- The views on this stretch of road are spectacular. November snow made the ranges glow. Certainly an enjoyable day on the road. We had a walk around and then lunch at The Hermitage. There are plenty of walks here, short or long to suit any experience or desire. Tony’s great niece came to work at The Hermitage eight years ago for a brief stint, and is still there now, a partner from Nepal and two children later. Must be a great place to work, she certainly seems very happy. We turned off a road travelling down from The Hermitage, just to see where it went, and were amazed to find a large car park full of vehicles and people preparing to leave on tramps. We remember those days well, packs loaded, wine too of course, and off on another adventure. What fun it was but don’t miss the nights in huts shared with many others making all sorts of noises in their sleep! The fun compensated for that though. Our adventures these days are much more sedate. Plenty of biking keeps the legs moving without wearing us out with an all day tramp. Whew!
- We have had two visits to Tekapo this year. The wild lupins this time in the early summer are spectacular. They line the roadsides just as the wildflowers did on the Auckland motorways a few years ago. There are many beautiful colours too, pink, yellow, mauve. A sight to give many pleasure. We didn’t see these on our last few trips in the late summer and autumn so that was something new, many tourists had their cameras clicking along with us.
- If you go to Tekapo don’t miss going to the hot pools. These are on the hill by the motorcamp with great views over Lake Tekapo. If you go onto the website “Bookme” you can get them at half price at certain times. This applies to a huge number of activities in many parts of New Zealand. Boat trips, meals, massages etc, just put in the area you want to look at and you’ll be amazed.
- The NZMCA has a property where motorhomers can stay in Tekapo. It is beside Lake Tekapo – tried to catch a trout, but it wasn’t to be – and an easy walk or bike ride into the town. We love to go into town, past the famous little old church on the waterfront- The Church of the Good Shepherd – which thousands of tourists visit each week. You can stand inside and look through the front of the church where a window frames the beautiful view of the lake. They are always improving things in Tekapo, putting in new car parks, bike trails etc, working to make life easier for their locals and thousands of tourists who visit their area. We also love their bar/ cafe/ restaurants that look out over the lake. Last time we were sitting outside watching two rabbits playing near the grass, fascinating for the tourists at the table next to us, this time a new car park had been developed there and our entertainment was watching the setting up of a ready made (in Auckland) toilet block. We watched as it was craned into place, the water was connected, final landscaping completed and the next day it was ready to go. Looked fabulous, very classy, good to see the tourists being catered for in this way.
The beginning of November is a great time to be in Christchurch. It’s a big week with horse racing and the A&P show.
First big racing day is the Trotting Cup. We bought tickets to the restricted areas this year thinking that would be a nice way to spend the day. Not so! The area was in a good position with a good view of the track, but it was so crowded and with all of the seating taken we moved on after a walk around to check it out. Back to the public area where we moved around during the day from the grandstand- great viewing but no cover so needed a hat – to seats on the lawn, to the area behind the stand and buildings where all of the action is to be found. Great people watching at these race days. The lads are very well turned out, if you didn’t have a nice jacket on you stood out. Luckily for the lads the day was a little cool so they would have appreciated their jackets, some were generous and shared theirs with their not so well covered girlfriends! As for the females, on the day less is best! Tops are low, skirts are short – just like ours 40 years ago. Most looked fantastic. They could wear the same outfit to a wedding, maybe with a little more cover! They certainly put the time into their preparation and presentation. Gorgeous. The band played, people danced, the bars had long queues, the fashion on the catwalk was amazing – was this a race meeting or a fun day out? Many wouldn’t have seen a horse on the course, but they sure had fun! So did we, I made money too!
Next outing was to the Canterbury A & P show. This is another big day out for the Cantabrians with all of the animals, farm machinery, stalls for food and whatever else you may want to buy, a fairground, band etc. Really interesting for the city folk as well as the farmers. Well set out, easy to get around, a great day out. It’s interesting how diverse our agricultural sector is in NZ with a huge variety of animals on show and farm machinery from huge to tiny. The bands we heard were really good, the day was cool though so that probably affected the number of people willing to sit outside to listen. Pity. Could have had as much action as a wine and food festival. Nice wines too.
Our last big day out in Christchurch this trip was to the galloping cup meeting at Riccarton. A huge day out for the locals and well known as a big day for overindulgence in alcohol. The first sign of this was the vehicle check on entry to the car park. Two chaps asked if they could search the motorhome for alcohol. We had no problem with that, we didn’t think we had any, a most unusual situation, but just lucky for us. Good luck to them I thought, that will take a while! They did find a KGB in the fridge which had been in there a couple of months, they took it, no worries, obviously not a flavour I was keen on or it would have been drunk! If they had found any more we would have just gone and parked outside, we weren’t planning to drink anything that was in the van anyway, but apparently that is a big problem for the racing club. People drink to excess in the parking area and cause issues. The van search over it was in to the races. The day was even colder, no sunfrock for me that day. Another good day, everyone there seemed very happy. Good seating and once again the people watching filled the day when we weren’t watching the races. The trotting cup certainly is the big day though. Would we go again? Yes, obviously not such a big day as the Melbourne Cup, great fun for keen race goers and those with no interest in racing alike, but still a good day out.
We also enjoyed a picnic by the Avon with people enjoying punting on the river beside us. Lovely spot. We bought the picnic food at the market. Fresh and tasty, the markets in Christchurch are fabulous.
Enjoyed Labour Weekend on the Kapiti Coast this year with a group of friends. We stayed in the motorhomes at the Kapiti Holiday Resort. This is a camp in Paraparaumu with an unusual feature. Each site has it’s own separate on site building with a toilet and shower. We don’t really need these with our self contained van, but it would be fantastic if you were staying in a tent. Nice camp, and not too far to walk to the beach, restaurants and the boat to Kapiti Island.
Many people have told me that Kapiti Island is on their ‘bucket list’. We have been there before but many of our friends hadn’t, so the plan was formed.
You are only able to go to Kapiti Island on a charter ferry service. Private vessels are not allowed to land on the island. Kapiti Island is 5 km off the coast from Paraparaumu. There is no wharf, the boat is launched into the sea off a special tractor and the trip is weather dependent. Unfortunately the day we went it was a little rough – even worse on the way back- but most of us on board were quite relaxed about it. Usually you spend five hours on the island before your return trip. Overnight stays are available in a family lodge. This family arrived on the island in 1820. There are also guided walks available. We chose to just be part of the DOC talk then do our own thing. The talk by a DOC ranger was fantastic. Very informative and well presented.
DOC took over administration of the island in 1987. It allows 50 visitors per day to the island, you need to book and it can fill up fast. The island is possum free, the native trees and the birds tell their own story on this, and it became rat free in 1998. Your bags are checked for creatures big and small before boarding the boat. Don’t take your pet mouse or your old lunch with ants crawling through it!
Kapiti Island is one of New Zealand’s most important sites for bird recovery as well as being a major breeding site for sea birds. It is home to a number of native birds, and we saw many different birds during the day.
We climbed to the top of the island where there is a lookout with a great view (of course). It’s a good climb for us retired folk.
Other pleasures to pass the time on the Kapiti Coast: One night for dinner we went to the local club right on the beachfront. A little strange as they had a band playing (not many people dancing but it was a great band) because the rugby (All Blacks) was on at the same time. Of course our crew were watching the rugby (no sound)! It’s a nice club, the Vista. It’s a long beach for a stroll, or you could walk to Raumati South as we did. Whitebaiting is good down that way too. Always interesting in different areas, they fish with a different style of net to those we use in the Naki.