Location: Owaka, Catlins, New Zealand
This morning began with a very keen wind straight off the southern ocean, this meant hats, gloves and jackets for the first time since leaving home. After some necessary replenishment and emptying the cassette it was off on the road again.
First port of call was Fortrose, a very exposed camp area with quite a few youngsters trying to cook and at the same time keep warm. Next stop was Waipapa point it has an historic lighthouse and a seal colony, once again it was very cold and windy but beanies, gloves and jackets made it bearable. The light house was under repair and the wind was so strong we were nearly blown off the platform, after this it was a quick cuppa to warm us up,and then on to the Florence hill lookout. We were very lucky as the sky cleared and we had a perfect view right down the coast. After this the next stop was the Matai falls, a 20 minute walk in, the falls were OK, but the exercise was good for us. At this point we then had a detour (because a bridge over the Mataura River was out of action) which took us about 16kms out of our way and all over a metal road, we thought we had left these type of roads behind in Aussie. Next stop Owaka where we have set up camp at the local golf club. Once we were sorted it was a round of golf. It started out in bright sunshine, but after the first hole the rain caught up with us and made conditions and scoring unpleasant but I kept going and my caddie left to get our meal ready.
For tea tonight we had Blue Cod again just for something different and an entree. of Oysters for John, yum, yum yum.
Tomorrow it is on to Dunedin and hopefully a look around the Albatros colony.
Location: Invercargill , New Zealand
Well once again yesterday was a moving day but not until we had seen and done a few more things.
First off the morning dawned wet and very windy; it did not bode well for the ferry crossing. David loaned us his 4x4 and we went and saw the local movie about Stewart Island, it was both humourous and very informative. When we had got into the theatre Lyn stood up and called out "anyone from the north island", to which 3 people said yes a woman replied yes we come from Raumati South and Lyn knew the woman and they went to our church, once again it is typical,of living in a small world. After this it was a visit to the old Presbyterian church and back to the house. After lunch it was time for some serious stuff, like playing a couple of games of 5 Crowns, which the men won. After this it was time for the farewells and on to the ferry. It was still blowing very hard and I was not looking forward to the crossing, the trip was everything we expected, large swells, big drops and a sideways current. This all made for an unpleasant crossing. I managed to keep hold of my lunch but unfortunately a lot of people on board did not, Lyn included.
Once on dry land it was a case of getting our home on wheels ready and off to our free camp. The wind was so strong that it literally rocked the van and seeing as how there was the local freezing works next door, the cattle let us know that they were not looking forward to the next day!!!!
Today was a quieter day with a visit to the truck stop to get diesel at 98cents/litre and then a new SD card for Lyns camera and then off to the local info centre for a look around the museum and then into the the local shopping area for a Subway lunch. Did I mention that I got 2 dozen Bluff Oysters for $25 and they are yummy, sorry there will be none left when we get home. After a look around the Queens gardens we visited "E HAYS" a local hardware shop that just happens to have a lot of very old and some newer motorbikes including Bet Munros "fastest Indian" the whole place was a revelation and very well presented, then it was a grocery shop and then back to the van for tea of Paua fritters and a game of crib.
Tomorrow it is off to the Catlins and the homeward journey has once again begun!!!
We have been blessed by the things we have seen and done and the hospitality of the people we have met especially Pania and David.
Location: STEWART ISLAND, New Zealand
Well I must apologise for the big gap in this commentary but we have been having such an amazing time.
Thursday saw us up early and on the way to Milford before sunrise. The drive in was just another great scenic experience. We had a couple of stops on the way to look at the sheer magnitude of some of the mountains. Milford Sound was bright and sunny upon our arrival and Mitre Peak was clear. We decided to have a cuppa before exploring and when we came out a cloud bank had rolled in and taken the view away !!! It was still magic though and we had a good stroll around and managed to give the hoardes of sand flies some exercise following us, which they did, I am sure they had not been fed that morning as they were constantly trying to get a feed on me. The inlet is quite tidal and we took a walk almost right out to the waters edge but turned around as I thought the tide would come in pretty quick which we found out it did. Next it was up to a lookout to look down the sound which was a very hood viewing point. Did I mention that there was a cruise liner in the sound when we got there?
A great surprise for us and them we couldn't believe it.......
