New Zealand
Monros Creek

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    • Day 18

      Travel Day to Lake Moeraki

      January 22, 2023 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 66 °F

      The day started with a few short walks to visit the blue pools, waterfalls and over to the west coast. We had lunch at a wonderful spot and ate local lobster. A quick stop at an overlook before arriving at Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki. A nature walk before dinner as well.Read more

    • Day 20

      Ship Creek

      January 24, 2023 in New Zealand ⋅ ☁️ 64 °F

      The morning was a walk at Ship Creek. Lots to learn about the flora from our guide Gerry. We hit the beach to find Hector and Dusky dolphins, and pick up jade on the beach. We found some low grade pieces.

      The afternoon was a kayak trip around Lake Moeraki.
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    • Day 8

      Eels, Glow Worms and Avatar

      February 9, 2019 in New Zealand ⋅ ☁️ 66 °F

      Leaving Franz Josef, we continued south along the west coast, pedaling 39 miles on a fairly level road, passing dairy farms with dramatic views of the mountains all around us. The threatening weather only brought a brief sprinkle on us. Later in the ride we came to more dense rainforest terrain, arriving at a salmon farm for lunch.

      Back in the van we drove about 40 minutes to Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki. Our lodge hosts -- Anne Saunders and Gerry McSweeney -- were instrumental in preserving these ancient forest surroundings from development, eventually earning it UNESCO World Heritage status. Soon after arrival, we joined a guided walk through the rainforest of 1000-year-old Rimu trees, tree ferns, silver beech and others native to the west coast of the south island. James Cameron liked one of these trees so much he had it digitized for the movie, Avatar.

      Our hosts encouraged us to pet the longfin eels, which they attracted near the shore by pouring blood into the water (from raw meat). We met 'Margaret,' who is about 5 feet long, and estimated to be over 50 years old. These eels can live to be over 100 and weigh more than 50 pounds. They are kind of doughy to the touch, but very slippery!!

      After dark, Gerry walked us down the road to view thousands of glow-worms in the steep hillside along the road. Glow-worms are the larvae of any of four types of beetles--among them, the firefly. They are 1-2 centimeters long and only the width of 2 human hairs, growing to 5 hairs before they form a cocoon in preparation for their 2 days as adults before they mate, lay eggs and die. Gerry is quite a character, and very knowledgeable -- it was a magical evening!
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    • Day 9

      Grab a Paddle, Reach for the Stars!

      February 10, 2019 in New Zealand ⋅ ☁️ 64 °F

      Today was a day out of the bike saddles -- even the die-hard riders opted to enjoy the on-foot and on-water activities offered by the Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge. In the morning, three of us went with Backroads guide Laura on a leisurely hike through the podocarp forest to the sea. Podocarps are a type of conifer whose cones have modified over time to be more like berries. The berries are attractive to birds, which help to spread the seeds. Some say podocarps are from the time when New Zealand was part of the giant continent of Gondwana, over 85 million years ago. We heard several different bird calls, and spotted a few. The New Zealand fantail was probably the most impressive.

      On the beach, we hunted for jade stones. New Zealand doesn't have jadeite, the stone we usually associate with jade, but they do have two other mineral forms of jade, or Pounamu (Maori name), also just called 'greenstone.' Gerry had given a presentation on jade the night before, and said he might find one piece a day, so we weren't too hopeful. Darryl may have found one, and there are plenty of green rocks to be found, which are generally serpentine.

      In the afternoon, we did a combination hike and kayak. One of the lodge biologist guides took us through the forest, where we crossed a stream on a cable bridge (like Cazadero, Erin & Ryan!), showed us the eels again, then set us up with kayaks. We paddled maybe for 45 minutes past structures set up for whitebait fishing when they are in season. Whitebait are any of several types of small freshwater fish that are popular on menus in the south island. We haven't had a chance to try it yet.

      Wrapping up the night, we couldn't resist joining Gerry's night walk again to see the glow-worms, and because the night was clear and this time we would be able to take in some serious stargazing. Gerry pointed out the Southern Cross, with its pointers -- Alpha Centauri and Beta Centauri. The Milky Way was vast and clear, and we also spotted the constellation of Serius, with the dog star (dog days of summer). We saw 8 satellites and 4 shooting stars. Another great ending to a day in this wild land on the west coast!
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    Monros Creek

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