Location: Kaikoura , New Zealand
Feb 21st. If you are going to be stuck anywhere Kaikoura is better than most places. Took a walk (9 miles ish) around the Peninsula, super views along the coast. Found a couple of fur seals sunbathing on one of the beaches. All in all a brilliant way to spend a morning. Problem is the roads north and south are still shut, and it's looking like they won't open before Friday at the earliest and no guarantees even then. Lovely as Kaikoura is there are other places we want to see. Unfortunately moving on involves the inland route which has reopened, taking us back past Hamner Springs on a 7.5 hour detour to get to Nelson and Picton. Still that's what it will have to be - could be a long day!
Location: Kaikoura , New Zealand
Feb 20th. Kaikoura. Turns out Cyclone Gita had other plans so NZ is on alert for severe weather. All the roads in and out of Kaikoura are shut for fear of land slips (the only way out is to swim!!). The main body of the storm is tracking West to East so reaches us tonight, lots of rain (150-200 mm) and high winds (120kmph) and possible coastal flooding at high tide ( we reckon we are far enough back from the sea🙏) but the area we were in a couple of days ago will have borne the brunt of it. It's been raining heavily since yesterday evening but we made it as far as the supermarket this morning so we are stocked up, warm and dry - more than can be said for the poor sods in tents! Campers in the Marlborough Sounds north of us have been advised to leave. It's where we are hoping to go next once we can leave! We are fine where we are. Should blow through by tomorrow morning so it's just a matter of when the roads are open for us to press on. No photos today unless you want one of rain dripping off the front of the cab!
Location: Kaikoura , New Zealand
Feb 19th. What should have been a shortish drive to Kaikoura - marine mammals a speciality. It took a bit longer than expected as they are still rebuilding the roads after the 2016 earthquake(think Hard Knot Pass on steroids with roadworks! Beautiful scenery as per usual but only J could appreciate it!). In fact we discovered the only road north from here we need to take only reopened in December and is still only open in daylight provided local conditions allow. We did pass through Rotherham but there was nothing that looked like Canklow!! Our lucky day when we got here as we got the last two places on the last whale watching trip of the day. Great experience watching humpback whale, dusky dolphins, fur seals and albatross. Dolphins were too quick to photograph but got some belters of the rest, mainly with the SLR though. The ones I'm putting up are off the phone for various technical reasons. The other reason we were lucky is there will probably be no sailings tomorrow as the tail end of tropical cyclone Gita is due in overnight, the next 24 - 36 hrs are going to be rather wet and windy, we a are planning to stay put till it blows over. Hopefully the road will still be open otherwise it's a 7.5 hour detour back the way we've driven today!🙏
Location: Hanmer Springs, New Zealand
Feb 18th. Two hour drive to Hanmer Springs via Lewis Pass. Once again some stunning scenery. After a wander round town and the obligatory cuppa ( this time with a scone the size of a small plate!) and a visit to the i site and library for info and free wifi we checked in to a site near the town centre by lunchtime. Spent the afternoon at the thermal pools, a really lovely set up with various pools from 28 deg to 42 deg, a little bit sulphurous but not unpleasant. As usual I got a spot in the shade, Jackie in the sun. Beer on the way back in the only pub I've seen with a kiddie corner. Steak on the barbie. Life's tough sometimes. It's been a glorious day weather wise and hopefully the same tomorrow for our drive to the coast at Kaikoura.
Keep checking in we are up to number two on planet ranger!
