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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.

Monday 2 January 2023

North to Karamea

 January 2nd

Yep. I was right, that bloody Cockrell was doodling away well before six. I needed the loo anyway so rushed across to the long drop in just my PJ's. Well there was no one around and they don't look like typical pyjamas. I could actually get away with wearing them as outdoor wear. 

Before we left and with the beach so close, we took a stroll to see what it was like. Tide was going out revealing the wonderful sand but all along the high tide mark was this.

I much prefer this

Looking yonder and what appeared to be two lighthouses, one with a red top and one with blue. Nothing for it but head off in that direction to go check them out.

Ah, now it became clear. It's where the mighty Buller river ends its journey. One of the country's longest rivers, it flows for 170 kilometres from Lake Rotoiti through the Buller Gorge and into the Tasman Sea. We drove up to the Eastern breakwater lighthouse where a plaque for the memorial of MV Kaitawa was displayed.  I got a bit worried when Ian passed the turning point. He was sure we could turn at the lighthouse. Well he was right in a way, we did get it round, but it was tight at one point.

The blue breakwater lighthouse marks the western point of the Buller mouth.

Our plan was to make for Karamea today and then slowly make our way back seeing all the sights. It's roughly 96 km from Westport on SH 67 and there is no other connecting road to the town. One can continue for a further 20 km and end up at the Kohaihai River. From there it's either bike or by foot on the Heaphy Track to take you back to the upper valley of the Aorere River, Golden Bay, a mere 82 km away!

We did do one detour and that was to see if going to Denniston coal mines would be somewhere to go. Turning off at Waimangaroa, right on the junction was the Scullery selling coffee and pies. We have rather taken to the New Zealand pies and of course we stopped. This is a little goldmine for the owner, really out of the way but everything very reasonably priced. In Westport, we could pay anything from $7 to $10 for a pie, at the Scullery all pies were $5. Even the caramel milkshakes were cheap at the same price. At the back of the building was another attraction, woodwork and carvings. I think we may well be stopping here again on our return.

So that road leading to Denniston, we ascended higher and higher, round many hairpin bends and quite a few land slips.


Onward and upwards and the views were spectacular. 


Still climbing and into the clouds, could hardly see where we were going. 

Eventually reached the Denniston upper incline. Plenty of information boards telling the stories of those that lived and worked the coal mine as well as transporting the coal down the incline to Conns Creek. This from NZ History 

It was a technical triumph. The incline plunged precipitously, 548 m in a distance of just 1670 m, with some grades as steep as 1 in 1.25 (80%). Two water-operated brakes, Upper Brake and Middle Brake, slowed the progress of the counter-balancing wagons (i.e., descending full wagons pulled up empty ones) down the two inclines to the railhead at Conns Creek.

 Because of the mist and drizzle it was agreed to come back to it when we left Karamea. Bizarrely that same view of the bay was like a clear wedge in the middle of cloud and still bathed in sunshine.

We made it to Karamea by mid afternoon. First stop was to the i site. I'm not sure if we are completely mad, but we have gone and booked a cave tour for Wednesday. The road leading up to the cave can only be driven by 4 wheeled drive, we have hired one for Wednesday. The Oparara Cave is by guided tour and a certain amount of fitness is required as we will be out for about three hours. Several large boulders will have to be cambered over. Oh, eck...have I bitten off more than I can chew. Only time will tell,

1 comment:

Lynda Withers said...

Looks and sounds amazing. You'll do it.xx

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