For a few weeks, there’s going to be a mix of the last of our NZ adventures, mingled in with updates on our UK Inland Waterways travels. Do bear with us …
We were delighted good friends Kerry and Tony chose to fly down to Christchurch on 21st May, hire a campervan similar (but newer) to ours from Wenderkreisen, and travel for a few days with us. Our journeys and experiences were magnified with companions, joining the dots in Arthur’s Pass to connect where we’d reached in February with Jamie.
Mona Vale Garden Park
Once they’d landed and shopped, we all headed to Mona Vale Garden Park. Kerry is a professional photographer, who used to work with Barry when he had his business in Gisborne, ‘D&K Photography‘. So Tony and I happily trailed behind the two snappers!
The autumn colours in the park were resplendent, but sadly a wedding ceremony prevented us from going into the Homestead & Pantry. Among other sights, we saw a pretty pair of Paradise Shelducks. Abundant in the South Island, they’re a delight to look at, but blimey they can be noisy.
Barry and Kerry enjoyed capturing many scenes in the park – Barry mistakenly posted his images in the last blog so check them out if you want to see
more better shots!
We camped overnight at the RSA near Jamie’s house in Woolston, for just $10 a night, and met her at The Three Boys Brewery to celebrate her upcoming birthday on 25th May. It’s a venue close to Barry’s heart of course, as all beers are brewed, bottled, and canned on-site.
Macramé Magnificence At Green Lane Market
On Saturday morning, we caught up with Jamie again for a final farewell for now at Green Lane Market. Founded on sustainability and supporting locals, Jamie has a stall for her ‘Dear Donna‘ macramé business. “Beautiful one of a kind handmade macramé creations, made locally in New Zealand by Jamie” She makes some gorgeous pieces – and will take commissions so do check her out on Facebook and Instagram!
Late morning, Saturday 22nd May, we headed out of town. Two weeks in the biggest city on the South Island was more than enough for us! It was, however, a precious time with Jamie.
Sharing The Journey Through Arthur’s Pass
Having previously travelled as far as Arthur’s Pass Village, when we met Jamie in February, this time we drove from the other end. We so hoped to see a kea close up, the only truly alpine parrot in the world, this time …
Lovely Lake Lyndon
Our first night on the road was spent at Lake Lyndon. We initially drove past but saw a sign for the geological wonder of Castle Hill where we wanted to visit, and knew it would be dark by the time we walked up there. So we turned around and camped at the Lake – a free campground with a toilet. It was a beautiful spot.
That night was almost a full moon. A clear sky brought a chill to the air, so we parked adjacent to each other to keep warm. Barry has a great shot of the two vans side-by-side in his slideshow. We all sat outside talking and laughing till it was too dark and cold.
The following morning we discovered frost INSIDE the van! Kerry and Tony had a diesel heater they’d left on all night so were cosy. We survived with each other, a wool quilt, two blankets, and a hot water bottle. And we went to bed fully clothed of course.
After breakfast Tony walked to the other side of the Lake with his fishing rod. The Lake is a popular site for rainbow trout fishing which is thriving due to the dense oxygen weed beds providing a plentiful food source. Sadly he was out of luck despite his best efforts.
Out of the blue, literally, we suddenly spotted a colourful hang glider swooping down. Then more appeared. We watched them pack their shutes up, and walk back up the hill to repeat the exercise. Spectacular against the azure blue vast expanse of sky.
Captivated By Castle Hill
Continuing on to Castle Hill/Kura Tawhiti, we were amazed by the massive rock formations towering above and spent a couple of hours wandering around incredulously. It’s a Mecca for rockclimbers and skiers, but long before Europeans and their sheep appeared, Maori appreciated the place had a special magic—one that not even the snows of winter could shroud.
Kerry had been before some years ago, but she’d not experienced such a beautiful blue sky day so she was ecstatic.
The Changing Face Of Lake Pearson
After lunch, we continued to Lake Pearson, where we parked up at the DOC campground overnight. Costing just $8 per person, it was another spectacular spot. Tony enjoyed fishing again, though unsuccessfully sadly. I was anticipating a delicious rainbow trout for tea …
The reflections on the lake were amazing when we parked up, and Kerry and Barry were in their element. Later on Barry took great delight feeding the local mallards. It made him feel quite at home!
