Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Up, up, and away!

So sitting here in a Hotel in Auckland I remember why I don’t choose to live here (not that I ever seriously considered it).  Having left Hawkes Bay this morning on the 7am flight from Napier (agh...up at 5am), where it was beautiful and sunny and warm, we arrived into a muggy overcast Auckland.  The traffic from the Airport to the Hotel was another raw reminder...  So tomorrow morning it is onto the MV Oceanic Discoverer with Lindblad Expeditions for two cruises.  The first is Auckland to Milford Sound, stopping in at White Island, Gisborne, Napier, Wellington, Kaikoura, Akaroa, Dunedin, Stewart Island, and Fiordland, with the turn around in Milford Sound and a reverse cruise northwards.  Should be an enjoyable three weeks and hopefully February pulls through with the weather!

In stark contrast to today, yesterday was spent roaring around the rather unseasonably green expanse of rural Hawkes Bay.  We spent about 6 hours in a helicopter basically flying over the catchment of the Tuki Tuki River – one of Hawkes Bays biggest rivers.  The purpose of this was to trace the river from the mouth near Haumoana, to the headwaters in the Ruahine Ranges, taking in as many of the main tributaries as possible, giving us an overview of the habitats and ecological values of the river.  I was onboard as part of a contract to determine the values with respect to birds, and so spent most of the time looking through the lens of a camera, documenting the various habitat types.  Hopefully, I can transfer the GPS track I recorded to the images taken (using a process called geo-tagging) and thus get an idea of exactly where I was when I took each of the roughly 3550 images during the course of the day!  Yeah, yeah, yeah, heard it all before...I am heavy on the shutter button!

The weather was fantastic with clear blue skies and almost no wind, so it really was a joy to be up above the world and seeing it like this.  You really get an fantastic appreciation for the lay of the land from the air, and it gives you a great appreciation for how much diversity there actually is along some of these rivers.  We had lunch right up in the headwaters of the Makaroro River, which is one of the main tributaries of the Waipawa River, which in turn flows into the Tuki Tuki.  It is only after seeing these rivers fro mthe air, that you realise the massive catchment of this river.  The afternoon was then spent a little further south, in some equally impressive country.

I’ve posted a few pics of the day, but obviously with the number of images I have to sort, these are by no means the best from the day or representative of anything...they just caught my eye as I quickly scanned through them!

Last evening was spent having dinner with friends at our local restaurant – Pipi Cafe – and I was a little shell-shocked to say the least to discover that the MV Polar Star – my home for almost six weeks in Antarctica, had just hit a rock south of the Antarctic Circle on the Antarctic Peninsula!  Sounds like all onboard are ok, and contrary to media reports, the ship was not evacuated.  The hull was not breached and it sounds like she has been given the go ahead to at least steam northwards towards the top of the Antarctic Peninsula.  My thoughts are with the crew, staff and passengers currently onboard as well as those back at Polar Star Expeditions.

Hastings city with the Race Course in the foreground.

The rivermouth looking west towards Napier.

The beautiful Tuki Tuki River valley, behind Te Mata Peak (on the right), looking south.

The Tuki Tuki Valley looking north.

The Tuki Tuki Valley looking north, with Mt Erin in the background.

Nearer the headwaters

Our lunch spot

Up in the hills!

Near the hills

On the plains

On the plains

6 comments:

  1. Yep - I'm very lucky to live in such a beautiful place!

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  2. What a life, Brent. What. A. Life.

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  3. I know some of those spots very well and great to see them from above.
    Did you see Sunrise Hut?

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  4. No - we didn't get up that far. The whole area is gorgeous though.

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