I did a day trip to Hokitika to check out a couple of lodges and see what the town has to offer tourists. It is entirely set up for tourists and has a lovely vibe in town, albeit it is small.
Treetops was daunting, as you rise above the ground on the walkways which are made of metal grills, the ground looks a long way down, and it was quite odd when looking down whilst walking, so I found it was safer to stare straight ahead until reaching the platforms. There is a tower which is reached by a spiral staircase, I walked up took a photo and came straight back down without looking over the edge!
I found a lovely store with possum and rabbit fur products and got Ange some possum edged leather gloves and a rabbit neck scarf.
What a spectacular drive it is from Murchison to Westport, through deep ravines, towering rock faces over the road, narrow one lane bridges and passes where the road disappears from view and you cross fingers that there isn’t another car coming when you reach half way.
Westport beach is a lovely fine sand beach which is littered with wonderful driftwood. When I let the dogs off their leads I lost Daisy, and when I found her in amongst the drift wood she was trying to rip meat off a cow’s leg which had washed ashore with the other debris, I’m pretty sure it was a cow leg, as the rest of the cow was just a skeleton, all that was left was a couple of lower legs with skin and hooves attached to the lower leg!
That dog has just been booked in for a shampoo and grooming as soon as she gets to my brother’s house!
We also did a bush walk, and when the sign said 500metres to the end, I was relieved as I was ready for a glass of wine, alas when I got to the end of the 500metres I saw that we had only made it to the end of one path on a one-way walk, and I needed to take another path back, so it turned out to be 1.5km each way, so I earned my wine tonight!
It’s simply amazing the number of wonderful people one meets on a trip like this.
I guess because I am of no fixed abode and on a journey of discovery that people are enamoured and willing to help.
I’ve arrived back in Murchison camp to meet my friend and owner who has taken such an interest and had input in areas I have looked at. Linda suggested I look at Akaroa, which of course I loved. So returning here today was a joy to report in on my findings. And then to make my stay here even more of a pleasure I was lent a bunch of accommodation management magazines by her to encourage me to continue and find the right property.
I have been so lucky meeting such delightful people on the journey. The Havelock motor camp manager is another person who has taken an interest in my project, in fact he was the one who told me about the Watsons Way backpackers which I viewed, twice. Otherwise I never would have known about it.
And my friends Ron and Suzanne from Christchurch, who are enjoying semi-retirement in a caravan are also turning out to be great mates, and it was a joy to catch up with them in Motueka yesterday.
The only downside is for the dogs who sit patiently waiting, while I chat to people and learn more. But they were delighted to be back in Murchison at the Riverside Holiday Park which is just a gorgeous setting, right on the Buller river.
We passed through a boon dock town called Tapawera and saw all these Morris minors on a rally having lunch at a country pub.
I took a trip to Blenheim to visit 2 properties. One, a backpacker, which has alas been run down by an older retiring couple. It’s sad that they haven’t been given better advice, but I believe I could renovate it and make it better than before.
The other was run to perfection by a lovely couple, but is not my style with guests in same house as owner. The property conversely to the first property was run with passion by a charming elderly couple and was absolutely lovely.
Whilst staying in Blenheim I did see baby lambs!
So I have returned to the Regional Tourism Organisation Areas tourist numbers.
The only other place which actually has more tourists in my category than the Nelson/Tasman area is the West Coast.
So I am off down there to go look at possibilities.
For quite some time I had been eyeing up Moetapu Bay - Marlborough Sounds, there was a lovely property I had my eye on, it went to auction and when I realised I had missed it, that it was time to go and visit the area.
Part of the reason I had been unsure about the area was the long winding road there from Havelock. It was only 20km, but it was a long drive. In fact, 4km from meeting the real estate agent I saw the ‘winding narrow road’ sign, and as the previous 16km had been incredibly narrow and winding I thought it could only get worse. So I called the agent and after much to-ing and fro-ing she came to pick me up. I was right to be nervous, as the client she was meeting at the property before me had lost his car down a bank beside the house! They had attempted to drag him out with a tractor, it didn’t work he slipped off and ended up back down the bank, so a second larger tractor was called, which was successful getting him out.
We visited 3 properties, they all had spectacular views, and all had pros and cons, the one which had its own mooring and beach access was in the worst state of disrepair. Alas none were what I am looking for. But I am hopeful my dream property will come up, as this is an example of the view from one of the properties. I don’t think I could ever tire of that view.
Much as cheviot was a one horse town that if you blinked you would miss. Kekerengu Bay is one store on a beach! There is a South Easterly wind blowing and the beach is putting on a show, waves, spray pounding surf.
We left Cheviot with a couple of places in mind, to stop at. The second one we were keen on was Okiwi Bay, we stopped there at lunch time and during the hour we were there were two trains which roared past about 20 feet away!
We walked to the lookout, to take in the scenery and you can see Flash Harry down the bottom of this photo.
At the bottom of the walk I saw this sign, stating it is fine to cycle, walk, sight see and shoot! Thank goodness no one mistook me for the Yeti, or Daisy and Monty for edible wild animals.
Just before Okiwi Bay was Ohau stream where I had stopped last trip here to see the seal pups, this time there was one in the stream and one sitting on the rock just off the path!
There was a full moon over Akaroa last night from where we were camping.
