Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200002 New Zealand-S N

Tuesday 1 February 2000   On Leith Valley road in Dunedin we spot the "Deerstalkers HQ" and next but one the "Beertalkers HQ"!  Our first camp site (called motor camps here) in New Zealand is Leith Valley Touring Park $19  (£6.30) a small site beside a stream with ducks and tiny ducklings.  It takes me 4 loads $1 (33p) to do the washing and I’m lucky to be able to dry it outside now the rain has stopped. They are still saying summer has yet to start here but that Dunedin has had the wettest January in 82 years.  Have a real good laugh watching "The Royles".  
DUNEDIN, LEITH VALLEY TOURING PARK
 
Tuesday 2 February  Walk up Baldwin Street the steepest street in the world with 1 in 2.66 gradient.  The road is surfaced with slabs of concrete as it is too steep to be tarmaced.  At the Evansdale cheese factory Steve buys a piece of 18 month old blue sheep cheese which stinks.  Continuing North we call at Shag Point for a ….lunch stop.  Moeraki boulders are strange rocks which grew like a pearl around a piece of bone or something.  They have been pushed up onto the beach and some are 4m across.  Looking inside the broken ones is quite interesting.  Arrive too early to see the yellow eyed penguins at Moeraki lighthouse so park for the afternoon.  The rarest penguins in the world have developed a colony here.  Someone saved two sick ones, nursed them to health then released them here to breed.  At 7.30pm we walk down to the hide and wait with 10 other spotters.   Just after 8.00pm one scrambles ashore then eventually waddles up the cliff.  By 9.00pm we have seen 3 more, one on a rock just in front of us.  Spotters Mark & Martin from Holland are looking for a place to free camp. We tell them of the Moeraki boulders car park where they join us for a drink.
MOERAKI BOULDERS CAR PARK
Thursday 3 February   Oamaru is a lovely town.  The local white stone is soft for carving but hardens when exposed to the air, perfect for making the magnificent buildings.  The weather improves dramatically as we turn inland to Mackenzie country.   Dams on Waitaki River have created  many lakes and the bright blue water looks lovely backed by snow capped mountains.  Lake Aviemore makes a good sunbathing stop and we even take a dip.  Near Omarama we detour paying $5 (£1.60) each to visit the Clay Cliffs.  The area is like the Badlands in America and you half expect cowboys or Indians to appear.  We walk into the valley of 2 million year old rocks created when gravel and silt were deposited by glacial rivers.  A most impressive and unexpected small area amidst normal hills.  In Twizel we park by Ohau 1 powerhouse with far reaching views of the valley surrounded by mountains.  The canals here are also bright blue and we can follow them right out to the lakes. 
TWIZEL, BY OHAU 1 POWERHOUSE
Friday 4 February  The road to Mount Cook winds along the edge of Lake Pukaki.  The weather has changed again and the dull cloudy start deteriorates to heavy rain and poor visibility.  The Hermitage is the most famous hotel in New Zealand – principally for its location and the fantastic views out to Mount Cook, but not today.  A warning light has come on in the van and we phone Chris who thinks it is the alternator which charges the leisure battery.  (History repeating itself?).  Ask around but we will have to return to Twizel for a repair.  Sit it out on the car park until the rain stops.  Start the Hooker Valley trail just before 2.00pm. Cross two swing bridges whilst being blasted by a gale then up the valley towards Mount Cook and below Mount Wakefield to emerge at the end of the Hooker Glacier and lake.  The glacier is even dirtier than the others and the lake very muddy.  Walking back we face Mounts Stephen and Annette.  Enjoy the 3 hour walk now that it is warm and sunny.  At the end of the Tasman Valley Road we walk to the blue lakes, now more like green ponds!  Climb higher to view the Tasman Glacier terminal again covered in gravel.  We read that beneath the 1 to 2 metres of gravel are between 200 and 600 metres of ice.  Broken chunks can be seen floating in the lake.  Between the clouds we finally see the top of Mount Cook – the highest in Australasia at 3755m.  Eat in the car park then drive to the Mount Cook lookout at the end of Lake Pukaki where we get a great view as the sun sets.  Park in a nearby rest area for an evening in candle light.
