Saturday dawned beautifully sunny and we took a “tikki tour” to the Banks Penninsula, the long extinct volcano that provides some elevation just an hour south of Christchurch. It was a little tricky figuring out which track to hike, since some are closed for lambing season Aug-Oct, and others are still closed after the earthquakes because of falling rock hazards. We tried out part of the Summit Track.
I suspect these hills used to be wooded. There are still random groves of native trees to be found, but the majority is tussock grass now. The few trees hanging on sure let you know which way the wind blows. One nice thing about a grassland is that nothing obstructs the view—you can always see to the horizon.
There are miles and miles (alright, kilometers and kilometers) of fencing strung all over these hills, and basically all over this country. You kind of take it for granted, but when you stop to think, a LOT of labor and money went into these flimsy looking things. We’re hoping that these rusted tools are a memento to the old way of running fence posts, and that Kiwis now use some nifty tool to reduce their labor.
The view from Mt Herbert (highest point on the peninsula, 920 meters) shows Lyttleton at the edge of the harbor, then Christchurch and the southern alps beyond. The mountains are a comforting view.
I wonder how many years a fence post lasts here. They get about as much rain as we do in NY, but up here they also get more sun and wind. Lichens are impressive hardy beings.
Now comes the truth: we didn’t hike up to the tops of these hills from the ocean below. Our little VW wagon drove us up most of the way, on a twisted gravel track that didn’t require a 4×4. I think he liked the task, actually, because he got to sit in the sun and look like a car commercial while we hiked over the peaks.
Ooh, a little boy’s heaven. Rocks everywhere to throw and clack. Some are even a pretty green kind of like the jade for which these islands are famous. This spit is called Birdlings Flat, a narrow bit of rocky land that divides a big lake on the north side from the ocean on the south.
These flowers look like gazanias to me, and they grow wild here in the dunes along Birdlings Flat.