis Pass (📷1) into #Canterbury ahead of prime lupin time. Ōhau B Canal is a popular NZMCA park-over (📷2); water from the power station flows downstream thru Ōhau C into Lake Benmore. Despondent fisher-campers can buy from the salmon farm opposite (📷3). SH8 crosses the dammed Ōhau River bed; Lake Ruataniwha is only artificial lake in Mackenzie Basin (📷4).

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Tussock grass covers the ranges of Lindis Pass; shadows from passing clouds darken the landscape selectively; state highway is visible right of frame
A blue sky reflects in the sediment-rich alpine waters of a power station outflow canal; left of frame a line of vans takes advantage of free overnight parking, while some campers try their luck fishing for salmon
A captive-breed salmon seen from above in a pen at the High Country Salmon farm
Lake Ruataniwha seen from a hill overlooking the dammed path of the original Ōhau River; alpine background; state highway in foreground

Lindis Pass Hotel (📷1) in Nine Mile Historic Reserve is below 1226m Lindis Peak (📷2); summit track closed for lambing. Originally a gold rush store est. 1861; a permanent building by 1873. It quickly fell into disrepair when a local farm acquired its iron roof. Access via Old Faithful Rd, a dirt track off SH8 (📷3). Boulder copper/ Lycaena boldenarum the only patron (📷4).

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Derelict hotel; substance of main walls and chimneys remain, but there’s no roof or windows in the frames
View of derelict hotel and stone outbuilding, with Lindis Peak behind exotic trees
Crops in foreground at roadside; campsite beyond trees with hills towards Lindis Pass in background
Copper-coloured butterfly resting on a yellow flower

Cycled along Frankton Arm & around Kelvin Peninsula, a section of the 120km #Queenstown Trail (in the Great Rides app). Immediately after crossing Kawarau Falls Bridge the trail delivers, with a stunning lakeside sequence of many small jetties, boats & secluded beaches (📷1–3). The trail also passes below the landscaped gardens of wealthy homes lining Peninsula Rd (📷4).

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Red boathouse & jetty, with a single powerboat moored to it; houses on the other side of Frankton Arm seen across the lake
Small but perfectly formed beach, shaded by overhanging willow trees; jetty left of frame
A wider bay where several boats anchor on floating moorings; a jetty protrudes from the beach, beside a boat ramp (out of frame)
Boats at anchor; homes on Peninsula Road behind, dwarfed by The Remarkables in the background—which are reflected in the lake

(2/2) Bannockburn Sluicings, Cromwell #Otago. The loop walk overlooks several vineyards nestled along the flats beside the flooded Kawarau River—part of Lake Dunstan & seen here with purple thyme (📷1) & red sorrel in foreground (📷2). The original ground level of the Carrick (alluvial) Fan indicates just how much gravel was shifted (📷3). An example exploratory dig (📷4).

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Purple thyme bushes in foreground; at bottom of hill rows of vines indicate wine production
Red tinge to grass due to red sorrel in foreground; orderly vines in mid distance with ranges in background
Original ground level to left & right of frame; a path crosses the remains of gravels blasted away in search of gold
A tunnel into an exposed gravel face; with a tin pan inside & thyme growing outside

(1/2) Bannockburn Sluicings, Cromwell #Otago. Hydraulic sluicing here sought to uncover gold-bearing “pay dirt” at the bottom of the deep gravel layer. Hillsides were literally blasted away using water pressure. The transformed landscape now cloaked in poppies & thyme (📷1–3). A restored miners hut in Stewart Town, with mud mortar btw stones & protective clay render (📷4).

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Yellow poppies & purple thyme bushes cover arid hills
Gap in water-blasted gravel reveals green valley below, with thyme-lined paths in foreground
Eroded remains of original ground level of Carrick Fan gravels, creating a “Wild West” environment
Cabin built of schist stones with mud mortar and clay render—with modern corrugated roof

The freedom camping area at Lowburn Harbour offers a perfectly acceptable view from pitch (📷1). The edge of Lake Dunstan here is decorated with tree lupin/ Lupinus arboreus (📷2), naturalised in 1889. Another North American immigrant growing with abandon here is the California poppy/ Eschscholzia californica (📷3). Across the road is Lowburn Inlet & Sugar Loaf at 304m (📷4).

