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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Retracing our ‘footsteps’

It’s been a wee while since we last blogged so lots to catch you up on…………………….

We left Ohau B and headed for Tekapo to spend a few days R & R; just walking the dogs, reading, watching movies etc. Walked into Tekapo for breakfast at a cafe with Mac-Rose in-tow and enjoyed the views. The day we left we headed up to Mt John Observatory to view the scenery and boy was it worth the $8.00 to use the private road. The only down-side was the narrowness and twisting turns of the road. We were blown away by the panoramic views showing the starkness of the McKenzie Basin with the majestic Alps as a backdrop.

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The NZMCA park is nestled in the trees on the lake front

Our return trip down the mountain was nail-biting as campervans raced up towards us only slowing down as they almost grazed our mirrors………bloody tourists lol. It was nerve-wracking but we managed to reach safety without mishap!!

On we travelled to Fairlie where our destination for the night was the Musterer’s High Country Camp where we were greeted by Eunice who showed us our berth for the night and I was able to do some laundry. This camp is lovely; it has individual units each with their own hot-tubs and has beautifully maintained lawns/gardens. There is also a menagerie of donkeys/ llamas/sheep and a lone goat. Mac-Rose were able to meet the animals but Mac was a little wary of them.

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We moved on via Timaru and headed for a freedom camping spot called Patiti Point. The location was hard to find but well worth the effort with magnificent sea views and a walking path for the dogs for the morning. We liked Timaru; a lovely town and the freedom camping was well set-up although we did have a ‘slider’ next door……………….

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Onwards and we headed for another POP called Peski which was a small camp area with power. It has a small number of permanent campers and is registered for NZMCA members with a small charge for a powered site. We were visited by the owner’s old dog Tui who welcomed Mac-Rose and spent some time with us.

The following morning we headed towards Oxford intending to use another POP location; an old historic pub. We emailed the owner but did not receive a response until we arrived to find the pub closed. There was no indication why it was closed so we moved on. We found another POP close by and headed towards it; again having unsuccessfully attempted contact. We received an email from the Pub owner who advised we would be very welcome and apologising for not responding sooner but the Pub doesn’t open until 4 pm…….weird huh? The POP on the NZMCA App showed dogs were welcomed so we thought we would head there anyway. We arrived to find a huge sign on the drive stating NO DOGS; disappointed by the discrepancy we again moved on and changed our focus to the NZMCA park at Weedon – on the outskirts of Christchurch; this was inadvertently one of the longest drives we have undertaken in one day.

We had a lovely lunch the next day at the Riccarton racecourse after a visit to the leash-free dog park where Mac-Rose had a proper bath and then went to a carwash for Dogonit to have a bath too.  We left Weedon the following day and headed to Rangiora for a laundry and grocery stop and then headed for sanctuary at Heather’s place outside Kaiapoi where we started the South Island journey together. Heather made us really welcome by allowing us to use one of her empty paddocks so that Mac-Rose could run around much to their heart’s content!!

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Heather has a lifestyle block and is in the middle of lambing so I had the pleasure of helping her feed three orphaned lambs – I haven’t done this since Rod’s mum and dad had their farm in Otewa back in the 80’s……..bliss!!

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While we were there news came in that there was to be a snow-dump south of the Waimakarere River so my lovely husband offered to drive me back to Tekapo so I could engage my alter-ego – The Snow Queen.

We left Heather’s round 9 a.m. and drove the 3+ hours back to Tekapo after checking the Met Service for changes; they confirmed snow so we were feeling excited. We waited; and waited; and waited but the weather showed no signs of turning to ice, snow etc. Rod checked the Met Service and it appeared Tekapo might miss out…………….lips pouted and the Snow Queen internally wept!!

We went to bed to the sound of rain after discussing what we would do in the morning………….. imagine my excitement when; in the middle of the night Rod wakes me and said “look out the window”. He turned the outside light on and there they were……….tiny drops of icicles falling from the sky. This increased over time and by morning we had snow on the ground – not a huge amount granted; but snow on the ground……..enough for me to do my snow angel impression.

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Mac-Rose looked outside as the door was opened and spent some time almost in wonder. They then headed outside and were rollicking in the snow almost immediately. They ran, skipped over the snow and then started digging………doggy heaven!! I threw a couple of snowballs at them as they played and even threw one at Rod; missed lol……………loving it!!!

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Ohau I love to B on the road again…..

