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Tiki-tour to Mt Elliot.
Click the thumbnails for a larger picture.

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Most weekends i escape from Christchurch (where i work during the week), and drive for 3 & 1/2 hours to Mt Elliot, back of beyond...
Although the drive is long, i don't mind it terribly. There's some picture-postcard country along the way.

nightgraves We might as well start in Christchurch where i currently work during the week - although i don't take many photos in town as cities don't inspire me.
Over the road from my Christchurch accommodation is an old atmospheric graveyard- i like taking night shots there.
Wee stone church Square In Cathedral Square is the famous Christchurch 'Cathedral' ('stone church' would be more honest - it must be smallest 'cathedral' in the world). I should probably take a summer shot of this when the trees are in leaf... one day when i have my camera in town.

Alright, thats enough of Christchurch - if anyones comes here to see the towns then they're mssing the point. Get outta town!

Southern Alps backdrop to the Canterbury plains Christchurch sits on a drained swamp at the base of Akaroa peninsular. First up, we need to cross the plains, built up by material Canterbury's famous braided rivers brought down from the steep mountains.  
Dividing the flat Canterbury plains from the West Coast are the impressive Southern Alps.
Soon after climbing over Porter's Pass the highway passes Castle Rocks - limestone outcrops.
(I've tried to do a panorama here but had to shrink it down or the file size is huge - unfortunately this loses detail that gives clues to the scale involved - look for the fenceposts near the bottom of the biggest rocks): spot the people
It takes an hour and a half driving to get through the Alps (or days, if you stop and look at everything along the way). HourglassLake
Lake Pearson is nestled high up in the Alps, soon after Castle rock. The scree fans from mountains on either side have almost pinched it in two, resulting in an hourglass shaped lake.  
Waimakariri River 
The Trans-Alpine Express train follows the Waimakariri river from the plains, but the road takes a different route, crossing the river near its headwaters, not far from Arthur's Pass village.
OneLaneHighwayBridgeYup, there it is - the main highway from Christchurch (the biggest town in the south island - pop 300,0000) to the West Coast...
With barely 4 million people and no roads at all just 150 years ago, single-lane bridges are a common feature of rural roads and highways.
Mt Dobson 
Just after Arthur's Pass village, and only about 1km from the top of the pass itself, we pass Mount Rolleston. Kea (alpine parrots) frequent this area, clowning for handouts (then ripping the rubber seal from around your windscreen when you're not looking).
I like this photo - wish i'd taken it on a higher res'
After plunging over the lip, the road descends from Arthurs Pass into steep Otira Gorge on the West Coast side of the alps. The West coast is on the prevailing weather side of the island, and has huge rainfall as a result - over 6 metres annually in Milford Sound, Throughbut 'only' around 3 metres in the Arthur's Pass area. With the Alps dividing the Island from top to bottom, the East coast is resultantly drier, while the lush 'Wet Coast' is still mostly blanketted in temperate rain-forest.
Looking back this view shows Mt Alexander brooding over the Mouth of the Gorge.
green avenueWe leave the highway (unless you want to go to Greymouth - or travel north or south along the West Coast, which is well worth spending a few days over.
green chasm For me, the last 30km's are down to a single-lane gravel road winding through the bush. I love this for a driveway.Driving through the bush road there are places that give glimpses down into the Ahaura river gorge.
This photo shows a fine stand of Rimu on the far bank, standing out yellowish against the other greenery. The west coast is the last stronghold of Rimu, a massive slow-growing emergent native tree, heavily logged for its fine-grained red timber.
My old 4wd Subaru has a leaky radiator. Fortunately we are at journey's end, and i can look back on the foothills of the Alps as i stop for a refill (i think this was the ocassion when i discovered a leak also in my gumboot).

Being just to the West of serious mountains, sunrise comes late to Elliot's Toe.
The payoff is in the Sunsets, there being only low hills between me and the Tasman Sea to the West, as this series shows (although in the last shot you can just see the tail end of the Paparoa range 40km to the northwest. Mountains mountains mountains - just as well i love mountains).

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Cursor following bees swiped from Jeff Davies site: Beekeeping the Natural Way using Oils and Herbs

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