A Travellerspoint blog

Day 56: Saturday 27th April 2013

Farmers Market & Downhills

sunny 16 °C

We were up early and after a quick breakfast drove straight to the farmers market. It was early with the advertised start time of 9 am we expected them still to be setting up but it was already in full swing, and luckily quite quiet. We tucked into hot drinks as we wondered around the stalls, sampling the diverse food available: from breads and chutneys to South African style ribs.
There was a vey busy cheese stand which caught our eye, we wondered over to see what all the fuss was about and a few minutes later walked away with 4 different cheeses, all from New Zealand, which fitted our brief: strong flavours. We even got a taste of home with a sample of Cheshire cheese that the guy running the stall was detailing to another customer in his northern English accent.
We had decided to have the cheese for tea, along with some sourdough bread and smoked salmon all found at the market. We also got some apples and other veg, all in all a successful morning.
Next we wanted to have a look around Christchurch so we parked up next to the park and walked in the beautiful autumnal sunshine into the 'town centre'. Since the earth quake two years ago the central business district (CBD) which was so badly damaged by the quake (the epicentre was 10 km outside of the city and occurred only 5 km down from the earth surface) has been cordoned off whilst repairs, demolition and rebuilds are carried out, progress appears to be quite slow with some buildings still standing, empty shells which from the outside, beyond the fencing which has been erected, look perfectly 'normal' whilst others have been totally flattered. As you walk around the wider city, brick walls to to people's gardens still lye in piles next to the collapsed wall, some facades to houses and buildings are still supported by support structures as they undergo or wait for repairs.
I was quite surprised to see how much rebuilding was still needing to be done, you hear about places on the news but they quickly get replaced by more 'exciting' news articles, the press, guided by the demand for the next sensational headlines, soon forget to cover the 'old stories' and I didn't imagine that work would still be going on to sort out the utilities before the buildings can be sorted out. Apparently the after tremors have also hindered this with them still being felt a year after the initial quake: apparently movement is still going on but is happening out to sea now.
It was strange to see a city and buildings so deserted. It was quite sobering, we were fortunate enough to be just visiting and so were able to escape back through the park, where there were remote controlled boats being raced around a course on the lake soon lifted our spirits whilst I felt a new sense of respect for the resilience of those who call Christchurch home.
We ate lunch on a bench in the park before setting off for our next destination: Akaroa. A beautiful little town set on the edge of the sheltered inlet of Akaroa harbour on the Banks peninsula. There was some fabulous sights en route, again resulting in us pulling over for a quick photo and a closer gawp, one stretch of downhill road gave me a new freewheel record: 6.5 km!
On arrival in Akaroa we sorted out the van and then went for a wander around town, stopping to have a drink at one of the hotels/pubs.
Next stop was the fish and chip shop (as recommended in the LP) where we picked up some sweet potato fries accompanied by home made aioli which we ate sitting on a bench looking out over the water....perfect. These were of course our entree as back at the van we had our market feast to tuck into, washed down with a glass or two of wine from the boutique vineyard in Blenheim it was a wonderful feast of flavours.

Posted by Jolley-Jarvis 01:54 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 55: Friday 26th April 2013

Spa Time

sunny 16 °C

I had a lye in whilst Martin did a work out, we then sorted the van out and drove the short distance into town parking in a free carpark and made our way to the thermal spa.
At $20 each it was a bargain, as we queued to pay in true park style we began to wonder exactly how many people had the same idea as us! It had a definite local leisure centre feel about it. The lockers were charged in 2 hours blocks so we opted to carry our bags around with us. We had a great time going from pool to pool, it was very busy: a lot of people had taken the Friday off as Anzac Day had this year fallen on a Thursday but we managed to sample all that we wanted to.
The sulphur pools had a distinct egg smell and were the hottest at between 40 and 42. They felt lovely to start with and then got a bit on the hot side after a few minutes! The jet spa pools were another, slightly cooler option we experienced. There were a number of large cooler thermal pools too we did go for a couple of quick dips in them but found more adult refuge in the hot sulphur and jet pools.
We arrived in Christchurch late in the afternoon and stopped briefly at a McDonald's to use the free wifi before heading off to find somewhere to stay overnight. The cost of a campsite was a little too steep for us so we went in search of a suitable free alternative and after some searching found a large square of disused land to park on.
We got some tea and then settled in for an early night so we could be up early in the morning...for the farmers market.

Posted by Jolley-Jarvis 01:53 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 54: Thursday 25th April 2013

