January 2013

Just before Christmas, Karla, Amelia and I donned our packs and started walking up the Wangapeka River in the Kahurangi National Park. It was cloudy (thank goodness) and we were interested in having a look at the large slip that had blocked the river which had formed a lake, about a two hours walk upstream.

About ten meters from the parked car we found a bunch of Gastrodia orchids growing from the base of a beech tree. Maybe they were of the ‘long column’ species as they certainly had long columns and were in flower too. An almost spooky plant as they have no chlorophyll and no leaves. Later we passed some Corybas, thelymitra and  pterostylis orchid species but all were finished flowering.

We saw a black and crimson Cinnabar Moth. They were imported from England to help control ragwort many years ago with the moth’s black and orange caterpillars to feed on ragwort plants.  I’ve tried before to get a good photo of these moths but haven’t managed it. However, I was able to get some good photos this time.

I had thought the slip had fallen from the sides of Patriarch Mt. but no, it came right from the top of the ridge on the opposite side. Huge boulders were amongst the debris of mud and other smaller rocks that came down to block the river last December, I think it was. Since then the river has cut through the dam to continue its journey to the sea but there still was quite a large lake above. This continues, we were told, for about two kilometres upstream.  The dam itself was 20 to 30 metres high but it could have been more. Anyway there is still plenty of spoil left for future floods to work on. Karla had a swim in the lake while Amelia and I battled the horde of sandflies so we decided we might as well have lunch too.

We had passed some trampers of which one was a lady from Canada. Apparently she comes out to New Zealand very two years to wander around our bush tracks and after swapping several ‘have you been here’ she seemed to have covered much of the country – and is still keen to come again. She was full of praise for our unique hut and track system (and DoC wants to knock out what they can) saying that it is something really special about this country. When we called at Taparewa for an ice-cream on our way home, we met up again and gave her a ride to Richmond. These are the type of tourist that we want.

Another Section of The Great Taste Bike Trail Sampled:
We had another bike along  the Great Taste Trail but this time from Richmond to Brightwater. Someone had stolen a State Highway 6 sign and no doubt the Great Taste signs will start to disappear too.  There seemed to be a number of the blue bike trail road markers that had disappeared already. Maybe it would be a good idea to have some of these for sale? Along with the Great Taste Trail emblem with for sale items of cloth badges, transfers, metal pins and perhaps T-shirts? If these items were readily available for sale at a reasonable price, it might deter the thieves and they would be a good advertisement when worn or displayed. The bike ride was good though.

Christmas Day at Rabbit Island: I like Rabbit Island especially lighting up one of the many BBQ’s, sipping a nice drop of red wine, poking sausages and talking with friends. It was a hot day but very pleasant in the shade. The spread that was put on the table was very nice too. It was a sort of potluck lunch.

Shirl’s Birthday: In the morning we wandered around the stalls at the Richmond Market Day and then I suggested we go out to lunch at the Grape Escape. Arriving there we were ushered to the pre-booked table and then Shirl asked “Why the large table” while I was secretly frantically signally to the waitress to just go away. She did so but then the manager wanted to see me. Once there of course I told what things were all about. Soon after a couple of friends arrived, and then another couple and then another couple… Thankfully, it turned out to be a complete surprise with the lunch taking about two hours to complete. All I got was a thump on the shoulder! Anyway, now we only recognise our birthdays once every five years and it seems to be surprising how quickly they come around.

Rainfall this December was 53mm which was a lot less than last year’s 493mm. However our average at our place for December is 182mm. Rainfall going back over the Decembers from 2010 – 224mm; 2009 – 59mm; 2008 – 187mm; 2007 – 135mm; 2006 – 45mm; 2005 – 125mm; 2004 – 259mm so there is a lot of variation and just what would be a normal December’s rainfall?

It’s the same with the annual rainfall too – 2012 was 1039mm, with 2011 being 1645mm and our yearly average now 1410mm per year.


Beginnings: The first day of the New Year I met up with grandkids Reece and Amelia and we ‘did’ the traplines at Rabbit Island. All we caught was one small rabbit in a DOC200. A few days later Karla and I, along with some friends, headed up to Black Birch Range at the eastern end of the Molesworth Road. From the valley road it took an hour’s drive and a climb of around 1000 metres (and 14km) to come out on the top of the range where we parked out vehicles near some observatory buildings. It was up and into colder air at this height. All rushed back to the cars to put on extra clothing as the wind from the South was quite chilly. It wasn’t surprising really as we could see snow on Mts. Tapuae-o-Uenuku and Alarm and we were at 1360m ourselves. To see any alpine flowers, it seemed we were too early as hardly any flowers were out. Never mind, it was interesting to wander around on such a fine day with views of the Waihopai Valley and across to the Richmond Forest Park, across Cook Strait to the North Island and Wellington, to Mt. Tap to the South, over Lake Grassmere to Cape Campbell and the Pacific too. I did manage to photograph the Black Mountain Ringlet butterfly which is rarely found below 1200 metres. We were surprised to find a number of ladybirds at this altitude.

More Trap Tunnels to Make: I had thought I was finished with making these but no. Just before Christmas I was given enough money to buy 15 DOC150, 24 rat and 20 Possum Master traps and material to make the tunnels plus a good sum to buy enough bait for a year or so. Quite good I thought but the only hitch was that I was back making tunnels again! Never mind, it was too hot outside anyway and now they are all made with a number already out ‘in the field’ just waiting.

January rainfall this year was quite a lot more than last year’s January with 173mm (last year 29mm) with our January average being 102mm for the month.

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