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View from camp at edge of Lake Dunstan; yellow lupins in foreground
Close up of yellow tree lupin flower
Orange centre & yellow surround flower of California poppy
Inlet reflects ranges beyond; pointed hill in right of frame is Sugar Loaf

(2/2) It’s not yellow that rules the landscape here, but shades of violet/ purple. We’ve come back for the “purple haze” of wild thyme/ Thymus vulgaris (📷1); more of that soon 🤞. On the surrounding hillsides there’s also naturalised viper’s bugloss/ Echium vulgare (📷2) & wild sage/ Salvia verbenaca (📷3); plus the native poroporo/ Solanum laciniatum (📷4).

🌸 #BloomScrolling
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More pink than purple thyme flowers
Violet flowers of viper’s bugloss
Violet flowers of wild sage
Purple flowers with yellow centres

(1/2) We’ve come back to Roxburgh in Central #Otago, revisiting a powered pitch on an orchard to wait out incoming cold & wet #spring weather. Here’s the view from just up the hill (📷1) & of the township itself (📷2), nestled by the Clutha River (📷4). The yellow of gorse has given way to yellow #flowers of broom/ Cytisus scoparius—naturalised to NZ in 1872 (📷4). However…

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Gravel road lined by yellow-flowering broom, leading down to ploughed fields
View over Roxburgh township from Grovers Hill (rock of which fills right of frame)
Green Clutha River under blue sky
Yellow flower of broom

With our time on South Island running out, we reviewed our planning guide to identify places of interest we had not yet visited, and places we hoped to revisit. Revisits could be because we would like to see blooms/ colours at a particular time of year, see a landscape in better conditions, or simply because we liked it.

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👀 More? See

Water taxi departing Sandfly Point, at the end of the Milford Track.

Cathedral Caves in The Catlins, #Otago are at north end of Waipati Beach. Access is via 2km private Rd off Chaslands Hwy with paid 🅿️, then 1km bush track. Two sea caves join in V-shape, creating a 200m passage that is up to 30m tall. Access also depends upon tides/ sea conditions affecting safety: has opening times. 🔦 optional, but expect 💦👣!

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Water enters a sea cave, which has a sandy beach; sea life gives the rocks a pink & purple tinge
Queuing to enter the first cave
Light enters the cave, but it’s still dark
People provide scale at the entrance of the second cave

Tulip fields beside Ramway Rd West, Edendale #Southland. We called by as fellow travellers from Southland suggested we make a small detour. Triflor NZ operate NZ’s largest tulip farm. There’s an open day this Labour Day (23 Oct) so public can wander with permission amongst 🌷. They will shortly thereafter be debudded; the bulbs will be exported to the Northern Hemisphere.

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Yellow tulips in rows
White & purple tulips in rows
Red tulips in rows
Yellow & purple tulips in rows

Mavora Lakes, #Southland. (3/3) South Mavora Lake | Manawapōpōre. Follow Rd back to camp, which skirts the lake shore (📷1) then Mararoa River (📷2&3). Be prepared for dust showers as vehicles pass though. It’s 3.5h/ 11km total for the loop back to North Mavora Lake (📷4). Mavora Lakes Conservation Park part of Te Wāhipounamu–South West NZ UNESCO World Heritage Area.

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Grass foreground; sunlight turns lake water green; beech forest on opposite shore
Downstream view of river lined by grass & tussock
Upstream view of river lined by grass & tussock; exposed bank reveals layers of sediment
Green of the forest reflected in still lake at dawn

Mavora Lakes, #Southland. (1/3) South Mavora Lake | Manawapōpōre can be circumnavigated from DOC camp via a swing-bridge to Mavora Walkway (📷1), which crosses the outflow of the northern lake (📷2). Track runs down W edge of Mararoa River & the lake, mostly thru beech forest inhabited by common chaffinch (📷3); some open grassland. Spring off to poor start for one nest (📷4).

