Washpen Falls Track

An hour’s drive from Christchurch is the Washpen Falls Track.   It is a private track on a back country working farm in the Malvern Hills, through which the  loop track has been created.  It passes through a stunning  ancient volcanic canyon, now full of native bush and a continuous chorus of birdsong.  After perusing information in the old woolshed, visitors can pick up a guide which gives information about interest points along the track.  Allow one to three hours for the walk, according to how long is spent at each viewpoint, and level of fitness (there are some steep sections).

Through pine forest

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Mt Crichton Loop Track, Queenstown

During a period of hot summer weather, we chose to walk the Mt Crichton Loop Track, not only for its scenic and historical aspects, but also because it provided  shade.  The walk includes river, waterfall, forest, and lake views and passes by historic landmarks. The nine kilometre track took around three hours (including stops) from a minimum altitude of 383 metres to a maximum altitude of 604 metres.  It is accessed from the Mt Crichton carpark, about 11km from Queenstown on the Glenorchy Road.

View of Lake Wakatipu from early on the  track

We completed the track in an anti-clockwise direction. Although the walk is not strenuous, this avoided climbing a few of the steeper hill sections.

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Ancient Clay Cliffs of Omarama

We wandered under the stunning ancient Clay Cliffs, near Omarama, in the Upper Waitaki River Basin, North Otago. Fantastic pinnacles and ravines, formed by natural erosion on the active Ostler Fault, laid down millions of years ago as ocean sediment.  There is a signposted road on State Highway 8, just north of Omarama, to access the Clay Cliffs.  There is an honesty box of $5 per car at the entry gate.

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Ohinetahi House and Garden

Sir Miles Warren’s house and garden in Governor’s Bay are a delight. With harbour views,  the present garden was begun in 1977 by Sir Miles, though there was a garden created on the some site in 1865 by one of New Zealand’s first botanists, T.H . Potts.  Some of the exotic trees and shrubs he planted still stand on the perimeter of the garden.  Sir Miles Warren is a well-known New Zealand architect, now in his 80’s.  He lives in the house and was working in his garden when we visited.  In 2012 he gifted the house and garden to the people of New Zealand through the Ohinetahi Charitable Trust.

Introduction outside the main house before starting the tour


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Deconstruction of Hilgendorf building at Lincoln University


The Hilgendorf building had a strong presence on the Lincoln University campus, comprising  about 30 % of Lincoln’s academic floor space.  Built in the brutalist style and opened in 1968, it was named after Frederick William Hilgendorf, who pioneered plant breeding in New Zealand, concentrating on wheat.  He joined the staff in 1899, and retired in 1936.  Continue reading

Castle Hill’s limestone boulders

The Castle Hill boulders are a 10 minute walk from the Great Alpine Highway 73, between Springfield and Arthur’s Pass.  The formations rear up from the grasslands and to the early European settlers, they resembled old run-down castles, hence the name.  It is easy to spend hours wandering among this extensive area, admiring arches, towers, holes, slabs and other shapes that inspire your imagination.

The rock formations are what remains after water has eroded the limestone that formed during the Oligocene period 30 – 40 million years ago, when much of New Zealand was covered by sea.  The rocks have been further weathered by natural erosion.  In 1998 the area was designated the Kura Tawhiti Conservation Area.  Kura Tawhiti means ‘treasure from a distant land’.

These photos were taken in mid April after a light autumn snowfall.  The names I have given the formations are from my own imagination.

At the start of the boulders, walkers on the right giving scale

At the start of the boulders, walkers on the right giving scale



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