Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


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Lake Pukaki

More form our travels through New Zealand, November 2019

The glacial waters of lake Pukaki, South Island.

NZ Rd to Mt Cook Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki, a shimmering blue jewel set against a backdrop of Aoraki/Mt Cook, gets its distinctive deep blue tones from finely-ground minerals carried in the glacier-fed waters.

There are lots of blue wonders such as this 

It’s a long ribbon shaped lake, formed by  a terminal moraine dam   ( sigh, I loved glaciation in geography at school).

NZ Rd to Mt Cook Lake Pukaki Texture_

Water from the lake is used to make hydro electricity,  a canal carries the water to the power station. I think it may be a little chilly for a swim, even though it looks like a swimming pool.  The height of the dam  was raised

NZ lake Pukaki Canal_

(Mr Uphilldowndale would very much like to know by how much, but I’ve not tracked that info down yet, is it any wonder it is taking me so long to write these posts?) .

 


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Brides on tour

Once I caught my breath, at the stunning sight of the lupins at lake Tekapo, something else caught my eye. At first glance I thought I could see people catching insects, moths maybe, or butterflies? Entomologists, studying the secret life of lupins perhaps? 

I saw white net drifting over the lupins, twirling, lifting and then falling from the breeze.  Yes that’s it, entomologists I thought.

But no, it was a bride, a Chinese bride on a wedding dress tour.  Tom had told me about this, yes wedding dress tours are a thing. Whoever knew?

Brides and grooms, from China, come to New Zealand to have their wedding photos taken in these beautiful, iconic locations.  I told you the lupins were photogenic.

NZ Wedding dress tour _

It’s big business.  The civil marriage takes place in China, the bride and groom then fly to New Zealand, spending thousands of dollars on hair, make-up, photographers the works. The photographs are then shown on big screens, back at the wedding reception in China. It’s a status symbol.

I’d assumed the bride would wear the same dress for all the different locations, and back at the wedding reception in China. But no, it’s a different dress for the reception at home and it is different dress for each location! The companies facilitating the photo shoots, hire out dresses too. 

I did think it must be a bit chilly for the bride. Note the photographer is wearing a puffa jacket…

Wedding dress tour 3

The groom looked a little less engaged in the job in hand than the bride. Maybe he wants to be an entomologist.

Wedding dress tour 4

We went on our way, heading for Mount Cook National Park, it was a public holiday, not that you’d know from the roads,  bank holiday traffic back in the UK, does not look like this!  (Yes the glacial blue is true to life).

Bank holiday traffic 2

But it can be surprising what you meet on these seemingly empty roads. as they say New Zealand roads are different. 

On our way to Glenorchy, we spotted something, or at least somebody in the road ahead.  And by the time we reached them they had sensibly stepped off the carriage way.

It’s a  risky business this wedding dress tour lark.

 

 

 

 

 


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Will there be lupins?

That is the question I asked Tom when we’d booked the flights to New Zealand,  all  the websites and brochures I’d looked at showed photogenic images of luscious lupins, framing ice blue water and snow topped mountains. ‘ Yes, they are every where Mum’ he replied. Which is a bit of an issue, but we’ll come to that later, first, lupins. Enjoy.

Lupin 4 NZ

These images were taken at Lake Tekapo,  on South Island, the water  really is that blue, no filters here. In the distance Mount Cook and Mount Cook National Park. They were taken in November, so early summer for New Zealand

You can imagine how excited I was by this vista, Tom and Mr Uphilldowndale couldn’t stop sneezing though, but they tolerated the pollen long enough for me to play amongst the lupins and bag my very own lupin shots.

NZ Lupin close up

So how did they get here? The plant is native to  North America.

The story goes that,

As a schoolboy in 1949, Scott helped his mother, Connie Scott, of Godley Peaks Station, near Tekapo, scatter lupin seeds along the roadside. She bought about £100 worth from the local stock and station agent, hiding the bill from her husband for many months, hoping simply to make the world more beautiful.

1949, £100 of seed? That would have been an awful lot of money!

Maybe there is some artistic licence in that story?

NZ Lupin pink and blue_

Some see them as an invasive species.

The Russell lupin, Lupinus polyphyllus, hailing from North America, and used in a hybridisation program that subsequently gave it increased vigour, is such a mild-mannered and quintessential cottage garden plant here in the UK and a complete thug in New Zealand. Colonising streambanks, just like in the picture, they are taking over a habitat so important for New Zealand’s unique wildlife. Riverbed birds such as wrybill, black stilt and banded dotterel are being pushed out of their natural home by a garden plant introduced to New Zealand.

NZ Lupin_

and others see them as a valuable fodder for sheep

The New Zealand Merino Company (NZMCo) is drafting a new protocol to promote lupins as a high-country fodder crop, and seeking the support of Environment Canterbury, as well as conservation groups and farmers. It’s a bid to stay on the right side of environmentalists and ecologists who see lupins as an environmental time bomb.

 

NZ Lupin shore line_

I’ve tried growing them at home, I’ve never managed to get them established, they seem to be a slug magnet. The trip has inspired me to try again though, I’m confident they won’t be colonising the Todbrook reservoir though.

 

 


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More than just books

It struck me on our travels through New Zealand, that Kiwi’s treasure their libraries.

Few can be any sweeter than  Glenorchy’s  historic library, first built in 1891,  by 1911 it had over 1,000 items  catalogued (they now have a modern library building too).

Glenorchy Library_

But what we did notice was that the libraries we spotted, seemed very innovative.

