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Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Home!!!!

Well, I left you all in New Zealand on the blog...but yes, we are now safely back in the UK.

Our flights all flew smoothly and we arrived home early morning on 16th August to some summer warmth.

We are now enjoying a few weeks of visiting lots of friends and family before I start a new job and Luke starts his Masters course.

I suppose this is the end of this blog....but it has been enjoyable telling you all about it. I am still blogging on Ruth's Ancestors about my family history researching.

Looking forward to seeing you all soon :)


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Day 70 - Tuesday 14th August - Packing and Cleaning

Guess what?

It is still raining!! Thankfully it did not matter to us too much as all we had to do was pack our bags, clean our campervan and return the campervan.

Packing was a challenge, how do we get all these things into our bags again!!! It is like a huge jigsaw puzzle, but eventually we managed it.

Cleaning the campervan was dull and it was quite sad to feel we were leaving New Zealand although we are happy to be on our way home at last as we miss you all muchly.

After all this hard work we had lunch out at a nice cafe near the campsite. Spicy wedges with bacon and cheese...delicious.

Next was returning our van...we had driven 10,327km or 6,416 miles in the 68 days we had the van!!!!!!!!!! That is on average 94 miles each day...WOW!

Once settled and sorted in our cabin at the campsite we watched a film and had tea before getting an early night for an early morning rise tomorrow.

This has been an epic trip and an amazing one, with lots of friendly people, beautiful scenery and awesome memories. Although it is not quite over yet we have to get back to England first...let the journey begin!!

Day 69 - Monday 13th August - Akaroa to Christchurch

During the night we were buffeted by the stormy weather and it did not stop pelting it down all night.

When we awoke in the morning the weather was just the same, so we headed straight back to Christchurch. We are very glad we made this decision as any later and we may have been stranded.

Along the roadside were many small landslips which blocked a lane of the road and huge amounts of water gushing down the steep volcanic landscape of the peninsular.

Maintenance lorry and half flooded road

Washed down mud

Landslide


Just outside the town of Duvauchelle we were stopped by a road maintenance lorry who told us there had been a large landslide blocking the whole road. This was the only road out of the peninsular!!

We were advised to wait for an hour or two as they were clearing it as we spoke, so we parked up and started watching a film. After about 20 minutes a number of cars passed us in the other direction so figured that the road was passable.

At the landslide it was like a whole field just above the road had burst its guts all over the road and down the hillside below the road. It was huge muddy, gushing torrent of water. There was a big digger trying to fight against the huge torrent of mud and water.

Onward we drove quite glad to have passed and be back on the road. The flood waters in the fields on either side of the road were becoming larger and more frequent, which worried us slightly as the next part of the road was very close to a large lake.


Flooding getting worse


As we entered the village of Little River there was lots of activity and flashing lights, then we noticed the little river had grown creating a huge ford over the road and was lapping at the doors of the houses. Thankfully there was a detour avoiding the metre deep water on the road, although there was a car stuck in the water.



Little River village

Stranded car in the flooded road


Once past Little River we drove past the hundreds of flooded fields with very wet and sad looking cows and sheep but there was not much flooding on the road.


The wet drive back to Christchurch
A few rather flooded fields

A very flooded field near the lake...
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...more floods...

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...and more...

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...and more!


Passing a road sign for "Rossendale Winery" reminded me of home.


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A reminder of home


Back in Christchurch we breathed a sigh of relief as we had wondered whether we would get stranded and miss our flight.

Fed up of being out in this weather we found a nice, dry and warm shopping centre to wander around in.

Early afternoon with not much to do and the gale still blowing we went to our campsite and enjoyed relaxing in the campervan with a few games of Carcassonne.

Tomorrow we have to return our home for the last 10 weeks so we are now considering packing and cleaning.

Day 68 - Sunday 12th August - Akaroa

The weather has been atrocious today, with really heavy relentless rain all day.

We stuck with our plan to visit the Banks Peninsular and drove to Akaroa.


An interesting cliff

A very misty view

Interesting houses in the rainy weather


Once there we wandered around the small quaint little shops. The town has a distinct French flavour as it is a French colonised town.

After a few shops we were drenched so we found a lovely little cafe for lunch and also used their Internet for an hour, before visiting a few more shops.


A cloudy harbour

Akaroa


Realising this weather was not clearing up we found the campsite and got ourselves warm and dry. Then we played the board game Carcassonne to keep us entertained for a few hours!