MOUNT COOK LOOKOUT
Saturday 5 February  Back in Twizel we catch the auto electrician opening up.  10 minutes and $10 (£3.30) later he has attached the loose wire with new clips and we are on our way.  Aoraki Naturally is a naturist homestay run by Kay and Brian on the banks of Irishmans Creek just south of Tekapo.  They have a camping area behind the house $18 (£6) and shortly after arriving we are in our "club" uniform enjoying the hot sun under clear blue skies.  The creek has been dammed to create a pool for swimming and it is fun to lie on your back and float downstream.  Steve goes in the canoe but soon falls out and decides to walk back with it.  Fortunately he was still upstream of the main road or he would have look pretty silly walking back crossing the main road stark naked carrying a canoe!  Kay & Brian have a dog called "Nud" and he plays football.  If you kick or throw the ball he chases after it and then dribbles it back.  He’s also pretty good at endlessly retrieving sticks thrown into the creek.  Read in the local paper that Zara Phillips has been seen in the Mackenzie area.  Brian tells us that she is in Tekapo and was in the pub last night. It sounds like she is dating the son of Graham Murray, the owner of the local Mount Cook Scenic flight company.   Brian lights the BBQ and we sit with Jan & Janet and Dutch couple Peter & Ineka.  Last August Peter & Ineka were in France and met Stuart & Sally Holding friends of ours from Queensbury.
AORAKI NATURALLY
Sunday 6 February  Dull, cloudy but warm start to the day.  Spots of rain around mid day then a brighter afternoon when we leap out and sunbathe.
AORAKI NATURALLY 2
Monday 7 February  Join Kay for a trip into Timaru the nearest town 1 1/2 hours drive away!  Complete Kay’s business between a guided sightseeing tour of the nice seaside town.  Back just after 6pm and invite Kay and Brian to join us for a meal.
AORAKI NATURALLY 3
Tuesday 8 February  Bright but breezy morning which becomes a calm hot day perfect for sunbathing.  Late afternoon Brian takes us out to Lake Alexandrina for a spot of swimming sunbathing and trout fishing (to no avail).  Jan joins us for tea – gurnard fish and chips.
AORAKI NATURALLY 4
Wednesday 9 February    A bit of all sorts on the weather front.  We help Kay & Brian plan a trip to Europe which leaves us reminiscing.  Patsy & Tom from Halesowen are staying here on half board and Kay invites us to join them all for the evening meal.  The sunset is fantastic with huge clouds looking like balls of fire.
AORAKI NATURALLY 5
Thursday 10 February  Take a long walk along the creek and almost to the canal road.  It’s great to have the freedom to roam around naked.  In New Zealand there is no law against being naked unless it is offensive or inappropriate!
AORAKI NATURALLY 6
Friday 11 February  A scorcher of a day with the temperature hitting 34C in the afternoon.  Spend lots of time by the creek and find it is still hot when we have our evening BBQ.
AORAKI NATURALLY 7
Saturday 12 February  Time to press on.  Having stayed longer than anticipated we agreed a weekly rate of $85 (£28). In Tekapo we stop to look at the picturesque Church of the Good Shepherd which is used in the foreground of many photos of the deep blue Tekapo Lake.  There is also a nice statue of a sheep dog nearby.  Heading east we pause to study the "Shoe fence".  It started off with someone hanging a pair of shoes over it and has grown to many hundreds of pairs, some inscribed.  Now known as the shoe cemetery Brian says he has seen someone pull up and go along the line to find a pair that fits.  Geraldine is much nicer than expected and we enjoy the Berry Farm which has samples of Barker’s products.  Steve heads for the jams and mustards and I go for the ice-cream syrups.  It’s another very hot day but the clouds prevent us sunbathing.  Rakaia Gorge is spectacular but difficult to get to the water.  Use our first P.O.P.  (park over property).  In New Zealand the Motorhome Club have a list of people willing to let you park on their property overnight free (small charge if they are offering use of showers or power).  On the outskirts of Christchurch (know as ChCh) Wendy & Lesley are listed.  They come in for a drink and tell us their parents are the motorhomers but that they enjoy having visitors. 
