Te Wai Pounamu, Aeteoroa- the Maori name for the south island of New Zealand. New Zealand consists of 2 islands roughly the same size but with 3 million people on the northern, slightly warmer island and only 1 million on the south island, the south island is clearly the winner in terms of beauty, wilderness and variety.
We currently divide our time between two places : Christchurch, the largest city on the s.island with roughly 60% of the entire population living in this area, and our favorite place in the world, Murchison with a population of 600. Murchison is the closest town to the location of our native and plantation forest. We also have a small house in the town itself. Though we haven’t made the full transition to living in Murchison yet, we are already integrating into the community and seem to know far more people there than we do living next door to us in the city.
On this, the tour of the s.island, we’ll start on the east coast, which is the Pacific ocean side, where Christchurch is located and then we’ll head through the Southern Alps, a formation of mountains created by the collision of the eastern Pacific plate and the western Australian plate forming the Alpine fault line running down the center of the island. The fault is marked by mountains, a continental divide, hot springs and lots of beautiful places and well, earthquakes too.
We’ll then travel north about 3 hours and have an extended visit of Murchison. Murchison lies just to the north of the fault line.
Finally we’ll travel another hour to the west coast, the Tasman sea, with Australia, “on the other side of the ditch” as we like to say around here. The west coast had a whole different look and feel to it, capturing most of the moisture from the Tasman and being a small narrow wooded rain-forest between the mountains and the sea.
Welcome to New Zealand!
East coast – the Pacific ocean
Christchurch – the Garden City
Heading into the mountains… Recent winter photos (July)
Notice that New Zealand native trees are all evergreen – notice the green under the snowfall!
Now over the divide. This is Arthur’s Pass area
And over the pass, everything becomes forested and green and we get to Murchison.
View of the town from one of the surrounding hills.
Panorama of the town from ground level.
Just a few steps from ‘downtown’.
and a view to the south at some of the 1200m mountains (~4000ft) – here snow covered in the winter ( this is a shot taken Aug, 2008)
Murchison itself is famous for being the epicenter of a massive 7.8 earthquake in 1929, the largest recorded quake in NZ up to that time and felt all the way to the ends of both islands. Lives were lost (17), buildings were damaged, uplifts created new waterfalls (Maruia Falls) and rockslides changed river courses forever but luckily the population density was very low and the devastation was not widespread. The bad news is that we are long overdue for another 8+ earthquake on the S.Island. Despite the risks, we still think we will be better off in Murchison than anywhere else. What’s the chance of being the epicenter twice. Don’t answer that. We still think this is our slice of heaven on earth and will plan accordingly.
And a few photos of our ‘native bush’, called Stainart forest. This is the view of Murchison from the highest point on our forest block – at about 400m ( ~1300ft). We are surrounded by Kahurangi National Park to the north and Nelson Lakes National Park to the east. You can just barely make out that the the river jogs back and forth in the valley. That’s from rock slides created during the earthquake!
One of our many 400 year old NZ Beeches ( this one is a Red Beech – the king of the forest here).
and another more typical view of our beech forest.
And now we’ll leave Murchison and travel further west – the rain increases and there are glaciers and bigger rivers and thicker forests still. Notice how clean the water is. Yes, we actually still drink from the streams here.
And we did it all in 1 day and we still have time to watch the sun set over the Tasman sea as it fries Australia. That’s probably what that yellow glow is :)
Hope you enjoyed this little corner of our world!
-- If you can't joint it, bead it!