In Napier you didn’t  even need the library to be open to return a book, I’m pleased to see  the ‘loved it’ letter box is more worn than the ‘not for me’.

return books NZ

We should never underestimate the power of a library, or librarians, to change lives.

In Rotorua, they fund raise

Friends of library NZ.jpg

In Devonport, a suburb of Auckland, the library was open on Sunday.  Not something I’ve seen in the UK.

They weren’t shy at attracting visitors either, the trees outside were swathed in purple and white, in celebration of New Zealand’s proud history of women’s suffrage about which they were staging an exhibition.

Davenport Lib NZ

They’ve every right to be proud, 1893!

On 19 September 1893 the governor, Lord Glasgow, signed a new Electoral Act into law. As a result of this landmark legislation, New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections

They can be proud of the new  library building too, it’s gorgeous.  And wait for it, its even got  microchip-activated cat door for elderly tabby Benjamin

The designers say the Devonport Library is being used in ways they hadn’t envisaged. Photo / Brett Phibbs

There is a lot going on in the libraries beside books; knitting groups, for example, some have gained international publicity recently,  which has led to an avalanche of orders. I loved the reaction to the demands for a certain beanie baby hat

Harry and Archie.

The group received thousands of orders for its hats, which are stitched in libraries and cafes around the country by volunteers. “It’s gone crazy, the orders have gone through the roof,” said Smith. “But there will be a delay for hats ordered now – the nature of our knitting groups is about community and nurturing mental health, so we don’t want pressure for anyone to make loads of hats in one week.

 

 


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Note to self

It’s always tempting when the seed catalogues drop through the letter box on the darkest of winters days, to get a bit carried away by the promise of summer, and spend a lot of money. (Sarah Raven’s catalogue is particularly seductive)

It’s even harder this year with the memory of New Zealand’s summer flowers still fresh and fragrant in my mind.

NZ Geum 2

However, no mater how much restraint I show, yellow and orange geums will be on the list  These  beauties were  in Christchurch Botanic Gardens.  Which felt very familiar,   very British (only sunnier) similar to Buxton’s Pavillion Gardens, in Derbyshire.

The gardens are home to The Peacock Fountain  which was made at Coalbrookedale Foundry in Shropshire, England; this blog has explored the Coalbrookedale  Museum of Iron in a previous post, and its easy to see this fountains linage.

Built  in 1911it’s not always been universally popular,  its quite ornate…

Erected by the Christchurch Beautifying Association from funds bequeathed by the late Hon. J. T. Peacock

Peacock Fountain Christchurch_.jpg

I think we can safely say it has been beautified,  however one writer told the press of the time 

 ‘it exhibited no more taste than the gaudy decoration used by travelling showmen to embellish their merry go-rounds.’

Which I feel is a little harsh.   Now back to the seed catalogue,  which of the Geums will it be?   And do they come with added butterfly?

 

 


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Picture perfect

More of our New Zealand travels,  November 2019

Wanaka

Having flown for 28 hours, it was good to arrive ( flying  Manchester, Dubai, Sydney, Sydney to Queenstown) With two hour stops at Dubai and Sydney, there wasn’t much hanging about and all went as smoothly as it could. I concluded that a kind of ‘shut down’ of the brain was required, I couldn’t concentrate to read, so I watched a lot of film, TV and listened to podcasts,  the £25 noise cancelling headphone were a godsend, than you Mrs B for the tip.

I’ll have to grab the photos of our planes decent into Queenstown  off Mr Uphilldowndale’s phone. What a way to arrive.

It’s not hard to see why our boy has fallen in love with this place.

NZ Lake Wanaka framed_

The following day we had breakfast at the Waters Edge Hotel, the first of many memorable meals of the trip. NZ does food, coffee and wine with aplomb.

Tom drove us out to Mount Aspiring National Park, it wasn’t long before we were forging through fords and on unsealed road, that were altogether less potholed than than the A roads we’d left behind in Derbyshire .

NZ dusty road

It was positively Alpine

Wanaka cool feet

But with attitude, this looks like a high octane way to spend your weekends,  jet boating.

Wanaka power boat

And relax, the adventure, months in the planning has arrived.

Andy and Sam NZ Mt Aspiring NP

 

 


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Tasty blue sky

It’s a much welcome bright day here in Derbyshire,  one in which I shall try and  in gather all the lumens I can.  You never know how long it might be before the next sunny day.

Here are some some sunny blue sky photos from our New Zealand trip (November 2019), with complementary flash of orange for added zing.

A walk by the Clutha river, at Albert Town, nr Wanaka.  Look, lupins, Tom had promised me there would be lupins ( a photogenic but invasive bloom, but more of that later).

NZ Albert Town Cultha river canoe.jpg

Aren’t these poppies delicious

NZ Albert Town Cultha river poppies

There was a cloud in the blue sky,  but what a handsome  cloud. I think it is a Lenticularis cloud,  but you’d probably have to ask The Cloud Appreciation Society for a definitive answer.

Albert Town Lenticular_

And if this wasn’t tasty enough we followed up with lunch at Pembroke Patisserie,  I don’t know which  herb or spice they season their spinach and feta rolls with, but it make them sing.  So much so we had to go back again another day.

Tom tells me  how grim the weather has been over Wanaka, with the smoke clouds from Australia. It’s hard to imagine the scale of the  Australian bush fires, but to put a little perspective on it,  Sydney to New Zealand is a three hour flight (NZ is not quite ‘next door’ to Australia as we Poms  are sometimes guilty of thinking).  You are in our thoughts Australia.