CHRISTCHURCH, POP
Sunday 13 February  "Pineglades" is the naturist club near ChCh and they are having an open day today.  As I.N.F. members it only costs us $3 (£1) each and that includes use of the sauna and spa.  The finals of the miniten championship are in progress for which the weather is perfect – cloudy and just about warm.  The people are not over friendly and at one point we stroll over to watch people playing boules.  Someone askes if we know the game and we reply that we do and enjoy playing it.  We are then told that there is another set of boules in the club house and and pointed to a different spot where we can play!  Partake in the sausage sizzle lunch (notice the male chefs are wearing aprons) but leave early afternoon after having a spa, sauna and quick plunge in the outdoor pool.  Ch Ch is the biggest city on the south island and 2nd only to Auckland.  Glad we are here on a Sunday when the traffic is not too bad.  Stroll around the lovely botanical gardens where it is easy to get lost on the many meandering footpaths.  Steve spots a statue that looks like someone’s bare bum stuck up in the air.  Closer inspection reveals what looks like a couple in the 69 position – however the plague reveals it to be wrestlers!  I’ll think twice next time Steve asks me if we want to pull over for a wrest – sorry rest.  Jeanny & Richard whom we met at N.S.C. have asked us to call and in no time we are parked up in the courtyard between their house and Jeanny’s Mum’s. Their twin daughters Stephanie and Rebecca were my ladies in waiting at the Queen’s garden party.  Rebecca is keen to see the video of Steve’s bungy jump. They live near the centre of the city so we are going to stay tomorrow night as well.
CHRISTCHURCH, JEANNY & RICHARDS
Monday 14 February   A cloudy and cool day which is good for tramping round the city.  The River Avon runs through the centre and it is great to stroll along the banks if you can manage to avoid the duck droppings.  Punting on the Avon is a popular pastime here and on a sunny day would have been a very romantic thing to do on Valentines Day.  In Victoria Square we are tempted by the $1 (33p) hot pies so stop for our first rest.  In Cathedral square we climb the 133 steps to get a view from the tower after strolling round the inside.  It’s a flat and very attractive city with many parks and gardens hence the nickname of the Garden City.  Old wooden trams trundle past in a tourist loop but we prefer to walk and get off the beaten track.  Nice statues by the information centre, pretty ironwork bridges over the Avon and an impressive bridge of remembrance lead us to the Arts Centre.  Old university building have now been converted into a big arts and craft area where markets and functions are also held.  Tonight we are coming back for the market square Valentines dance under the stars and the outdoor cinema which are part of the Festival of Romance. Nearby the magnificent city museum building is fronted by the peacock fountain where the jets keep changing places.  The museum is excellent and entry by donation.  In the reconstructed old street Steve tries his hand at riding a Penny Farthing bike.  Another multi museum with sections on transport, the Antarctic, Maori’s, geology, wildlife, paintings of India, Chinese writing implements and many others.  Walking back to Cathedral square we are side tracked at the Chung Wah 2 restaurant sign -smorgasbord $12 (£4).  It’s a nice place and the food includes soup, appetisers, mains, desert and coffee.  Excellent food and most excellent value.  In the square we have just missed the Wizard who arrives at 1pm each day to pontificate.  He’s still there and dressed up in his costume but not performing.  The Shuttle is a free city centre N to S bus and we hop on heading South then get off to walk back up Colombo Street with many shops.  Back on the bus and N to the casino where despite wearing trainers and combat pants we fit their dress code.  Walk back to Jeanny’s arriving at 4.30pm rather footsore but it is bliss to be able to relax and stretch out in a hot bath.  Jeanny drives us back to the Art’s centre for the evening entertainment.  The old tram carriages have been converted to restaurants and one is parked by the market square with couples enjoying a romantic meal.  After a short time it moves off to be replaced by another.  The jazz band are good and some of the younger people must have been to dance classes as they are really putting on a show.  Dress varies from an old lady in a chiffon gown and gold evening shoes to people in scruffy jeans, trainers and coats – no not us!   Unfortunately it is not a warm evening but it hasn’t deterred the crowds.   The film starts at 9.30pm so we pay our $2 (66p) and find a bench behind the lawn.  Most people must have been before as they turn up with food, drinks, picnic chairs, blankets, cushions, and even sleeping bags and pillows.  We half expect some of them to erect tents to set up camp for the night and wouldn’t be surprised if some of them kip here overnight.  Anyway the film is the "Wedding Singer" which we both enjoy huddled under our coats with love and Steve’s bottle of whiskey to keep us warm.  Catch a taxi from Cathedral square $8 (£2.65) arriving back just before midnight after a most enjoyable day.