Location: Reefton, New Zealand
Feb 17th. Well now we know why it's called a rainforest. Torrential rain and thunderstorms overnight continued as we drove north. All of a sudden the dry rocky river beds we have been crossing look very full and fierce. Appalled to find the tractor trek idiots had set off before us, so once we had passed them every time we stopped we had one eye out for them coming so we weren't stuck again. Stopped off for elevenses at Roddys Nugget cafe which resembled a western barroom from way back. Got to Hokitika for a stock up and the sun came out 🌞. Jackie decided she needed a paddle in the Tasman Sea (it's an attempt to paddle or swim in any water we stay near!) and ended in up to her neck as an unexpectedly large and fast moving wave knocked her over! Attempts to outrun it failed! (Must work harder at training!) Even the photographer got wet and the black sand got everywhere!! Got to Reefton for the night, decided to have a meal out in a little place opposite the site as we were too knackered to cook. Unfortunately we discovered the worst waitress in all creation and ended up eating at different times. Hey ho, sometimes it's not your day. 😏 Having said that there are loads of people on site involved in a bike race who ended up being helicoptered around the place cos of the rain and swollen rivers! Hopefully a shorter drive tomorrow as we head back over the mountains towards the east coast.
Location: Franz Josef Glacier , New Zealand
Feb 16th. Bit of a long drive today from Lake Hawea to Franz Josef Glacier via the Haast Pass. Lots of nice stopping points on the way, mainly waterfalls -(Fantail, Thunder Creek and most pleasingly Roaring Billy) and beaches with big waves plus a gorge called The Gates of Haast. Lunch stop on the Tasman Sea at Bruce Bay. The west coast is a very sparsely populated corner of NZ. No towns of any size. We stopped for our mid morning cuppa at Haast which basically consisted of a motel, cafe and petrol station! Got caught by the infamous sand flies today so need to remember to apply the repellent before getting out to admire the views!!! Twisty - turny - uppy - downy road not helped by us getting caught up in a fundraising tractor trek! Overtaking 10/12 slow moving tractors and their support vehicles whilst negotiating tight bends was something we could have done without at the end of a long drive 😡! Made it to Franz Josef in time to take a walk up to the glacier, all very impressive although low cloud cut some of the views. We are in a temperate rainforest, they get 8 metres of rain per year a fair chunk of which is forecast overnight. Plans for tomorrow on hold till we see if the forecast thunder storms turn up.⛈⛈
Location: Wanaka/Hawea, New Zealand
Feb 15th. Short drive from Arrowtown to Wanaka, mind you it did take in the River Anduin and the Pillars of the Kings. Wanaka proved to be very busy with lots of very fit looking people around the place getting ready for the long distance triathlon they are holding this weekend. Serious event but if you are of a certain age amusingly titled Challenge Wanaka. Getting well into NZ cafe culture (there's always cafes!) and enjoyed a very nice cuppa and some Persian cake! After a false start we found somewhere that would rent us bikes and cycled about 30km along the lake shore and along the River Clutha ending up at what is apparently the 'world famous' Wanaka Tree, never heard of it before today! Jackie took a paddle next to it anyway. Stayed at a site on the shores of nearby Lake Hawea, probably the prettiest yet, Jackie bagged her second lake of the day with a dip before tea.
Location: Arrowtown , New Zealand
Feb 14th. Drove by Lake Wakatipu alongside a range of mountains called the Remarkables which is a fine name even if the highest peak is unoriginally called Ben Nevis. Had intended to stay in Queenstown but we had been warned it was very busy and commercialised, it certainly was, the only place we've seen like it so far. So we drove through, stocked up and did a linen exchange and headed out to Glenorchy (or Amon Hen and Ithilien if you are a hobbit) and found a super lunch stop that turned into an afternoon at the beach. J sampled the "refreshing" waters of Lake Wakatipu - beautifully crystal clear. Drove on to Arrowtown originally a gold mining town, took a walk to the Fords of Bruinen ( which I could see) and the Gladden Fields ( which I couldn't work out). What they don't show in the film is that there is a lovely little pub called the Fork 'n Tap just round the corner. Barman warned me the beer out of the hand pump was warm, I explained I was English and expected it to be! No Nazgul in there either. Back for a barbie, it's been 27 deg today - and, we think, for the next few days. Just an average day really.
