Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Still some ice!

On the way to Alex today I dropped in to see how the ice was holding up.
Idaburn had thick ice in main area but water flowing in the gorge.
Ice had layer of snow ice on top but bumpy with some smooth areas.
Frozen puddles on the ice in some places made it just an 'ok' skate - will be better when (if) the ice puddles freeze properly.
The Lower Manorburn had plenty of ice in centre basin. Ice in other basins. Water showing in the neck and the ice surface was similar to Idaburn. Had a skate in the centre basin

Great to visit Poolburn in its winter glory - skiff of snow on the hills around and some light drift snow on the ice. Thick ice in main bay but thinning out and weakening in the sun around the side and back of the main island. Re-frozen snow ice on top of ordinary ice created some interesting shapes. Some water at edges and around rocks. Had a fab skate on hard (but sometimes bumpy) ice. Love it!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Dropped in to the Lower Manorburn on the way home today to check the ice. Ice thick over the whole middle basin. Ice in the other basin as well. A bit of surface water but the ice was smooth and hard enough for a good skate. Good to see it survived the warm weekend temps. With a frost or two the ice would set in again - hopefully!

Left no tracks because of the water!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Aunt Jooce drilling the ice

On the way home from Queenstown on Sunday we dropped by the Arrow Junction pond for a quick skate. Thick ice but softening under a grey sky with above zero temperatures. We called past the Manorburn and found the ice going soft under similar conditions. Hopefully frost over the next few days will restore the ice.

Ella heading to the top of the pond

Aunt Jooce testing the iceskoot on the Manorburn

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Unexpected skate!

While we were heading down from the Crown Range Elton (bro) and I noticed a large pond near the Arrow Junction. Looked frozen so we checked it out and had an unexpected skate. We didn't need to drill but estimated the ice was at least 120mm thick and although the air was warm the surface was hard and good to skate on.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ah the Manorburn! --and Butchers!

What a great day! Started with a rare skate on Butchers Dam. Ice a bit marginal for a skate but we managed. Took my brother to the Lower Manorburn and he was lucky to skate from end to end. The whole dam was locked in and we were early enough to get into the trees at the top end and could hear the water coming in. Surface a little bumpy but a great skate. Elton is over from Auz and was awestruck with the
mornings skate. Get there early to enjoy the ice safely as is weakens as the day warms. How long will it last?
Dave on Butchers Dam

Elton just loving the Manorburn!!

Elton in the trees at the top of the Manorburn

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Upper Manorburn - Greenland

A small group of us were lucky to get access to the Upper Manorburn and Greenland Reservoir last week. Access to this area is very limited in winter (in the past this was not so apparently).
The access road is officially closed (with a locked gate) and the road quite challenging over winter - along with land access issues. The main reason for closure is the road surface can not handle winter traffic and people get easily stuck - along with being very snow prone - all this evident while we were there. (More images and video HERE)

Both lake areas are huge. Greenland was completely frozen along with over 2 thirds of the Manorburn. The ice was affected by snow but we were able to skate on Nordic style skates. (Initially I had a good skate on my hockey skates before the surface went off a bit).
We all explored the Manorburn then Alan and Mark walked over to Greenland. When they reported back we decided to head there as well by skating through the connecting gorge. Total distance from point to point for Dave P and I was over 6k - about 800m on land to avoid water. Alan and Mark skated much further as they went to the far end of Greenland. Over the day we all skated many kilometres.

Would be difficult picking a time (and access!!) for good ice here as it is very open and effected by sun wind and snow. The track out was quite tricky to negotiate.
More images and video HERE

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A little more ice....

Panorama of the pond (it is more sheltered and curved than it looks here). Click picture to enlarge

Based on the weather the last couple of days I decided to check out Lawrence for ice. Not much frost around home but enough in Lawrence to hold the ice. Had a good skate on smoothish hard ice - around 70mm on the shady side and down ro 40mm on the sunny side and full of air bubbles in some parts. Ice comes and goes quickly on this pond and good to skate close to home when the chance arises. Not a big area but picturesque despite the rubbish people throw on the ice.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ice or the cup?

Which would you choose - ice skate or the watch the world cup! For me it was the ice - no replays here! After watching the weather for a few days we finally have a good coastal freeze and that means a chance of natural ice close to home. This morning seemed about right so I headed up early and skated on beautiful black ice 30 mins from home. Well worth it! The ice comes and goes very fast on a small part of Lake Mahinerangi and you need to take the chance when conditions are right - although I recommend extreme care if you are thinking of skating there. You need to know how to test the ice and know if it suitable for skating (and know your ice safety procedures).

