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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Franz Josef Glacier

158mm (roughly 6") of rain is predicted to fall tonight. In other words a deluge! Flash flooding may occur and possibly a thunderstorm or two. At the moment we have hunkered down at a place called Fox near the Fox glacier.

Didn't bode well this morning when we awoke to very low cloud.





  Our plan was to take a helicopter trip to the top of Franz Josef Glacier. It was cancelled, understandably as you couldn't even see the mountains. Instead, we went to the wildlife center to see the Rowi Kiwis the most endangered of the species. Loved this place as the Kiwis were all awake, running around and looking for food. Although the viewing room was dark once the eyes had adjusted they could be seen clearly. No photos allowed so sorry folks, not one to show. When we emerged the weather seemed to have picked up and we made a decision to walk to the face of the Glacier. Took us over two hours return to do the 4 km walk and up till the very moment we reached the face, the cloud cover had kept away. Then just as we turned up the glacier was obscured and the rain started. A miserable walk back to the van but at least we did see the glacier, pity all those walking to the face in that torrential rain. No chance of seeing the glacier at all.

First sighting of the glacier from the car park




Zoomed in from the car park







A tantalising glimpse of the mountain

As far as we were allowed and the rain started.


Another glimpse of the glacier as the cloud cover lifted for a brief moment.



Waterfalls were impressive


 We may forgo the walk to Fox Glacier in the morning. The path to the face may well be closed if the river floods and what with all that rain to come....

Some wildlife photos to show from the last few days.

This bug was over 1" long.







Monday, 30 January 2017

The turquoise river

Awoke to rain again...groan...typical as today we wanted to visit the Hokitika Gorge. It was a 'must do' from Marilyn so of course, we had to go see. First stop though was the Dorothy falls and lake Kaniere. The time it took to drive from Greymouth to Hokitika, a good 90 minutes had gone by and during that time the cloud lifted and the sun putting in an appearance. Another 20km drive (5km down a dirt track) and we found the falls. No another person to be seen so we pretty well had the place to ourselves.




Then it was the drive to Hokitika Gorge. A very popular place and we had trouble in finding somewhere to park. Back down the road and we managed to pull right over to the side...and getting out I found myself nearly in a ditch! Hey ho, what fun we do have. Marilyn was right, though, this place was awesome. The turquoise blue of the river was a sight to behold.








We still had another 70km to get to Franz Joseph Glacier so we didn't stop too long to admire the scene in front of us. We had thought about doing the helicopter ride to the top of the glacier tomorrow but looking at the weather for the next couple of days, it's forecast rain, rain and more rain. Not sure what we will do now.


Saturday, 28 January 2017

Charming Creek

 Saturday 28th

.Anyone coming to South Island in the future, this is one for your 'must do' list.

We made for Mangatini falls along the Charming Creek railway walkway, about 10 kilometers north of Granity near Westport. The Charming Creek Railway used to run alongside Ngakawau River in the Lower Ngakawau Gorge, transporting coal from mines in the Ngakawau River catchment area. The disused bush tram track now forms a section of the Charming Creek Walkway. 3 km into the gorge, Mangatini Stream joins Ngakawau River over the 25m tall Mangatini Falls. With all the rain lately everywhere was sodden and we found ourselves traipsing through mud and dodging mini waterfalls cascading from the rocks above. A tunnel along the journey reminded us of Standage tunnel although considerably shorter of course.







very wet along this section
 We came upon some falls, okayish, but thought surely this can't be it.


 So we continued walking and for the second time in as many days, we found ourselves crossing a swinging bridge spanning the Ngakawau River. And then there it was...stupendously spectacular and immensely impressive.






We could have turned around at this point but with another tunnel right by the falls we just had to go through to see what was at the other end. Not a lot really, another smallish falls and unless you walked another 15 minutes or so the Mill.would come into view. We didn't bother, turned around and started the long walk back to the van.




Tomorrows excitement is an 'underground day' and no not just caving,  soooo looking forward to that.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

South islands weather, very changeable.

A very pleasant and quiet night spent in a car park much to our surprise! And with the dawn came the sunrise and a lovely red sky. Did that mean bad weather??



The bin men came early but I suppose that was understandable if one is parked in a public place. So an early breakfast and today we made for Takaka. It's up toward the Golden Bay and Farewell Spit. We didn't get as far as the Spit because no vehicles are allowed along the dune. It is a wetland bird nature reserve and only the local licensed guides can take you to see them and only by bus.  Instead, we found a place called Te Waikoropupu Springs. The "Pupu" springs are home to the clearest spring water in the world (the only place with clearer water is the salt water Weddell Sea in Antarctica). Underwater clarity tests have shown the water from the springs to have underwater visibility of 63 metres! All contact with the water is forbidden as the springs are 'sacred treasure' to the local Maori.






Doesn't the weather look perfect?  Well, it changed in an instant.





And then it changed again for the better.


Driving back to Motueka we stopped at Ngarua Caves which contain a variety of limestone cave formations. At $20 pp it was very reasonable for the 45 minute underground experience. Inside was  Moa bones carbon dated 24,890 years old. We walked about 300 meters in the underground caverns and at one point the lights were switched off for us to experience total darkness. We all finally emerged after a steep ladder climb to find ourselves some way away from the cave entrance but that view that greeted us....amazing.







Back at the carpark.
Travelled on to Motueka where we found a campsite with proper toilets, showers and a washing machine. Not bad at $25 a night and first thing was get the sheets in for a wash. By the time the wash had finished the wind had picked up and was gusting to 35km/h. Yes, it really did happen that quick! So lots of pegs on the washing to hold them in place but the up side was that within an hour everything was dry. Now relaxing with a glass of wine, both showered and squeaky clean and looking forward to what tomorrow may bring.

And the wildlife,


Fan Tail


Does Karate kid come to mind?






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