Sunday, November 27, 2011

How much we love the natural ice!

Some bits of unused video from last season on the Manorburn Dam. 2 Daves having fun on the ice.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Because I could...

Had a quick look at the dam on the way home to see how it had fared over night.  It was in fast meltdown with warm winds eating into what was left but decided to put the skates on one more time...... because I could!  30th of Aug is the latest I can remember having skated on natural ice in NZ.
Ice was a bit limited and needed careful checking but was able to have a small skate and pull a few very careful turns!

bit dodgy.....

hanging up the skates for this year....

Monday, August 29, 2011

...another chip of the ice block……. I am sure it is the last this year!…..

Well what a surprise!  Headed up central for work today and dropped by the Lower Manorburn at lunchtime just for a look. What a  surprise to see a big pad of ice, despite the warm temps,  in the shade at Rushcutters. 
Luckily I had thrown in my skates …. just in case…… Had to pick a spot to get on and found enough smooth ice to put in a few turns and have some fun.  Surface varied from soft rough to smoother hard ice.  What a novelty to skate in shorts and no winter gear!  

Some bad old ice too ice but hey!

needed careful checking......


Bad old ice!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Maybe one day...

I followed up a comment on one of my posts and was treated to this set of pictures

Great shots from nordic skating in the north!  Link HERE

The natural ice looks great.

Maybe one day.........

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

one more for the road....

Managed to fit in one more skate early this morning - the last for this season as temperatures and wind are expected to rise over the week.
Skated from the gorge down to the main basin but wasn't willing to go out very far as the snow ice did not feel that stable.  Ice was hard and a little bumpy in places -  but already going off after a light frost.

Season has been better than expected despite the late start and the snow dump!

Last sunrise on the ice...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Golf- not snow - balls!

Early this morning was treated to a good skate on snow ice on the Lower Manoburn.  Skated from the gorge, down into Rush Cutters and  surprisingly good considering the warm weather.
Someone had been having fun hitting golf balls out into the main basin!  Quite a collection out there.

Some new black ice in some places but not thick or strong enough to skate on.  Bumpy in the shade but smooth elsewhere.  Wouldn't try it without a good frost!
Think this will be pretty much it for the season.   Longer days and warm temps are here and the snow ice becomes soft and weak in the sun.

Not snow balls.......

Out into the main basin

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bumpy skate!

Checked out the ice on the way home this afternoon.  Lower Manorburn had snow ice on top of what was left of the ice in the shaded areas.  Some new black ice but not thick enough for a skate.  Snow surface had gone off in the sun but would have been an ok skate early in the morning.  Had a skate in some of the shady patches (Gorge and upper basin).  Surface bumpy but hard and dry.

Decided to come back via Coalpit for a look.   (note - a lot of snow in the hills around Poolburn).  Coalpit was more like snowpit!  Snow ice over the whole pond and still hard enough for a skate on the shady side. Good fun though a bit bumpy.   The ice would be risky in the warm  - made that hollow rumble and particular cracking that thinner snow ice makes.   Track in had about 15cm of snow.

Gorge with old ice and new black ice

Looking down to the neck

Fun skate on Coalpit


Diving anyone?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Poolburn gives one more!

Fabulous Poolburn
Today reminded me why I love natural ice skating - you never quite know what you will find! After a string of good frosts since Tuesday I decided to check out the ice one more time.
Expected to find ice on the Lower Manorburn and was not disappointed. Had a skate in Rush Cutters on the old ice and a bit of the new. Rest of the main basin was covered - but not quite thick enough for a solo skate! Hunting around I found some other skate-able parts - in particular my first skate this season in the shady side of the upper basin. Some fresh black ice too!  (Interestingly the fresh ice did not feel as strong as earlier in the season despite the hard frost - wondering if the water temps were up - or shorter freeze time?)

Poolburn was a surprise. Whole of the main bay was covered in a mixture of old snow ice and new black ice. The older ice was very solid and the new a bit creaky. Unfortunately I was not there early as the ice would have been safer. Had a great skate aver the whole main area and around the small island. Decided not to skate the big island because the day was warming up and could not guarantee conditions.
The great thing about Poolburn is it is always different each visit - and a huge area to skate.
Fab skate and hard to leave!

