Tuesday 28 May 2024

And then we started heading home

There were approximately another 1000 kms to drive to get back to the Picton Ferry and it took us 10 days. The first half of the journey was us retracing our steps back up to Oxford. There was:

  • one night at the NZMCA camp at Lowburn where I managed to rip the drain pipe off the watertank - I went over a bump that was a tad too high. I had missed the turn off (the sign is very small and set well back off the road - I'm not saying it's NZMCA's fault, but I am blaming them, okay?) so I pulled off to the side of the road and then, instead of turning around, I went over the ridge on the road side. Didn't notice the dangling pipe at that point though.
In the evening we went for a short walk along beside the Clutha River/Lake Dunstan - such beautiful clear calm water.
The evening view across to SH 8 to Tarras, Lindis Pass and Omarama. Beautiful reflections and light on the hills to the east.
Such beautiful clear water down here.

  • a visit to Mt Pisa Landings to see Luke Win of PeakRV who sorted the leak from the awning brackets.
The first view of the Southern Alps on our way to Mt Pisa
Luke said he couldn't scrape out the debri between the awning and the motorhome body. My suggestion of a leaf blower prompted him to use his leaf vacuum. I want one, by the way... Pukekos are buggers for strewing bark chips and mulch and dirt across the concrete. Bastards!
This battery powered applicator for flashing in a tube is amazing - but very expensive, so I don't want one of them. But I reckon Luke Nattrass would have coveted one if he was still on the tools...
I could have flipped the photo over 180 deg but it would have looked like Luke Win was upside down. Sabre Bond Right Grabby Adhesive is the go!


  • the drive to Omarama Top 10 for 2 nights, for the first of which the motorhome was waterless. When we stopped on the way there at Tarras to get lunch, I noticed the bracket for the water tank emptying pipe was bent and the pipe was dangling. I moved off the road, and David's job was to secure the two things together. But unfortunately, the pipe from the tank is a push-in one rather than a screw in. So when he put some tension on the tape the pipe just pulled out. Dammit! And the tank drained immediately.
    • Do you know just how often you turn on the tap when you are prepping veg and cooking? Not a happy evening. One of my more spectacular and sustained tantrums... David wisely stayed away, clever man!
    • However, in spite of and simultaneously with the tantrum, I made a fabulous vegetable cottage pie. Just yummy! I think I can remember the recipe I made up as I cooked and created through my red haze. 
      • I know it had red lentils because, in an effort to calm my mind, I had walked over to the 4 Square shop looking for a can of lentils and found they only had the dried variety. A much better option - cheaper and more of them!
      • it occurs to me I may have been channelling Gordon Ramsay during the tantrum phase! 😂😇😈
  • Once the temperature outside rose above 2 deg the following morning, I drove back to Cromwell (slowly in case there was ice on the roads) to get Luke from PeakRV to sort that 'no possibility of water' problem out. Took him 15 minutes and most of that was going to the hardware shop to get a threaded fitting and a cap. Champion chap!
    • While I was doing that trip on my own (plus doing supermarketing), David did the laundry - Omarama Top10 has excellent laundry facilities. Honestly, he did not want to come back to Cromwell, so getting the laundry done and sitting in the guest lounge watching a downloaded programme on Netflix was a much better option for us both. Of course, he would happily have sat in the guest lounge the whole time, but there was no way I could simultaneously do the laundry and drive to Cromwell and back, even though I can multitask. Remote transfer of wet laundry into the dryer is such a chore ...
  • The second night at Omarama was much more peaceful and we had leftover cottage pie which was still yummy.
  • Then it was back to Ashburton, but that trip was not without incident. We stopped at the Fairlie Bakehouse to buy pies for our dinner with Greg and Alan. And so that I had a break from driving, we stopped at a little layby around the corner, David got the chairs out and we ate the most delicious apple shortcake tart from the Bakehouse and drank tea in the sunshine. We were just about to leave (I had started the engine) when a young woman knocked on my window and asked if we could help them as they'd had an accident. Long story short is that I went into problem solving mode - I think it's my default setting actually after more than 3 decades of doing it for a living:
    • I phoned the local panelbeater and got him to come and assess the damage (verdict: car was not driveable more than 500 metres to his yard)
    • I rang their Christchurch motel and said they wouldn't be there till the next day, and then rang and checked that the motel attached to the campsite we were staying at in Ashburton had space for them
    • The rental car company 
      • wanted them to drive back to CHC in the damaged car, then
      • decided they should wait in Fairlie while the company delivered another car to them
    • I told the rental car company that neither of those were viable options and that we would take them to Ashburton that evening and then drop them in CHC the next day (David's excellent suggestions, by the way 👍👍😍😍), and that the company could collect the car from the Fairlie panelbeater's place.
    • We drove Iris and Jerry to Ashburton - it was a lovely trip until Geraldine when the gale force wind arose - the strongest I've ever experienced in the motorhome. Very scary!
  • Once we were all checked in, David and I were picked up by Greg along with pies and salad ingredients. Much chatting while we waited for Alan to get home from work - well, someone has to be an income earner!
  • In the morning, we took Iris and Jerry to breakfast at the Somerset Grocer in Ashburton and then drove on the Christchurch and dropped them at their motel - a very lovely place: Golden Star Motel. If we happen to be in CHC and need a motel, that will be the place to stay.
Jerry and Iris were on their honeymoon and two days from returning home to Taipei when they had the accident. But breakfast at the Somerset Grocer was a good antidote. Such lovely young people.
There are some nice photos of us on this holiday. 💖💞
Lovely young people


