As John Snow would say “winter is coming”. The mornings are getting cold, windscreens are freezing over and the nights are drawing in but thankfully the sun still shines during the day. Blenheim remains largely in a high pressure zone, meaning relatively clear skies, lots of sun but variable temperatures. In fact last year it was officially the sunniest town in NZ racking up over 2800 hours of sunshine. All of which I’m sure makes positive reading to anyone planning on visiting Marlborough in the winter months.
Another positive is that even when the skies do cloud over and the sun stops shining the landscapes take on a whole new persona, one which is equally as stunning. With the sun blocked from lighting up the never-ending vistas you are instead faced with white cloud cascading over hilltops and in-between valleys. It’s on days like this when you can truly appreciate why this country is known as the ‘land of the long white cloud’.
The Nelson Lakes national park couldn’t illustrate this better. Last week I drove out there on my day off, thus far the weather had been amazing, bright sunshine and clear skies, arguably perfect weather to visit a national park. However as I woke on Wednesday the clouds did not part, the sun did not shine and without the benefit of hindsight, I doubted whether I should still go. Not one for wasting my days off I pressed on regardless and, as I’ve already mentioned, it was definitely worth the trip.
Maori legend tells the story of Rakaihautu, chief and explorer who came to Aotearoa (New Zealand) and travelled to the great mountains. With his ko (digging stick) Rakaihautu dug enormous holes that he filled with water and food for his people, one being Lake Rotoiti (little lake) another Lake Rotoroa (long lake). When I travelled New Zealand two years ago I visited Lake Rotoiti in the summer, I have now seen it on the edge of winter and I can safely say that both times it didn’t disappoint (although I chose to stay out of the water this time round). It is an extraordinary location all year round, whilst the summer weather brings obvious benefits, the impending winter changes the Lakes in a way that pictures cannot do justice. The crowds that swarm to the lakes at the height of summer were nowhere to be seen last week, just a handful of cars parked by the lakeside and for some time the lake was entirely my own with no other sole to interrupt. These are the subtle benefits of Aotearoa in the winter.
The national park is just under a couple of hours drive from me. It is largely uninhabited with signs of life being scarce barring the odd farm building or flock of sheep. For the most part you are the only vehicle on the road except the odd logging truck. However, it seems that no matter where you go or how far you travel from civilization there is one omnipresent feature trailing the skyline; power cables. They are everywhere. To some, this may seem like a simple thing to point out.
“Of course they go everywhere, people need power and that’s how it’s transported across the country”
Had you been talking about the UK I’d agree with you. But this is different, the transmission towers are not just running adjacent to the M1 across flat farm land, they are perched atop mountains, hidden away in-between valleys, spanning rivers from one settlement to the next. It’s not so much the fact they are there that impresses me but it’s how they got there and the engineering feat it must have been to install them. When I travelled a few years ago my friends and I always used to talk about ‘things that baffle us’ (when you spend every waking moment in each others company you have to fill the conversation with something), it could be anything or anyone just as long as it was a suitably baffling topic to ignite a discussion. Back then power lines fitted into that category and two years on that is where they firmly remain.