As we were coming out of the toilet area there was a Filipino family there and they were our near neighbors from home and belong to our church, small world eh.They were off on a boat cruise. Lyn took photos of course. We took off early in the morning as we knew parking was limited with all the tour buses campervans etc we had several stops on our return to Te Anau a very windy Lake Gun
we did not get out of the car then, next the walk through the bush heaps of tourists as well to the Chasm very impressive the way the rushing water has carved out the massive rocks. Always interesting the stop before the tunnel with the traffic lights a good chance for chatting to the other tourists. Back to the caravan in Te Anau, Lyn did some laundry while I sat in the sun and had a little "siesta".
Friday saw us on the road again and heading for Bluff to catch the 5:00pm ferry to Stewart Island and my nephew David and his wife Pania's place. We had a lunch stop at a place called McCrakens Rest which gave an unobstructed view of the great southern ocean, at least it did until a huge front of dense sea fog rolled in.
We stopped in Invercargill and got a few things and then off to Bluff. The ferry ride is about 1 hour and after all the stories we had been told about how rough it was going to be, it was a very smooth crossing with about 50 young tourists on board, they mainly come from Europe and with the odd smattering of Canadians.
David and Pania and their 2 lovely black labs Hine and Zac met us and took us back to their home. They have a really great spot looking through Native bush down to the sea, David has to trim (at ground level) a couple of the trees to get a better view but all in all the location and home are a perfect match to them.
I will try and summarise some of our meals. Friday night: oysters and Paua balls entre followed by fresh Blue Cod and chips with salad for mains.
Saturday lunch it was Paua patties on bread and Saturday night it was Gurnard for a change from Blue Cod for the entree with cube roll steak and lamb chops for mains. Sunday lunch it was crumbed Blue Cod and Chips and last night it was a Venison Roast with Cream Puffs for dessert. You could not afford to pay for this sort of dining and yet David and Pania have it every day.
We have also had on top of all this a tour all the way around the Island as far as you can from Oban lots of beautiful bays even on our arrival we saw 2 baby fawns on the road, Paua fishing, Kiwi and Deer hunting (did'nt see or shoot anything thing) and fishing for Blue Cod which was successful. We have been made to feel so welcome and treated like royalty and I can only think how proud David's Mother and Father (my brother) would have been of their hospitality and generosity. Last night David and I went out to try and get a Deer, we saw 2 but did not get one. We have played five crowns, talked, watched rugby and unfortunately cricket and all in all a thoroughly great time. Today we will go to see a movie about the Island and then the five o'clock ferry back to Bluff and our Home on wheels....
Location: Te Anau, New Zealand
Sunday morning began with a visit to Church, it is a fairly new building and we were blessed with 2 Baptisms. Later it was tiki touring around Wanaka, looking at the sites, some window shopping and then groceries. By this time it was getting B cold as a southerly had come up and it felt like someone had left the freezer door open!!! The clouds then descended and it started to rain and did not really stop until we arrived in Cromwell the next day. We carried on to Queenstown and caught up with Kevin & Margaret and they very graciously had us for lunch and then a drive around the area showing us some of the homes that their Daughter Erin and her Husband had designed, very grand homes.we then said our goodbyes and headed for Sheena and Steves place to camp up. They have a lovely big property which they have developed and a 100yr old homestead which they have nearly completed restoring,,the coup de resistance however were their lovely long haired Gooden Retrievers. We cooked tea and had it on our laps with them and actually watched the news on TV for the first time since we left home.
Next day it was a catch up with my nephew Andy before he set off on a 5 day horse trek, this would have challenge enough without him having to get a splinter out of his backside after a mishap while hunting last week. We met him at "THE RYDGES" and went for brekky. He said he was getting picked up at 11:00 and at 11:40 panicked and then found out that the taxi was booked for 11:00 and they were all getting picked up from the airport at 12:10, poor man he was nearly losing the plot. On top of all this he is down to the final 4 for selection as the National party nominee for the Whanganui seat in the general elections, and they needed a whole lot of info from him before he set off on his trek and of course he had a dead cell phone.
Later it was getting more data for my iPad, lunch at subway, a huge delicious ice cream and then back to the van for a read. Did I mention that it was once again a cloudless sunny morning and that we had been woken by a big hot air balloon going by us.
