Thursday, 8 April 2021

Christchurch to Temuka and Oamaru

 From Christchurch we headed south - we had intended to go back over to the West Coast, but the weather there was due to be absolute pants for the next week. And when it rains on the West Coast it can hose down like all the water in the world has to come down NOW!

So instead we headed down the east coast, and went to Temuka for a couple of days. There is a lovely campsite there that is around the outside of what seems like at least 2 rugby fields - huge! And it was very hot both days; fortunately we had a shady spot under two big trees, one on each side of us. We didn't do much while we were there apart from blobbing (me), making coleslaw (also me), juicing (David). However we did go for part of a riverside walk that started in the botanical gardens next to the campsite. We shortened the planned walk because once we were out of the gardens, we had to walk along the street for several blocks, and it was unsheltered and just too hot for this delicate wee flower ... We did find our way to the supermarket (a small amount of shopping only) and back to the camp via the Temuka pottery store - no shopping, just looking. 

There were a number of oak trees in the park and along the street - reminded us of the UK

Almost every town, large or small, has a memorial to the Glorious Dead - I struggle with the concept of the dead being glorious, especially when I am aware of the circumstances of their dying and the waste of such young and promising lives.

And into the riverside walk, across the little river no less!

And, my English readers (I'm sure there must be at least 2 of you!), do you notice that there is not a single upended supermarket trolley in the river?

There is a cafe in the Temuka Pottery Shop, so on our way out of town the next morning, we stopped for a very lovely breakfast. Once again the staff were very happy to accommodate David's needs for a yummy but totally vegan breakfast. 

When we were in Temuka it was early in Auckland's new community outbreak of COVID-19 (remember that this was early in March ...) and they were in Alert Level 3, with the rest of NZ (inc us) in AL2. So scanning in at the door was important, as was maintaining social distancing. Quite interesting to overhear a couple of people complaining - I am always tempted to ask if they would prefer to be in the UK, Europe or the US and deal with intense rates of infection, and in the UK at least, continued lockdown ...

A lovely breakfast and then it was off to Oamaru. The drive down the easy coast was peaceful and pleasant - long straights, a lot of long bridges over braided riverbeds that were rather dry given the long fine spells of summer weather to that point. 

We took a while to find the Top 10 motorcamp in Oamaru as I managed to miss a turning and we had to go round the block - a very large one that took us into the main shopping/business area with one way system, then down near the harbour, and on to the lower slopes of some of the lovely homes in Oamaru - with no opportunity to do a U-turn! But it was a good mistake as it helped us get oriented!

We had decided that we would do more sightseeing and touristy stuff if we hired a car and could scoot about without having to disconnect the motorhome from power, remove stabilisers, make sure everything was securely stored, turn off the gas ... So we had organised a car and the guy came to collect me to sort the rental out. More getting oriented as I found my way back to the campsite and realised how I had managed to miss the turning - always good to reflect on the errors, don't you think?

So that we took advantage of the car to do the sightseeing we had agreed on, we went south that very afternoon - to see the Moeraki Boulders and to go to Shag Point even though it was now raining quite steadily. I objected to paying to cross the cafe's deck and go down their steps to approach the boulders, so we went back to the DOC area and walked along the beach from there. That was a good call as the interp at the DOC area was very good. And we also found a Charges Apply camping area (Red Barn by the Sea) beside it, in an asphalted farm yard. Looking at the comments about it on the NZMCA app, it seems to be very good and very popular.

At DOC's area at Moeraki we found this interp about the Vanished World Trail with information about places to investigate. As we were going to be heading to Wanaka in the next couple of days, we thought it would be worthwhile checking out some of the stops on the way.

There appears to be lots to see at Duntroon ...


Here you are - info about the Moeraki Boulders - explained much better than I ever could!


