...and The Knob.
21.10.2010 - 25.11.2010 20 °C
We depart from Kaikoura and our plan is to hike to the Sawcut Gorge which is on our way to Nelson, but heavy pouring rain in the area puts a quick halt to that. Instead we leisurely walk around the Wairau Lagoons, a saltmarsh and estuary formed around the Wairau River mouth located just east of Blenheim. The area provides habitat for over 80 species of wading birds and waterfowl. We gather some cool wildlife footage of the Royal Spoonbills which have a very unique beak. We watched as it slowly swept its open bill from side to side in search of crustaceans and aquatic insects in these tidal flats.
Just past Blenheim, which is surrounded by vineyards, we stop at Grove Mill Winery, who claim to be the worlds first carbon neutral winery. They probably just buy credits to gain that distinction, since the lady didn't answer Julie's questions about the subject. We sample 6 different kinds of wine and decide that we can't leave without a few bottles of the award winning desert wine called Gewurtztraminer.
After a stop for a few necessities in Nelson, we head to Bob and Mary Lancaster's to continue our wwoofing expedition. Bob welcomes us and has a wonderful Indian dinner ready, so we sit down for a meal and some chit chat to get to know each other. Bob's wife, Mary, was away guiding a trekking adventure. They own the company “High Places” which guide hikers to remote mountain ranges around the world. Bob is really busy with his business and needs wwoofers like us to get his property in order.
He shows us to the sleep-out, which is our pad for the week. It's a cute cabin with a bed, bathroom with shower, and kitchenette. Due to the amount of cobwebs in the place it looks like it hasn't been used in a while. Once we clean it up a bit, it's perfect to settle into for the week.
At Bob's we spend a lot of time weeding, planting, pruning, cutting, and fixing things around his property. In our spare time, we head into Mapua to bum around the harbour at low tide. Mapua is a great little town with many “one-of-a-kind” shops and quaint cafes. There are loads of amazing useful items for sale which are created out of old throw-away products, such as hooks made out of old cutlery. Creativity thrives here!
Bob loves to hike, especially in alpine areas and wants to take us to Gordon's Knob. So we finish our wwoofing duties early and set out towards the trail. As we get closer, we turn onto a logging road and drive through an unappealing non-native pine tree plantation. Pine trees grow incredibly quick in New Zealand and so they are grown for wood that is to be exported. We reach the beginning of the trail, and the top of the plantation. The neat part about the Knob is you start hiking at an elevation of 950 m. Here the forest begins to transform back into dominantly native species and a short hike through this ecosystem brings us to alpine scrub and views of the snow covered Gordon's Knob. The alpine scrub is saturated with auburn and orange colours, reminding us of the Canadian Fall colours. Beyond the scrub we hike through patches of gnarly Silver Beech thickly coated with lichens and mosses. We then set foot across loose gravel scree, and then thick soft mosses and grasses as we reach the edge of Gordon's Knob. The summit of the Knob seems like an hour away and with the sun beginning to set we accept defeat and turn back. Our vantage point of the surrounding ranges make us feel very small in comparison. The Southern Alps sprawl across the horizon peeking above the cloud cover. The sun is setting fast, so we make like a baby and head out.
We had a great time with Bob and will keep in touch. Good luck with the new potato/pumpkin patch Bob! We are off to Jackett Island for some erosion control, and some fresh seafood!