CHRISTCHURCH, JEANNY & RICHARDS
Tuesday 15 February  Pop in for coffee with Pam whom we are most surprised to learn is 73 as she is vibrant like Mum and looks and acts much younger.  It’s cloudy when we leave so a visit to Palms Shopping centre seems appropriate.  At New Brighton we call in to the QE11 stadium which was used for the commonwealth games.  A swimming gala is in progress and the noise sounds very familiar.  Stop by New Brighton pier for coffee and watch a few surfers braving the weather.  A little further down the coast at Sumner we clamber around cave rock but can’t explore as the tide is coming in.  Over the headland with good views and down to Lyttelton harbour the main port for ChCh.  The "Timeball" here is an old building where at 1pm Greenwich time was signalled by a huge ball dropping down a rod on the tower to allow ships to calculate their longitude.  Here and in Dunedin most old buildings are built from a silvery grey stone with white corner stones which look pretty good.  Head round the Banks Peninsula in a clockwise direction.  You get some excellent views of pretty harbours but the roads are steep and winding.  Climbing out of Port Levy we encounter hundreds of sheep coming down a hill towards us.  Before we get chance to back up the front sheep come to a stand still and the ones behind begin to pile into them which looks quite funny.  Reverse to a junction allowing them to turn in front of us.  Chat to the farmer and he tells us there were around 700.  Although many people assured us this route was OK to do in a camper we come to a sign saying not suitable for trailers or campervans.  Short of going all the way back to Lyttelton there is nothing we can do but proceed slowly.  Don’t know what all the fuss is about, we have at least  6 inches between us and the sheer mountainside and the road isn’t crumbling away too much!  Spot what we think is a kestrel on a fence and wait until if majestically takes off.  Our destination is Akaroa where the French arrived in the 1830’s.  The harbour was created when the volcano erupted and the summit road provides good views when we are below cloud level!  The town is a disappointment to us.  A few French street names and a petrol station with "essence" but really it is just another pretty harbour town and in our opinion not worth the journey. Heading back around the South coast we stop at a P.O.P. in Cooptown.  Notice in the visitors book that our friends Margaret & Les Brook from Saltaire visited here in March 1998. 
COOPTOWN POP
Wednesday 16 February  Rain starts in the early hours which shelves our plan to re visit "Pineglades".  In Little River we detour to "Birdlands" and notice it is $8pp (£2.65) admission or $10.50pp (£3.50) for a powered camping site which includes admission.  Opt to camp which should give us chance to walk around the area if and when the rain eases off.   We are surrounded by ducks, peacocks and other birds as only a few of the birds are in cages.  Duck dropping diversion tactics are deployed again.   It’s late afternoon before the rain eases and we walk up the hill and around the site.  A pleasant place but in need of a lot of maintenance.  A Matai tree has been dedicated as a memorial to Princess Diana and the boardwalks feature names of people who have made donations to the reserve.
LITTLE RIVER, BIRDLANDS
Thursday 17 February  It’s from the ChCh International Antarctic centre that people fly to Antarctica.  The Americans have a large base here and there is also a visitor centre $32 (£10) with a Hagglund Ride.  A quick look around the visitor centre before our 11.30 ride.  The Haaglunds were designed by the Swedes as amphibious all terain vehicles.  We are shown the store room where the Americans are kitted out with special clothing.  There are snot gloves which are huge mitten with fur backs.  You wipe your nose on the fur and then it turns into ice which you flick off.  On expedition people wear the same clothes for 6 weeks but don’t smell (much) as they never sweat.  Stop to take some photos as the tour party leaves and when we reach the door we find we are locked in.  Despite hammering on the door and shouting no one comes.  As people walk by I shout out to them that we are locked in but they either don’t hear me or don’t realise that the door is talking to them.  Steve hears a noise and finds someone working in the warehouse who lets us out.  Our tour party are just coming back from viewing the United States Antarctic Departure Terminal and the guide is mortified when she realises where we have been.  The exciting part of the ride is when we go over an adventure course to show the vehicles capabilities.  We ride up steep banks and ride round the inside of craters and through a 3 metre deep pool.  Return to the main centre where we are offered complimentary audio guides.  I have a great time playing in the snow and sledging in the Snow & Ice experience room.  Enjoy the whole place and leave many hours later to find it is still cold damp and drizzly.   Drive on and park near Hanmer Springs ready for our visit to the Thermal reserve tomorrow.
