Setting Sail

Since Donna wrote the last blog we returned to the lovely Heathers and drove into the same paddock we left two days earlier and bugger my days the ground had gone soft on us and for the second time on this trip we got stuck. Heather’s neighbor was a scholar and a gentleman and come to our aid and towed us out.

20180904_135622

We stayed two nights in Christchurch and the time flew in the quiet of the farm. We departed Christchurch on Thursday the 6th starting our journey back to the North Island. We stayed over just south of the coastal Kaikoura road at an NZMCA park at Parnassus. The park was converted from and old school and was well used by travelers either as a rest prior to heading north through Kaikoura or resting after the trip down from Blenheim.

We departed the park early on the Friday to beat the build-up of queues through the road works. We had a very good run an only got held up for any period of time on one occasion. One just hopes that the work completed will not be in vain as it is hard to see how the cliffs can be stopped from crumbling down over the road in the future.

20180907_091326

Arrived at Blenheim at around mid-day and stayed in Riverlands Road House Truck Stop.  On power and reviewed our go to for Saturday. Had lunch at the Café and Donna realized why it was a truck stop after ordering the big breakfast. Even my mince on toast with eggs was a mission.

Saturday we looked around Blenheim and ended up having lunch at the Brancott Estate Vineyard. What a neat place the view over the vineyards with the North Island in the back ground was just awe inspiring. The meal and the wines were superb and Donna found her companion just adorable.

20180908_115315

20180908_121414

Off today to Picton and the ferry. We are a bit stunned as to the finality that catching the ferry brings to the journey. We have enjoyed the people and the scenery in the South Island and know we will be back to carry on the wonderful journey down the West Coast etc.

We would like to say our thanks especially to the people below as we feel that they made the journey just that tiny bit more memorable.

  • Heather, Eric and Family
  • The staff at Glenorchy Hotel – Foreigners the lot of them
  • Warren and Toni – We will be back for the oysters
  • Steve Janine and Mulligan – Look forward to watching another test match
  • Jim and Sue – 35+ year reunion
  • Allana and Abe – A delight

Off leash for three days

14th – 18th August.

Glenmac farm near Otekaieke was our home for three nights. The hosts Keith and Kay were great hosts and couldn’t be more accommodating. On power with the use of the amenities of the shearers quarters couldn’t have been better. Mac and Rose didn’t go on leashes for the entire stay and went on some great treks up the valley.

IMG_20180816_101255

IMG_20180816_101357

The farm was 1500 hectors and had 30 hectors of flat at the front of the property and the remaining property was steep and unforgiving. Not sure of the stocking rate but would be surprised if it was greater than 1-2 units per hector. They have had only 40mm of rain during the last two months.

IMG_20180815_103459

IMG_20180815_182006

We maximised out time here as we spring cleaned the inside of Dogonit and had time to relax with the dogs. Mac and Rose have become connoisseurs of animal excrement ranging from rabbit to horse with sheep and cow being intermediaries. The full range was on offer and we believe that this must supplement their raw meat diet by providing the probiotics required.

(Todays Bitch) I am amazed at how the camp grounds can charge in the order of $40+++ a night and you are parked 200 meters from the toilet and then charged $3 for a timed 5 minute shower and in the order of $10 per load of Laundry (dried).  During our travels we have stayed in some awesome places but have become very wary of the gouging that the commercial camp grounds. They seem to think they can rip off the public and then whinge about lack of trade. They need to be offering services incorporated in their charge such as showers, laundry, refuse and good LEVEL parking sites. When you can stay at places like Glenmac for as little $10 per night with the same amenities go figure.

We reluctantly moved on and passed through Kurow the infamous town where one of NZ favourite greats was raised. The Waitaki, Aviemore and lake Benmore made great scenery on our travel inland. The Waitaki council close the camp grounds during the winter months around the lakes which is unfortunate so we pushed on to Omarama and then on to Twizel to do laundry.

We parked up again at Ohau B NZMCA park last night and will stay here for the next couple of days trying to catch us a salmon.

Go the Black Ferns and the All Blacks!!!!!!

The Rail Trail With Mac and Rose

Finally managed to drag Donna from the Grey Ridge Vineyard and head off in the direction of the Central Otago Rail Trail. We planned to go to the Omakau Commercial Hotel but as this was only 15 minutes down the road we pushed on to the Saint Bathans gold field and community.

