Recently we’ve had a few fun outings. As you can see from the photos below, summer is now properly behind us and winter lies ahead. Lots of informational website links included in this post.
Last Tuesday Greg drove across to Christchurch for the day, snapping some cloudy hills near Lake Pearson on the Arthurs Pass road. The pass wasn’t too bad in the morning but coming back in the evening, it was dark, drizzling and extremely foggy: not ideal conditions in which to be negotiating a pass which ranges in gradient from 1:15 to 1:33! Doing the trip in mid-winter should be interesting when the road is icy. The foliage on the West Coast is mostly evergreen, but as one moves across the island West to East, the colours become very autumnal, particularly in Oxford, Cust and Christchurch. Oxford is a pretty village, very quaint with picturesque “olde worlde” frontages to restaurants and art galleries. However Cust was the clear favourite in the Waimakariri district, with lovely west-facing views of the mountains. The journey passed through Rangiora which is growing fast, with lots of construction and capital works projects underway.
On Wednesday afternoon there was a howling gale and driving rain. We drove out to Punakaiki to see the blowholes in action. Only problem was the blowholes were not performing as expected, but it was a fun time trying not to be blown away by the gusts! En route to blowholes, we stopped at one of our favourite watering holes, the eponymous Punakaiki Tavern. These two photos are the view looking out from the front of the tavern, classic Paparoa mountainside scenes.
Sarah & Greg also recently attended an evening lecture by Allan Wilson, Civil Defence Controller at the Grey District Council. The lecture was about the likelihood of a West Coast quake (high) and a West Coast tsunami (medium), and the civil defence contingencies in the event of such disasters (good). Allan is Scottish and had a typically dry sense of Scots humour which made the bad news sound pretty good. No offence to the Scots, but I think there is some underlying genetic code which enables them to see the funny side of bad news! Apparently there is a major north-south Alpine fault line running through the Southern Alps. The Hope fault line runs off the Alpine fault line at an easterly tangent.
Geologists, geophysicists and other clever people reckon the mountainous area around the Franz Joseph glacier has immense energy build-up and will be the likely epicentre of a long-overdue quake of approximately magnitude 9. By the time the quake energy dissipates to the Greymouth area of the West Coast it will likely be magnitude 8, causing the ground to behave like a shaking towel. The intense energy release is expected to trigger a secondary quake along the Hope fault line, meaning there’s a strong likelihood of Christchurch feeling the quake (at best) or suffering further damage (at worst). One of the expected consequences of this quake would be that the West Coast would be cut off from Christchurch road transport, meaning no deliveries of fuel and other essential supplies for at least a fortnight. On the upside, according to Allan, the West Coast has one of the most stringent building codes, meaning that only a handful of old brick structures which haven’t been brought fully up to code standards will suffer damage. Safe as houses, as they say.
Allan’s takeaway advice: drive quickly through Franz Joseph village!
The tsunami section of Allan’s presentation was less positive. A tsunami on the West Coast is likely to be generated by major tectonic activity in the offshore Hokitika Canyon. Given that the canyon and shelf are less than 100km offshore, and given the speed at which a tsunami can travel, Allan reckons your feet will be wet before you can do anything about it. And there are currently no tsunami warning buoys in the Tasman Sea. Might be worth studying those ancient Japanese tsunami warning stones for their applicability in NZ.
Sarah also recently spent the day in Reefton, chauffeuring Linda and two of her artist friends to the Reefton i-SITE where they were hanging paintings for an exhibition.
Eloise submitted an entry to the New World Supermarket Easter Egg colouring competition. Weeks went by without hearing anything, so we quietly wrote it off. But on Wednesday we had a call from the supermarket manager to say that Eloise had won a prize in the competition. Thinking it was just a runner-up prize, Eloise was delighted to find out she’d won first prize in her age group. The prize was a giant easter egg (more chocolate!) and a gift card for a store of her choice. Eloise wasted no time in choosing a Warehouse gift card so that she could treat herself to a new Nintendo DS game. The winning entries are going to be displayed at the supermarket for a week and we’ll take a photo to add to this blog entry.