NR HANMER SPRINGS
Friday 18 February  More rain but we brave the thermal pools and are surprisingly not alone.  As we are going to get wet anyway what could be better on a rainy day.  7 open air thermal pools, 3 sulphur pools, 25m freshwater pool and an activity pool for which you pay $8  (£2.50).  You can then pay extra for private pools, saunas, slides and beauty treatments.  The hottest sulphur pool is 42C but I spend most of the time in a 35C pool chatting to long term travellers Richard and Lyn an English couple our age.  I get so engrossed that I don’t even notice that Steve has got out, dressed, gone back to the van for the camera and that over 1 hour has passed!  Carry on up the coast to Kaikoura to visit Lloyd whom we met last year on the Oceanic Odyssey cruise with his wife Val.  Sadly Val has since died.  His sister in law Phyl is staying and in no time we are parked up on the drive and enjoying a meal of crayfish (lobster) which Lloyd himself caught.  He tells us that "our" ship is now called Clipper Odyssey and will be here in Kaikoura on Sunday – what a coincidence.
Saturday 19 February  Lloyd takes us for a "Tiki" (orientation) tour around Kaikoura and shows us many points of interest.  In the afternoon we walk to the "Whale way" station for our whale watching cruise $95 (£30).  After watching a video we are taken to South Bay to board "Makawhiu" which is on a trailer behind a tractor.  We reverse into the water and are soon underway.  We’re looking for the giant sperm whales and pull up so Jason can listen for them using sonar.  He locates one and we speed off in the general direction but arrive just as it dives.  Enroute to the next one we spot some unusual birds and also an albatross.  We are all asked to keep a look out but there are dolphins and seals around which makes it difficult to pick out the whales.  The ruling is that is it doesn’t blow we don’t go.  Eventually a spout is spotted and we find a whale on the surface.  It’s difficult to appreciate the size as you can only ever see part of it.   Sperm whales live here as there is a deep shelf in the ocean where giant squid up to 50m long are found.  The whale prepares to dive and we pose cameras at the ready to get a shot of the tail as it flukes.  See 2 more whales before returning to shore.  Lloyd & Phil are out for the evening but have given us a key and told us to make ourselves at home and make full use of the facilities.  For the second time in a week I wallow in the bath whilst Steve takes command of the remote control to watch Sky.
KAIKOURA
Sunday 20 February  A beautiful hot day and by 8.00 we are at South Bay to watch the zodiacs come ashore from the Odyssey.  The Mayor has come out to greet the passengers and Lloyd also introduces us to him.  Chat to some crew and Mike Taylor who was Staff Captain for us is now the Master.  He is sleeping at the moment but they suggest we pop back at 11.30 to chat to him.  Lloyd drives back whilst we walk over the peninsula cliff top which gives us great views of the bays.  Pick up the van to drive back to South Bay.  Speak to Mike on the radio and he invites us over for lunch.  There have been quite a few changes and the crew are no longer Indonesian but now Philippino.  The buffet area is smaller and the buffet itself has a lot less choices.  The lounge dance floor has been replaced with a video screen and they now show nature movies in the evenings.  At the moment Noble Caledonian are chartering it for 3 weeks to tour around New Zealand.  Frank who was our Captain now does a 12 week share with Mike and the ship is going to be in Sydney for 3 weeks for the Olympics and Frank will be Captain.  Mike suggest we catch up with him then which would be great.  Return to Lloyds and get loads of washing done and dried between mowing the lawn and sunbathing.  Lloyd & Phyl are out again so we have the place to ourselves.  It’s amazing how friendly people are.  Try to book our ferry crossing to the North Island but the Edinburgh Tattoo is on and they are booked out until at least mid March.  Finally get on earlier than we had hoped for with a 5.30am sailing Tuesday 29th.  $308 (£100) return for us and the motorhome which is about what we paid for our channel crossings.   Watch movies until midnight.
KAIKOURA 2
Monday 21 February  Cloudy warm day.  Walk through town to drop Steve off for his Shark diving trip $110 (£35).  We phoned to book it yesterday ( Telephone number 0800 2 C JAWS) and he leaves at 11.30am.  You are kitted out in a wet suit and given an air line before being locked in a cage and lowered into the ocean.  They then feed the sharks which swim right by the cage!  Can’t understand why I don’t want to do it.  It’s even free if you swim outside the cage.  Steve returns at 4.30 pm having had a great time.  He saw 4 blue sharks varying in length from  1 1/2 – 2 1/2 metres.  They poked their noses through the cage and Steve once made the mistake when he lost his balance of grabbing hold of the outside cage bars instead of the rail inside.  Lunch was crayfish and other fish which were caught and immediately cooked.  They even caught one of the sharks by mistake but it broke free.  A trip he would certainly recommend.  We take Lloyd out in the evening to Donegal House an Irish pub just outside the town.  A beautiful setting with a lake in the garden and big white statues.  Steve & I share a seafood platter at $15 (£5) and it is so big we end up leaving loads of the chips but manage to eat all the shell mussels, battered mussels, squid and groper. 