In the morning I drove to Akaroa to take photos and stock of what stores exist in Akaroa.
Then, gosh, don’t ask how we ended up in a town with a name I had never heard of. Oh go on I’ll tell you, we kind of had no plan, but thought we might travel to Kaiapoi again via a city mall so I could get a haircut and colour.
Christchurch is not the city it used to be, since the earthquake, and nor is getting from A to B. I knew from my shoppers that they didn’t like travelling across town, but now I really appreciate it, as one has to circumnavigate the city in order to get anywhere. There seems to be no straight route anywhere. Hence we missed the malls and ended up on the outskirts of Christchurch and no plan of where to stay.
Every place I tried to load into Navman was so small it didn’t send us where we were meant to be, so finally I found Cheviot.
Monty who is on the floor and can not see out of the van and has to endure every rattle and roll gets ready for a break after a couple of hours. We had been on the road since 9.30am, it was now 4pm.
We are all grateful for the break now.
For such a long time I have wanted to visit Akaroa, it is a town which was settled by the French & British. Arriving today it was enveloped in mist. We rose above it on the way in when we climbed the hills, then ducked back into it when we went back down to sea level.
It is entirely charming and has a French flavour with many of the streets named ‘Rue’. The scenery is spectacular very like the Marlborough Sounds with deep blue water and surrounding bays.
A lady in Christchurch recommended I get fish and chips, and after locating the shop I could see why, there were queues and the fish was fresh and lightly battered, and scrumptious.
Then there was the person I heard stating that from the cruise ships they can have anything from 3,000 to 6,000 tourists come into the little town! Well of course that is not great for a B&B but it is for a retail stores and the tourist operators. Even today the town was pumping, there were so many tourists, camper-vans, and people walking and taking photos, the school holidays are not on, and it’s the off season.
The dogs were delighted to walk around the town, and were patted by a lot of tourists. But alas, much as Monty really wanted to go onto the beach, there was yet another bird sanctuary!
We have found an area for freedom camping on the edge of Wainui Bay which is directly opposite Akaroa. I can see at 5pm that the sun is still bathing Akaroa in a warm glow.
On the way to Wainui Bay we passed Barrys Bay cheese factory. Alas they were not making cheese, and restart in September, but I got some cheese tasting in and bought a couple of lovely cheeses.
I have to start by saying that as much as crayfish is not cheap, even in Kaikoura, damn it is worth every cent. And tonight I am boiling up the carcass for lobster bisque, so the campervan stinks but man this is going to be a delight!
Today’s drive was from Kaikoura, where I started the day with a coffee and cake from a truck stop looking bakery in Kaikoura. Coffee was made by a young Brit on a working holiday and he made the best coffee I have had in the South Island. And I have to give kudos to the Southerners for their cakes and donuts! I am going to be as wide as I am high!
We had one stop at a beach called Waikuku, almost spelt like Waikiki but not quite, and nowhere near as tropical, in fact we drove into what I thought was a forest fire of smoke, and it turned out to be a thick mist, we literally drove into it like it was a cloud. The dogs didn’t care and whooped it up at the beach.
What a fun day. We had a good drive around Blenheim looking at sections and properties for sale. I found the Fairhall sections for sale, they are next to the golf course and only a few hundred metres from Wither Hills cellar door and several other vineyards, plus the Omaka aviation museum is just up the road. So the location is ideal for tourists who like golf, planes and wine!
However, on reflection after driving towards Kaikoura and on seeing the coast again I just felt so elated that I realised I wouldn’t be so happy in a town so far from the sea.
On the way we stopped at small town, one of those ‘blink and you miss it’ towns. It was late morning I wanted coffee and the dogs needed to get out of the campervan. And low and behold as we sat in the sun having a break we had some llamas or are they alpacas come to visit us at the fence. The dogs were thrilled! And oh my they have the loveliest eyes!
Next stop was at the seal nursery in Ohau. The mother seals travel up the stream to give birth, and then leave the pups to play in the waterfall and stream whilst they return to sea for food. There were about four seal pups frolicking in the waterfall. Alas there were none on the rocks to get near for a photo.
At the next bay I stopped to see the adult seals warming themselves in the sun. I found it ironic the adults had left their babies in the shade and cold of the waterfall, about a 10-minute walk from the waterfront with no adult supervision, while they lolled about in the sun!
Next stop was Kaikoura where we walked the waterfront all the way to the Esplanade past the shops, along the pebbled beach. Yes, here is another town with all the keys for tourism; whale and dolphin watching, but is it where I would be happy? No. It just doesn’t have a soul, or any charm. And it certainly didn’t help that I stopped to get a crayfish on the way in and the lady who owns the crayfish outlet greeted me like an old friend. Her opening comment was “is that a wheaten terrier you have there?” “Yes, that’s Daisy” I replied, to which she said “I have one here”, and with that she invited me into her home! She also had a puppy cavalier king Charles spaniel crossed with something else, and a 3rd dog. I finally got to buy her last fresh crayfish and she insisted on meeting Daisy, she is a livewire who is ex Great Barrier island and she gave me all the inside information about Kaikoura. There are four entities running this town; DoC, Ngaitahu, NZ railways and the council. Hmm, not a great mix! So I can cross Kaikoura off my list.
Oh, and I have been invited back for a cup of tea with the crayfish/dog lady on my return trip!