Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Te Anau and Manapouri Feb 9th

We decided last night not to rush the journey from Queenstown to Milford Sound and back to Te Anau to our B&B as the road between there and the Sound is one of the most dramatic and beautiful in New Zealand. The new plan being to drive directly to Te Anau, get settled in then explore this area and the 2 lakes, Te Anau itself and Manapouri today.
We arrived here, having driven through some stunning softly green mountains, and got caught in a sheep drive being conducted quite chaotically around the considerable traffic. We saw lots of herds of deer, as this is the main area for venison production. We also stopped to look at the Kingston Flyer (Steam train), which sadly no longer flies anywhere. Rich enjoyed looking around though and took some nice photos.
Our B&B is called Shakespeare House and we are in Henry the 5th  room, next-door to Romeo and Juliet! We went off to Manapouri for a picnic and walk by the lake. On our way back we called in at the most fantastic nursery. They would make a fortune in Menorca: everything well looked after, lots of choice of several varieties of each plant type, and lovely helpful knowledgeable staff! Just my daily ‘fix’ of looking at plants! After emailing and blogging we will be off for a walk along Te Anau lake, then out for dinner. Hopefully venison again!
Tomorrow we will be up with the lark…. “Once more unto the breech dear friends”…and off by 8 to try to avoid all the coaches at Milford Sound.
Photos for the 9th ...  here.

Queenstown. Feb 8th

This morning we decided to catch a few photos of the local Primary School which had obviously been recently designed and built. It takes the place of several smaller local schools and has fantastic views over the lake towards Queenstown from Frankton. With its green roof, outdoor amphitheatre, astro turf and timber cladding it blends well into the environment and is a fantastic centre for learning. The kids had to wear hats when outside for sun protection. We “signed in” as visitors and had permission to take a few photos as “our son is a schools’ architect”. Hope you like the shots Corin. More to see when we get home.

Last night as we returned from Glenorchy…(pronounced Glenorki) we spotted this garden/tea place and decided this morning that it would be the right place to have tea and cake. What a crazy place. Obviously run by artists, the garden was full of sculptures and statements on the human race, and how we are overpopulating the planet, abound. There is much use of driftwood, taken off the lake beach only yards away, to provide interest in the garden and insulation to the house. Yes, the house is clad in driftwood. The planting in the garden is fabulously exuberant and one comes across naturalised swimming pools and chicken sheds by accident, here and there. Much use is made of the natural streams that tumble down the hillside. There are mostly Tiger lilies and Roses, but mixed with delphiniums, fennel, Echinacea, bergamot, rosemary, phormium and interspersed with different trees, including eucalyptus and Norfolk pine.  The tea and cookies were delicious and supplied along with insect repellent as the sand flies here are very persistent. The garden made me smile throughout my exploration, a real joy not knowing what was round the next corner!

The afternoon saw us in a much more formal garden. Ann had found this place in a RHS magazine (2005) and phoned to see if we could visit. Janet Blair was more than pleased to show us around and explain how over the past 40 years her garden has developed. She started with just a handful of trees, mostly elderberries and most still surviving and looking good with their canopies lifted to show the planting beneath. She made a good mixed shelter belt mixing pines and deciduous trees for autumn colour. Then began work on one garden  ‘room’ or area in turn. She has made good use of box, cornus, beech and hornbeam hedges for divisions, and plants long drifts of lavender or roses. She has several long perennial borders of deliberately decorative rather than native plants, and favours white blue and soft pinks and mauve flowers. There were lots we could recognise and used in England. Still “work in progress” Janet tends to plant groups of trees nowadays, choosing them for some pleasing characteristic, often white spring flowers. One day she’d like to sub divide the 4 acre garden and build a new house in half, when it all gets too much for her. We estimated that she was in her early 70s and still spending most of every day in the garden, doing nearly all the work herself. We had apparently interrupted her trimming the top of her 8-foot high cornus hedge (50 foot long at least)

In the evening we returned to Arrowtown where we found some locals “recreationally panning for gold” …. No luck so far! We later dined on Venison pie in the pub and then went to the quaint 42 seat cinema to see “The King’s Speech”. It was a b-b-b-brilliant f-f-f-f-film, but sadly cut in half badly…. so that the cinema could supply its customers with a cheese, biscuits and wine intermission. Those who arrived late and when already full had a beanbag to sit on in the aisles. 
Photos for the 8th ...  here.


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