Irregular Posts; Christchurch, SouthIsland

Thursday Feb13, 2014 Kai Ora, “Leaving on a jet plane…”   Well, headed back to Christchurch to turn in the Mighty Highball, visit the city, do some laundry, repack, and then fly to Tasmania on Valentine’s Day. We stopped at the  small quaint village of Three Creeks where there was a “store” and “theme park” made into a tourist stop based on the United States’ Route 66. Prices for most things were very high.  But the lunch sandwich was good and not too expensive.  There was beside the site the old St Patrick’s church, a little church that was the first multi-denominational church in NZ. We retraced our route back into Geraldine on Route 72 and took the scenic byway to Christchurch.  Our Airport Palms Motel was very near the van rental, the airport, and the bus line to downtown. The receptionist helpfully advised us how to take public bus into the city center after returning the campervan. Up the road to MightyVan.  Different personnel greeted us but they seemed to know about our first van and its gear issues. No problems with the return and we left our extra travel foodstuffs ij the recycle for other travelers.  Bus stop was just down the street, and Bus 29 soon stopped for us. By this time secondary schools were being released, and the public bus seemed to be the de facto school bus. Uniformed teens crowded on, and we noticed how short the uniform skirts were – a modern trend in uniform fashion? The bus arrived at the central city bus station? which was a curb in the large park.  A short...

Irregular Posts; Cardrona, SouthIsland

Thursday February 13, 2014 Kia Ora, The 5-Point Drive with a layer of apprehension. Meg worries about the gears on our Jackpot; actually she worries about my being able to get into the correct gear. From a “dead stop”, it is sometimes hard to find 1stor reverse gear. The clutch needs to GOTOTHEFLOOR and the gear notch I occasionally do not find on first attempt. The gear notch may not feel obvious to me so I do not know if I am in the gear until I let up the clutch and listen for the motor tone/sound. Sometimes I need to get rolling in 2nd gear because 1st seems unavailable. That is OK on the flats or the downs; the ups REQUIRE 1st. Afetr I am rolling there is no problem although…it sometimes really wants the clutch TOTHEFLOOR. This leaves Meg a bit apprehensive and me too. Rising out of Arrowtown was such a drive. But “Hey. No Problem” that a few deep breathes doesn’t solve. When your slower van gets to a “chain bay” pullout, you can pull in and let the faster vehicles pass; all the time being sure you DO NOT have to stop and start again in 1st gear. We drive the Crown Range Road to Cardrona. Only those who intimately know the songs of Camden Maine singer Gordon Book would know of Cardrona. “…Hey but it’s hard, cruel, and cold searching Cardrona for nuggets of gold. An ounce to the bucket and we’d all sell our souls…” The Cardrona Hotel is still in business for the passers-by along the Crown Range Road from Arrowtown in the south....

Irregular Posts; Te Anau SouthIsland

Wednesday February 12, 2014 Kai Ora, Sunday after Moeraki, we drove thru Dunedin, and thru Gore, and on to Te Anau which is the Gateway to Milford Sound and other local attractions. We checked into a new and inexpensive holiday park for two nights. Meg wanted to take a cruise on Doubtful Sound. It is a full day pricey multi leg trip. There were just a few openings on the first trip Monday at 8AM. An early rise at 6:30A to be sure we were able to drive the 30 km and planned to have breakfast at the boat. But, the morning had amazing ground fog which shawled the shoulders of the mountains, and flowed across the valley and flats. Lake Te Anau had a white blanket. The sun just broke above a ridge and painted the land gold and the fog shawl tops pale-yellow. Sheep were grazing in the field beside the road as usual. Across Lake Te Anau, the mountain peaks poked above their fog shawls. No time for breakfast; it was near boat loading time. The cruise on Doubtful Sound is a three legged affair. Leg one is a lake cruise of about 45 minutes to the 7 generator hydro-electric plant buried in a mountain. The head is about 180 meter from lake to outflow. A tour of the plant is included. Then a 30 minute bus ride over a mountain pass to the dock of the Sound cruiser. Leg three is the reverse without the plant tour. Leg two is the cruise on the Sound which was quite lovely. Walls of the two thousand foot...

Irregular Posts; EastCoast SouthIsland

Monday, February 10, 2014 Kai Ora, The East coast below Christchurch is really big farm agriculture; sheep, cattle, deer!, and large scale veg crops. The land is flat and needs to be spray irrigated. Rivers are wide shallow and pretty dry. Some towns announce water restrictions. Where it is not irrigated it is golden dried grasses for animal feed, waiting to be harvested.   We stop as the road presents things to see/do. Geraldine is a bright charming kind of old town. A farmers market with music, organic dairy guy (rice pudding bought and eaten immediately), chinese dumpling lady and mother (lamb dumplings  some eaten immediately others saved for a road lunch), and red strawberries (outside and inside). We also shop for food at the local grocery store. We need some staples for breakfast and lunch. Omaru with it’s Victorian preserved buildings made of cream colored limestone. It also has two penguin colonies!! One penguin is a very small blue one that returns to shore from sea in the dark. “No photos with flash”.  The other is a larger yellow-eyed one. We saw neither there.  The limestone sculptor told us to see the ones at Moeraki instead of the Omaru ones which are tough to see. That would be easy as that was where we were headed. Moeraki has the famous massive round boulders (like geodes) and resident yellow-eyed penguin population. We had the information center at Omaru reserve a site for us at the only holiday park in Moeraki. Better safe than sorry with no other options available. When we arrive after spending an hour in Omaru and driving the seaside...

Irregular Posts: New Zealand 1,

Thursday Feb 6, 2014 G’Day Mate, “Off the grid awhile!?” “For sure.”  We picked up our “Mighty LowBall Van” in Auckland on Sunday afternoon. It says “Mighty” on all four sides quite prominently. No mistaking that this as a touring van. Turns out all companies van’s and campers are very visibly marked; some in your face – “Don’t you wish you were as juicy as me?” on a green and white Juicy Camper Van. “Perfect for 2, comfortable for 3, and a party for 4.” Perhaps I should have chosen to be Juicy? but Mighty is quite OK. Manual 5speed shift with the left hand drive on the left. NO PROBLEM at the first roundabout and down the highway to Hamilton where we are to spend a couple of days with a couple that Meg met in Spain a couple of years ago. John and Janine G. are semi-retired educators from Waikato University. They have a house lot fruit orchard and their own bee hives. So they have a lot of fresh fruit, jam and honey all year long. John hooked up his tow trailer with a 4 wheeled ATV and off we headed to the beach house in Kawhia, on the Tasman Sea. The house is a 1950s beach cottage. They own the cottage but lease the land from the Maori of Kawhia. The bay has filled with sediment and no longer allows a vibrant fishing industry. But it is the site that the first Maori landed for a permanent settlement of the island. Their waka ( ocean sailing canoe) was buried facing onshore to symbolize their permanence....