Monday, 14 January 2013

Mountains, lakes and stuff

Our day finished off yesterday with a beautiful still, blue sky, very pleasantly warm, but this morning started off with a thunderstorm! I guess that’s what you get when you get into the mountains. 
Lake Tekapo from our campsite
At 730m we were on the high plateau of Lake Tekapo, famous for its turquoise blue lake, very clear skies and observatory on Mount John. We had planned (or at least I had) to trek up to the Mount John peak (only 3hours return!) and have a coffee in the Astro Café on the summit next to the telescopes, but the weather put paid to that, so instead we drove up, jumped out the van in the rain, snapped off a few photos, jumped back in and away!

The Church of the Good Shepherd on Lake Tekapo

Some of the telescopes on Mount John
  Our plans were to drive to Aoraki Mount Cook village and spend a couple of days doing some of the tramps up to and around some of the glaciers (we can’t go any higher as we don’t have any winter gear – crampons and ice axes – all left at home sadly), but we changed our plans when we saw the huge rain cloud hanging over Mount Cook! By now it had brightened up and was hot, sunny and blue skies, all except where we intended going, so we have delayed that for a couple of weeks and are heading for Wanaka, where there’s loads of stuff to do, including some climbing. 

The outflow from Lake Pukaki
Tonight we are at a basic camp site near Lake Ohau, which is one of seven lakes used for hydro-electric power generation, which together, apparently generate about 20% of the electricity required by New Zealand. Lake Tekapo (where we were this morning) is the highest lake and is connected to the others (Lakes Pukaki, Ohau, Ruataniwha, Benmore, Aviemore and Waitaki) by specially built (and very large) canals, all at a different height. In all there are eight hydro-electric generators in the system capable of generating 1.74GW. We had a look at the outflow from Lake Pukaki on our travels and the generator at Lake Benmore and they are very impressive (the outflow at Pukaki was at maximum level as the lake level is so high at the moment from recent rainfall, making it quite frightening and awesome to look at). 
The outflow from below
The feed and generator at Lake Benmore
Although these canals and generators are all man-made, it didn’t detract from the beauty of the quite stark surroundings, sitting as they do in the rain shadow of the alps. The ground is starved of rain and appears semi desert, with the mountains just about covered in scrub, which is in stark contrast to the other side of the alps which record huge amounts of rain each year.

A calm evening over Lake Ohau
We have finished the day with settled weather and a clear sky, but we could still see the cloud over Mount Cook, so we made the right decision! No internet connection in this out-of-the-way place so will have to keep this entry for a day or so before we can publish it.

Thank you to various people for an explanation of the meaning of linen being called Manchester, the first one I got was from our friends Bill & Marilyn Lingard in Melbourne, Australia, who originate from Manchester UK. They explain as follows:

"Manchester was a manufacturing centre for cotton, I know my mum used to work in one of the cotton mills in Oldham and there are still a number of old mills around and the one for example where we lived in Failsworth is now a Tesco (?) supermarket.

The word is also used in Australia and I believe it is because back in the "old days" prior to India/China etc all the quality cotton goods came from Manchester."

View over Lake Ohau towards Aoraki Mount Cook
Other things I’ve learnt from reading while we were housesitting (these are not related in any way, I just thought you may be interested):

  1.       The earth has to rotate more than one revolution each day from the noon of one day to the noon of the next. This is because it not only rotates on its axis, but also about 1 degree per day round the sun (360 degrees in a circle, 365 days in a year = 1degree/day), so it has to turn an extra degree each day (361 degrees) to get back to noon. Therefore one complete revolution of the earth is 23hours 56minutes, the remaining 4minutes is for the extra degree

   2.       The Atlantic Ocean has a volume of 74 million cubic miles
   3.       The Atlantic Ocean is getting 1” (25mm) wider each year, so if I live to 69 the Atlantic will be wider by the same amount I am tall
   4.       All sea’s, ocean’s, bay’s and inlets are named and recorded (since 1921) by the International Hydrographic Office based in Monte Carlo. In recent times the definition of the Atlantic Ocean has been expanded to include many seas that were once considered separate, including the North Sea and the English and Bristol Channel’s, which are now sub-divisions of the Atlantic. This means that, technically the UK and Ireland are completely surrounded by the Atlantic!

That’s all for now….

No comments:

Post a Comment