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Swing-bridge left of frame, spanning clear water of lake outlet
Looking upstream at lake outlet; rugged peaks beyond beech forest across bay
Olive, black, white & orange bird on branch
Bird nest on beech leaf carpet with soft padded centre & lichen rim; 2 bird nest fungi beside it

Mavora Lakes, #Southland. At end of a dusty 39km gravel road, DOC campsite sprawls over large area at bottom end of northern lake; Rd forks off to secluded pitches (📷1). Choose to be enclosed by beech trees, open views to the lake head some 11km distant (📷2), or mixed lake & forest vibes near the outflow (📷3). Curiosity parked among scattered beech below Thomson Mts (📷4).

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Gravel road leads towards stand of beech, via dry-looking sub-alpine grass; blue lake under blue skies, separated by white of snowy mountains
Closer view of lake & distant mountains
View from a gravel beach across outflow to a beech-lined lake shore
Beech forest covers lower slopes of Thomson Mountains; it thins out by the lake edge, where a motorhome is parked

After a last look at (fully exposed) Mitre Peak (📷1) in Milford Sound, back to DOC’s Cascade Creek Campsite. A pleasant evening (📷2) was followed by a pleasant morning (📷3); these views from pitch are hard to top. We made a third attempt to find the elusive mohua that lives in the beech forest here; only the Sth Is robin/ Petroica australis was breakfasting in public (📷4).

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Mitre Peak, free from cloud, with a snow cap; foreshore in foreground
Golden clouds over snow-capped peaks at sunset; view through van window from pitch at DOC camp; smaller camper vans visible in mod distance
A waterfall drops through bush on the mountains overlooking camp
NZ robin on branch, with worm in mouth

Milford Track, #Fiordland smalls (2/2). On this section of the track there were many tree fuchsia/ kohutuhutu/ Fuchsia excorticata—with its flaky skin-like bark, branches not infrequently fallen onto the path (📷1). Many varied species of moss, lichen & smaller ferns, incld. Lopidium concinnum (📷2); Hymenophyllum revolutum (📷3); & Cranfillia fluviatilis (📷4).

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Thin strips of skin-like bark
Delicate, almost fluffy fronds
Green fern fronds
Green waxy leaves are offset on this frond

Milford Track, #Fiordland smalls (1/2). Gaps in the canopy were just cause to look up, revealing the big stuff (📷1). But there was so much more to see looking down & around. Examples incld. this ever-curious fantail/ Rhipidura fuliginosa (📷2); unfurling tree fern/ Dicksonia squarrosa frond (📷3); & palm-leaf fern/ kiokio/ Blechnum novae-zelandiae (📷4).

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Mountain top viewed through a gap in the tree fern canopy
Fantail (grey, white, some black & orange) sits on a thin vine loop
A fern frond unraveling; it has an almost alien look about it
Leaves look like ears on the side of this fern spiral/ koru

Milford Track, #Fiordland (3/3). The aforementioned swing-bridge affords views of Giant Gates Falls (📷1&2); a good spot for a sandfly-infested picnic. From Sandfly Point to here is 11km/ 3h return, so depending on your taxi time, turn around & take the same path back (📷3). Enjoy the views towards Boultbee Island from Sandfly Point if you’ve time (& blood) to spare (📷4).

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View of Giant Gates Falls, a single drop, from the swing-bridge across the creek it feeds
Giant Gates Falls with long exposure effect to blur water motion
A tree fuchsia fallen across the walking teack
An island in foreground is dwarfed by the immensity of the mountains overlooking it

Although views of Mitre Peak are iconic, taking the Milford Road is not just about reaching the destination. Journey through scenic glacier-carved valleys, with mountain peaks reflected in pretty lakes, and pass through a tunnel blasted through 1.2km of solid granite mountain over almost 20 years. Stopping points are varied...

