Butter boxes to lakes
On we went, down the west coast. There was no wind and the lake we passed reflected the hillside.
Lake on windless day
Soon the road rejoined another beautiful section of the coast.
The Austrian explorer Julio Von Haast visited the area in the 1850s and recorded how many kiwi and kakapo he had shot, he even commented on how easy it had been. Both species are today very rare, the kiwi (flightless bird that looks like a ball of fur with a long beak) is threatened and the kakapo (very large flightless parrot with green and brown feathers that look just like lichen) is critically endangered.
We fancied a break from the driving so pulled over at the next DOC (Department of Conservation) car park. It was called Ship’s Creek (there are many in New Zealand) and proved to be very interesting.
Our eyes were drawn to some very tall trees, sticking out way above the canopy. They were kahikatea, the tallest tree that grows in New Zealand, up to 65 metres. They thrive on swamps and interlock their roots with their neighbours so as to stay upright.
In the past, these trees were widespread, covering the vast lowlands, but demand for timber and for the fertile lands they grew on, for agriculture, meant that many were chopped down and kahikatea are now rare.
The timber is light coloured and its main use was to make butter boxes and cheese crates so that New Zealand’s dairy produce could be exported to Britain.
Sample NZ Cheddar cheese crate
A board walk disappeared off into the dunes and we followed it for a while. Franco and I have a lot of fun watching birds in wild and remote places but when needs must, humans can be pretty entertaining too. Everywhere we stopped, this couple were composing elaborate poses for their photo.
It took 20 minutes to drape the shawl over the log
The road left the coast and started climbing. Soon we were in lake country.
In Wanaka, we stopped at a small supermarket to stock up on food before taking the high mountain Cardrona Road towards Queenstown. We found a nice lay-by and pulled over for the night.