We then got cleaned up and headed for Arrowtown for a browse and then saw the movie " HIDDEN FIGURES", this was really good, then Thai food for tea, and a great way to Finnish our time around here.
Today it was Lyns turn to drive all the way to TeAnau and she did really well. The NZMCA CAMP here is a beauty with lovely grassed areas and close to town. We had an early lunch then into town to get Lyns camera battery charged and a look see. Then it was off to Manapouri before having a grocery shop and back to the van so I can get this done. We have decided to leave the van here tomorrow and head off to Milford Sound before 7:00am to get in front of all the buses, will let you know how we get on.
HALLO TO YOU LOVELY READERS........ITS LYN HERE.....doesn't hubby do well with the dairy.....its so lovely for me not to be doing it. We have certainly been blest with the weather and the awesome scenery we have viewed here in the South. We are really having a super time have steak marinating for dinner tonight cooked by John on our little outside barbecue. Every day has been a joy except when John loses me, he gets so frustrated such a worry pot he is........Funny names take my fancy....Gun Boat Creek...Roaring Billy Falls...Chatterbox Creek...Gentle Annie Beach... Mind you Australia had some very different ones Minginup...Dalyup..Bobsup. It's so nice not to have to rush here and their and we've still had time for reading and playing crib and rummyo.
One thing I was amazed at at the isolated Farewell Spit to see all these naked ladies it was so barren and sparten yet the beauty to behold....it was amazement to the eyes and I did get photos to prove we saw them like in the middle of nowhere. Met lovely people on our journeys and we love the tourists enjoying our beautiful country. Well that is enough from me for now..Toodle loo love and a hug to our readers....Hallo Precious Grandies..I miss your hugs you will all have grown when we get home. God Bless you all....Lyn xxx
Location: Wanaka, New Zealand
Well as usual Wednesday dawned bright and sunny and our first stop was Punakaiki. This is so different and upmarket compared to the experience we had 27 years ago. The walkways are great and there are strategic lookouts along the way for the best observation points, as usual a very worthwhile stop.
Next it was on to Greymouth to catch up with my Cousin Margaret and her Husband Rex, this was only a short stop as I wanted to get on the way to make sure we got a park as it was Hokitika's wild food expo that weekend. We stopped at Lake Matheson and once again everything about the place had changed for the better. Our memory of it was that you could drive up to the lake however now there is a visitor centre and walkways to the various lookout points for photos's. The walk took about 45 mins each way but well worth the effort. We arrived at Hokitika about midday and after lunch we biked into town for a browse around and some much needed exercise. Then it was off to Kumara to get some fuel, 35 cents per litre cheaper. The camp was an NZMCA stop and only cost us $6.00 Next morning we were on our way again and the first stop was Franz Joseph for a stroll around and lunch in our van on the Main Street !!!!
We had another stop at the Fox glacier, we drove in and we were amazed at just how far it had receded. Then it was on to Haast, the park we wanted to stop at was closed as they had been flooded out in the January floods and we ended up staying at the Top Ten camp, what a rip off: $43.50 per night for 2 nights. The drive was absolutely fantastic though with great expanses of virgin forest all the way and some huge wide rivers to traverse, one thing we have noted is the high precedence of one lane bridges down here. The purpose of staying 2 nights was to allow us to visit Jacksons bay, the furtherest south you can go by car on the west coast. It was once again a really great experience with the scenic drive and the best fish and chip meal you can ask for with very fresh blue cod, this was at the Craypot cafe.
For almost the first time on our trip we had rain on the roof of the van overnight and it only slowly cleared as we headed for the Haast pass. We arrived about 11:00am and after contacting my old boss PHIL and arranging to meet up with him at the A,P & I show we contacted Lyns niece's friend Sheena in Queenstown to arrange for a stop at her place only to discover that Carole herself is down here.
Soon it was off to the show, boy this was an eye opener. It must be THE event of the year here and it was huge. After finding a place to park which was a real mission we entered the show and as we were looking at a stall we heard "THERES LYN AND JOHN", Margaret and Kevin Taylor from PNth had spotted us so we will catch up with them next week in Queenstown. The catch up with PHIL was really good and we spent most of the rest of the afternoon just strolling around looking at the different stalls and then it was off to the grocers for a little stock up and then back to the van for tea and write this.
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