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👀 More? See

The inverted "V" of Mitre Peak rises from the water of Milford Sound; flax in foreground; the peak is partially obscured by cloud

There’s a song by TLC with the lyrics “Don’t go chasin’ waterfalls; Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to.” There would be plenty of rivers, lakes and waterfalls in this log as we explored Coastal Clutha and The Catlins.

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👀 More? See

Long-exposure effect for waterfall emphasises water flowing over rock; surrounded by lush vegetation

Milford Sound | Piopiotahi cruise (6/6), #Fiordland. Perhaps the most enduring memory of a Milford Sound cruise won’t be of specific features, nor anecdotes told to tourists, but of the sheer cliffs. Looking upwards from the foot of a 2,000m wall of rock that disappears into the clouds can’t help but rescale your world. Amazing plants manage to cling to smallest footholds.

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Mountains merge with water
Mountain sides don’t come any steeper than this
Close to vertical rock walls
A photo can’t do the view justice; this wide shot attempts to capture a 2000m rock wall the ascends from the sound into the clouds; vegetation clings to it in seemingly impossible footholds

The Milford Rd, #Fiordland. 1st km of Lower Hollyford Rd is sealed, to Lake Marian Track 🅿️. There’s an accessible series of cascades 10min in (📷1&2). 3.5km/ 90min to Lake Marian via rough track:

Rock & root seek to foul thy boot!

Lake set in “hanging valley” (glacial artefact) sitting btw Mts Christina & Lyttle (📷3&4). There are several glimpses back up to Pops View.

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A walkway beside a white-water gentle cascade in the forest, looking upriver
A walkway beside a white-water gentle cascade in the forest, looking downriver
Cloud descends over Lake Marian, with flank of  Mt Christina to left
Cloud descends over Lake Marian, with Mt Lyttle to right

The Milford Rd, #Fiordland. Continuing towards Milford Sound | Piopiotahi there’s an opportunity for views of the 3.3km-long Lake Gunn (📷1). 6km further, the platform at Pops View overlooks the Hollyford Valley (📷2) & is itself overlooked by Mt Christina at 2,602m (📷3). At 945m elevation, the 1.2km long Homer Tunnel cuts through a steep mountain; it opened in 1953 (📷4).

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A view of Lake Gunn framed by tree trunks to left & right; across the lake a bush-clad slope roses steeply
Hollyford River seen running through Hollyford Valley, dense with bush; mountains beyond partially hidden by clouds
Mt Christina to left; across the saddle is Mt Lyttle
Entrance to Homer Tunnel (Te Anau side)

The 22m McLean Falls are on the Tautuku River within the Catlins Conservation Park, reached via a 2.1km walk from the car park at the end of a 3km gravel road. There are lower falls (📷1), the chute & upper falls (📷2–4).

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Long exposure effect on lower set at McLeans Falls
Long exposure effect on upper set at McLeans Falls
Vertical pic of upper set at McLeans Falls
Horizontal pic of upper set at McLeans Falls; sunbeams capture the mist

Florence Hill Lookout affords superb views over Tautuku Bay in The Catlins (📷1); the peninsula has no road access & is almost amputated by the Tautuku River. Spouting Cave on Rainbow Island just offshore outperforms most blowholes we’ve visited (📷2). Tautuku Beach has been 100,000 yrs in the making (📷3); patterns in fine quartz sand as captivating as staring into 🔥 (📷4).

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Turquoise sea; white surf; golden sand & green land
A spout produced by waves impacting a sea cave
Golden quartz sand; offshore from Florence Hill Lookout in centre frame is Rainbow Is
Scale-like patterns in the sand

They say/ sing 🎵 “Don’t go chasing waterfalls…” but that wisdom won’t serve you well in The Catlins. The 20m 3-tiered cascades of Purakaunui Falls are among the most photographed sights in Otago (📷1&2). Only 10min up the road are 10m Matai Falls (📷3), reached via a short track populated with tree fuchsia. Off the same path, just above those, are the Horseshoe Falls (📷4).