Looking down to the neck from the upper basin

Checking the ice in the trees - upper basin

Mix of snow and new ice

Always something new to see

Looking out in the main bay

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The ice man is back!

A bit more video of Ice Man Dave (P) and his experimental swimming under the ice - with a bit of a twist this time!  At the end is a piece of video from before but worth seeing again.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Last lump of ice!

One the way home this evening I checked the Lower Manorburn to see what was left after yesterdays warm wind.  There was still a large lump of ice in Rush Cutters - about the size of an ice rink  - and a few unreachable bits elsewhere in the middle basin.  The lump in Rush Cutters ranged from over 100mm in the shade out to about 50mm where it ended in open water.
There had been a frost over night and the edges where solid.  Surface bumpy in places but hard and dry so a fun skate  - more enjoyable than yesterday.  I think this is pretty much it for the season.
Last lump ending in water

Last marks of the season - dry hard ice....

Same shot as yesterday - ice gone!
Last moves!

Monday, August 8, 2011

One more for 2011?

Despite the warm and windy weather I decided to visit the Lower Manorburn this morning and was surprised to  find quite a bit of ice in the main basin.   There was over 100mm of solid ice right in the shady  corner of Rush Cutters, thinning out into the main basin. Unfortunately the wind was blowing hard through the gorge and blowing from open water onto the ice, hastening the thaw.  Large areas of water elsewhere in the main area.

Despite that I was able to walk on and have a skate on hard wet ice -  but had to pick my spots because of the rubbish and weed weakened ice. (Weed may be a real problem in this area next year) Solid close in but creaky as you went further out so I didn't venture far outside Rush Cutters.

It really felt like the last of the ice for this year - and very warm.

Ready for the last skate

Testing the strength of the ice

Weed problems

Wind thaw

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pier-ing at the ice..

Lower Manorburn Dam (7.30am) -  middle basin was much the same as yesterday but faster ice due to a disappointingly light frost -  but a good skate.  Finished off with a fun skate in the first basin out from the pier (near the dam) on a good pack of smooth hard ice.  Very warm when I left Alex later in the day - will need a few frosts to keep the ice.

Skating out from the pier (no diving!)

Middle basin looking into Rush Cutters

Monday, August 1, 2011

Early Morning Skate

Managed to fit in an early skate this morning at the Lower Manorburn.  Was surprised to see the thickness of the ice since Saturday.  Over 100mm right in Rush Cutters down to about 40-50mm on the other side of the main basin, thinning out to water as you head up to the neck.  Surface was bumpy in places because of the snow but if you picked your spots some good skating was possible.  Ice was hard and silent.  Had fun just cruising the good bits and skated up towards the neck on a thick ice shelf - care needed to keep in the shady areas!
A bit of rubbish and broken on the ice from visitors and the wind.   Forgot my ice stick so had to drill a bit more than usual.

Checking the depth

Ice shelf heading up the gorge

Snow effected and rubbish on the ice

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sunny skate

Went by the Lower Manorburn today on the way home and although it wasn't the best time (afternoon, sunny and warm) I had a skate in the main basin on bumpy hard ice.  Thick in Rush Cutters and thinning out into the middle.  Bit creaky in the sun.  Finished off with a good skate  in the  gorge (near the neck) on hard, smooth solid ice - but had to keep to the shady side as there was water further out!

Decided to have a look at Poolburn Dam to see how it had survived the snow and warm temperatures over the week. The track was fairly muddy in plsces and definitely need 4wd slthough would have been better when frozen. Was surprised to find so much ice still there. The ice was snow effected and was rough in places.  Had a bit of a skate but  care was needed as the ice had holes with water showing through. Variable depth but solid enough considering the conditions.

Good to skate though!

