so. after leaving Murchison, i headed east. there are two large lakes there, Rotoroa and Rotoiti ('roto' means 'lake' in Maori) and there are some rivers that flow into these lakes. when i crested the hill over looking the latter, i found an amazing lake, the biggest i have come across in New Zealand:
there's a track that goes around the eastern shore of the lake, leading to some huts and the inlet, so i took that track. viewpoints abound:
i was welcomed to the hut there by a couple young fathers and their little girls. they were a lively bunch, the girls especially interested in all my fishing gadgets, my accent and many other things which they asked in a series of questions when i arrived. a hot fire burned in the stove so i took off for the lake for a quick dip. woooo! this water was noticeably colder than the ocean on the west coast ha. but it did feel good. the hut was real kickass:
a guest that night, a Kea:
the girls made me a marshmallow on the fire and the next morning, i found one in my wading boot... which i ate, ha! weather the next day wasn't exactly ideal, but it didn't matter that much, i didn't have anything else to do and the fish were there. as i left the trailhead, i spoke to some locals. one said her husband had fished the river a few days ago and that he saw a bunch of fish but did not catch any. as i walked away, i thought to myself that if i could find the fish, i would not leave skunked. i would eat these words though, as i would suffer from the same fate that day. i spooked a lot of fish that day. and a lot of fish i simply could not get to take a fly. after speaking with some other anglers that evening in the hut, we decided these fish had seen other anglers recently. while frustrating, it was a very cool spot. it rained nearly all day:
i was very happy to see that some other trampers had already lit a fire in the hut when i finally got back to it. i was so happy i took a picture of the smoking chimney:
the next day i hiked out and hung out for a bit in St. Arnaud, the little town at the head of the lake. i picked up a hitchiker later that evening and ended up having a few brews with him, then camped out in the van that night. i woke up to blue skies. morning inside the van:
soon i was on the river:
it was a great day for spotting fish, and i had some pretty good luck, landing four, a number allowing me to extend an overdue dedication to the Kinneys in Topsham, i hope you guys are well!
for Reid and Jessie:
for Will and John:
for Miriam and Iris:
from there i headed north. i made it into Motueka that night, camped out and fished a small river outside of town the next day. it had rained hard over the night, so the river was pretty off-color, making spotting fish quite difficult. i spotted a couple, spooking them both, and hooked two fishing blind, losing both of those. a frustrating day, but a nice spot nonetheless.
i continued north, reaching Kaiteriteri. the beach there was pretty amazing:
i enjoyed a salami and cheese sandwich there, taking in the sun. i then continued north, climbing Takaka Hill and reaching Takaka that evening, where i spent the last several days. i was lucky to get in touch with the incredibly nice and hospitable Gill and Iain Russell, who took me in. they have an incredible homestead with amazing views of the surrounding hills:
Iain got me in touch with another friend who was kind enough to take me out sea fishing the next day. this was a great way to 'meet' the Bay, and i was very content to enjoy the sea and the air and the sun while doing some easy fishing for blue cod, which we would enjoy that evening, with chips.
while i had known the captain Harry for only a matter of minutes, we fell into an immediate friendship based on fishing. there was an unspoken acknowledgment of a fellow angler and while conversation faded in and out, i think we both enjoyed each other's company immensely. we had some good luck that morning, each catching our limit of blue cod and also getting some sea perch, a couple sharks and a barracouta. after fishing i was invited over for tea, where Harry's wife Betty had sandwiches waiting. just another example of the amazing Kiwi hospitality. some more pics from that morning:
after tea and taking care of our catch, i spotted a basketball court that caught my eye so much that i picked up a basketball for the first time since leaving the states. this court rivaled the East End court's view. i kept looking for to arrive. i fooled around with the camera, trying to get a picture with the ball at the bottom of the net, but i proved harder than i thought, even for someone who rarely misses.
as always, i left the court on a make.
i fished several rivers over the next few days and spooked a lot of fish. i have briefly hooked one fish in the past four days and i must change this soon. the rivers were spectacular however and i keep telling myself that the fish are a bonus. it does feel good when you get one to take though.
one afternoon, i helped Iain shear his sheep. this involved moving them from one fenced area to another, then herding them into a very small circular area. from there, we would pick out the sheep one by one, flip them on their backs, then drag them over to the edge of the fenced area for a shot of some medicine, then drag them over to the shearer Leon who would do his thing with the shears. this was a pretty tiring task, as some of these sheep pushed 200 lbs and did not exactly fancy being flipped on their backs and dragged around. the beers we slugged afterwards were a relief to everyone. i got to take a turn at the shearing, and lets just say it turned out to be a good call that i was given the last sheep ha. you can definitely pick out the sheep i sheared from the herd. sorry about that buddy.
the Russell's homestead happened to have a trout river bordering it, so i fished that a few times to no avail. i will return here and i will catch a trout from you, river, mark my words.
i spent one day at the northern-most tip of the Southern Island at Wharariki Beach and Farewell Spit. these are pretty amazing spots. pictures describe best:
yesterday, after saying goodbye and fishing the morning away, i drove from 1:45 to 10:45 when i finally arrived in Christchurch. i put the iPod on shuffle songs and went through 125 in all, starting with The National and ending with Cat Stevens. good jam to check out: "Lower 48" by The Gourds. that one i had to put on repeat three times. it was a long journey but a good one, as i decided to take roads that i hadn't been on yet. as always, it's hard driving over likely rivers, but there is time yet.
Lucas arrives in a couple days and we'll be heading south for a day of fishing with Stu, then making out way around the south of the South Island. i'll be in Christchurch for a few days, cleaning clothes and the van and taking care of other errands. a little break before another rollout. twill be nice. anyone receiving calls from weird looking numbers should answer.
i hope everyone's well, wherever you are. the Freedom Beard is coming along nicely, although showing its patchiness in some odd places. i suppose that's fitting. talk to ya soon!
some other pics i took for some reason:
whacha think of this, pete:had to take this one: