Wednesday, 6 February 2019

We've made it to the Catlins!

Our trip from Ranfurly to Dunedin to see Clark and Sue was marred by a mutual marital volcanic eruption followed by steamed up, silent lava flow ... Explanation: we had info from Judy that there was a lovely walk to do around Sutton Salt Lake near Middlemarch, and David had carefully found the directions on google maps on his phone. However, he managed to misread his map and we missed the turning. I was OK about that, but David fretted and spent the next several minutes trying (with his eyes focused only on the phone's screen) to work out why/where he'd gone wrong. Meanwhile we were travelling through some pretty amazing countryside and I was pointing this out to him, AND HE WAS IGNORING ME and the scenery. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!
There were several kms of this kind of scenery - all lost on one DMcD

As was this ...

And this.

 Volcanic eruption ensued, lava did a silent rumble and boil, and then a VERY loud silence reigned, until we got to Mosgiel to empty the toilet cassette. We decided to normalise relations seeing as we were heading to stay with Clark and Sue, and it doesn't do to turn up mid-argument! His upset was that he'd really wanted to do the walk, mine was that we had driven through this countryside before (2001) and I wanted him to share the nostalgia and the views.

Well, it is unlikely to be our last trip to these parts, so we will get to see it all again and do the walk.

We found our way to C&S's place via the back route to Opoho - over what we later discovered is called Three Mile Hill - very steep and winding. A good introduction to Dunedin, actually which is about as hilly as Wellington - although admittedly the streets are wider.

Clark had saved us a park outside their house by putting his car smack bang in the middle of the space, so while we weren't sleeping on board, the motorhome was safe, esp with its mirrors tucked in. Mel came in to join the party, and I'd have to say that while Sue was a fan, Clark was a bit standoffish at first.

Sue and Clark took us (but not Mel) down to Port Chalmers to see not one, but two cruise liners. The Viking one would have looked huge enough if it wasn't moored up next to the Princess line ship - the latter was about 8 storeys high (I will check the photos and correct if required).
I think it's about 8 storeys of cabins, but cannot be sure from the distance. Still and all, it was a VERY big ship!

David, Sue and Clark looking down over Port Chalmers to watch the smaller liner heading out and away.

These chickens were very friendly - cupboard love. They also defy death every time a car arrives in the carpark as they come cadging for food regardless of where the driver plans to stop!

Then there was a trip to a brewery bar for a drink - a VERY nice chardonnay for me, that I need to find and purchase much of.

Home for a yummy dinner, and both recipes have been added to the file. A Vietnamese chicken salad and a chocolate flan, accompanied by lots of reminiscing and catch ups about mutual friends and former teaching colleagues.
While all 3 of us were lazily waiting for Sue to finish prepping dinner, Mel and Clark got acquainted - although Clark is trying to pretend they are not. My question from across the room was 'Where is Mel's hoof?'

Sue was very keen that Mel be properly fed with bread - which she thought was more appropriate goat fare than chicken salad, given goats are vegetarian.

When we first met Clark he was principal at Mosston School just outside Wanganui - a small two-teacher country school. At one of his first assemblies he asked kids what they had done in the holidays and one boy told him he'd caught his first fish. Clark asked what kind of fish, and the boy said 'My dad says it was a fucking fluke'... It still makes me laugh.

In the morning I noted that David had used Mel to store his socks on overnight. Oh the humiliation and loss of dignity!

It was great to catch up with them - we haven't seen them since 1994, the three of them worked out. When we were in Queenstown with Mum and my aunt Molly on Molly's big OE, David and I went to see C&S at C's sister's place apparently - I don't remember that visit at all - oh dear.

But it will not be left for 24 years again - after all by then Clark will be 96, and David and I will be coming up to 94 and I'll be 92 - Sue of course, who is significantly younger than any of us, will still be sprightly and youthful! (Note: I think Sue is 8 years younger than Clark, but as the evening wore on, the age difference was increased incrementally till we settled on her being about 30 years younger - the fact that she looks that much younger than all of us, did contribute to that riff.)

C&S had given us some info about the Catlins from their own experiences and so we headed first for Lake Waihola - I am sure that is an old adulteration of a Maori name (as is Otago). The camp was very 1950s-ish with beside us a small bright pink caravan complete with pink plastic flamingo ...
Notes about Lake Waihola:
1 The fish and chip shop on the main road does very yummy F&C - we had blue cod.
2 The petrol station is multi purpose - we were able to swap our empty gas bottle, fill with diesel, fill with potable water and empty the loo.
3 On weekends, it appears that Lake Waihola is a destination for many people including on the Sunday we were there, a group of noisy young men with noisy cars and noisy music ...

The lake is very attractive and I gather from David that it is used for rowing events.
We left the campsite and had brekkie by the lake. Those grapefruit are off Joy and Grahame Biby's tree  - very yummy!

A good place for breakfast looking out across the lake.

Quite a long train, by NZ standards ...

David was keen that we head over to Taieri Mouth settlement to sit and work out where we would go for the next few days. Little did we know that the drive there was a VERY VERY high hill between Waihola to Taieri Mouth - it was 1000 feet up and down.

But when we got there we thought what a beautiful place it was, so decided to stay on overnight.

Howzat for a beach?

I call this 'Still Life with Sand'
The beach to the south
This island, the name of which I cannot remember, is a bird nesting sanctuary. It is only accessible at low tide.

The bread was a bit stale so what to do with it? The ham, cheese and tomato toasted sandwiches for lunch were very good.


We also went for a walk upstream alongside the river - there is a lookout/bluff about 2 hours in, but we only did 30 minutes of the walk. Back in time for chardonnay o'clock and a discussion with Joyce and Alan who were parked up next to us.

And now, at the time of writing, but not publishing, here we are in Owaka, and it is distinctly chilly at the moment. It is down to 15 deg C. Mind you, I am not complaining as it is certainly preferable to the high 20s and 30+ temperatures of the last couple of weeks!

Our current thinking is that we will use this as a base for the next two or three days - we have been allocated a pink traffic cone to put on our spot, if we drive out for the day. Yay!!! We probably need to buy one for ourselves to use when we stay at NZMCA camps and want to head out for the day. I think I'll try to get one from the Safety Shop in Paraparaumu where I got my steel capped boots, pink helment and pink hi-vis jacket!

1 comment:

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Wonderful post Marilyn and it dawned on me as I read along, that you write about your everyday land based life just as you do when you are on the boat, so I am taking up the lesson for myself.

Love Jaq xxc