Manorburn in the sun

Poolburn - bumpy
Manorburn ice

Water holes at Poolburn

Friday, July 29, 2011


Checked ice on way to Queenstown this arvo. Coalpit - snow ice on clear ice. Has a bit of a skate but surface soft. Idaburn - a bit of ice floating in water. Lower Manorburn thickish ice in main basin. Has been curling. Had a good skate on hard bumpy ice. Curlers had cleared lanes. Will be good if frost comes but lots of wind on ice. Emailed from night ski chairlift.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Icy Plunge at Ida

Usually I would explore the ice fully before skating but not last week at Lake Ida - to my peril! - I just went off for a circuit and ended up skating into the only thin ice and going through.  I was wearing layered clothing and the cold shock was not as bad as I had imagined. With out thinking I turned back the way I had come and leaned on the ice while kicking my feet to keep my body up (wet through to nearly chest level). Leaning on the ice with my arms, the ice broke until I reached solid ice.  Then I used ice claws to pull myself up onto the surface. I was holding a camera on stick and ended up dropping it in the hole - water about 5m deep.  A skate back to base and a change of clothes!  Time seemed to go very slowly during this incident -  I was skating with others and they seemed to take forever to come closer.
At this stage I considered the camera lost but Dave (P) thought he could retrieve it.  Dave has been doing a bit of cold water swimming in ice to practice rescue techniques and he had his wet suit in the car.
He managed to successfully retrieve the camera with a rock and some rope!  Video below.  Thanks Dave!!  There is some great footage of Dave under the ice at the end..... beware if ever trying this!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

As good as it gets!- 23rd July

Up early on Saturday morning and headed up to Poolburn to meet up with Dave, Ryan and Eddie who were camping there overnight....brrrr!  Poolburn turned on a spectacular day - solid hard ice over the whole lake and beautiful weather and surroundings. Able to skate around any parts of the lake including around all the rocks.  As good as it gets!    A fabulous skate although I did manage to find the only bit of thin ice by trying to take a new short cut in a shallow part of the lake. Wet boots! (snow is due so we may have to wait for a while to get out again)

After a cold night....

Skating one of the creeks

Sunday, July 24, 2011

More dam skating! July 22nd

Big Ice - Poolburn

I did a post a few days ago with the title 'Last Dam Skate' thinking it might have been the last on the Lower Manorburn as the ice was melting.  How the weather has changed!  Dave P and I headed out there again after a string of good frosts.   Ice had formed over the middle basin and lower basin with water in the connecting gorge.  We had a great free skate over most of the main area without having to worry about ice thickness.  We then headed to Poolburn Dam in the hope that the frost had formed ice there.
Wow - ice had formed over the whole lake and we were treated to a few hours skating over the whole area.  Smooth hard ice ranged from 80mm down to around 40-50 - which did creak a bit as it warmed in the sun.  Due to the height of the water (higher than last year) the bays were different and we were able to explore some new parts and skate into the far tail of the dam where water comes in.
Sensational skating on Poolburn made more picturesque with snow on the hills and rocks.

Frozen stream in the tail of the lake

Icicles on Poolburn

Publish Post
A break - a long way from the car

Ready for the Manorburn

Poolburn Rocks

Hard Water!

Idle at Ida? - not so! 21st July

After a night at Clearwater we were disappointed not to get a heavy frost but headed down to the lake and had a short skate over a limited area.  Dave P and I decided to head for Lake Ida.  On the way we stopped by Lake Evelyn where we had an enjoyable - if somewhat creaky - skate amongst the tussosk at the end of the lake.  Great fun.
We then drove to the inside gate at Lake Ida and walked in where we met up with Alan K and his friends Eki and Helena. The ice on Ida was superb - although a little wet in places.  A great skate which unfortunately included me going through on the only thin ice on the lake.  After a self rescue and Dave P's amazing  retrieval of my camera from under the ice we finished off and headed back to Otago.  Will talk more about the dip through the ice in a later post (along with a bit of video) and apart from that the lasting impression of skating on this day will be the clear nature of the ice over the whole lake - like skating on clear glass - fab!
Lake Ida

Lake Clearwater


Checking the ice on Lake Camp