Fifty shades of green

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

HAVE never seen so many shades of green. The bu­colic vista filling my win­dow has more tones than the green por­tion of a paint chart, with ev­ery hue from emer­ald and jade to mint, khaki and lime com­bin­ing in a scene that de­serves to be cap­tured in a whim­si­cal wa­ter­colour.

I’m so close to the hill­side pad­docks in this swath of fer­tile Waipara Val­ley farm­land that I can pick out the in­di­vid­ual shades of veg­e­ta­tion, from the olive clumps of dry grass sprout­ing around the bleached fen­ce­posts to the vi­brant teal blades grow­ing be­neath the feet of grazing sheep.

From my seat on the Coastal Pa­cific – the scenic train that trav­els be­tween Christchurch and Pic­ton on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Is­land – the shades out­side the glass are so vi­brant it looks like the rolling hills are hid­ing be­low an over­sized sheet of the fab­ric used to cre­ate Ker­mit the Frog. Were I mak­ing this jour­ney by road, perched be­hind a wheel con­cen­trat­ing, I wouldn’t no­tice the sub­tleties in this mar­vel­lous pal­ette of colours. We pass beaches cov­ered by stones weath­ered a hand­some gun­metal grey, sand that looks like saf­fron pow­der, pas­tures burst­ing with wild­flow­ers that drop a car­pet of blush­ing pink to the ground, vin­tage churches with weath­ered boards painted the shade of snow and an old barn dressed a fetch­ing fireengine red.

The Coastal Pa­cific breezes be­tween pad­docks dot­ted with hay bales the colour of honey, hills turn­ing a but­ter­cup yel­low by del­i­cate blooms blos­som­ing on the steep slopes, and the na­tive grass on a river­bank takes on a shim­mer­ing caramel lus­tre as it dances in gusts swoop­ing down from the moun­tains. The full jour­ney takes a lit­tle over five hours, be­gin­ning and end­ing in pas­toral land that’s home to farms and vine­yards, with the mid­dle sec­tion fol­low­ing the coast in the shad­ows of a mighty moun­tain range. I break the jour­ney for a one-night stop in Kaik­oura to go whale­watch­ing and stay in a lux­ury tree­house at Ha­puku Lodge.

Some of my fel­low pas­sen­gers are also lin­ger­ing in Kaik­oura but they will only visit for a few hours and catch the train back to Christchurch in the af­ter­noon, when it makes the re­turn jour­ney from the Marl­bor­ough Sounds to the South Is­land city. But even those not dis­em­bark­ing in Kaik­oura in­dulge in a spot of wildlife-watch­ing from the car­riages as the train fol­lows the lazy curves of the scal­lop­shaped bays. We see a whale lolling on the sur­face be­fore the flick of a tail pro­pels it into a dive to the deep, watch a play­ful pod of Hec­tor’s dol­phins rac­ing the waves and spy an army of New Zealand fur seals near Ohau Point, some bak­ing on

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.