Saturday, April 25, 2009


Today we climbed a hill - by the time we got to the top we were prepared to call it a mountain - outside Cromwell. It seems that all the interesting walks start with a climb - this was no exception! We left the car in a car park on the south side of the town, crossed the road and after a steep climb for 10-15 minutes we came across the reservoir (now empty) that once served the town with water. That was the easy bit! The next hour and a quarter was all up with some sections of the track being steeper than others. However, it was well worth the effort. From the top (estimated between 800-1100m)we enjoyed specatacular views west to Cromwell, south west to Bannockburn with the Nevis hills in the background and north to Lake Dunstan.


Lake Hawea is another beautiful place to visit. Much of the attraction is finding a spot on the south side of the lake - the local pub is ideal - and looking north across the lake to the mountains. In this photo we are looking westwards towards the camping ground.

Autumn around Wanaka

At this time of the year most of the attention goes on the autumn colours of Arrowtown; and rightly so because that is a beautiful place in which to observe autumn. However, there are several other places in Central Otago in which the autumn colours can be seen; Wanaka is one of them. I have included a few photographs taken from around The Pines Timeshare Resort as well as some from the main entrance to the town.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Diamond Lake Walk

Today’s walk took us firstly to Diamond Lake on the road just past Glendhu Bay, Lake Wanaka, and then on up Rocky Hill (777m) where we took in some fantastic views of Lake Wanaka. The walk was impressive for how quickly it rose above road level. That’s a nice way of saying ‘this was one steep’ walk! However, the views were brilliant. DOC has done some great work putting in wooden steps to help get up and over some of the steeper sections of the climb.

When we left the car park there were 4 vehicles but when we returned 3 hours later that number had risen to 20 – obviously a very popular walk. For some, the 10 minute walk to the lake for a picnic would be a satisfying day out.

Davis Flat

550m above the highway near Davis Flat you can take in two wonderful views. The first is of the Makarora River as it flows towards Lake Wanaka. The second view looks towards The Gates of Haast. The path to the look out was steep and caused a lot of puffing. However, the view made it all worthwhile.

Thunder Creek Falls

The Thunder Creek Falls can be accessed about 2 km north of The Gates of Haast. They are about 200 m from the car park.

Lake Mahinapua

It’s Good Friday and time to check out some quiet spots on the West Coast of the South Island, New Zealand. This is Lake Mahinapua, about 9 km south of Hokitika. The area caters for campers and camper vans. A paddle steamer also operates on the waterway. We have been travelling past this spot for 26 years and have never made time to check it out – I’m glad we did so this time – lots of holiday potential here!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Thai Village

This woman was photographed in her village on the Thai side of the Mekong river. There is government interest in the village since several of the buildings are so old and of a nature that they represent a particular period of Thai culture. There is interest in helping village people to maintain their buildings, customs, culture etc as a tourist attraction - I'm glad we got there first!

Sugar Cane

A common sight throughout north eastern Thailand were trucks fully laden with sugar cane. While they were everywhere they were very hard to photograph! This was a shot of one truck overtaking another.

Steve and Quinn

Steve and Quinn spent a lot of time watching YouTube videos - Steve has become an expert on "Five Little Ducks" and several other rhymes!


We spent only 3 hours in Vientiane, Laos but is was enough to visit a number of sites in the city. We hired a driver for the time here and that made so many visits possible. Vientiane shares many similarities with Thailand - temples, markets, architecture etc. The hustle and bustle wasn't as intense as it can be in Thailand.

Lynne feeds the monks

This was one of the many processions of monks walking through the streets between 6-7 am


One day we went to a border crossing at Thali. Sumontha, Nick and Frank crossed into Laos for a quick visit. Lynne and I saved our visa fee ($1300 Bht) for when we cross at Nong Khai.

This sticky rice cooked in a strip of sugar cane - really delicious! They are sold at so many market stalls that one is in no danger of starving!

We visited the site of the big Bhudda which was impressive in its own right but the thing that caught my eye was the rubbe plantation nearby. I couldn't resist taking this photo of a cup set up to catch the liquid when it runs at night.

This woman was photographed at a morning market in Loei. This was one of many magnificent photo opportunities.

Trip to the north

Pim had been a visiting student at Nelson central school a few years ago. Her parents were keen to help us explore the north east of Thailand. This photo was taken a Phu Rea, a village in the mountainous area between Loei and Sukothai. We were a week too late to join in the annual flower festival but there was plenty of evidence that there had been one. This area is renowned for growing flowers which are then sold all over Thailand.

The second picture shows our group at the original capital of Thailand - Sukothai.

Khon Kaen Temple

Darawan took us to Khon Kaen to visit the 9 storey temple - the biggest in the north east of Thailand. While were were there three 'guides' offered us their services! They were quite charming and if our Thai had been better I am sure we would have learned a lot more about this beautiful temple.

Ban Chian

This a photo of a shop selling replica pots similar to those found in an archaelogical site in the Ban Chian area. The site dates human settlement in the area from about 5,000 - 6,000 years ago. Gree's parents brought us here - his mum had taken the day off work to do that - how generous is that! The people we have met have been absolutely fabulous hosts.


Gree's mum and dad took us to visit the dinosaur park on the way to Udon Thani. This is a genuine archaeological site where dinosaurs once roamed 30 million years agao - amazing really.

BBQ at Darawan's house

We had dinner at Darawan's house one evening. She invited some of the people who had had students in Nelson over they years. This was a great evening with great food. Nick, Darawan's son and one of his frieds were busy with the spit roast.


Frank and his family pose for a family photo. Frank attended our school for three weeks earlier in the year. The family generously loaned us a four wheel drive vehicle to explore the North East of Thailand.