KAIKOURA 3
Tuesday 22 February  Steve helps Lloyd retrieve the empty cray pots before we leave.  Coffee stop by a seal colony but Steve comes back feeling sick as he has seen a dead one with it’s head chopped off and smelling awful.  Blenheim is a nice town even in the drizzle.  Pizza Hut are doing an all you can eat Pizza, Pasta, Salad and Desert lunch for $8.95 (£3) so we while away an hour or so there.  In Picton we collect the ferry tickets before heading to Havelock on the Queen Charlotte scenic drive.  We are now in Marlborough Sounds region and our journey along the coast is spectacular with Sounds and Bays around every one of over a hundred bends which we navigate.  Ed & Druscilla run the Havelock Outdoor Centre which operates naturist cruises and they also run a naturist homestay with space for motorhomes.  Call at the office to provisionally arrrange a trip for Thursday and then follow Ed home. Join them for a few drinks (or in Steve’s case many drinks).  They are the same age as us with children also the same age.  English Druscilla came to New Zealand with her parents but they didn’t settle.  By that time she had met Ed but because she was only 16 she had to fight to stay here.  She had to go to court to prove she was capable of staying here along with her twin sisiter.  She married Ed and both she and her sister are still here but don’t communicate with their parents which is sad.
HAVELOCK
Wednesday 23 February  Do a double take as we wake up to a clear blue sky with a big round yellow thing sending heat down.  Spend a relaxing day sunbathing and take a walk down through the woods to the river.  It’s a great spot which we explore downstream to the gorge and then upstream to the bridge.  The area is famous for gold mining and many swimming holes have been created in the river where miners blasted rocks away.  A nice BBQ cooked on their terrace overlooking the river is followed by Scrabble.  The trip is provisionally on for tomorrow and Walter and Nissa from N.S.C. are joining us.
HAVELOCK 2
Thursday 24 February  Typical – a cloudy start to the day but it soon brightens up and it’s all aboard M.V. MAVIS for our naturist day trip cruise on the Marlborough Sounds $45 (£15).  Coffee and a slice are served then the first stop is the mussel farm where Ed pulls up enough green mussels for lunch.  We later pull into a sheltered bay and whilst he cooks the mussels Steve & I go in for a very quick swim as the water is pretty cool.  The men scoff the mussels whilst Nissa & I eat our packed lunch  A hike at Nydia Bay and then time for the return trip.  Shortly after we go ashore I am violently sick (how can you be out on a boat all day and not sea sick but throw up the minute you hit land?).  The new local pub serves Guinness so Walter & Steve make a bee line for it whilst Nissa & I tag along.  I feel fine and have a coke and then coffee.  Ed picks us up in the mini bus for the short drive to their office where I do a Linford Christie to the loo to honk up again – cappucino style.  We all return to Ed & Druscilla’s house where unfortunately I miss out on some good conversation and a nice meal of Tacos as everytime I try to get out of bed I feel sick, have a bad head and keep going hot and cold.  It’s Paul Evans’s 50th Birthday today and Steve phones him up just to make sure there is life after 50! 
HAVELOCK 3
Friday 25 February  I’m still feel a bit odd (yes I know I always have been) when I get up.  Set off towards the sun club calling in at Richmond to shop.  Claire’s packet has arrived at the club and it’s great to delve into the contents and especially to watch the video.  It perks me up no end.  It’s a hot day and we make the most of it and enjoy hopping in and out of the swimming pool.  Peter & Marcia join us for a drink in the evening.  Sadly there have been problems at the club and Peter & Marcia have feel compelled to leave and move on Tuesday.
NELSON SUN CLUB
Saturday 26 February     Another nice day so for once we are in the right place at the right time.  It’s Walter’s 51st Birthday on Monday and Nissa is having a dinner party for him tonight.  We are invited along with Kay & John and June & Wilf.  Nissa is Indian and she greets us in her sari.  The meal is all traditional Indian food and excellent.  The only blip on the evening is that this group of 6 are the main ones responsible for Peter & Marcia leaving.  The conversation becomes quite bitchy from time to time but we have made it clear that we don’t wish to be involved.  We leave early to give them chance to talk amongst themselves.  It’s made us realise a few things – one is that it would not be a good idea for us ever to live permanently in a naturist club and secondly how lucky we are when travelling to only meet people briefly and to enjoy the nice side of them.