We arrived late in the afternoon and had a look at the “town” and thought we would head to the Doc camping site at the Saint Bathans Domain. On entering the Domain we found that the local farmer was grazing his ewes. Oh well the camp is advertised as pet friendly but with the killer ewes on the loose Mac and Rose would have a very subdued time. We cautiously drove around the domain looking for a suitable site to park up. The metal track was dug up in places by the farmers vehicles so we decided to retreat to the safer ground near the entrance. As sure as bears sh_t in the woods we get into some soft ground and get stuck.  Out came the shovel and we filled the bucket up with gravel from around the track and  and managed to extricate ourselves and left the domain and headed back to Omakau Commercial Hotel.

20180807_175323

We were treated to the perfect Motor Home park with power on  concrete platform away from the road noise. The hotel was well presented and served a mean dinner. There goes the diet again very short lived as it only began since leaving the vineyard.

Decided that morning dog walk would be best serve by experiencing the rail trail and had a great hour walk along the trail.

20180808_085253

We then headed back to Staint Bathans to to take in the trail around the gold diggings to find the the trail had been closed due to slips. Well signposted NOT as you had to go to the trail to see the sign where one would have thought the place to put the sign was at the car park where the map of the trails were displayed.  We wandered around the diggings that were still open to the public and got to see the diggings and the scars left on the landscape from the mining.

IMG_20180808_104338

20180808_105735

IMG_20180808_104915

We wandered up the old main street and saw the old building some like the church and the hotel still in use today. Pub lunch was on the cards (diet was buggered anyway) and was very different and it appeared the the barmaid had been there since the diggings were still in operation 70 years ago.

IMG_20180808_103803

We had such a good stay at the Omakau Commercial Hotel we had to go back for the night and had a nice quiet evening. Next morning down the rail trail in the opposite direction and Mac and Rose made the most of it by spooking a hare and giving chase down the trail until they lost sight of the retreating prey.

20180809_083344

On the road again to Naseby via the Ida Flats which are very dry and require high levels of irrigation.

IMG_20180809_105311

Naseby was a disappointment and looked very run down and considering the winter was the high season one has to wonder how long the town will last.

IMG_20180809_113859

IMG_20180809_114445

Onward to Ranfurly and the NZMCA park and what a surprise to see what was parked there. The Motor Home is 10 years old and built by the owner. He and his wife live in it permanently working through out the South Island installing windows etc.

20180809_120539

We will stay today and leave Saturday for Mosgiel/Dunedin. We are impressed with Ranfurly and look forward to exploring what there is of it for the rest of today.

Another stunning Beach

Just over 6 weeks until we cross the ditch back to the North Island. I have now been on the road since the 23rd of June 6 weeks this Saturday. Our target on this trip was to see 60-75 % of the eastern side of the South Island From Timaru South. Half way and we a falling short of meeting this target but what we have had the pleasure of seeing exceeds our widest dreams. The people and scenery have been exceptional.

We left Bluff with Donna wondering yet again what fresh Bluff oysters taste like – Me I have the knowledge that I do not have to live the dream of the perfect aphrodisiac.

We went to Invercargill  to do our shop prior to heading towards the Catlins and the scenery and wildlife. (By the way we have the winning Lotto ticket for Saturday). Found a Super Liquor on the outskirts and spent half the shopping budget on ensuring we had enough fluid in case a drought stuck us in the next week.

We arrived at the NZMCA Park at Niagara early afternoon to no cell signal and a very empty camping ground. We soon realized we were not alone at all with another resident making her self obvious of her presence.

IMG_20180801_090433

20180801_095021

We stayed the night with the an early night and the only noises were the possums and the other residence squawking when she felt threatened. The morning bought sun and no frost. We set out to travel through the Catlins  with the intent to see the Cathedral Caves only to find them closed.

20180801_103536

We arrived at the Papatowai Doc Camp by mid morning and settled in to a late breakfast and then a walk to the pristine beach.

IMG_20180801_122317

Not much more to write about since leaving Bluff and Toni and Warren.

20180729_113957

Moving on tomorrow not sure of the destination.

The Long Journey

Morning of the 27th looked at what options we had as we have a rendezvous with the couple we met in Te Anau on Saturday afternoon in Bluff. (Still oyster season aye Donna) So were in a bit of a loss as what to do in the meantime. The weather closed in and when we went to look at the river there was very little chance of fishing as the water was dirty and fast.

Drove along a road beside the river to find it had been blocked off and no turn area. The ground was wet so had to try and negotiate a 60 point turn and managed to take off the drain for the fresh water tank on the curb. The drain hangs down 100 mm below any other appendage under the RV. Bugger and a few other words were said out loud as 170 litres of water dumped on the road  along with the PVC fitting.