We enjoyed a shared supper, minus the trout, ‘aboard’ NZ Areandare, and played Sequence at night. Tony managed to stay awake to complete one round which was a miracle! He’s normally fast asleep by 9pm. We were so happy to have friends travel so far to spend time with us.
We awoke the next morning to find a cloudy sky and a vastly different vista. A few days later, this whole area would be flooded.
Arthur’s Pass Village
Carrying on our route, the next stop was Arthur’s Pass village for lunch. The temperature was becoming noticeably cooler as you’ll see from Barry’s winter woollies! We’d hoped to finally see some keas close-up at the viaduct lookout, but sadly not. They remained elusive to us throughout our South Island excursions.
Another Visit To Quaint Otira
A stop at the Otira Stagecoach Hotel again was a must. Built in 1865 to meet the growing needs of the gold mining travellers, and the ever-increasing population, it was renovated in 2015 as a monument to the past. It’s recognised as a museum – but isn’t a Lord of The Rings location, despite much memorabilia surrounding the building. We were reliably informed that’s just that the owner loves the films and is a collector.
Inside was chock-full of allsorts. There was even a barrel painted with canal art roses (see Barry’s slideshow). What a great portrait setting – don’t ya just love my rainbow leggings? I’m not a follower of fashion as you can tell …
In the café, we saw photos of the old precarious winding road through Arthur’s Pass which looked unimaginable. The staff said it was the ‘Otira Zig-Zag’ was a heart-stopping dangerous drive before the Viaduct was finished in 1999. If you look in Barry’s slideshow you’ll see a photo of a photo of it.
From Otira, we travelled to the turnoff towards Lake Brunner for our next overnight stop.
Fairies And a Morepork At Moana Lake Brunner
Here we chose to stay in a paid campground at Moana, Lake Brunner Motor Camp.
Before settling in for the night, we took Kerry and Tony on the walk we’d done in February. Across the swing bridge again, but this time there were Fairies there! Locals had gone to so much trouble, to construct a magical fairyland out of recycled odds and ends; it really was tremendous.
Kerry and I were chatting away, further along, walking behind Barry and Tony, when they stopped suddenly, turned and quietly said “shhh” and pointed above. There in the tree ahead, nonchalantly staring down at us, was a magnificent morepork. A small, dark, forest-dwelling owl, with a distinctive call that seriously sounds like it’s saying “more-pork”! What an incredible sight. We’ve heard many around New Zealand, and saw one at the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary sleeping in a corner, but this was our first sighting in the wild.
Emerging from the bush walk we found a sublime evening light across the lake, before heading back to the campsite. What a spectacular location.
We cooked tea together in the camp kitchen and enjoyed an evening in the warmth of the lounge with a game of Five Crowns. It was worth paying to stay here for the amenities offered, far more comfortable for the four of us than sitting between the vans or squeezing into one campervan!
Reflections On The Lake
On Tuesday 25th May, we awoke to find yet another stunning blue sky day. Barry and I had been seriously fortunate with the weather throughout our South Island trip. Little did we know how lucky we were to feel a few days later …
There are a plethora of walking tracks around Lake Brunner to choose from. We decided to try the Bain Bay track, as it was on level ground and not too long. On the road to the start, we were compelled to stop outward and return to capture the reflection of the foliage in the lake. Magnificent.
Sadly, the track was closed a short way in. It looked as though it would be a stunning experience. I watched in awe a large brown trout swimming past in the shallow crystal clear water, as I ate my picnic lunch.
Returning to the vans we continued to our final overnight stay together before the parting of the ways.
Overnight In Reefton The Town Of Light
Reefton was established in 1870 after the gold rush in the 1860s helped establish a rich heritage, and in August 1888 became the first town in New Zealand to have a public supply of electricity. Before London or New York even! It’s famous for being the first town to switch on an electric street lighting system in the Southern Hemisphere.
We soon found a fabulous free campground by the river at ‘The Strand’ and watched the full moon rising over the distant hills.
Farewell For Now
A completely different vista emerged the following morning, a sky carpeted in fog. Then suddenly the sun broke through the clouds.
We said a sad farewell for now to Kerry and Tony, who headed back to Christchurch and their older daughter and her family in Geraldine. Little did they know then how dramatic their future journeys were to become. If they had they may have remained in Reefton!
We had a quick look around Reefton, then carried on to Nelson. But that’s for the next post in our New Zealand blogs.
There are heaps of fabulous photos of this journey from Barry below. Click on the first image to start the slideshow …