Continuing the theme of the “Camelot” magic of the Catlins.
We spent three nights at Nugget Beach at a wonderful place, the Nugget Lodge. I had reserved a room at this two unit motel four months earlier, and 8,000 miles away. I was thrilled to arrive and see this incredible beach. I really had no idea that a choice from an internet site would turn out so spectacular.
The first picture shows Pauline, our gracious hostess, pointing out the beach. We stayed in the “Sea Lion” unit. We would watch sea lions on the beach in the late afternoon and early morning. Nugget Lighthouse framed the view in the other direction. An isolated beach lay below the road to the lighthouse. From a blind above the beach, we could watch yellow eyed penguins come ashore in the early evening.
I walked the beach early each morning. Sunrises were superb. A storm blew in the last morning—wind and light rain. I had planned to stay indoors. Fortunately Meg wanted to take a walk nonetheless. Unbelievably, a full rainbow appeared, giving us an unforgettable memory and confirming that you must be “there,” despite the weather, if you want memorable images.
The beach has become my mental retreat location where I can truly renew myself with its serenity and memories of deep and stimulating time shared there with Meg. We will come again.
There is a “Camelot” feel to the Catlins in the far southern coast of South Island, New Zealand. Meg and I had never visited this location. It is remote and sparsely populated by some of the kindest, most self reliant New Zealanders we have met in our ten years of traveling this wonderful country.
Rugged coasts with long deserted beaches, rocky coastlines with high breaking waves, endless green hills, many filled with sheep, dense fern and tree forests with paths leading to waterfalls. and marine life such as sea lions, penguins, dolphins make the allure of the Catalans irresistible.
Based at Nugget Point Lodge on the beach of the same name, we explored the beautiful and lush fern forest that led to McLean Falls. This walk/hike was one of the most delightful and emotionally invigorating we have taken in New Zealand. The trail was cool and damp, with wonderful surprises of mosses, ferns, trees and small streams before we reached the falls themselves. Hopefully, we can visit again.
“You are created because of love and you are given unconditional love. That is who you are: a beloved one and one who has love to share.
“The voice that Jesus heard at his baptism was an incredible affirmation from God: ‘You are my beloved Son. My favor rests on you.’
“That voice made it possible for Jesus to go into the world, to live in the truth and also to suffer. He knew the truth, he claimed it, and he walked in the word. People ruined his life by rejecting him and hurting him, by spitting on him and finally killing him on the cross, but he never lost the truth. He lived his joy and his pain under the blessing of the Father. He never lost his truth. God loved him unconditionally and no could take that from him.” Henri Nouwen
We are NOT defined by society’s demands, by the movie/television ads, even by our friends. God’s never ending love is where we find a strength and our comfort, and beloved-ness.
Vigorous seas, whipped by Antarctic winds, can make offshore seafaring dangerous, and on onshore life challenging at Nugget Point and the Catlin beaches. Yet most of the time calm dominates. The scenic beaches are serene, and the residents resilient.
While we were planning this year’s trip to New Zealand’s South Island, Matt asked if we had ever visited Akaroa. Based on his recommendation, an excellent one, we spent a couple of nights here. The town and harbor lie inside and ancient volcanic crater, one of several in the area. its rugged, twisting, rising and descending road challenges a driver. However, upon arriving at the town, one finds a tranquil, serene setting. However, it is less than a two hour drive from Christchurch, so the six hundred or so population is said to swell to twelve thousand on a busy summer weekend.
Fortunately, Meg and I enjoyed a quiet, unhurried time there. We swam with Hector’s dolphins, a rare species in New Zealand, but in substantial numbers around the harbor. We enjoyed one of our finest meals at a French restaurant, Ma Maison, sitting outdoors in the cool evening as sunset approached. Akaroa is part of the Banks Peninsula, an excellent three day walking tour where one stays at bed and breakfasts along the way.
If one is fortunate, a trip to a new — or an old place — allows one to find an individual whose unique skills light up a memory that draws one back many times to relive that experience. Ant (Anthony) Harris created that personality for Meg and me on this New Zealand trip. Ant guides for Southern Alps Guiding. He conveys an authenticity and humility that is not dependent on external praise or recognition, but comes from a deep desire to perform to the highest standard of personal integrity and skill.
