" New Zealand Holiday ... 16 . . . Claremont and Home "

Date & Time: Tuesday 23rd - Wed 24th November 2011.

Locations : Claremont Estate , Waipara Valley, South Island, NZ.

Places visited : Claremont Estate, Pegasus Bay Winery and Christchurch Airport.

Accommodation : Claremont Estate and Nature Park

With :Richard and Rosie, Ann and myself.

Weather : Sunshine and blue skies . . . a perfect end to the holiday.


" NZ -16- Claremont and Home " at EveryTrail

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We arrived at Richard and Rosie's two nights ago and today was our last full day with them.

After our visit to Christchurch yesterday, we wanted to enjoy the delights of Claremont on our last day.

Fortunately the weather came up trumps with blue skies and sunshine all the way.

A good-to-be-alive morning at Claremont House.

Richard and Rosie now live away from the main house in the old Farm Managers home

and it was to the balcony of this house that we were invited . . . to join them for breakfast.

Richard wanted to show us round the estate so we returned to the main house to change our shoes and powder our noses !

Ann found another friend . . . Lulu the dog.

With time to spare I took a short walk around the gardens . . . here over to the stream and their small pond.

Close to the water . . . this lovely blue Iris.
Red and orange on the fruit pods of the fax plant.

Water Lily leaves floating on the pond.

Did you notice the Moeraki-style boulder over the steps ?
The garden has a lovely statue of a stag and hind.

Our transport has arrived . . . our guide is waiting . . . must dash !

Richard and Rosie, in conjunction with their farm manager, keep herds of sheep and deer on the farmland.

We discussed the merits and finances of venison production . . . which are much the same those of sheep or beef of course, only with different animals !

They are partially through a Spring moult by the look of it.

The herd run over to watch us passing.

First stop . . . top of the local hill to see the view . . . and what a view.

Richard pointed out that this is a classic geologist/ geographers dream location and he often accompanies college students up here on field trips.

The escarpments in the picture are matched by the equivalent strata behind us, but the movement of tectonic plates and the general passage of time has tilted them and moved them sideways by hundreds of yards and so there is a geological rift in the valley.

To the north of us, the high Southern Alpine ranges still holds patches of snow.

We're driving down for a visit to the river.

Taken on the move . . . one of many Red Kites.

I had promised myself to try and get a picture of these birds as we had seen quite a few during the holiday . . . Richard stops the car.

Sunshine through the wings . . .
. . . as it turns and soars
. . . hovering, looking for food.

After a river crossing and some wild backwoods driving we have ended up on a gravel beach next to the river.

The Range Rover coped well with the almost virgin territory along the way.

But why this beach ?

Opposite was a mudstone bank eroded by the actions of the Waipara River, much like you could see in any valley.

Pay attention at the back of the class . . . can you see a diagonal line rising left to right at the bottom of the cliff . . . just above the coarser material ?

Hands up who has heard of the K.T. boundary ?

The 65 million year old KT Layer

Still can't see it . . . hold your cursor over the photo !

The KT Boundary is the dividing line between the Cretaceous and the Tertiary geological ages and marks the exact date of the extinction of numerous animal and plant species (such as the dinosaurs) due to a catastrophic extinction event which occurred approximately 65.5 million years ago.

This sedimentary layer at the Cretaceous–Tertiary boundary is rich in Iridium, a metal that is rare on the earth's surface but abundant on asteroids and comets. It can be seen as a brown line. This layer defines the time when an asteroid hit the Gulf of Mexico and caused vast quantities of dust in the earth's atmosphere and cause so many volcanic eruptions, which significantly changed the world climate at that time. Many species could not cope with the changed environment and from this time on there, for example, there were no more dinosaurs.

(No dinosaur fossils are ever found in the rock strata above this KT layer)

Here on Richard and Rosie's estate is an excellent example of this geological feature that helped decipher the history of our planet.

A short while later we negotiated another river crossing and Richard had another gem to show us.

White chalk and limestone escarpments and yellow broom add colour to a short walk down the valley.

We were introduced to these as "God's Marbles"

Here were more examples of calcium boulders, rivaling those we had seen on the shoreline at Moeraki Beach.

These boulders have been incorporated into a residual layer of mudstone and are being exposed by the erosive undercutting of the river.

As the river cuts away the cliff, the boulders fall into the water . . . and lie scattered along the river bed at this point.

These boulders have formed in a deep ocean, in a high calcium environment, and contain an initial catalyst such as bone at their centre.

A prime source of that catalyst could have been the bones of those dinosaurs that had been made extinct by the KT event.

It was here on the Estate that the first New Zealand dinosaur fossils were found, where extinct Moa bones were rescued from an ancient swamp

and where fossils of the Blue Penguin dated them as compatriots of the dinosaurs over 65 million years ago.

Claremont is certainly rich in geological memorabilia

Now to get our feet wet again as we make our way back to the car !

Still plenty to see including this grove of trees.

