Friday 26 April 2024

Ashburton and points south

 Last Friday, i.e. 8 days ago now, we left Christchurch's North South Holiday Park and headed to Ashburton. Alan and Greg live there, having moved from Rolleston a year ago - they moved from a very new, single-storey, double-glazed, modern home in suburbia to a 1980s single-glazed 3 storey home in the best street in Ashburton - right next to the park in a cul de sac. It is a lovely home, and it's project which they are getting stuck into. It appears they need a project: one reason they left Rolleston was that they had finished developing the grounds and there was nothing left to do! This house however, will keep them busy for a while, I think. One thing they bought for one of the lounges was an old TV/radio/gramaphone unit - it looks so cool! They are going to get it repaired so they can use it. It has some spare valves in one of the cupboards. I am sure there will be an old guy somewhere nearby who used to fix these things!

Alan and Greg in front of their house. Behind the house is a beautiful park.

We met Alan and Greg in Hanmer Springs Top 10 a few years ago - I recognised Greg but wasn't sure where from. We narrowed it down to having friends in common in Waikanae, where they had previously lived. Now, when we travel south, we make sure to call in.

David wore his Toitū to Tiriti T-shirt to rark them up... And it worked! It's always good to challenge people's points of view, we think. We went out for lunch and then chatted the afternoon away, and then went out with them to check out where we should stay overnight. We settled on Coronation Holiday Park - it's not listed in the NZMCA app but was very nice: quiet, clean, cheap.

Alan and Greg collected us later to go out for dinner to a lovely Thai restaurant. Excellent food, and as always I had ordered far more than I could eat. So I took home a container of leftovers. On the way home, we stopped at a service station and I bought chocolate for everyone. A bad mistake for me to eat it when we got back to the motorhome. It was just over an hour later, that I lost my dinner and the chocolate...

In the morning, we went back after doing our shopping at New World. We were both wearing our Toitū te Tiriti T-shirts and sweatshirts this time ...

Alan was stripping the old tiles off the kitchen wall and was finding that they don't come off without clinging tightly to the gib-board underneath, dammit. As we commiserated, no DIY job goes smoothly!

We headed away south; I think Greg was going back into the garden which they have absolutely transformed in the past year, and Alan was off to buy gib. He sent a photo later - the gib was up and all it needed was some plastering.

When you leave Canterbury, heading inland, before too long you come to the MacKenzie country. It's tussock land, the native trees are not the majestic trees of further north or the coastal areas. The MacKenzie country is close to the mountains and it has very hot summers and very cold winters. The only large trees seem to be imports: poplars, birch et al, which at this time of the year are in their full autumnal colours and looking beautiful.

We stopped off to admire the views at Lake Tekapo - it is one of the places most photographed by tourists, I think - there is always a multitude of motorhomes/campervans/cars parked there. And cyclists too - we had a quick chat with 4 people eating lunch: they were doing the Alps to Ocean (A2O) cycle trail, and they didn't look too exhausted!

One of the cyclists took a photo of us - we had taken a couple of them with their wraps and hummus and healthy food!

We had decided not to stay in Fairlie - we had stopped there once before and weren't that thrilled with the holiday park. The pie shop there is rightly famous, but it was late Saturday afternoon when we went through, so it wasn't open. We had phoned ahead to Kimbell to the pub there which is a CAP (Charges Apply Property) - it's labelled as a POP (Park Over Property) but a condition of staying there is that you need to have a meal at the pub. So it's essentially not a cheap option. However they have a good range of lovely vegetarian food, so no complaints from us. Vege burger for David and I had a roast veg salad. No dessert - I had learned my lesson ...

In the morning, we moved on to Omarama - what a lovely Top 10 holiday park it is. We had a lovely sunny spot and I sat out in the sunshine reading while David did motorhome bitching tasks. Greg and Alan would call them blue tasks; we tend not to discriminate, although David does take on emptying the cassette, filling with water, hooking up the power - usually because I'm doing meal prep or laundry... So maybe we do have pink jobs and blue jobs. However we are not rigid about them. Although what that means is I do some blue tasks and David preps veges. He is chief dishwasher and dryer though.