What a great time we had at Ohau B Canal. On-route we stopped for the weekly laundry trip in Twizel before coming to rest alongside the canal with several other RV’s/caravans. Within minutes of arriving we met the couple in the RV in front when they opened up their rear window so their dog could welcome us. Mulligan is a 4 year old Labradoodle with a serious heart condition reasonably recently diagnosed. He was obviously excited to meet Mac and Rose and we chatted long enough with his ‘mum and dad’ to realise we would get on well.

The morning after our arrival we headed off to the High Country Salmon farm across the canal to have a mediocre breakfast and ‘borrow’ some salmon pellets while we were feeding them as we had been advised by a gentlemen that the pellets were great as fish bait. As we were leaving Mulligan and his ‘mum and dad’ were pulling in. We got to chatting and re-introduced ourselves………..Steve, Janine and Mulligan were only intending to leave to head to Wanaka as they wanted to watch the Bledisloe test match. We commented that we were going to watch as well (thanks to our very special friend – you know who you are) so plans were made to have dinner together and watch the game.

Rod attempted fishing that afternoon with a fly road but the pellets were too hard to put on a line and cracked under pressure so he went back to trout fishing instead.

Dinner that evening was a simple chilly followed by a very mediocre bread and butter pudding (I blame it on a combination of afternoon drinks in the sun, too small a dish and forgetting the sugar lol). The game was great but what increased the excitement was discovering that we were in the presence of ‘family rugny royalty’…….Steve and Janine are the parents of ex-All Black Mark Cooksley.  We had such a great evening…………..I think this is one of the wonderful aspects of RVing – meeting really great people!!!!

The next morning was a relaxing start – a little bit of house-work etc. Mulligan and Mac enjoyed some ball play while Rose schmoozed other ‘guests’ . The ball went into the water a couple of times and Mulligan came to the rescue by fetching it back for Mac. As a result he had to have a shower while Mac and Rose kept their distance as they were not keen on participating in this game.

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The rest of the day felt empty when the Cooksley’s  moved on but we had txted a little later in the day once they were camped up at Lake Benmore making a fruit loaf.

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The following day we were woken to light snow flurries which excited the Snow Queen although her excitement was temporary.  Rod, Mac and Rose enjoyed the brisk temperature while out on their walk with Mac and Rose rolling gleefully in the frost and snow.

 

 

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We left Ohau B Canal and headed towards old territory – Lake Tekapo. With cold weather expected and snow down to 700 mtrs we are hoping we will be able to meet the Ice Queens expectations of creating an ice angel……..here’s hoping!!

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.

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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.

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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!!!!!!

HMNZS Reunion

We spent an extra night at Ranfurly and the following morning  we were invited over to the “White House’ for coffee and home-made pikelets (my contribution). We were in awe of the motor home, the lounge was enormous; and the kitchen was not much smaller. They also had a large bedroom; but that is the advantage of ‘pop-outs’ I guess.  Sue and Gavin left later that morning and we were alone again ………until a smaller vehicle joined us but they kept to themselves.

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We decided to head to the local pub that evening; for a drink before having a take-out. We arrived at the pub and sat at a bar table big enough for a crowd (only space left) and were joined by a local family who made our evening and were really welcoming. We left after a couple of  drinks and ordered our take-out before heading for ‘home’. It was a relaxing evening watching a TV series we had downloaded and bed.20180811_110705

We left Ranfurly the following morning via Middlemarch – where the single farmers meet the eager ladies for a dance and whatever else lol.

We safely ventured through ‘Orc country’ with Mac and Rose on guard the whole time……..keeping us safe.

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We headed towards Mosgiel where we would be staying at the Mosgiel  A & P grounds for the night. We were lucky to have a powered site for $15 and that also included toilets, showers & a laundry. I had PLENTY of washing to do and although washing was not a problem the drier was another issue altogether…………..however eventually I dried most of it before we met up with Jim and Sue.  Jim served in Waiouru at HMNZS Irirangi and on HMNZS Waikato with Rodney and the  and our last catch-up was in 1978 so it has been a long time between memories. Jim brought us some lovely fresh Blue Cod fillet for breakfast …..thanks Jim; yum!! We laughed and shared old and new memories and then headed to a restaurant for a meal before they dropped us off at Dogonit for the night.

