Friday 12 April 2024

On the road again

Once again we are out on the road - this time in the South Island. As a reward/recompense for having sold the boat and not going to the UK this year, when I saw an ad for a 4 night trip down in Fiordland I suggested to David that we do it. It includes 2 nights at the Fiordland Lodge (swanky - tidy clothes required) and 2 nights on a launch in the Doubtful Sound.

So that meant either a flight to Queenstown or take the motorhome for another trip down south. 

And then David received an email notifying him that there was a Pub Choir event in Sydney. He had previously asked Kirsty if she'd be interested in attending with him. So, as we were going to be in the South Island, we decided to fly from Christchurch and leave the motorhome on its own for a few days.

Here we are currently in Christchurch - our flight was originally due to be leaving at 6.45 this morning, and neither of us saw the email or text at 1.30am to say the flight was delayed. Hence we were up at 3.45am to finish getting ready for the taxi's arrival at 4.20am... As I'd showered and dressed by the time I saw the text, it was too late to go back to bed - I already had my shoes on, after all!

We've cancelled the taxi and rescheduled it for 6.30am, had an early breakfast, and now we wait. David had turned off the heating in anticipation of our departure, and now I'm chilly again!

The trip so far:

We had a smooth crossing on the ferry - it was incredibly windy with a strong northerly, but Salvi told me later that it's only the southerly that has the Cook Strait kick up rough. Good to know, even though the knowledge was a bit late for my peace of mind!

We headed straight over to Nelson and Stoke after the ferry trip - we had planned a few days with Ann and Salvi. There was lots of Five Crowns to play. Report: Ann and I won four out of five matches against David and Salvi. One was particularly close with only 2 points in it; but the others were decisive wins. Yay!!

Back before we left for the UK in April last year, Ann and Salvi bought our Kia Sportage - a seamless swap as we drove it to Wellington Airport complete with our luggage and our grandson Olek, they flew in from Nelson, we had brekkie together and then they drove off to the Hawke's Bay to visit their son. I mention this because on going out and about with them while we were staying at their place this time, I was struck by several things:

  • the Sportage is very high - how I climbed into it for 4 years I do not know! Ann said I had the seat up very high (I needed to so I could see out of the windscreen without peering through the steering wheel) and she and Salvi had to lower the seat so they didn't take their heads off on the doorjamb. I'll believe that about Ann as she is very tall, but Salvi is hardly any taller than me, dammit!
  • the Sportage has a lot of instruments that I do not remember at all
  • the Sportage is huge in comparison to the Honda Jazz we now own
  • I am pleased we do not own the Sportage now.

We went to visit Chris and Ann who have moved into a Summerset village in Richmond. It's rather lovely, but very different from Parkwood. As it's new and was a scraped earth development and formerly farmland, there are no established trees and it looks like all available space is taken up with housing. Very impressive facilities though. And there is room for people to have vege pods and given it's Tasman district, I expect the newly planted trees will grow. Chris and Ann have a vege pod and also grow tomatoes and they have a grapevine. Apparently the gardens out the front of each place can only be altered by using pots - the plantings already in place have to stay. Ann has lots of pots ...

We were meant to leave Ann and Salvi's on Monday, but early that morning, as I was mixing a batch of cheese scones, I developed a bloody migraine. So it was back to bed for me with neurofen, the cheese scone mix went inside with David for Ann to bake and I tried to sleep off the headache. It's been the toughest one to shake unfortunately as my neck is a bit of a mess and that keeps the headache hovering - as it has for the last several days, dammit! David has been doing a good job of stretching my neck but it needs a couple of adjustments and they won't happen until we are back in Wellington. In the meantime, it's applications of the heated wheatbag that Ann gave me, neurofen and neck stretching for me. The cheese scones went down a treat though, I gather...

We headed away from Stoke on Tuesday morning and drove to Murchison - that is such a scenic drive - it's not until recently that it has registered on us just how isolated by mountain ranges Nelson is - ranges to the north-east, to the west and to the south - hemmed in, they are! But then, if you look at a topographical map of the South Island, there are mountains pretty much all over it !

In the year following the Kaikoura earthquake when the route south from Picton was through Nelson, Murchison and the Lewis Pass, Murchison had a period of being a thriving little town - cafes opened up, and those already established did a roaring trade. Since then, the town appears to have lapsed back into its backwater status. However it is a local hub and it does have a thriving Four Square store which sells a huge range of grocery items (not coconut yoghurt though) and an old established haberdashery with a huge range of goods.

We stayed overnight at the NZMCA park which is a real bargain at $5 per person - there was a howl of member outrage when the price went up from $3 per person a couple of years ago... There is a network of these camps throughout NZ and they are very popular. In the main because they are cheap - most of them have no or few facilities. But NZ is scattered with public dump stations that almost all have taps for potable water as well. And many motorhomers and caravanners here seem averse to paying fees to a commercial holiday park. We don't mind doing so because it's usually less than $50 per night and it's a family's livelihood - keep the economy moving, we say. There is a lovely camp outside Murchison that we have stayed at twice, but it was a bit far out to just pop into town for the groceries we needed. And the other one is down by the river and rather dark. 

In the morning, we headed across to the east. 

My god, that road from Murchison to Oxford is interminable! We did two stops: one just as we entered the Lewis Pass where we stopped in a leafy roadside lay-by to have breakfast: yummy - in the frying pan I heated a tortilla and added scrambled eggs to cook along with all of the leftover veg from the burritos we'd had for dinner the previous night plus some additional grated cheese. What's not to like, I ask you? It would have been better if I had a lid for the frying pan as the tortilla wouldn't have got so browned...

And the second stop was somewhere further on - I needed a break and a cuppa. We just pulled off the road at what wasn't a lay-by but did the trick. 

Then it was onwards through Rangiora and on to Oxford. The journey's driving time wasn't much more than 4 hours and in days gone by that would not have been an issue. I AM GETTING OLD!! 👵👵😐

OK, writing this has taken up much of the waiting time for the new departure time for the taxi. Mission accomplished!


Jenny said...

Enjoy your Fiordland trip, I'm sure you both can do "swanky" very well. We try to adhere to the 2 hour drive while on trips, that's quite enough on one day. Which means we can arrive at our destination about lunchtime, much more restful. Guess we are all getting older.

Bernice said...

Enjoy the Pub Choir, I really enjoy the videos of the singing. And enjoy Fiordland a stunning corner of NZ.x

Anonymous said...

Have a fabulous trip all round and lets organise a catch up when you get back xxx

Jo Murray said...

Oops, forgot to note who this was from 😅

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

Jenny, it is good to know we are not alone in limiting the length of our journeys nowadays - I know Bernice and Roy do too, and we have met several people around the place who have a set timeframe for travelling.

Jo darling, we look forward to getting together again on our return.