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Three cascades characterise the Purakaunui Falls, shown here with a long exposure effect to blur flowing water; side view from left stream bank
Three cascades characterise the Purakaunui Falls, shown here with a long exposure effect to blur flowing water; direct view from wooden platform
The single drop of Matai Falls, shown here with a long exposure effect to blur flowing water; a fallen tree in foreground
The single drop of Horseshoe Falls, shown here with a long exposure effect to blur flowing water; vegetation in foreground

Nugget Point Lighthouse in the Catlins, Coastal #Otago, is an oft-visited landmark (📷1). Fur seals may be seen on the beaches below the cliffs; the white flower in foreground is a native clematis (📷2). Rocky islets with vertical striationsc march into the sea (📷3). Plenty of endemic NZ red admiral/ Vanessa gonerilla butterflies about; kahukura or “red cloak” in Māori (📷4).

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View of Nugget Point Lighthouse on raised scrub-covered point; flax in foreground; multiple islets offshore
Cliff slopes steeply to rocky beach below; white flower of clematis in foreground; coastline continues beyond
Rocky islets extend from the point, making for a less-than-abrupt demarcation between land and sea
Brown, red, black & white pattern of wings of endemic NZ butterfly

Several lakes in Clutha District are close to Dunedin. Lake Waihola is NZ’s most inland tidal freshwater lake, at 10km from coast (📷1). Lake Mahinerangi (📷2) is a hydro lake created by damming of Waipori River, submerging the original Waipori mining township. Passed isolated hill stations (📷3) to reach Lawrence (📷4); it grew to support prospectors at nearby Gabriels Gully.

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Blue sky reflects in still post-storm surface of lake
Lake under cloudy skies; exposed dirt suggests low levels of
Rolling green pasture with grazing sheep
Historic buildings remain in the ex-mining town of Lawrence

Sandymount to Sandfly Bay track took 1h to descend 2.7km to the beach (from car park at end of Sandymount Rd, via lookout). The track begins as sandy soil but very soon becomes pure sand (📷1&2). We didn’t access the beach due to presence of large sea lion bulls (📷3)/ insufficient beach to keep a respectful distance. Sandfly Bay (as in “Sand flies”) seen from lookout (📷4).

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Sandy path down dune; Sandfly Bay in distance
End in sight as the sandy track leads towards the beach; purple flowers brighten a dull day
Sea lion bull heads for water
View of Sandfly Bay from lookout; rain falls over Sandymount left of frame

Freedom camping beside beautiful Pūrākaunui Inlet; view to 468m Mopanui peak (📷1). On track to estuary mouth sands of Pūrākaunui Bay opposite & defensible cliffs of 18th century Mapoutahi Pā (📷2); Warrington Spit visible beyond. On Pūrākaunui Inlet Track (📷3) saw rare juvenile nankeen night heron/ umu kōtuku/ Nycticorax caledonicus: not supposed to be here, nor awake (📷4)!

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Pūrākaunui Inlet from road; sand exposed at low tide; pasture & forest on far shore, with is topped by a flat peak
White sand lines estuary mouth; beyond cliffs of a headland aid Māori defenders of yesteryear
Boat sheds line the estuary shore
Nankeen night heron | Umu kōtuku 

“Juvenile and immature birds are sandy brown, speckled dark brown, reddish brown and off-white above, and streaked brown below, tinged rufous on the cheeks, neck and upper breast. Juveniles have a brown-streaked crown and nape; in contrast, immature birds have a darker, less obviously streaked cap. Wing coverts are dull reddish brown with white edges, aligned so that they look like serrated bars. Flight and tail feathers are chestnut-brown with prominent white tips. The bill is dark grey above grading to olive-yellow below, with a dark grey tip; legs lime-green.”


A clear morning to bring fresh perspective on life’s trivial annoyances at Lake Camp, #Canterbury. Standing on the shore at -3°C with freshly brewed coffee in hand to watch the sunrise is something to lift the spirit.

