A Travellerspoint blog

December 2018

Xmas/ New year 2018


semi-overcast 15 °C

This year the Christmas present that Sal and I gave each other was a kayak trip on Doubtful Sound 31st December. There has been quite a few logistical hurdles to make this work out eventually. Once we had finished our Christmas meal and were sitting at home quietly we suddenly lurched into 'trip preparation' mode. This included me dismantling the Christmas tree that evening-never been that prompt before.

Boxing Day saw us loading the camper and getting ourselves focussed on the next 'task' at hand. Poor Maddie parked herself in the middle of all our clothing giving a very clear message that she would love to come with us, but going into National Parks means that just isn't possible.. Plan C was then to go to Andrea and Jeremy's with the van and leave from there and hopefully make Kaikoura that night. Huge amount of organising and cleaning up with left over food but we eventually dropped off our little urchin with Grana and got on the way.

It was very pleasant catching up with friends, mostly medical so getting positive feedback on my nose even though it still looks scary to me nonetheless. We left at about 7pm and got to Maungamanu at dusk. There were huge amounts of surfers there again, had a restless night and at 6am we left to have breakfast on the way. One big Oops however! As I was getting ready in the bathroom I pulled on the bathroom door handle, which promptly came off in my hand and flew into the toilet-needless to say the lid was up! Sal is such a trooper, with barely a blink of her eye she retrieved it and we were back on schedule. Her nursing experience came in handy again....That was a nasty lesson for me to learn, but the door has given us trouble ever since we've had the camper.

Breakfast was at Oaro, beautiful sunrise again. The road was lovely and quiet and I took the wheel for a while. It was fine and Sal survived ,much better this time. Cheviot was a quick stop where we 'admired' some interesting art work on their public toilets. Amberley we bought a very nice baguette and then into Chris's in Christchurch to drop off some things left behind. Then onto Methven to say a quick hello to a relative of Sal's after which we went into Staveley and walked to the Sharplin Falls and took photos of the river. Had a nice ice cream and admired a couple of lucky horses that are given broken ice cream cones from the dairy as a treat. We then took the scenic route to make to Geraldine by mid afternoon. We were feeling really tired but walked around town without making a single purchase.

Posted by Sallyj66 00:55 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Lake Tekapo

the weather gods are shining

sunny 25 °C

We left Geraldine nice and early while there was little traffic on the road, and drove towards Fairlie. It was a beautiful drive and as we approached the town the sun at long last shone down on us.

Had the obligatory stop at Fairlie for some highly recommended pies, and then onto Lake Tekapo. This is truly God's country, from the first lupins, to the first snow capped mountains and then the vivid teal of the lake, it is just breathtaking. So many photo opportunities. The traffic was extremely heavy and the near misses as cars pull out onto oncoming traffic is pretty hair raising.

This was the first time we have stayed in a NZMCA park, just $3/night- a bit different than the $47 last night. We have come up Lilybank Road and are on the lake edge. Lots and lots of caravans and motorhomes all edged in together. We have met a lovely couple and chatted and swapped stories this evening. Even at 9pm it is still light outside. We unloaded our bikes and rode along the tracks into town.

It was insanely busy with a continuous stream of caravans, motorhomes, cars and coaches coming in. There is a lot of construction going on but it seems that the view is not going to be obstructed by high rises-I hope. We saw the sheep dog statue, then went onto the Church of the Good Shepherd, went to the shops then biked around to the other side of the Lake and the camp ground there. Just idyllic and great to be seeing the area away from the crowds.

Tomorrow we hope to get away early again and make good progress on our way to Manapouri.

Posted by Sallyj66 01:03 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Lake Tekapo to Lake Wakatipu

sunny 26 °C

Another early start at 6am, and we went down to the Lake front to try and get photos unimpeded by hordes of tourists.As luck would have it the Church is shut until 9am, so obviously not meant to get one, but Sal managed to anyway...

The plan was to go to Lake Pukaki and have breakfast there. We found aMount Cook lookout spot and made that the first stop off. The clouds did not lift so that part was unsuccessful (Sal still hasn't seen Mt Cook) but the light was good and we had a nice time getting the van sorted and Sal took some lovely shots. it was then onto Twizel and the supermarket to stock up on various items. The roads are long and straight and now there is continuous dairying and lush green pasture. Not the golden tussocks that i associate with the McKenzie Country.

Travelling the Lindis Pass is dramatic and despite us being in a very long slow line of traffic we could appreciate the light on the hills and the amazing rock formations.We stopped at Tarras and here Shrek has been made a local hero, however the merino clothing is very beautiful and i was tempted but didn't succumb.On down towards Cromwell and it is now very hot for travelling.Our retail therapy was overdone and we couldn't really face more shops and crowds. So on through the Kawarau Gorge towards Queenstown.

We spotted tiny huts etched into the rocks on the side of the hills. This seemed fascinating to us so turned the van around and returned to investigate. I was a "Goldfields Mining Centre" that you access by crossing a bridge over the river-high and swift i might add! It ended up the we went on this guided tour of the history of gold mining in the area, and this includes the story of the Cantonese migrants who worked so incredibly hard on the goldfields, before going onto do either market gardening etc. it is not a flattering story for NZ.It was incredibly hot by this stage but maybe we shouldn't complain when we remember their deprivations.