20180727_132324

Well that changed our leisurely plans for the rest of the day either I effected a repair or we were buggered for the rest of the trip with no fresh water. We parked in the middle of the Gore Town and Country Club in the camping car park all of 200 meters from where we stayed last night.(hence the title “the long journey)  Backed the Dogonit up on the leveling ramps so I could slither my slim body under her. (A while since I have been able slither under usually working on top)

Two options to effect a repair either epoxy the original fittings or find a way plugging the hole. Off to the hardware store – 20 minute walk got me to Placemakers found the perfect fitting a tank gland with a screw in bung. Problem was that they only went up to 20mm and yes bloody Murphy had been and I need a 25mm. Next stop PPG Wrightson and thank you Murphy for staying away they had the fittings.

All fitted and secure no leaks – touch wood.

The Club was awesome last night with good food and the patrons and staff were very friendly. Bought a raffle tickets to help support the club and yes the day only got better – Pork chops for tea.

For $8 per night we get water, power and toilet inclusive. Washing machine $3 per load and $2 for 45 minutes in the dryer. Showers are $1 for 10 minutes. There are 14 sites here and and a staff member was telling Donna they turnover $20,000 plus per-annum. My hat off to the Town and Country Club what a facility.

On the road agian …………. Watch out Bluff Oysters!!!!!!

Piano Flats Doc Camp

Left Oreti River Bridge on Sunday 22nd and travelled to Riverton to complete a SWS (shit water stop) on the way to Piano Flats Doc Park. The winds were gusting in the order of 80-100 km but luckily were traveling with the wind coming up the rear quarters for most of the trip.  (Donna provided the equal but opposite effect proving Einstein theory)

We arrived at the Dump station in Riverton with a feeling of “this is so bad that we were ashamed to dump our waste here”. (Definitely in need of a makeover) Dumped our waste and headed on to the Doc camp. The road was in good repair but was obviously used by Glenaray  Station (largest single station of private and government land in NZ) as their stock race – All good as no doubt they do most of the leveling and repair. Must admit I was astounded with the break feeding of both cattle and sheep and the size of the paddocks that was visible from the road. The weather along with the high level of stocking left the paddocks in a quagmire. The dogs would need to be very long legged or have webbed feet to operate in the conditions.

Arrived at Piano Flats to a vista that meets the best we have seen so far.

20180722_120547

The isolation is enhanced by the 360 degree surrounding of native bush with a fast flowing snow fed stream through the camp site. We walked the area but were concerned as to the potential of the ground becoming boggy with the forecasted rain so erred on the side of caution and parked on the graveled area next to the children’s playground and his and her long drops. (Doc needs to be given all credit due to the cleanliness and presentation of the long drops). We settled in by early evening and roasted beef rib on the bone accompanied with roast kumara, carrots and onions. The sun had set behind the hills and the clouds lowered down dropping the temperature in great steps.

We were sent to sleep with the patter of rain on the roof of Dogonit.

Morning bought the continuation of the rain and low cloud – Mac and Rose were not pleased as it was too messy to walk the bush trails for a morning walk so had to settle with the short walks in the camp site. We walked the river during non-rainy spells looking for potential fishing spots. With the rain the water was up and was moving very fast. (Warning by Doc signage that only level 5 Kayaker’s should attempt descending the river).  Rigged up our own off the roof water supply to fill the tank. This worked out well and meant Donna could clean my whiskey glass after each tipple.

20180723_100800

Very quiet day with the eye lids being checked out for potential pin holes on at least two occasions. By three o’clock in the afternoon we were sitting down to a wine and cheese for two while playing cards. Donna did try hard but the skill and charisma of the better half came forward yet again and she had to accept second place yet again.

20180723_142817

Tea was quiet grilled pork chops with kale salad – just a light affair. Had to run the generator for extended times during the day due to the lack of sun and the use of the lighting and TV during the day.

Quiet night and awoke to a much dryer day so left Donna to tidy Dogonit while Mac, Rose and myself went on a loop walk of 4km through the bush up the side of the valley. The track was sloppy but the dogs enjoyed the walk

IMG_20180725_101509

I had to be mindful of keeping the dogs close to the track as there are open gold mine shafts in close proximity to the track. Donna had not long got out of her scratch sack by the time we got back from the hour long walk. (Her comment will be worth the read)

The day was overcast and we realised that the generator would be required as the sun was not going to show much if any during the day. So packed up Dogonit and headed back to Riverton to fill up the generator and bought a 5 litre petrol container so as we could enjoy the day without feeling we had to be conservative in how we enjoyed it. (Charging of all  the bedroom toys takes a lot of power)

We arrived back to Piano Flat and low and behold it had been overrun with nothing, just as we left it. (Awsome). The afternoon was fly fishing time. Those elusive flies are very hard to catch by flicking a small hook at them. Yes no luck but the practice was worth the effort.

