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Posts tagged ‘lakes’

And so it ends where it began

After my brief look at Ottawa I arrived back in Toronto for two nights before flying home. I started the trip here and had completed a large odd-shaped circle of travel…

(All it needs is a couple of legs and it would sort of be a cat?) The mapping tool spazzed out when I tried to include Churchill, north of Winnipeg, as there is no road there only a railway. So the map is missing that wee subarctic foray.

I liked Toronto, the lovely weather helped I’m sure, and it was nice returning there being vaguely familiar of my surroundings for once. These are a few photos covering my first and second visits.

My hostel was on Church Street, this being one of the namesake structures

During a tour on Lake Ontario

CN Tower

And a view from the top of the tower

A fort originally established to protect the city

Casa Loma on the main tourist route. Not overly significant historically?, it's just your average 98 room grand mansion with immaculate gardens

The Hockey Hall of Fame

And with 10 weeks up it was time for the final dose of sitting down for mega hours while getting from A to B to C, though a plane was a nice change from buses and trains. A quick tally now on Google maps indicates I covered 20-25,000kms. That type of information was a bit harder to come by then – so much has changed on the technology front in the last few years to help travellers research, plan, record and communicate. I’m pretty sure I won’t be arriving back from travels with 41 rolls of film again!

With well stuffed bags earlier in the trip

This concludes my 2004 USA and Canada recap. The full collection of related posts can be found here.

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Manitoba beaches and other stuff

One day we grabbed our winter woollies and bundled into Angela and Adam’s car for a day trip to see what else Manitoba has to offer.

Lake Winnipeg was first up, the southern end being some 55kms north of the city. It is a massive body of water: about 24,500 square kilometres. In comparison, Lake Taupo, NZ’s largest lake by surface area, is just a wee drop at only 616 square kms!

We stopped for gas at an interesting place called Sherwood Forest. Luckily not a long stop – I’m sure I heard duelling banjos in the distance…

Grand Beach is one of several communities round the lake and a popular destination in summer. But this was the latter half of October and I was getting an early taste of how cold it gets in these parts during winter.

Clearly not a summer visit to Lake Winnipeg

We had passed bits of snow on the roadside on the way up and around the lake ice was beginning to form.

The bonus of this unbeachy weather is that we basically had the place to ourselves.

Although there were definitely creatures around.

Who needs a chainsaw when you have a beaver

This is what they call cottage country, with many houses being more holiday cottages than year round residences. The little nearby settlement was quiet but pleasant.

On the way back to Winnipeg we detoured for a quick look at Springhill, a small ski field only 15 minutes from downtown. It’s just off the highway which is visible in the background.

Waiting for snow

Another detour took us to the Fort Whyte Centre, a bit of a wild life and bird life reserve. A couple of hours were easily spent walking the trails and looking through the facilities.

Geese doing what geese do

With a bison at the visitor centre. Still cuddly even though he was a bit dead.

Soon enough my week in Winnipeg drew to a close. I’m sure I’ll return one day if Angela is still there when I next get back to Canada. As I was leaving another North American tradition was on the horizon: Halloween.

Ange started the Halloween adornments before I left

I was also nearing the end of this trip and about to get my final dose of Greyhound. Toronto was a mere 30 hours away.

Southern lakes & snowy scapes

Over our last two full days down south we tiki toured through some of our favourite parts of Central Otago before reluctantly pointing the car north.

We started in Wanaka where the day dawned crisp under still blue skies. Seeing the amazing lake views out the window of our motel unit started my trigger finger twitching so I shot out the door for a walk with trusty compact camera to snap a few pictures.

Early morning moon over Lake Wanaka and mountains

Lake Wanaka view from our motel. The marina somewhat spoils the view but I like how the curve matches that of the reflected hills

Both of us were hobbling a little from the previous day’s exercise and happy with the decision to have an indulgent day of sightseeing. After a cafe breakfast and short walk around the shops and lakefront we were off.

Lake Wanaka shore

Not far away, past the flourishing Albertown, we found the small township of Lake Hawea more pleasant than our previous visit there in an icy gale. The lake level seemed low and it was quite a downhill scramble to reach the waterline.

Lake Hawea looking across to the Mt Aspiring National Park

The next driving stint brought us to Cromwell via a picturesque drive along Lake Dunstan and its perfect reflections. We paid a quick visit to Old Cromwell, the part of town that became compromised by the hydro development resulting in the creation of Lake Dunstan. I walked along the lakefront to see the demolished remains of buildings which I hadn’t done before. I love old ruins!