  • We wanted to do a supermarket shop before leaving CHC and seemed to drive in circles along very narrow streets with a wide vehicle - until I remembered that there had been a New World on Fendalton Road that we were near.
    • Did you know there is a dress code at that New World? Did you guess that I didn't meet it, even though I was wearing a beautiful $300 possum and merino jersey? Not tailored enough - and insult to injury, my hair was too spiky. Definitely not suitably coiffed ...
  • We were due at Oxford to stay overnight with Dean and Phaedra again. The plan was that Gavin and Deb would come for dinner, but Gav wasn't feeling too good, so it was just the four of us, and a very good thing too!
You wouldn't think that 4 people (Dean, Phaedra, David and me) could polish off this lot, would you? But yes we did! There was some curry and rice left, but not much. The poppadoms and naan bread and dips and chutneys were demolished. AND we had apple and feijoa crumble with icecream for dessert. Talk about piglets!
There was a significant frost overnight with a temperature of about -4 deg C, I think. We were warm and snuggly in the motorhome, but Dean had put a mat across the end of their wooden pathway to the house as it gets slippery in this kind of weather. The deck and the table took a while to become frost-free!
The view across Dean and Phaedra's place over to the hills beyond but not far from Oxford
Before we left Oxford we went to the dump station. I was on photography while David was doing the cassette (euphemism for emptying the last few days' shopping ...) Probably one of best views from a dump station that I remember seeing. Although the one outside Hokitika takes some beating, to be fair.


  • Next day we thought we'd meet Gav and Deb for lunch, but Deb's son Louis had just tested positive for Covid. So no lunch with them. By the time I'd found that out, I had already purchased sushi - with chicken in it for them. So we left it in their letterbox as a treat. 
  • We had our lunch at Northcote Park in Rangiora, about 700metres down the road from Gav and Deb's place - well away from Louis' covid bugs ...
  • Our next stop was at Woodend, where we parked overnight on Megan and Forbes' driveway. You'll remember that Megan and Forbes are our new friends who we met at Fiordland Lodge and spent a lot of time with on the Doubtful Sound cruise.
    • Indian takeaways for dinner, and lots of games of 5 Crowns. Megan and I won...
    • lots of cuddles for David with Megan and Forbes' 3 dogs, Molly, Jock and the dog with the unremembered name - I have texted Megan to ask but so far she hasn't responded. She's probably at work...
Molly is on the right hand arm of the chair, Jock is down beside her, and the other little one wants to be in on the cuddling action too.
This qualifies as heaven for David

And while I don't like being licked by a dog, David has no such scruples...
There are two dogs in there ...


    • because Megan and I were winning 5 Crowns convincingly, David and Forbes decided to take on the card game 500 technique of Misere - aiming to 'go out the back door'. In 500 you do it by scoring no points, i.e. winning no tricks. In 5 Crowns you do it by losing each hand and doing so by ditching wildcards and jokers for your opponents and picking up every high scoring card. Those moves pretty much guaranteed they picked up a huge number of points and lost by about 795 to 200ish. Bastards...  But Megan and I will get them back the next time we are all together - that has yet to be arranged!
M&M won the first game, and by the 3rd hand of the second game we were winning by 63 points. That is when D&F changed strategy...
Given their strategy of cheating, I wouldn't be surprised if they both turned out to be ACT supporters! 😡




And, on that note, here is my strategy and my values.