This plantation has been seeded with truffle fungi and after a ten year wait it will hopefully allow the farm to harvest a profitable crop.

Crossing the paddock we stopped . . . to harvest a more immediate crop of field mushrooms.

We are now back at the top of the escarpment and Richard takes us to another local viewpoint.

Richard and Ann at the base of the 45 metre high . . .
. . . Bishop's Head Rock.

We drove down into the valley below and meet the river once again.

Stunning limestone rocks have been cut through . . .
. . . to form the dramatic Waipara gorge.

Richard stands and admires the rocks . . . even though he has been here many times before.

Looking round we find fossils of ancient vegetation . . .
. . . and this classic dinosaur vertebrae.

Getting into the gorge was easy . . . now we had to get back out against the current !

Taking care as I edge my way back on slippery rocks and insecure chalk finger holds.

Richard spotted this unusual object . . .
. . . and we photographed it in context.

A tap with a large stone and it fell out.

It is now in the hands of the Canterbury Museum as a possible meteorite shard . . . we've yet to have it confirmed.

Hi Roger and Ann,

I think that it is probable that these are fragments of volcanic material that probably embedded themselves in the mud of the shallow lagoon that existed here until tectonic plate uplift that changed the land form to that of the present. I am not sure of the time lines of the volcanic action of the volcano that crated Akaroa harbor but I suspect that this is a more likely source of these fragments containing iron that are to be found in the sedimentary deposits of the Waipara river that date back some 50 million years. Of course it is the current erosion caused by the Waipara river since the uplift that is exposing these wonders and other fascinating treasures.

By the way, I doubt that the remarkable photo of yours is a Meteorite. I rather suspect that it is a larger fragment with the same origins as outlined above. I believe that a meteorite would be much harder material.

Best regards, Richard & Rosie.  April 2015.

The four-wheel drive came into its own again as we climb back out of the valley.

This is New Zealand . . . home of the Merino sheep

. . . so no report would be complete without a few photos of these impressive animals.

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The Waipara Valley is also famous for their wines and vineyards.


The sunny climate in the rain shadow of the high hills provides ideal conditions for the growing of quality grapes.


Richard and Rosie took us to sample the local fare

at the Pegasus Bay Winery

Classic barrels store the vintage wine . . .
. . . as it matures in the warehouse.

Needs must . . . as we sample a few of their classic wines.

They have developed the hospitality side of the winery and we were able to stop a while and enjoy the gardens over a cup of tea.

Climbing Roses adorn the house.
The ladies adorn the bridge just as beautifully !

The landscaped gardens included a pond, the stream being a tributary of the local Waipara river.

A native Maori carving set in the rockery . . .
. . . and an information board about the same.

Over the bridge . . . a view of the lower pond.

Underneath it . . . a small stoney stream and tame eels once again, feeding on strips of food left out for them.

A huge thank you to Richard and Rosie for two very interesting and very different days out in their company.

Time to leave . . . as it always seems to be when you are enjoying yourself.

Please exit by the door at the back of the garden . . . it will be a floral pleasure.

A quick stop in the town of Amberley . . .
. . . and we park under these Blue Gum Trees.

Richard wanted to check out the new signed walkway through the town . . .

. . . as one of the signboards includes a picture and direct reference to their Claremont Estate.

Finally it is back home for tea . . .

or more correctly . . . a delightful evening meal

in the company of Richard and Rosie plus Robert and Dorothy, the new managers at the hotel.

[ smiles all round as we try and get the camera to take a half-decent group photo !]

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. . . and so to bed !

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Next morning it was a quick pack of our bags and we were at Christchurch airport by eight.

A worrying delay as New Zealand airways commandeered our aircraft for another flight

. . . but they did get us to Auckland in time for our international connection . . . just !

A four hour stop-over in Singapore allowed us time to relax

which included a brief visit to the Butterfly aviary inside the main Changi airport terminal.

After leaving Claremont by car at 6am on the Wednesday morning,

this was the view as we touched down at Heathrow at 6am Thursday morning some thirty-eight hours later.

[ the difference being accounted for by the change of time zones.]

It drew to a close our antipodean adventure, a long awaited visit to the islands of New Zealand where we met up with my cousin in Whangarei, experienced the Maori culture first-hand, saw the fiery mountains, the bubbly mud and walked the sands of the Abel Tasman coast.

Our trip saw us flying over the glaciers, swimming in the fiords, dining on fine foods and excellent wines and it enabled us to make new friends, meet up with website friends and re-make friendships first made on our Australian holiday four years ago.

A grand plan has come to fruition and drawn to a close.

Our thanks to all who helped us along the way.


As they said at Wanaka . . .

" Mo te tangata, mo te Whenua "

" It's about the people, it's about the place "


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Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Fuji Finepix T300, my Canon G10 or 1100D digital cameras.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . . A grand plan backed up with a glass of fine Waipara Ram Paddock Red.

[ Click here or on the image for an enlargement of the photo.]

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