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Pink light of dawn above snowy mountains reflected in still lake water
Morning mist clings to the shore; ranges are mirrored in the still water, through which a gravel lakebed is visible
Sun hitting the tops of the ranges gives them on orange glow; near symmetrical reflection of blue sky & wisps of cloud
Morning light on snowy peaks reflected in lake; exposed gravel disturbs the otherwise perfect blue mirror

Lake Rotoroa (“long lake”) is largest lake in Nelson Lakes NP; water taxi runs from jetty (📷1). View south down lake to Maniniaro/ Angelus Peak 2,075m in the Travers Range to E; Mt Misery 1,601m to R (📷2). On western shore, Braeburn Walk 5km/ 1.5h thru beech/ podocarp forest (📷3) leads to waterfall. Source of Te Kauparenui/ Gowan River (📷), draining lake into Buller River.

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Jetty protrudes into calm lake reflecting blue sky & green mountains, with snowy peaks beyond
Snowy ranges to south end of lake; vegetation in foreground
Vegetation reflected in still lake water
River origin shows clear water in alpine setting

We previously shared our thoughts on "Hunting the eierlegende Wollmilchsau"—or trying to find the perfect, no compromise “egg-laying wool & milk producing sow.” What are the pros and cons of this particular motorhome model/ layout? Furthermore, what home improvements have we seen fit to make?

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Motorhome in sunlight at a park-up by the beach

Pupu Hydo Walkway is the lesser known Pupu Valley treasure; it offers a levada-like environment you can enjoy closer to Māpua than Madeira. For 1.7km the walk follows a 1901 gold mining water race, repurposed for electricity generation in 1929. 107m down penstock to the powerhouse (📷1); 💦 race running along steep hillside (📷2&3); ⚡️ power generator (📷4). A 5.5km/ 1.5h loop.

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Penstock runs down hill through felled bush to a power house; valley opens up beyond
Narrow boardwalk alongside water race clinging to steep hillside; views over bush to opposite side of valley
A wider path beside water race with picnic table set in bush
Power generating equipment

The season of “winter” can last for almost six months in some parts of New Zealand—in Southland we had seen signs that things were closed for winter break from April to October. The southern hemisphere winter is technically only from June through August. So how has the New Zealand winter affected us, given we’ve just entered August?

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A white motorhome looks small in the shadow of snow-capped peaks

(3/3) Abel Tasman NP, Onetahuti to Tōtaranui. From Awaroa Inlet it’s a further 7.1km/ 2h 20min back to Tōtaranui Beach. En route the track passes Waiharakeke Bay (📷1) and Goat Bay (📷2&3) before Tōtaranui comes into view (📷4); it’s just a 100m detour to a lookout at Skinner Point. Including the taxi ride, made a 26km journey over 5h 20m, of which 16km/ 4h 20min was hiking.

🚐 #VanLife #Motorhome #CamperVan #RV #Travel #RoadTrip #Nomad 🇳🇿 #Aotearoa #NZ #NewZealand 🤔🌲🧭❤️ #CREWmission 📷 #Photography

Creek cuts a path to the sea at Waiharakeke Bay
Rocky shore at the south end of Goat Bay
Golden sands at the north end of Goat Bay
Crescent shape of Tōtaranui Beach, with headland beyond

(1/3) Abel Tasman NP, Onetahuti to Tōtaranui. The 15min water taxi ride from Tōtaranui to Onetahuti Beach passed this “apple rock”, apparently not yet split (📷1). After our dry feet drop-off (📷2) we walked to the beach’s north end, where a fancy new bridge crosses the estuary (📷3); this becomes a wetland for some way inland (📷4), here viewed from the climb out of the bay.