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The following morning we had a slow start to the day not leaving until late morning and heading for Dunedin to stay at the NZMCA park.  Our arrival in Dunedin sparked a myriad of memories for me (2004) as I spied old haunts – the motel, hospital etc.; on-route to our destination.  It feels surreal to be here again.

The following morning we spent part of the day shopping and preparing dog food and then relaxed for the rest of the day until Alana (our God-daughter)  joined us and we took Abe, Mac and Rose for a walk through the park.

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That evening,  at Alana’s invitation we went to an amazing restaurant for dinner and thoroughly enjoyed our catch-up.  It has been years since we last saw her but it felt like it was only yesterday……many thanks Alana.

Next day we left Dunedin and headed to Moeraki Boulders to check it they were still there. It is a unique sight………the boulders so spherical having been there for millions for years ground by the sea.  Rod thought the café/gift shop were sneaky because there are two entrances – one; a DOC site has free access. The other has a very large sign pointing to the car park and as you arrive you have to pay $2 for access to the boulders when it would have been free 100 meters in the other direction. Anyway we paid our $2 and viewed the boulders before heading off.

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We were intending to head towards Oamaru but Mrs Garmin attempted to circumvent our path via Weston;  but after some heated discussion she complied and we got a look Oamaru which is a delightful town/city and well-worth the drive. We passed the site with the Maori drawings -no access today, but the cliffs were amazing and re-knowned for the fossils etc lodged in it’s banks

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Our destination for the night was to be another NZMCA Park but on arrival we found it grassy and soft and so opted for our second choice (which was the BEST one)…………at Glenmac farm which is slightly off the beaten track in the high country. We are on power which is a plus but when we stopped to change a $50 note  (to pay the  $10 donation for power) at Duntroon the cafe/pub were no longer open and our hosts were very understanding lol. We will possibly stay another day……watch this space

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Wine not stay another night………………….rude not to really

We left Balclutha and headed towards Tuapeka with the view to crossing the Clyde on the ferry but sadly we were too long to fit…..sometimes size matters. We also considered staying at the heritage site for the night but it was extremely damp and so we moved on……………

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We reviewed options and headed for Butchers Gully located between Roxburgh and Alexandra but found the location although beautiful was not suitable for Dogonit so again moved on.

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Heading towards Cromwell stopping at Clyde for lunch overlooking  the dam on-route.  Over lunch we discussed our options for the night and using NZMCA App (thank goodness for the App) decided on Champagne Gully (rude not to stay really) as our destination. The vista was absolutely beautiful and the only negatives were: no bubbles to drink (I mean really; who wouldn’t want to drink bubbles in Champagne Gully)?………and the rude, noisy neighbours who arrived in the early hours of the night.   We often have neighbours at the freedom parks and it is not a problem but we are becoming less tolerant of those who have vans with sliding doors and people who think the early hours of the morning are suitable to arrive and make lots of noise………….

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The following morning after a crap night’s sleep we headed towards Arrowtown so Donna could do some gold-panning. We arrived and found it difficult to find suitable parking but eventually headed towards the place that arranges the gold pans etc. It was closed (sad face) so we visited the Chinese gold-mining settlement. This was very interesting and gave a unique perspective on what it was like for the immigrant Chinese – particularly those who came straight from the Australian gold mines.

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Arrowtown was full of tourists so we decided to move on heading back along the trail back towards Alexandra. We intended to stop at a place between Arrowtown and Alexandra to go gold-mining but by this time Donna was tired and decided to flag it until another day (a bit like the lack of oysters in Bluff  that I have yet to eat – it will happen; but not today).

Our destination for the night was the Grey Ridge Vineyards just outside of Alexandra. We arrived despite ‘Mrs Garmin’ giving us alternate directions and were greeted by Sue and her husband who own the vineyard. We nestled ourselves between the dam and the vines and settled Mac & Rose in before heading over to taste the Pinot Noirs (white, Rose and red varieties) which were smooth and fruity and it would have been rude not to purchase some!!

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Home again (and time for dinner and an early night) No sleep interruptions as the location was blissfully peaceful until well after 7:30 when we heard the workers arriving for their day’s labour. We have decided to spend another night here just for the pure hell of it……………..