Location: Doubtful Sound, New Zealand
Feb 13th. Doubtful Sound. Fjordland. Doubtful Sound was named by Captain Cook. He was wrong on two counts, he called it Doubtful cos he doubted he could get his ship in and out - it's huge and apparently it's not a Sound it's a Fjord - no I don't know either. The trip is mega, a fifty minute trip across Lake Manapouri, an hours coach journey on gravel tracks across Wilmot Pass to get to the Sound then a three hour cruise around the Sound followed by the same trip in reverse. Really impressive scenery, more atmospheric than photogenic as most of the day was damp, misty and grey so mountain summits lost to view but literally hundreds of waterfalls cascading down into the sound. There is so much fresh water coming down into the sound that the top 10 metres are freshwater on top of the seawater below! A real demarcation visible as we briefly passed out of the sound into the open ocean of the Tasman Sea. This is the wettest area of New Zealand so that's usually what you get. Saw bottlenose dolphins in the Sound. It all looked very green but there is no soil everything just clings on to the rock. Now and then with two much rain they get travelanches which takes everything back to bare rock to start again. Some very gnarly trees which Peter Jackson used as models for the Ents.
New Zealand's greatest innovation - the ring pull beer bottle - genius
Plus we are in the top five visited sites on planet ranger - thanks
Location: Manapouri, New Zealand
Feb 12th. A run along the beach at Porpoise Bay as the sun comes up is the only way to start the day so we did. Jackie braved the ocean as well. (To call it bracing would be an understatement ❄️!!) Curio Bay has been the real high spot so far, not that there have been any low spots. It's also the furthest south we are going to be. Drove north to Manapouori ready for our big trip across Manapouori Lake, Wilmot Pass and Doubtful Sound tomorrow.
Staying on a site that has the real ring of a luxury Caravan Club Site ( for those who understand these things!). All separate hedge-enclosed pitches with seats provided! Facilities are spotless and very well cared for. Lines, pegs etc all provided! The lady in charge is pretty fearsome so woe betide anyone who makes a mess!! ( As I type she has just had a go at people opposite for moving their picnic table !!) Here for 2 nights as we won't get back from our trip until early evening - let's hope we can remain well behaved!
Thanks for the messages - lovely to hear from you. X
Location: Catlins - Curio Bay, New Zealand
Feb 11th. Took the scenic tour of the Catlins from Dunedin down to Curio Bay. Weather turned agin us for the first time, very wet and grey so we didn't see it at its best but we are used to holidaying in the rain so coats on and crack on with it. Stopped at Nugget point, a dramatic headland with a lighthouse at the end - next stop Antarctica. Saw seals and sea lions below us on the rocks. Lunch by Catlin Bay ( which is not a bay it's an inlet - thank you geographer). Then Purakanui Falls and Lake Wilkie (by passing Niagara Falls strangely, we've seen them before!). Arrived at Curio Bay around 5.30 just as the weather cleared. Marvellous spot. Porpoise Bay on one side an enormous arc of white sand on one side. I'm planning a run there in the morning and Jackie is doing the run/swim (all being well!). Then there is a rocky platform beach on the other which is a petrified forest. Yellow eyed and Blue penguins nest here. Hoping to see them later. They come in at dusk, would love to see the blue ones particularly, they are only 6 ins high also known as Fairy penguins.
Update! We have seen penguins! Spent about an hour watching 2 pairs make their way across the rocky beach to their chicks waiting at the tree line. Then as we walked back along the path behind the beach we saw them again near their nest sites and managed to get close up - only about 2/3 metres away. Magical!