Lake Dunstan looking splendid

Happy travellers beside Lake Dunstan

That night we were catching up with friends for dinner in Queenstown so as we were about to drive through the Bannockburn wine region it seemed a fine idea to make a cellar door purchase. We went to the Mt Difficulty winery. Central O is renowned for pinot noir and white varietals and after the red wine drinker among us did a small tasting, a purchase was duly made.

Along the road a little further is the DOC-managed Bannockburn Sluicing Historic Reserve. We’ll do the longer loop walk another day but did venture in a quarter hour or so to the striking landscape left behind by gold sluicing over 100 years ago. You get an appreciation of how extensive those activities were.

Landscape carved carved by water sluicing. Mt Difficulty winery in the background to the left of Mike's head

The road to Queenstown goes through the Kawarau Gorge, a fascinating place for spotting remains of old miners huts on the opposite riverbank. There is a visitor centre from where you can go exploring which I haven’t done yet. Beyond the Roaring Meg power station we crossed a bridge and suddenly the snow left behind after the storm in the preceding days began to appear. It continued the rest of the way.

The road goes on through the Gibbston Valley, another prominent wine area, and then past the Crown Range Road turnoff that could take us back to Cardrona and Wanaka… but we continued on, detouring into Arrowtown for a late lunch. I did contemplate the bakery but by that time they really only had pies and I was pretty pied out. The flats down by the Arrow River we walked across a few days before were now beautifully white.

The Arrow River next to Arrowtown

In Qtown the roads were clear but there was still loads of snow around. From our very comfy hotel in Fernhill it was a 10 minute drive to the friends in Arthur’s Point, over the Shotover River, where we enjoyed a homecooked meal and swapped photo viewings of our respective trips to Europe. Can’t believe it’s a year ago since ours.

The next day it was time to leave Otago, but not without some meandering along the way. From Queenstown it was back to Cromwell, then taking highway 8 south. We drove past Clyde, the starting point for our rail trail cycling holiday 2 ½ years ago, and stopped briefly at the visitor centre in Alexandra. Always interesting stuff to look through there.

Heading north again along highway 85 we jumped off for the short detour into the very small and quiet Ophir, location of the second coldest recorded temperature in NZ. (Ranfurly, not far away, takes first place.) From there we took some quieter roads through the Ida Valley, looking absolutely stunning with snow and fabulous ranges in all directions.

Driving along Boundary Rd, the subject of one of Grahame Sydney's paintings

Driving through the Ida Valley

The small community of Oturehua is home to the Idaburn Dam, famous for hosting bonspiels if winter conditions permit, and the brass monkey rally each June. I’ll do a separate post on our visit there.

Wedderburn was the next stop, another blink-and-you-miss-it place but famous for the old railway buildings.

We turned off for the short drive to Naseby, keen for lunch and to see the remains of the snow that had cut off the town a couple of days earlier. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, it is a bit surprising that Naseby has the southern hemisphere’s premier indoor curling facility. The Winter Games curling tournament was happening when we passed through but we didn’t have time to linger. Lunch at the Black Forest Cafe was excellent.

Naseby was still buried - easy to see how it got cut off for a couple of days

Huge snow piles on the streets of Naseby

Snow had closed Dansey’s Pass, the rather isolated and unsealed road that we had planned to take. So we headed back to highway 85 and followed that, the snow petering out as we got nearer to the coast and highway 1.

The fabulous Hawkdun Range

Leaving Central and heading for the coast we enjoyed the last few minutes of snow laden landscapes

A couple of hours later we crossed the Waitaki River, putting Otago behind us. It remains my favourite part of NZ. Who knows when it will have that much snow again but hopefully I’ll be down there to enjoy it when it does.

Highway through the icefields

Jasper was next on the destination agenda. From Lake Louise it is about 230km north via the Icefields Parkway, a highway through the Banff and Jasper national parks. To extract maximum value I booked another bus tour to get me there.

Being a tour there were several stops along the way and being eager tourists we filed off the bus each time to photograph the awesomeness. Crowfoot Mountain was one such stop.

Peyto Lake with its luxurious milky looking waters was another.

The lake viewing platform was down a sloping path which ice had made quite treacherous.

The main stop of the day was on the Columbia Icefields to see the Athabasca Glacier. Unfortunately as with many/most glaciers in the world today, this one is receding at an alarming rate so I’m glad I saw it when I had the opportunity. This is the view from the visitor centre. You can see from the moraine that the retreating glacier has left behind that it used to be substantially bigger.

From here we boarded a bus and travelled a short distance before transferring to purpose built vehicles that would take us onto the glacier. There we could walk around, albeit in a carefully marked off area.

It looks nice and peaceful… though in the other direction, and with this happening several times each day, it is easy to see why this is the most visited glacier in North America.

We got to Jasper early evening and I began my next hostelling adventure… a shared 30 bed dorm!