N.B For those who are following our blog………..if you want a closer look at our location complete the following instructions below:

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  5. HTTP Port: 8080
  6. 264 Port: 8554
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‘Owaka’ a beautiful, no…………wet morning

Following our 24 hour interlude at Paptowai we headed for Purakaunui where we intended to spend the night after almost off-roading up a steep hill. We arrived at the DOC camp however the ground was really soft following rain and there were no areas to safely park. The beach was seal-free and the wind was up so we stayed for a short while after giving Mac and Rose a run on the beach and discussed our next destination; a POP in Owaka with the intention of heading to another POP the following night at Nugget Burn.

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We arrived at the farm of Gordon and Coralie who were our hosts for the night. We met their two boys who fell in love with Mac & Rose and they showed us a place where we could safely walk them. The night was relaxing and we were given some fresh eggs by Gordon – yummy!!

Mac and Rose met the two hand-raised sheep and although they got up close and personal;  there were trust issues (mainly on Mac’s behalf who has never forgotten the potential adoption by a sheep at Steve and Anne-Maries).

A relaxing morning later we headed for Nugget Point to walk to the lighthouse but the weather is again inclement – wind was up; view is non-existant due to low cloud and rain  so we shelved the  to stay at Nugget Burn (POP) and headed for Balclutha to stay at a motor camp and do laundry etc. We have spent the day relaxing and intend to head to Subway for dinner (trying to be healthier).

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Where’s the lighthouse…………………….?

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We have exciting plans as we head into gold-rush territory…………….watch this space!

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Moving on tomorrow not sure of the destination.

Just Bluffing

Here we are at the southernmost tip of the South Island in Bluff.20180729_120140

We made contact with our new travel friends Warren and Toni whom we met at Lake Te Anau and they had arranged two options for our stay in Bluff – one was at the back of the RSA; the other in a secure yard owned by them. When we arrived we met them at the RSA and checked out both locations; choosing the secure yard so that we had privacy.

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Not only did Warren and Toni offer us the use of their yard but also took us sight-seeing (who knew that Bluff could be so interesting?) they also offered us the use of a vehicle for the duration of our stay. We were pretty blown away by their generosity……..even humbled by it.

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After giving Mac a bath at their place following time at a leash-free dog park in Invercargill (covered in mud; the princess was immaculate in comparison) we had coffee and then we returned to Dogonit to freshen up before they picked us up and took us to the RSA for drinks. Boy…… talk about Southern hospitality!! The crowd at the RSA were great, we laughed, joked and enjoyed a cold beverage until it was time to go to the Eagle Hotel for a wonderful dinner that included oysters and paua which was followed by a guilt-free dessert (nah; just kidding lol) and liquers. It was then back to Dogonit and quite late (for old folk) before we prepared for bed.
Imagine how we felt when we pulled the covers back and discovered our bedding was saturated. One of our vents was open slightly and allowed the wind to blow rain inside. We had to strip the bed and remake it; the only saving grace was the waterproof mattress cover or we would have been more in the pooh. Thank goodness Warren had left the keys to his sheds in the car so we had somewhere to hang bedding to dry!!
We met them the following morning and headed out on a dog walk – four humans and the White Dog Gang.

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The weather had cleared so we could see Dog Island and Steward Island in the distance. It was a little cool but well worth the walk despite us all feeling a little seedy from the previous night.
We followed the walk with a lovely lunch of cheese puffs (one of my favourites!! And spent a couple of hours chatting before we headed home to Dogonit to have a rest before Chef Rod prepares a dessert to match the lovely roast that Toni is cooking for our dinner.

Dinner was of course…..PERFECT!! It was lovely to share a meal with them and admire the beautiful view overlooking the harbour and Ti Wai Point. We ate till we were stuffed and then returned to Dogonit tot full to do anything but fall into bed.
Today we did the ‘housework’ before Warren and Toni arrived – Warren to pick up his car so he could go off to work and Toni to chauffeur us around the sights of Bluff starting with Imauri Beach where I collected some rocks. The dogs Mac, Rose, Rastus and Jimmy had a ball playing together and honning up and down the beach.

Our next stop was Bluff Hill to admire the 360 degree views; looking from Stewart Island to the bottom of the Alps….. it was just stunning; particularly because the day was clear and the sun was shining. There was also the remains of a Navy radar station.

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We headed for the bottom of the walking track where we could hear the Tuis and Warblers and watch the wood pigeons. There were also the remains of military posts erected at the end of WWI.

By this time we could feel a poppy nap coming on; so after fortifying ourselves with food we are enjoying some R & R.

Tonight we are hosting Toni on board Dogonit for dinner as Warren will still be at work.