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Granite boulder like Split Apple Rock without the split!
Water taxi in-shore; Tonga Island; clear water & golden sand
Bridge across estuary
Wetlands viewed from slightly elevated position over Onetahuti Bay

Gorge Creek Viewpoint is reached via a 350m fork off Harwoods Hole Track, Canaan Downs/ Pikikirunga. Weathered limestone looked gorgeous in frost (📷1) but didn’t make for easy footing (📷2)—somewhere btw Malham Cove’s pavements with crevices (UK) & Tsingy’s razor-edge peaks (MG). But bravery has its rewards (📷3). Today’s “small” is an unusual pattern in rocks—source anyone?

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Sculpted marble, looking like a diorama mountain range
Crevasses with sharp ridges: need to be sure-footed walking over these!
Views of the Takaka Valley and Gorge Creek
Discoid track in limestone—but what made it?

(3/4) Abel Tasman NP, Torrent Bay/ Rākauroa to Onetahuti. Medlands Beach offers the picture-postcard tropical beach—except it’s not going to melt your popsicle at 13 degrees (📷1). Might be our fav beach so far though! Bark Bay (📷2) was named for timber harvesting here; a tidal estuary sits behind it (📷3). Tonga Quarry was a former base for extracting granite blocks (📷4).

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Clear water, gorgeous beach upon which sea kayaks are drawn up
Sun shines on beach with headland silhouetted in distance
Small island sits in a tidal estuary
Picnic table in the sand of a beach in shade

(2/4) Abel Tasman NP, Torrent Bay/ Rākauroa to Onetahuti. Frenchman Bay was frustratingly difficult to photograph, but eventually the trees saw fit to afford an unobstructed view (📷1). Invasive Hakea sericea/ needlebush were flowering (📷2). Falls River, viewed from the swing bridge crossing (📷3). Sandfly Bay for lunch in the sun—& not one sandfly made us her lunch (📷4)!

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Bush descends to white sands with clear stream meeting turquoise sea
Needles protecting delicate white flower
Bush-clad hill reflected in tranquil river water
Bush, beach, water, rocks, blue sky

Uplifting of Ward Beach during the 2016 Kaikōura quake changed the course of the Flaxbourne River (📷1), exposing bedrock. Crossed it & walked 4km south to Needles Point (📷2), which features limestone pillars (~1.5h walk thru loose gravel). Banded dotterel (Charadrius bicinctus) owned the beach (📷3), swallow (Hirundo neoxena) the sky & seals were threading the needles (📷4).

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River with grassy bank to far side & loose gravel slope to near side
Limestone outcrops at Needles Point
Dotterel with banded chest markings on beach
Limestone needle with seals at its base

(1/2) Kaikōura Peninsula Walkway kicks off with views back to the snow-capped Seaward Kaikōura Ranges, rising dramatically behind the coastal flats (📷1). People come here though for the fur seal colonies: visible from the car park (📷2), or seen on the rocks/ beach/ grass below the scenic cliff top walk—such as at Point Keen Viewpoint (📷3) or overlooking Whalers Bay (📷4).

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Snow-capped mountains arrive steeply from coastal flats
NZ fur seal sunbathing on rocks
Seal colony below cliff top walkway (Point Keen Viewpoint)
Seal colony below cliff top walkway (Whalers Bay)

The #Christchurch Botanic Gardens grew from an English oak planted in 1863; they now occupy 21 hectares & include a loop of the Avon River. Inside, an Edwardian-style cast iron Peacock Fountain (📷1); “Diminish and Ascend”, a receding perspective staircase in aluminium (📷2); punting on the Avon (📷3); in the NZ Garden, flowering small-leaved kōwhai (Sophora microphylla; 📷4).

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Edwardian-style fountain set in pool; neo-Gothic buildings behind
A staircase arising from lake, tapering to a vanishing point
A boat on the river, steered from the back by a person with a pole
Yellow flowers & small green leaves

Lake Hauroko (the soughing of the wind) in #Fiordland NP is NZ’s deepest lake at 462m (📷1–3). Access to the demanding 8–10d Dusky Track is by boat across to the northern end. Saw a karearea/ NZ falcon (Falco novaeseelandiae) dispatch a mouse in front of us (📷4). Thicket Burn Camp 7.4km E along Lillburn Valley Rd our 103rd & westernmost overnight spot for 6/12 vanniversary.