NELSON SUN CLUB 2
Sunday 27 February  Mixed weather so I cook a roast dinner and as Peter & Marcia are in the midst of packing we invite them to join us for lunch.  Steve does rather well and comes second in the handicap golf tournament and wins a ball which he promptly loses on the 2nd hole next time round!  Leave late afternoon to drive back to Nelson to park at Chris & Marion’s.  The van is booked in for a certificate of fitness tomorrow (like our M.O.T.) which has to be done every 6 months.  We also need to buy a kilometre pass.  In New Zealand diesel is much cheaper than petrol but you then have to buy a km pass which is related to the size and weight of the vehicle.  For a 4 ton motorhome it costs $130 (£43).  This means that our 5,000km tour of the South Island has cost us about $500 (£165) – or 10c (3p) per km. 
NELSON
Monday 28 February  By 10.00 the van is certified and we have said our final farewells to Chris & Marion as they leave for England in May and we won’t see them again.  Detour on the scenic wine route from Havelock to Picton.  There are many wineries here with huge mansion type houses for meals as well as tastings.  From Picton we drive over the headland to Waikowa and park up by the harbour for a rest (sorry a snooze) as we have been up since just after 7.00am.  It’s a hot sunny day and we soon return to Picton to park by the seafront.  It’s a lovely little town with a nice main street running down to the memorial arch leading into gardens and down to the beach.  There are two paddling pools, children’s play area, track for a minature railway and lots of seats and lawns for lazing around.  The remains of the Edwin Fox boat from the 1850’s are quite impressive as you can see inside through the broken timbers. Glad we are going on a modern ship though.  The last ferry leaves at 9.30pm when we drive to the port and park up in line.  Leave our ticket for the 5.30am ferry on the windscreen incase the alarm doesn’t wake us.
PICTON DOCKS
Tuesday 29 February  Sleep intermitently between the trains shunting nearby.  4.00am a knock on the door wakes us before the alarm and we are processed and eventually find our way onto the ferry.  Nowhere near as slick an operation as Dover and very badly signposted.  The Arahura is an old Danish ferry and it will take us 3 hours to get to Wellington.  Arrive on the NORTH ISLAND at 8.30am and easily negotiate the rush hour traffic to travel along the quay to park near the Te Papa museum.  $6 (£2) seems very reasonable for all day parking in a capital city.   Catch up on some sleep as the museum doesn’t open until 10.00am.  Te Papa is brilliant and amazingly free for most of the exhibits.  Spread over 5 levels we start on 2 in the Time Warp where we pay $15 (£5) each for a combination ticket to ride on Blast Back and Future Rush which turn out to be very tame. The earthquake exhibition is thought provoking as Wellington is built on a fault line and has an earthquake at least once a week (almost all very small).  On level 4 Golden Days is an animated show in an old junk shop.  In the Maori section the Mana Whenua (house) and Te Marae (meeting place) are most impressive.  Enjoy the rest of this level and nip up to level 5 to view the Tiger Moth plane before leaving for lunch.  Back to visit Bush City a reconsturcted outdoor area with caves, fossils etc then inside to gawp at the skeleton of a huge pygmy blue whale. Escape late afternoon and spot a cinema just down the street.  Tonight they are showing Two Hands followed by Tea with Mussolini.  There is also a film and T.V. exhibition with the main highlight being New Zealand’s famous soap Shortland Street.  Back to the van for a bite to eat before returning to the cinema at 5.15pm.  Reduced price of $7 (££2.30) on Tuesday’s which is a bonus.  Two Hands is an Australian film and quite good with one hillarious moment when a bank robber trips over the bank counter and knocks himself out.  Sneak straight into Tea with Mussolini which reminds us of our trip in Italy as we recognise Florence and San Gimignano.  Strange that in San Gimignano we didn’t read about the old ladies who saved the towers from being bombed as it is based on a true story.  Move the van to a better spot on the Wilson car park immediately behind the Te Papa museum where we have a great view of Wellington harbour and city by night.
WELLINGTON, WILSON CAR PARK BEHIND TE PAPA MUSEUM
  
 
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