Chicken Korma and rice for tea, and the end to a very quiet and peaceful day.

Awoke to Ice Age two outside (no global warming here). The van had ice over the outside with the condensation from the central heating had formed a stalactite on the bottom of the body of the motorhome.

20180725_071129

There was no way the morning walk was happening until the morning thawed a few degrees.   The three intrepid travellers left at 9:45 on our trek up the road. A half hour into the stroll we came across a track with the destination being announced as THE Swing Bridge. The only swing bridge known to us being back at camp. 15 minutes into the walk we came across another sign much older than the first advising that the destination was still 1 hour away and the description had changed to the UPPER Swing Bridge. Although the scenery was great the track was extremely slippery and steep in places. Imagine if one of the dogs slipped and broke their leg I would have to get them medevac’d. What a drama that would be so decided that it was best to retrace our steps back to the camp.

IMG_20180725_095241

After a light lunch Donna wanted to be the intrepid explorer and cross the swing bridge so off we went and enjoyed the walk around the camp with the dogs rolling in the frost still thick in the shade.

IMG_20180725_122551

Just enough time for a quick Poppy nap before having happy hour prior to completing cooking duties. Steak, onions, mushrooms and eggs cooked on the Webber Baby Q for tea. Earlyish night as we were on the move the next day.

Heard a vehicle around midnight but otherwise had a quiet night. We must be sound sleepers as some nice person had managed to hoon up the park in a 4 wheel drive. It wasn’t a freedom camper more about this in a separate blog I will write.

20180726_093849

On we went down the road to Gore with empty roads and great farmland arriving at the motorcamp in time for Donna to do the laundry while I went to a wash world to clean the sheep shit off the van.

Here for the night then down the road tomorrow!!!!!

Many Days and Nights Later

8th of July –  Ohaua B Canal was nice and calm in the morning so decided it was time to move on as if we believed Metservice we would be exposed to force and fury of mother nature.  (Donna the ice Queen was in search of Snow)

20180707_153049

First stop was sorting out the waste water and fresh water. We are becoming connoisseur of these dump stations and with out a doubt the station at Omarama is the best so far. Didn’t even get my slippers wet.

South we headed and crossed Lindis Pass with the clay cliff standing to the right as we entered. What country side and what hardy farmers (unlike the Nancy boys in the Bay).  You get 10 x rabbits to the acre at best.

20180708_105415

The crossing was uneventful even with the narrow but well maintained roads. No ice thank goodness.

Rain started to set in after the crossing the pass – Donna praying it was snow with every drop hitting the window.

Headed inland to Wanaka and past the War Birds static display. Didn’t pick our timing well with the rain pelting down and all the Jafa styled ski bunnies prancing around I couldn’t wait to set a new destination for the night.

20180708_120214

Found a chemist which stocked the real medicine (good old super liquor even in Wanaka) and headed up between lake Hawera and Wanaka to our destination for the night a camping ground nearly at the Haast pass in a small community called Makaroa where the opportunity to fish looked good.  But talk about rain – no way was I going to get to fish. If I had been 545 years old I would have started building the Arck. (Good old Google) We hunkered down connected to power and watched movies and partook in the medicine gathered earlier.  By three in the morning I was sure we were experiencing a form of Chinese water torture. The rain on the roof had gone from therapeutic to F —n anoying.

9th July – Took the dogs for a walk in the rain and Mac actually chased his first rabbit. I must admit not very successfully but the attempt was made.

STILL NO SNOW. The Ice Queen was not best pleased.

Decided to head to Cormwell to do some laundry and a quick shop. On the way we did encounter some sleet . We stayed in the NZMCA camp ground at Cormwell – we were the only revelers in the camp for the night. Greenhithe Auckland experienced a power cut – one of at least 5 unscheduled cuts in the past 6 months. Vector in their wisdom send you a nice Text to tell you that the cut has occurred but some manager must have had a brain fade because they procedure does not include that another text is sent when power is restored. Welcome to the third world with sewage in the harbour,  jammed traffic systems, and general infrastructure a mess and what do we do build more bloody infill houses. Go figure. (I had to have a rave sorry)

20180710_091711

10th July (1967 – remember) – Woke to a brisk but sunny morning. Had the normal start to the day – the Satellite dish decided to play dead ants and lay on its back pointing to the sky. So couldn’t go anywhere until the nice man from Apollo Entertainment gave me instructions how to reset it. Glad it wasn’t raining as had to climb on to the roof.