We met Ant at the Old Mountaineer Restaurant next to the visitor center at Mt Cook National Park. He guided us the first day on the Tasman Lake iceberg kayak trip. As one of the leading mountaineers in the Mt Cook ranges, he also leads heli tours on the Tasman Glacier. I knew after Meg and my interaction with Ant on this kayaking venture that I wanted additional time with him on the glacier. Meg was not really committed to the trip, so I went alone with an additional party of three participants. Ant carefully prepared us for the helicopter exit and entry before we drove to the small airport.
Ten minutes later, we landed on a flat place amidst deeply fissured and fractured ice. I saw no way that we would be able to navigate a course down and across this maze of mini ice slot canyons. However, Ant strapped on our crampons and skillfully picked out a path over and around, up and down the glacier. It was a fascinating venture to discover that indeed we could find a way out, so to speak.
After a while, he located a suitable crevasse to let us into an icy cavern. Chopping steps into it with his ice ax, and then belaying us down, we dipped and stooped our way through to an exit point where Ant belayed us up. It was a fascinating and invigorating experience. Once again the helicopter landed on a small flat, we took off our crampons, and followed the helicopter entry lesson Ant had taught us earlier.
After returning to the restaurant, we invited Ant to lunch, and enjoyed his stories of putting up rock climbing routes in the late seventies and early eighties in Australia, when climbing flourished there much as it did in Yosemite in the late sixties and seventies. You can read more about these climbs at his blog antsclimbingspace.blogspot
At nearly fourteen and half miles in length, the Tasman glacier is the longest in New Zealand. Over the past four decades, the lake below it has grown from a large pond to a very large Tasman Lake. The lake undercuts the glacier and speeds up the iceberg calving process. The day after Meg and I walked the Hooker Valley Track, we took a guided kayak trip on the lake. Our guide, Anthony (“Ant”) Harris, did an excellent job leading us within appropriate distance of the various sized glaciers. The size and shapes of the icebergs are constantly changing, and they can suddenly roll, sending out major waves.
One fun part of the trip was picking “mini icebergs” out of the water. We set them on our spray skirts, and then sucked on ice water that, according to Ant, was two thousand years old! We also paddled across the lake, got out on the shore, and enjoyed seeing reflections of the Mt Cook range, as well as hardy lichens and moss.
For those who are interested, here is some more information about the glacier:
The glacier remained at a constant 28 km (17 mi) in length for all of its recorded history in the 20thcentury before starting its current period of rapid melting in the 1990s. Between 2000 and 2008 alone, the glacier terminus receded 3.7 km. Since the 1990s the terminus has retreated about 180 metres (590 ft) a year on average. The glacier is now in a period of faster retreat where the rate of retreat is calculated to be between 477 to 822 metres (1,565 to 2,697 ft) each year. It is estimated that the Tasman Glacier will eventually disappear and the terminal Tasman Lake will reach a maximum size in 10 to 19 years time. In 1973 Tasman Glacier had no terminal lake and by 2008 Tasman Lake was 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) long, 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) wide, and 245 metres (804 ft) deep.
A large calving event was possibly triggered, or at least contributed to, by the 2011 Canterbury earthquake on 22 February 2011. On this day 30,000,000 metric tons (33,000,000 short tons) to 40,000,000 metric tons (44,000,000 short tons) of ice dropped from the terminal face of the Tasman Glacier and fell into the Tasman Lake. Boats were hit with tsunami waves of up to 3.5 metres (11 ft) as the ice fell into the Tasman Lake under the glacier. Similar events in the past have been attributed to buoyancy effects, a result of high basal water pressures and increased lake level following heavy rainfall events.
Meg and I have backpacked and day hiked extensively in the Northwest as well as New England, We have also done several of the Great Tracks of New Zealand. I have hiked the John Muir Trail in the Sierra Nevada mountains and many sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. Without a doubt, hands down, the Hooker Valley Track is the best day hike we have ever done.
The mountain, valley, and river views are as spectacular as anything you will find, anywhere. I have never been on a trail that is so comfortable, well maintained, and yet so “up close and personal” to the mountain.