Peninsula Tramping

sunny 20 °C

We woke to the most spectacular view from our camper van across the bay. We had breakfast admiring the same view, on a picnic table before driving into town.
Today is Anzac Day ( Remembrance Day in Australia and New Zealand) so nothing was open until 1 pm, a good day for us to choose to do a walk then! We parked at the visitors centre, consulted the map; in fact we took a photo of it for reference and then we got on our way. The first section followed the road, hugging the waters edge past the memorial park, an original house, usually open for viewings, stood on the corner, with a fabulous view over the bay, we continued on, past a beach where the fishing boats were returning from their early morning line fishing trips and then up to the carpark designed for us tourists in our over sized mobile houses to park and walk the short distance to the viewing areas.
This section was quite busy, we took in the view at the top before carrying in along the cliff top walk. The amount of people thinned out the further we went until once again we were alone...with the magnificent view both sides now, out to see to our left, dotted with small fishing and tourist boats searching for the illusive dolphins and whales just off the coast.
The next section, taking us through fields of cattle took a downwards route, well paved but steep in parts, we were both still feeling the after effects of the run so took the downhill with a few aches and pains.
The next section brought us close to our overnight campsite; we had been lucky enough to wake up to the view that the other tourists where busy photographing, we made our way through the village and then taking a path between the houses we headed uphill again through woodland, exiting the woods we were back on the high street where we started.
We walked passed the memorial gardens where the Anzac service had just finished, we wondered back through town as all the shops were opening and an advert for a special Thai lunch deal caught our eye so after a brief peruse of the shops we returned and enjoyed the flavours of our early months of travelling in the afternoon sunshine on the restaurants veranda watching the world go by: lovely.
Full and rested we got on the road, travelling through some of the most spectacular scenery, we pulled over a couple of times to take photos before arriving in Hamner Springs, our final stop of the day.
We checked in at the campsite and then went for a walk around town, spotting the main draw for tourists: the thermal pools. We went to the supermarket and splashed out on some mince meat and Parmesan cheese: we were going to use the campsite kitchen so could be adventurous and have some spagbol; how exciting!
We devoured our tea and had enough left over for the following evening too, we settled in to watch a film after a lovely shower: bliss.

Posted by Jolley-Jarvis 01:49 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 53: Wednesday 24th April 2013

Platters & Seals

sunny 17 °C

We sorted ourselves out and got on our way reasonably early this morning. First stop was Bunnings for some more camp stove gas, it was double the price for the same thing we had used in Australia: guess it has to be imported. I tried to get some seeds for a cabbage tree that I like the look of but failed to find any...should have bought them whilst I had the chance in Tapo.
Next it was onto our first vineyard of the day: the totally organic Rock Ferry; a relatively young cellar door with a restaurant attached. We were there just to sample the wine and although tasty and enjoyable we walked away empty handed, again unwilling to pay the price. Our second stop was at the number 1 family vineyard to taste some bubbly: there were 3 different types, no 8 which was our favourite, a rose and a Chardonnay. We decided against buying one instead making a note of the UK distributor in case we had something to celebrate in the future....and the money to splash out on it!
Next stop was Geisens for lunch, the platter as promised was exquisite, the smoked meats, chorizo, cheeses coupled with the breads and condiments complemented the Riesling we had purchased yesterday perfectly. The restaurant area was really tastefully decorated and we had one of the areas all to ourselves. We took our time over lunch and also made the most of the free wifi to back up some the photos we had been taking onto drop box.
We filled up with petrol and then got on our way. Taking the costal route to Kaikoura. We managed to find ourselves a nice lay by with an unforgettable view and settled down for the night within ear shot of the waves.

Posted by Jolley-Jarvis 01:45 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 52: Tuesday 23rd April 2013

Cooks Straight & Marlborough Vines

sunny 18 °C

We arrived at the ferry terminal just after 7 for our check in. Once checked in we set about making breakfast and doing the washing up; in order to optimise the amount of sleep we could have we lit ally got up, dressed and drove to the terminal as we knew we would have an hour to wait before boarding. The other bored passengers around us watched with amusement as we ate our cereal, boiled the kettle on the gas stove and then washed up, we just felt impressed by our resourcefulness!
Once onboard we found ourselves a little piece of happiness.....a seat next to a plug socket! And just when we thought things couldn't get any better we discovered the ship had wifi? Admittedly it was very slow wifi which kept cutting out but it was wifi all the same. I attempted to speak to family on Skype but it wasn't up to that. Instead I resorted to emails and catching up with jobs; booking train tickets etc.
We nipped out onto the chilly deck briefly but concluded we were going the wrong way to capture the magnificent views, which were basically infront of us so we retreated back inside.
Once docked we drove straight to Blenheim; the centre of Malborough wine country. We checked into the campsite, once again with me hiding in the back to keep the costs down: the cost of campsites is amazing here its even more expensive than Australia! We had showers, put on a wash, got lunch hung out the washing and then we t to visit some of the vineyards.
The lady at the campsite had given Martin a couple of pointers as to where to go. Our first stop the Framingham estate, the wines were tasty but pricy, they had received a number of awards but we still didn't feel that the flavour justified the price so we thanked the lady and moved on. Next stop was Giesen's with its Italian looking cellar door and tasting shop, we had been told about their platters and on seeing the menu and the price resolved to come back tomorrow. We sampled some wines whilst we were there and settled this time on a lovely bottle of Riesling priced at under half that of the last place: it defiantly wasn't half as nice that's for sure.
Our last stop was at Gibson Bridge. It turned out the lady surviving behind the counter owned the place with her husband. They had set up, from scratch the vineyard 7 years ago, having a love of but no background in wine! They had however a very good winemaker who they worked clout with to produce the 2,000 cases of wine from their 6 acre plot. It is the smallest vineyard in the area and even charged a fee for tasting. We had a try: keen to sample their (multiple) award winning wines. They were not disappointing, as our small tasting fee was taken off othe cost of anything purchased it would have been rude not to get a bottle to take away with us.
Returning to the campsite, I was just about to pull into our pitch when we spotted martins wash bag on the floor; it transpired that Martin had out it under the van after his shower when he had come looking for me in the laundrette, forgetting to pick it up when we returned to the van we had actually run it over when we had driven off! Luckily the only thing broke. Was my tooth brush cover although some of the toothpaste and shower gel had escaped!
We made tour evening meal in the camp kitchen before watching a film before bed during which we enjoyed a glass of the wine we had purchased...she was right it did go well with pork!

Posted by Jolley-Jarvis 01:41 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

(Entries 26 - 30 of 274) « Page 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 8 9 10 .. »