Location: Dunedin, New Zealand
Feb 10th. We like Dunedin very much. Started with the parkrun. Everyone very friendly some other Brits there, course was very tough but both Jackie and I got a podium finish in our age groups - 3rd for Jackie, 1st for me. Small field to be honest. Apparently Dunedin is Gallic for Edinburgh, settled by Scots and all the names are Scottish - we are staying at a site in Leith. Chatting to a bloke at the run from Glasgow who has settled here who reckoned the English stopped at Christchurch but it wasn't miserable enough for the Scots so they came further South. Headed into town, wandered round the Farmers Market by the station. The Market was lovely, the station is ridiculous, they imported the granite from Aberdeen, the roof tiles from Marseille and the decorations were made by Royal Doulton apparently it and the other major buildings in the place were built when the city was awash with money from the Goldrush. Dunedin was having a Gala Thieves Market, the whole of the City centre was filled with market and food stalls, there were three band areas going playing every kind of music, rock, pop country and western even some Irish dancers and some very uneastern looking belly dancers. Enjoyed wandering through it all had some street food and a beer and I talked myself out of buying a Crocodile Dundee style kangaroo leather hat - it wouldn't work in Rotherham. Off out for a meal in the University quarter tonight.
Location: Otago Peninsula, New Zealand
Feb 9th. Spent most of the day on the Otago Peninsular. Managed a nice run along the coast even if we had to do a bit of backwards and forwards to make the distance. J went a bit backwards and forwards to avoid the serious hill climbs that D took on! Worrying notices about earthquake damaged roads!! Took an entertaining drive to Seal Point. Very tight, twisty and steep. Would have found it tough in the Sorento but in the lump I'm driving here it was quite exhilarating. Walked down to and along Sandfly Bay so called cos the sand flies when it's windy not cos of the insect life fortunately. Gorgeous spot, spent a happy chunk of time watching a couple of Sea Lions swim, surf and sunbathe - brilliant. Tough walk back up the sand dunes though! Wildlife tip on the way to the beach - Sea Lions are not afraid of humans and are quite brisk over short distances - attention paid. Spent the afternoon at Taiaroa Head where Royal Albatross were promised but no luck. Nice spot though. Drove to Dunedin, checked out the start of the Park Run tomorrow.
Location: Lake Pukaki to Otago Peninsula, New Zealand
Feb 8th. Drove from Lake Pukaki to the Otago Peninsula just beyond Dunedin following the Alps to the Ocean route along the Waitaki River for much of the way. Passed Lakes Waitaki and Aviemore. The scenery was standard for round here as in beautiful all the time with spells of breathtaking. Stopped just outside Twizel to view the Plains of Rohan, the Pelenor Fields and the Estemnet Gullies. Which is impressive as theoretically they are hundreds of miles apart (for LOTR nerds). Stayed briefly in Kurow where they have a "shrine" to Ritchie McCaw, apparently he was born there, came as a surprise to me as I thought he was born offside and lived there all his life, not that I'm bitter. (For Rugby nerds). Other stops were some Maori rock art (underwhelming), Elephant Rocks (impressive) and Moroaki Boulders (quite intriguing - a beach with spherical boulders about a metre or more across that emerge as the cliffs erode and seem to be hollow looking at one or two that had broken apart). Main purpose here was so Jackie could paddle in the Pacific - she said Gail would never forgive her if she didn't.
Location: Mount Cook - Lake Pukaki, New Zealand
Feb 7th Lake Tekapo/Mount Cook/ Lake Pukaki. Couple of minor glitches. Last night the motorhome house battery died leaving us with no lights, water, loo flush - nada. On the plus side Lake Tekapo is a dark sky reserve so the stars were spectacular. First thing this morning got onto the hire company and they found a garage for us in Tekapo and we visited the church of he Good Shepherd while they fitted a new. battery. Drove up to Mt Cook Village scenery was spectacular but the world and his wife were there and in the end we couldn't park to do the walk we had planned so headed back to Glentanner Park by Lake Pukaki and had an afternoon in the sunshine instead. Caught up with a few chores while we were at it. Absolutely freezing last night (heating kaput as well) scorching today. Hoping for another fine day tomorrow.
Struggling to get photos up as the wifi has been poor will try again later