Wednesday 22 May 2024

The video

Thanks to Irene for her advice and then to David for his converting the video to a format that works.

This is the video that ACP took when I so elegantly exited the kayak. In my defence, I have been having a lot of trouble and pain in my shoulders and arms when levering myself up. Pulling is fine, but levering is definitely not.

Anyway, laugh away - it is funny. And it is a very good thing I returned to the ship before anyone else. Sharing my embarrassment on the blog is one thing, but being seen to be hopeless at exiting by the other kayakers would not have been cool...

Sunday 19 May 2024

Doubtful Sound - have no doubt: it is amazing

As we drove from Te Anau to Manapouri, this mountain was towering above the clouds. I still don't know which one it is!


The trip over on the launch from Manapouri to the visitor centre near the power station was quite different from my memory of it from 2001 - I remembered it being a straightforward straight trip across the lake. But no! The lake has all sorts of bays and nooks and crannies. How did I manage to forget that?

Megan and Forbes - lovely people

Some other lovely people - don't know who they are...


As we travelled across the lake, David and I, Megan and Forbes speculated about which trips all of the people on the launch were going to be doing once we had reached Deep Cove.

On the map, Lake Manapouri looks narrow - it's not!
The power station - with reflections. Most of the power station is deep below the ground - about 4 storeys underground, I believe. Last time we came here, David went down with most of the other people in the bus. I didn't - I walked with a few others up a bit to meet the bus once they had risen from the depths. Apparently they stopped doing the public trips in 2007.


The bus trip over Wilmot Pass was pretty spectacular - amazing scenery, deep valleys, waterfalls, and forest. And Dave the coach driver was humorous and informative. A few stops for photographs and the 45 minute trip was soon over. It was winding and steep and I was pleased not to be able to see out of the front windscreen ...

From part the way down from Wilmot Pass looking down into Deep Cove


Dave stopped to show us this waterfall which was quite near the bottom of the road.

When we arrived in Deep Cove, I asked Dave what was happening, were we all going on the same boat? Yes, he said - that was good to know because there was only one boat moored up there - and it was pretty damn big! So all 57 people on the two coaches were going to be on the 2 night cruise. Now that WAS a surprise. For some reason, we had all (2MDF) thought that we were going to be on a small exclusive launch, don't you know ...

Instead we were all together. The Fiordland Navigator can take 70 passengers so it wasn't going to be full. It is 40 metres long, so a very small wee ship; too big for a launch, not strictly a yacht although it has 3 masts with sails. At 40 metres long it is just over twice the length of Waka Huia, but significantly wider... David checked online - apparently it is a ship.

And there's the ship, the Fiordland Navigator

Our cabin - complete with towels and David's yellow backpack. Not a big cabin, but small and perfectly formed. The ensuite was over to the right - door is out of shot.

We carted our luggage (hand baggage size only) down the steep steps and along the gang plank and onboard, then up the stairs into the saloon. We were then all introduced to the skipper and the rest of the staff. Table by table we were handed out our room keys, sent down/up to drop off our bags and then back into the saloon for a briefing on what was in store for us. Some cruising, then kayaking or a trip on the tenders and then, for the very brave or exceedingly foolish, a swim off the back of the ship - there is a water-level piece of deck that people could get into the tenders, clamber into kayaks, jump off into water that was about 10 or 12 degrees celsius. Nuts!

And we are off - the scenery was spectacular right from the beginning!

Some very high terrain down here. It's pretty much all mountains, ranges or water.

As the ship got underway, 2MDF decided we would all be candidates for the tender. Forbes was excused kayaking because he was heavier than the max weight... The other 3 of us weren't keen either.

The scenery was breathtaking, from onboard the ship and from the tender, although at times it was hard to see what Dave the young Irish crew member was pointing out because of the people who were standing when told to sit ...

In the tender. Megan standing on the right, Forbes sitting. Megan only stood when we were allowed to - and she should have anyway - she is so short that she makes me look very very tall...

The Fiordland Navigator, taken from the tender - front view

View of the starboard side. Our cabin was one of six on the top deck. The first and second windows from the stern were ours.

The snow hadn't really started down here - but it was going to ...

One of the tenders being hoisted out of the water

Sunset, day 1

I took lots of photos of it, and am only showing you two of them. Be grateful!

Forbes and Megan
She has her hand on his bum ...
There was a fishing launch tootling around - I think the crew were checking crayfish pots.


Really difficult to see but there are lots of seals sunning themselves on this small island.

Seals and seal poop...