All good and off we went with ice warnings on the road to Queens Town. Scenery again was beyond the boy from Otorohanga college literary skills to describe.

20180710_115621

Passed through Queenstown with haste – full of Lycra leggings and Puffer jackets. Not a fashion statement – bring back summer and the mini skirt.

Arrived at our destination Glenorchy Hotel in time for lunch and a couple of pints. Mac and Rose have been invited into the bar this evening so they are having to have afternoon naps so Poppy can remain longer in the bar tonight.

20180710_131042

20180710_143149

20180710_131923

Good night God Bless – just might have to stay another night!!!

Mt Cook

Spent two days in Tekapo having  a roast beef dinner with Yorkshire puddings for dinner on the first night while temperature outside dropped to  0 degrees again.

IMG_20180705_195303

After dinner we went for  a walk to look at the night sky. Unfortunately no photos of the stars so you will have to put up with a photo of our stars under the spotlight.

IMG_20180705_195303_2

Next morning after the dogs rolled in the icy grass we went for a walk to Tekapo metropolis. On the way we passed the monument celebrating McKenzie and his dog and the church of the Good Shepard as well as two bus loads of tourists.

IMG_20180705_195304_3

IMG_20180705_195304

Spent the day relaxing and planning our travels today. What a waste of time as we did nothing planed today other than leave Tekapo.

Left Tekapo heading south – I had no idea the expanse of the MacKenzie Basin. Lake Pukaki was another gem with chilled blue water stretching back to Mt. Cook.

IMG_20180705_195304_4

Off we went to see if the snow was down to a level where we could enjoy the dogs frolicking on the snow. Disappointment as the snow had all but disappeared but did manage some snow.

IMG_20180705_195302_1

IMG_20180705_195302

The scenery on the journey up to Mt Cook was again epic and hopefully sitting in the rest home messing myself in time to come I can remember the scenes as vividly as to day.

Traveled on to Twizel and are staying at the Combined Services Club for the night.

 

Ealing ???

Said our farewells to Heather this morning. Our many thanks for the hospitality and great company Heather. Time to move on south prior to heading in land.

The trip from Christchurch to Ealing was uneventful and with the overcast showery weather we did not get to see much of the Alps. I must admit the contrast of traveling from Hastings with John and traveling with Donna to Ealing are like comparing watching Frozen to watching the latest Rambo movie. By the way John is quite fond of Frozen. I enjoyed the journey with John but I must be diplomatic here as I have a long journey ahead with Donna and announce that my preference is Donna.

IMG_20180702_193643_1

Arrived at Ealing NZMCA camp and 1:30 pm and promptly ran a muck and got stuck in some soft ground. Donna told me to go there (as stated earlier I am telling the story). We were very lucky not to be the only ones here. Jan and Wilf of no fixed abode (yes Johnny Gypsies) came to the rescue and helped us out of the muck.

IMG_20180702_193643

Mac and Rose looking at the tracks we left when we towed out.

Wilf and Jan invited us to happy hour over at their place and we had a great early evening prior to returning to Dogonit and a Thai Curry with rice for tea.

Up early in the morning as heading into Timaru to get our COF for Dogonit. Hopefully this goes smoothly and we will be on our way into the hinter land.

NOT so winter-less south

John and I headed south from Kaikoura last Thursday with our destination set for Kaiapoi the location where we would find lusty sheep and prim and proper ladies. (Strange how the mind plays tricks when all your traveling partner can talk about is how he enjoyed watching Brokeback Mountain two nights befoe we departed).

Waiting at one of the many road controls along the coast Mac and Rose wanted to see what was going on. Johnny picked up Rose and Mac climbed onto my lap. Sitting waiting for the on coming traffic to clear I realised that why the truck drivers had a rye smile on their faces as they passed by. Talk about judging a book by the cover – glad I can never be accused of jumping to conclusion re two old men sitting in a motor-home with two little white fluffy dogs sitting on their laps. (I really believe Johnny was in his element.)

Arrived at the lovely Heather’s just after lunch and had a most hospitable tea and drinks before retiring to the Motor-Home for my last night with Johnny.

Next morning I dropped Johnny off at the airport – it is hard to console such an emotional man and had to promise I would call in and see him in the future just to get him to piss off and catch his plane. (It is great being the creator of the story)

Donna spent the day sanitising  Dogonit just to make me feel that all the cleaning that had been done fastidiously over the previous week was in vain. Just a hint for the next road trip I embark on as to where to prioritise  my time and effort.

We have had a great time at Heathers and are preparing to embark on the next leg of journey tomorrow to the NOT so winter-less south