And back in time to see Spain win!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Poolburn in the sun

Today a group came through from Dunedin (ice hockey) to experience natural ice. Led by Dave P and Ryan we hit Poolburn dam in fabulous weather. Unfortunately the ice was covered in a 15mm laver of powdery snow. Fortunately we were still able to skate - slow and a good workout. The group experienced a trip around the main island on the ice then cleared an area for an impromptu hockey game. NZ's highest hockey game.

The team headed on up to Tekapo and I returned home via Idaburn and Coal pit dam. Idaburn was suprisingly good on a warm afternoon. Plenty of ice and a hard surface in the main area. The Gorge has still not frozen properly due to excess water in the river. Good to see others making the most of the conditions.

We started the day with a quick visit to the Lower Manorburn. Good ice in centre basin - hard and a good skate but evidence of of melting as the day warms. I skated in the gorge but the ice thinned out to 40mm as I got through to the lower basin. Frost will improve - but skate early.

Coalpit had the most ice I have yet seen on it - a mix of snow and frozen ice. Good skating the length of the pond but keep clear of the south side as it thins out.

Took a wrong turn while heading to Naseby and ended up having an impromptu skate on the frozen pond (hopefully I can find it again!). Ice had a amazing amount of air bubbles.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

In pursuit of ice!

All natural ice skaters are keen on exploring new areas to skate and Dave P went on an epic journey to test a new skating spot. The are no modern records about skating on the Upper Manorburn Dam and a few of us have talked about the possibility of skating there. The road to the dam is officially closed over winter so access is limited.

Dave decided to cycle the road. The trip took him around 2 hrs to get up there and 1 and a half to come back. The road a muddy in places with water wash-outs and some frozen parts.
There was a strip of skate-able ice behind the dam then open water for 2-3 km. In the distance it looked like the lake was frozen further. Dave did not have time to check that out as it was quite a walk to that part of the lake.

(from Dave via text and mobile - hopefully photos to come)

Awesome stuff Dave!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ice Barstids - they are under the ice!!!

While at Poolburn on Sunday we spent a bit of time skating on an area thick hard clear ice. Was like skating on a mirror with the ice so shiny it looked wet. While we marveled at the reflections the idea popped up - 'what it would look like from under the ice?' So after 15mins minutes of feverish innovation, adaptation and sillyness we came up with an ad-hoc method to get a camera under the ice. The water depth was around 10m and we were over a km from our base so we used what we had on us. This is a the result and we are reasonably pleased with it - given it was completely unplanned and made up on the spot.
Maybe next time if we plan........
No animals or cameras were harmed in this experiment... though one camera leaked a little!

(Note: the camera date stamp is incorrect - recorded 4th July 2010 and thanks to Ryan for allowing us to use - or maybe miss-use his camera!)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Naturally Good Ice

Dave, Dave P, Alan and Ryan hit the ice!
Early start and up to look at Butchers Dam near Alex - a coverage of ice but not skating not possible. On down to the Lower Manorburn. Good ice cover in the Central Basin and good skating. Thinned out when going to either of the other basins. A few frosts and the ice will thicken. Lots of debris in Rush Cutter's corner so protect your edges when getting on.
On up to Poolburn and a better day than yesterday. Ice thickness similar and locked in over the whole lake. Able to skate anywhere on smooth ice in bright sunshine. Ice weakened in the thinner areas as the day warmer up. Fabulous black ice around the cliffs next to the dam -
glassy smooth and dry. A fair few kilometres skated - and loving every minute.
Down to Idaburn to finish with a late afternoon skate on thick ice - with some rough areas. Dave P finished of with an ice rescue practice - a planned break through to test the effectiveness of ice-claws. Successful and entertaining as well as sobering for the watchers.
At the local Hotel they informed us a Bonspeil is planned for Wed/Thurs so if you are in the area stop by for a look.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sensational Poolburn!

Poolburn Dam turned on a great days skating today. Good coverage of locked in ice
in the main bay and around 60-70 mm around the whole dam. Great skating everywhere
on smooth ice, in sunshine with clear blue sky and great scenery. Ice softened a little and became creaky in places in the afternoon. As good as it gets!

Saw the most people skating there at any time. A crew from Canterbury made their way down after an early start - along with Alan K from Wellington.

Visited St Bathans for a look at the Blue Lake and had a quick skate on a small pond (soft ice!)

Frost expected over night hopefully setting up another great day

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thursday night! 1 July

Weather reports from Central Otago and near Twizel are very promising. News images look great with pictures of Hoar frost. The frost is supposed to lift on Friday and there should be natural ice around over the weekend. Good weekend to go for a look - best ice is usually earlier in the morning.