The closer we got to the west coast and the winds off the Tasman Sea, the shorter and less deep green the vegetation was.

The island with the seals
No, we did not try to get through there! After that, it would be next stop Australia! But not in this ship - with a 5 metre draft and no keel, it would not cope in even moderate seas.

The food was plentiful and very tasty, the veg options were pretty yummy, and the crew were exceptionally hardworking - 14 hour days. They all assisted in every task, so if they weren't lowering the tenders from their cradles, crewing tenders or accompanying kayakers, keeping an eye on the swimmers, they were assisting with food prep and serving or doing dishes, raising or lowering the anchor, ...


  • the scenery - mountains, waterfalls, steep sided hills that plunged straight down into the sounds and arms
  • the multiple arms that make up Doubtful Sound most of which we explored
  • the islands 
  • the dolphin pod, some of whom accompanied the ship - I got to be right near the bow and able to look over the side and see them frolicking and putting on their display
  • the clear water
  • the information that Div provided about the flora and fauna, the geology, the tree avalanches
  • the stunning weather - we had the three finest days of the whole year so far. It was cold but fine and with almost no wind.
  • standing up on the bridge asking questions and chatting with Blake and being there when we were out on the Tasman Sea
  • being moored up at anchor overnight in perfectly quiet coves - the only noise was the generator (the only one left on overnight), hence the earplugs provided in each cabin 😜
  • lovely comfortable en-suite cabins, small but perfectly formed with a very comfortable bed and an excellent shower
  • waking in the morning to no traffic
  • no internet or phone service for 48 hours
  • kayaking on the second day - just to prove I still could
    • being pursued (on board ship only) by the ACP paparazzi - evidence below...
  • and last but not least, meeting and becoming fast friends with Megan and Forbes and playing lots of 5 Crowns - and watching Megan's delight when she beat Forbes...
Ready for kayaking on Day 2. Shoes and socks off, jeans rolled up, insect repellent on - but not enough for the giant sized sandflies that live down here! I put more on when out in the kayak. Those sandflies are at least twice the size of the Tongaporutu ones and significantly bigger than the Hokitika ones too. I'm not sure what they live on when people aren't around.


I am somewhere in that bunch of kayakers. David was official photographer for my kayaking adventure.

I think that might be me at 10 o'clock from the crew member who is in the orange kayak. At about that time, I was getting too hot with my sweatshirt on, so I laid my paddle across the gunnels, carefully unzipped and took off my lifejacket, and then took off my sweatshirt and put my lifejacket back on. The young crew member had come up beside me and told me I was making her nervous, so she paddled away - avoidance behaviour is always a good safety technique, eh? But getting cooler also meant that I could stuff my sweatshirt behind me, allowing me to sit more upright - much more comfortable for paddling.

I realised I was going to be very tired with numb feet if I kept going so I asked another crew member if I could go back - the ship was about 300 metres away and I was happy to paddle back. I told her I could manage another 15 minutes if necessary, but when she radioed to find out how long we'd be out, the skipper said they'd come and get me now. Excellent!

There is a video that David took of me getting out of the kayak - it's a very funny piece of footage, but in spite of my following Irene's advice to set it to load up and leaving it for 20 minutes, it hasn't done its thing. (Note that I have unloaded the dryer, put another load of washing on, put another load in the washing machine, hung out my jeans, hung two bras and a merino long sleeved undertop in the airing cupboard, folded and put away the washing I had got out of the dryer, suggested that David can store the open and empty mh toilet cassette around by the bikes to dry out, and added about 18 more photos to the post - I am sure that is more than 20 minutes of waiting, so NO video here, OK?) If you want to see it, let me know and I can send it to you.


After I was back and inside, the others returned


The three masts each with a furled sail. They don't use them often, and they add about 3 knots to the engine speed.

I think we must have been speeding along at this point

The steepness of the hillside just continues underwater in some places, hence we could get really close.

Quite disconcerting, but wonderful

Still waters and reflections

It was very chilly ...

Apparently that fissure goes over the other side of that hill too - I reckon it's where NZ is slowly moving closer to Australia post an earthquake in the last few years ... Maybe not, but it's an interesting story!

Waterfall from the saloon

On the coach back, Megan suggested we sit in the front seats - aaarrrggghhh!!!

The 48 hours, noon on Friday to noon on Sunday, sped by and also were blissfully slow. We would recommend this trip to anyone wanting some peaceful time in beautiful surroundings.

And the motorhome was still where we had parked it 50 hours previously - bonus!