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Jetty extends into waters reflecting clouds & mountains
Forested lake shore with clouds clinging to forested mountain slopes
Swampy area with toetoe growing in the gravel
Falcon eating a mouse while perched on a branch

Glenorchy lies at the delta where the Dart & Rees rivers feed into the northern end of Lake Wakatipu. The area is a favourite location with the film industry (#LotR & more) & is the gateway to river safaris up the Dart by jet boat as well as to the trailhead for one of NZs Great Walks, the Routeburn Track. The 45 min drive from #Queenstown is very scenic.

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Dart River Adventures jet boat returns from a river safari
The wharf, with mountains opposite
Famous red wharf shed
View up the Rees River valley

Lake Wakatipu from Bennetts Bluff (📷1&2) & Twelve Mile Delta Campsite (📷3&4). At 80km NZs longest lake. At 291 sq km NZs 3rd largest. At 380m NZs 3rd deepest (surface at 310m elevation, so goes below sea level). 5 rivers in, 1 out. Level oscillates (a seiche or standing wave) due to unique shape & differential effects of wind/ atmosphere on “restrained” parts. #Queenstown

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Mountains reflected in lake
Islands in lake, looking towards Glenorchy
Evening light on mountains across lake
Evening light on mountains across lake; beach in foreground

From Alex. over #Otago’s Raggedy Range on gravel road aiming for Poolburn Dam (Rohan in #LotR), but bailed as too rough. Views back to Ida Valley (📷1&2) as made for ex-mining settlement of Ophir, where the 1886 Post Office is still in use (📷3). Nearby Omakau is larger (it got the railway), but the “Back in 5 years” sign (📷4) in a local business suggests it’s not booming 😉

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Green pastures stretching back to line of substantive hills on horizon.
Short tussock & rocky outcrop in foreground; rolling hills give way to green plains.
An old stone building fronted by arches with a red tin roof.
A junk shop with one door open & the other closed, upon which a sign reads “Back in 5 years”.

Discovering NZ:

How did the islands of Aotearoa come into being? Where did the first people arrive from? How long did it take Europeans to rediscover the islands? How would you tackle exploring NZ from a camper van or motorhome? What areas might be of interest to travellers? Here's our take: let us know yours?

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Map of coloured "blobs" showing NZ regions/ areas of interest, reflecting what we hope is a sensible approach to touring them!

Monro Beach Walk is 3km each way, btw. Lake Moeraki & Otumotu Point (📷1), a nesting site for 🐧 Tawaki (Fiordland crested penguins). Best seen Jul–Nov when breeding; occasionally seen Jan–Mar when moulting. We didn’t see the birds, but did meet an odd fellow in the bush (📷2). The beach was worthwhile on its own; a geological hodgepodge of shapes, colours, & textures (📷3&4).

🚐 #VanLife #Motorhome #CamperVan #RV #Travel #RoadTrip #Nomad 🇳🇿 #Aotearoa #NZ #NewZealand 🤔🌲🧭❤️ #CREWmission 📷 #Photography

Rocky headland of Otumotu Point, with pebble sand foreground.
Moss-covered punga stump given limbs, facial features & antlers.
Honeycomb rock formation with a broken paua shell inset.
Striped smooth rocks in the shape of waves.

(2/2) Iveagh Bay, Lake Brunner on #WestCoast at sunset. Just going to let the pictures tell their own story…

🚐 #VanLife #Motorhome #CamperVan #RV #Travel #RoadTrip #Nomad 🇳🇿 #Aotearoa #NZ #NewZealand 🤔🌲🧭❤️ #CREWmission 📷 #Photography

Trees silhouetted across the lake
Orange skies reflected in lake; dark trees in foreground; distant mountains
Orange skies reflected in lake; dark trees in foreground; distant mountains (closer view)
Dying light from near boat ramp