Snowy trail to the Plain of Six Glaciers

From Banff I booked a shuttle for the 40 minute drive over to Lake Louise, where I was to stay for one night. Specifically this was at a hostel in Lake Louise village, about 5km from the lake.

The weather had turned drizzly but I had lots of walking planned so I pressed on. I caught a taxi up to the lake to find a completely different landscape to the one experienced the previous day, when we stopped at the lake during a bus tour. Drizzle down in the village translated to snow up at the lake and it was amazing to see.

There is a big chateau at the lake and I lunched in the cafe before setting out on the 5.5km hike up to the Plain of Six Glaciers. While visibility was clearly going to be an issue, the appeal of visiting the teahouse at the end of the trail was an irresistible pull.

The first 2km was getting to the other end of the lake. This is from the far side looking back to the chateau:

The trail then started to ascend – and I began to realise that my everyday travelling boots were not really up to the task of today’s challenge. Some patches were just slushy and relatively easy going. Not to mention spectacular.

However, the higher I got the icier it got. My pace slowed as I navigated some of the trickier parts. It snowed all the way and it was impossible to really know what the scenery was actually like.

Eventually I made it to the teahouse, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Quite a small place it was nonetheless full with other hikers seeking refreshments. Despite the effort to get there I only stayed for a few minutes due to being concerned the trail would ice up more. Still I enjoyed those few minutes sitting on the deck.

Just beyond the teahouse there are apparently views of six glaciers, but on this day that was going to be a redundant mission. So I headed back. The descent turned out to be relatively quick and easy. Once back at the chateau I decided to take another trail through the woods to get back down to the village. Nearing the bottom I belatedly noticed a sign cautioning trampers about bears…

For that reason, and the fact I was cold and soaked, I was glad when I finally made it back to the hostel!

More mountains, lakes & waterfalls

A few more photos from the tour I did while in Banff…

We stopped for lunch at Lake Louise. I was staying at the local hostel the following night to have a proper look around the lake, but no point frittering this first opportunity to have a wander around.

The whole day was full of must-see wonderfull stuff but Moraine Lake was a stand out. It was gorgeous, and as with essentially all the lakes around these parts the glacial blue-green waters were nothing short of stunning.

The bus drove into Yoho National Park on a road that closes during winter. The main feature here was the Takakkaw Falls.

There were around half a dozen stops in all, a great day. I would love to go back to this region in winter!

A spot of cultcha in Milwaukee

From Indianapolis I headed to Milwaukee to stay with relations for a couple of nights. The hospitality was again superb and I was taken around a few of the local sights. One such stop was the Milwaukee Art Museum. While these venues and cultural centres are a little wasted on me, there was no denying this was a spectacular building.

The museum is on the waterfront with Lake Michigan visible in the photo. This was my third brush with the Great Lakes, having begun my trip in Toronto and then visiting Niagara Falls. There is an offical Great Lakes Circle Tour which is over 6,500 miles long so these waterways truly are massive.

Next up was Seattle, a mere 2,000 mile train ride away…

Another snowy southern sojourn

While I take a break from study and indulge in one of my favourite tv shows I thought I could manage a bit of multi-tasking.

This time it’s our Wanaka trip from 2009.

We flew to Christchurch and drove south. Lake Tekapo is a great wee stop-off for lake views and the wee stone church.

We stopped overnight at Lake Ohau (hiding behind the cloud).

The road south took us over the Lindis Pass…

…and via the Crown Range Road between Queenstown and Wanaka, which is not complete without a stop off at the iconic Cardrona Hotel.

We based ourselves in Wanaka and made the most of the gorgeousness.

This was my third year of snowboarding (noting that a season for me consists of about four days) and this was shall we say not an unfamiliar pose… occasionally a little more spectacular 🙂

A night in Queenstown rounded out the trip before flying home.

Looking forward to winter

I’m in the midst of an intensely busy phase of work and study and these endeavours are impinging greatly on the blog. Grrr. Happily there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but in the meantime it’s belatedly occurred to me I could delve into my photographic archives and pluck out some pictures of past travel-y things.

This first batch is from a trip to Wanaka in winter of 2008. It’s topical because we have just booked our next visit down there. I love that part of the country and it is so beautiful in winter, so I can’t wait for August. I just hope my meagre snowboarding skills have not been set back too much by not going down last year.

Daily convoy up the hill to Cardrona

Looking across Cardrona skifield and valley

A beautiful day to be on the hill

Pausing during one of my blinding downhill runs (not really!!)

From the chairlift

Lake Wanaka

Around the lake shore

Tree on edge of Lake Wanaka

A glimpse into the Southern Alps during the flight back to Wellington

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