See, he didn't work the whole time, and I fed him!
Doesn't that look idyllic?

Two people in the autumn of their lives...
That tree is spectacular - at one point the wind was blowing quite strongly and I wanted to get a photo of the leaves flying through the air. Had my hands full of laundry stuff though ...


Not a good hand in 5 crowns - that's 46 points you don't want!
It appears that I won ...

Three hands in and I'm winning again - not sure if that continued though.



It was in Omarama the following morning we realised that we had raced down south thinking we had a huge distance to travel and without considering how we would pass the spare time. So we decided we would hire e-bikes in Clyde and then drive to Waipiata and do two days of biking on the Otago Rail Trail: one day to Kokonga and back, and one day to Ranfurly and back. Kokonga is special to David because it's where he lived when his dad was the sole charge teacher there. I posted about it here back in Feb 2019

But as we got closer to the hiring day, I got more nervous - not about the biking itself, but about how I would cope. I'd been suffering with a very very sore shoulder and couldn't support my weight on it, and my neck and lower back had been very sore - the lower back since before we had left home and my neck since the migraine in Stoke. It just seemed foolhardy to go biking. 

The Clyde Dam - NZ's largest concrete dam. As the river bed is a fault-line, the dam has been built to be earthquake proof: the white line in the dam, top to bottom on the far right of the photo is the break in the dam that allows for a metre rise in the event of an earthquake. A good thing too, as the town of Clyde is only a couple of kilometres down the valley...
The view down the valley towards Clyde


But before we made the decision not to bike, we had got to Alexandra and stayed overnight in a camp that David remembered being at well before we arrived and I didn't until we pulled off the road into the driveway - I didn't even remember having come to Alexandra in the motorhome before! Doh!


In the morning, we made the call to call off biking. So then the issue was what to do and where to go  - after all, our 4 day Fiordland adventure doesn't start until 1 May. And Alexandra has lots of vineyard tours and lots of wine tastings but as we don't drink alcohol, those pursuits aren't worth pursuing for us.

After magnesium and discussions, we hit upon the idea of going to Wānaka for a few days. We had loved Wānaka on our last trip and had used it as a base (we had hired a car while there so we could leave the motorhome parked up and do day trips). So I emailed to cancel the bike hire, and we rang David Huggett whom we were going to visit and stay with after the Fiordland adventure. No, they hadn't left for their few days away yet, and yes we could come and visit, and did we want to come for dinner that evening? Yay!!

With all our faffing about what we would do to fill up the days, we didn't have time for breakfast at Alexandra, so we stopped at the Clyde Dam - on the lake side rather than the river side - and I cooked breakfast David was on photography duty.
I'm not sure what the fence/barrier is across the lake there. But isn't that water spectacularly blue?

The dam from the top.
I sent this photo to Luke,; his response was that there wasn't enough meat in it... The tortilla had scrambled egg, cheese and tomato in it. Rather yummy.

After breakfast we stopped to have a look at a freedom camping site: Champagne Point.

My turn on photography while David stayed inside.
Almost no vegetation over there...
Interp for you
And more interp

I think we might spend a night here - the heating will have to stay on - on gas though, as it's cold overnight...


So on to Wanaka we came, with a few stops on the way to investigate places we might stop over at on our way back to Alexandra so I can catch up with Allanah - a friend I met in Hokitika back in 2015/6.

It was great to get back to Mt Aspiring Holiday Park. And it was fabulous to go to David and Zoe's home in Wānaka and spend time that evening with them and their girls.

The view on our first day at this holiday park. Not enough of a lake view, so the next day we moved over a bit...

David H and Zoe with their girls Eva and Adriana

The two Davids

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