On to Queenstown where it was ridiculously busy, so we made a detour for Kingston via the eastern side of Lake Wakatipu. We had intended to get as far as Kingston but were in fact so tired that we have parked up in a lay-by 8km from the town.There are so many campers coming to do the same thing. We had hoped it would be quieter this far south , but it is the busiest time of the year for holiday makers.

Posted by Sallyj66 23:33 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)


We Reach our Destination 30-12-18

Had our first sleep in this morning, lovely and balmy night so we had the doors and windows open all night. We even got a glimpse of some stars. if the opportunity arose ( i.e. we had a cloudless night) then going to My John Observatory is definitely on my ‘to-do’ list. So a slow start and not away till 9am today.

Our first detour was to look around the lakeside village of Kingston. What a lovely town and a perfect location. Driving through endless lush, green pastures makes me think about the years of drought that we had at Tetley Brook. I am also currently reading Doug Avery’s book about those years, so it seems such a contrast to what we experienced.

Really lovely to travel through the Red Tussock Conservation area-stunning colour. It is a very windy day here and the tussock in the wind is even more stunning.
We arrived at Manapouri about 11 am. We had set up a campground that sounded promising, but when we got there it was full up already, so on his recommendation came to where we are now. Talk about stepping back in time!!

Such eccentric camp hosts, a Mother and son duo. Even their clothing is from a bygone era. She still uses a pencil and rubber to fill in her ledger. She is quite old and her mind takes some time to tick over. But not slow enough to keep track of current peak pricing for the site unfortunately.

Once settled in we unloaded the bikes and went for an explore around the town. We made our way to the departure point for the boat tomorrow and got involved in a discussion with two women who noticed Sal’s camera, and who are also in the camera club. So many options for places to visit and see and bike. We really need to be here for weeks rather than a couple of days.

Back at the camp and after lunch I decided to test drive the washing machine Mike and Jayne gave me a couple of years ago. This involved a fair amount of hilarity and ribbing, but we at least have nice clean, dry clothes now with such strong winds. We are told there is rain forecast for pretty much most of tomorrow. The locals are more concerned about a fireworks display scheduled for tomorrow night. That could or could not be a bonus for us.

Posted by Sallyj66 20:51 Comments (0)

Doubtful Sound

Deep Cove 31-12-18

all seasons in one day 22 °C
View Xmas/ New Year 2018 on Sallyj66's travel map.

We had arranged for a bus to pick us up at 6.45am, which necessitated preparation the night before. There are some revellers here, but somehow managed to sleep through fireworks and loud music (Sal obviously not). We waited for the bus till 7am, then saw it fly past - not a promising start, but as lucks it he noticed and came to a screeching halt and backed up to pick us up.

We had everything with us for all sorts of contingencies- bulging back pack, lunch included and copious amounts of sandfly repellant. There was a fairly loose sort of organisation, but nonetheless we met our guide “Sally” and the other 7 in our group. Cant say that we built up much of a rapport with them throughout the day.

I had been to Manapouri with Dennis many years ago, and it was familiar once we got going on the catamaran to the head of the Lake. We had gone on a bus tour into the middle of the mountain to see the Hydropower station but that tour no longer operates.

Once there we transferred onto another bus to take us 22km over the hill into Doubtful Sounds. This was on a road constructed for the hydro scheme all those years ago in the 60’s. Our bus driver (Alan) was fantastic. it is the first time we have ever heard a bus driver ask us at the beginning to refrain from talking while he gave his spiel as it distracted him and he wanted to do a good job. He was passionate about the bush and in particular the native plants and very into ‘mothernature’ being left to look after herself, as she has done for thousands and thousands of years. There wasn’t a whisper on the bus and he got an ovation at the end, really great-quite poetic really.

At Deep Cove we were given all the gear that we needed. So all the packing and organising we had done was largely superfluous.
It had been raining on our bus ride over the hill and the views had been obscured by cloud, even though our tour guide made no apology for the fact that the forest requires all its 9 metres of annual rain (in Manapouri it gets a mere 4metres).Once we began to dress into the many layers of clothing the sun came out and we were soon shedding layers.

We were all in double kayaks thank goodness - Sal at the back steering and photographing. We went up the RH side of the Fiord (the name Sound is apparently incorrect) and crossed over in reasonably rough weather to come back down the South side. As I said the weather had cleared and we had glorious views of the sheer cliffs, incredibly dense bush, black water and numerous waterfalls. It is sublime and worth all the miles we travelled to get here. So much so that we are thinking about heading over to the Milford tomorrow.

I think we were kayaking for about 3 hours. It was slightly frustrating in that we really wanted to go more slowly and meander among the rocks and just soak in the scenery, but we still had a fabulous experience. Our trip back was pleasant and then the bus ride back to the camp did not forget us this time. It is a huge endeavour to make it down this far but such a special part of our country. There was a group of American uni students on the trip, doing ‘environmental studies’ so I think that speaks to the UNESCO world heritage status.

Posted by Sallyj66 20:57 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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