Maori have a pertinent legend to explain most natural phenomena or they use the natural phenomena as symbols in their stories about coming to Aotearoa from Hawaiiki so many centuries ago. Given their history was an oral tradition, stories that are memorable and can be handed down through the tribe through constant telling were invaluable.


Lots of seaweed on the beach and not just baby strands either. And yes, it was raining, but not too hard.

This boulder is gradually coming clear of the cliff - so it's quite a recent arrival, I think. It shows clearly the concretions and lime in the splits in the boulder.

I know I'm not tall, but that is a bloody big boulder, eh?

Doesn't look quite so large with the excessively tall David 😃 standing beside it, but hey!

One of the rocks has split apart - interesting, but sad to see.

Who is this brat climbing on one of the boulders? He got a rark up about not going any further on to it - I wonder who did that? Between him and the water are some of the smaller boulders which in the mythology were the kumara (sweet potato) brought from Hawaiiki - and yes, they were brought across the ocean in open canoes, paddled and sailed using the stars to navigate. Nothing unsophisticated about their sailing and navigation skills!

It won't be many years before this boulder splits, I think. More battering by the rougher sea will damage it.

The yellow crystals of lime seem to be harder than the concretions given the erosion. It reminded me of a really crusty loaf of bread.

 The weather cleared as we walked back along the beach to the car and by the time we got to Shag Point a few kilometres south, the cloud had lifted. There is a bach/beach settlement along the bay before the walk to the viewing area. Once again, the quality of the work that DOC does is evident. Their budget is not huge but they get a lot done with what they are allocated - and all of it is for the benefit of the land, the flora and fauna as well as the people, both NZers and tourists. Can you tell I really appreciate DOC?

Shag Point was fascinating - no shags to be seen but lots and lots and lots of fur seals - they are so lovely and playful (in an anthropomorphic way) and indolent - smelly, but fascinating to watch.

The paths are well defined so that the habitats of the fauna are not disturbed unduly - nesting birds, insects etc need to be protected. And there are fewer human accidents if paths are in good shape.
At the end of the point - next stop, South America (or possibly the Chatham Islands ...)

A seal at rest

I think the two up on their haunches were having a conversation. None of the others seemed that interested.

It's clearly a tough life, being a seal once you have reached that size where your predators are not such a threat.

All the info you need about the fur seals...

Looking north back towards Oamaru - clearer skies there too

Even though we had called in to a supermarket on our way back, we decided that dinner out was the go instead of going back to the motorhome to prepare something, especially as we had done a fair bit of travelling that day. So we retraced our route into town from that morning because I had seen a Thai restaurant on the main road in from the north and it had good reviews. I was very impressed with their cautious approach to Alert Level 2 for COVID. The waiter asked if we had scanned in, and every second table had a Reserved sign on it so there was plenty of space between groups of diners.

I couldn't decide on just one dish so I had satay sticks (yes, I know - chicken which has a face ...), curry puffs and a small serving of friend rice. Shortly after our meals were served, a woman at a nearby table  said she would like what I was having. The waiter burst out laughing saying it wasn't a real dish but agreed that if it was popular, he may need to add it to the menu ...

David had vegetarian Tom Yum soup - no tofu ...

We were not quite finished with Oamaru - we had an assignment to complete that we had given ourselves - our grandson Karol had recently done a virtual tour of Oamaru, so the following day we decided to do a bit of a walking tour so we could send him photos. Contain yourselves and wait to see them in the next post ...


Anonymous said...

Gosh, it was interesting to see and read about those huge spherical boulders!
Glad you are having fun exploring all these unusual places, amazing.
Thank you, Ann and Keith xx

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

Hi Ann and Keith,
NZ is a small country (about the size of mainland Britain) but is geographically very diverse - like mainland Britain...
For more expansive descriptions of the South Island, are you reading the nb Are and Are blog? Sandra and Barry are in NZ now and doing an extensive tour. Find it and read - much more likely to have you deciding you MUST come to NZ for a trip as soon as you are able to travel!
Stay well, Mxx