Who won i hear you ask? Yes, it was me who just scraped through to win!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Day 67 - Saturday 11th August - Christchurch



The Ashley Gorge River near the campsite
 We went into Christchurch city centre to see the earthquake devastation from the huge quake in February 2011. If I am honest I did not expect to see as much damage as we saw. We walked all the way round the Red Zone which is still fenced off.

We saw the temporary shopping mall which is created from brightly coloured metal ship container boxes for each individual shop. It makes the city centre bright and colourful, giving it a feeling of hope and regeneration.

The shipping container shopping mall

Earthquake devastion

Demolition work

We also saw the cathedral, which was sad to see so damaged, as it is a lively building.

The Cathedral

Christchurch is still having regular aftershocks, although we have not felt one in Christchurch we did feel one a few weeks ago, not centred in Christchurch though. Also a few days ago we discovered Mt Tongariro (Mordor) was erupting, the day after we were there! New Zealand is a very active country especially in recent years, pretty scary really.

After our tour of the city we drove out towards the airport stopping at a Pirate Crazy Mini Golf Course on the way. We both got holes in 1 on different greens!! It has to be said I did just beat Luke this time.

Pirate Mini Golf

For this evening we had booked a Maori Cultural Show and traditional Hangi meal. The cultural show took us though the procedures of a visitors arrival and welcome at a Maori Village. It was very interesting and the song, dance and music beautiful. We both got a chance to dance as well.

Maori greeting

Maori welcome
video

Maori welcome dance

Maori chief

Luke doing the Haka


The meal which followed was four courses:
Kumara (Sweet Potato) Coconut Milk Soup
Seafood - mussels and salmon
Hangi - meat (lamb and chicken), vegetables (carrots and sweet potatoes) and stuffing steamed over hot stones in a hole in the ground covered in earth
Pavlova with ice cream

It was delicious and the meat and vegetables had an earthen taste to it (not at all unpleasant though).

Only a few days left :(

Day 66 - Friday 10th August - Porter's Ski-field


As the Arthur's Pass was so beautiful we decided a days skiing here would be fun, so went to Porter's Ski-field.

En route to Arthur's Pass
The gravel road access to the ski field
It took a bit of time for us to get going as the piste was really icy and the odd drag lifts took some getting used to. In fact I was nearly ready for giving up by 11am!

By lunchtime we were just getting up to speed so had a quick lunch and headed out onto the slopes again.

View from half way up the piste

Luke enjoying his day skiing
The sun just peaking over the mountain
In the afternoon we were a bit more adventurous going gradually bit by bit higher up the mountain and skiing down to the bottom until we made it to the top. The views were worth coming up for if nothing else.

View from higher up the piste

View from the top

View of Lake Coleridge from the top

More views from the piste

The ski from the top to the bottom was fab, the snow perfect from the top to half way down.

On our way down we noticed all the ski-lifts had stopped and there was no-one else on the piste!!! We had been overtaken by everyone, thankfully the ski-rental was still open.

From the ski-field we drove back through Springfield where we had stayed last night to Ashley Gorge near Oxford.

Looking back at the piste from the gravel road

The Arthur's Pass in the distance

The cloud creeping up the valley

At the campsite we were pre-warned of the muddy conditions but still managed to get the campervan stuck and had to be pulled out!!!

It does mean that we cannot get near enough to a power socket without getting stuck so we are in for a cold night!!

Monday, 13 August 2012

Day 65 - Thursday 9th August - Arthur's Pass

As I write this I am aware that in a weeks time I should be firmly back on UK soils!! Where has the last 9 weeks gone.

We woke to clear blue skies this morning and could see mountains which had been hidden yesterday.

Today we passed back to the east side of the country via the Arthur's Pass through the mountains.

The road took us through the flat farmland plains into the steep sided Otira Gorge up to the Arthur's Pass Village.

Gorse lined riverbed

Mountains just coming into view over the horizon

Tranzalpine Train with mountains in background

Otira Gorge

Otira Gorge Viaduct

Mountain Parrots - Kea


From the village the drive was along a high mountain plateau, by the side of a large wide mountain river.


The road crosses the wide mountain river bed

The beautiful mountains along Arthur's Pass

More mountains...

Snow and cloud capped mountain

Another mountain

The mountain sheep

The rolling plateau


After a while we noticed a large limestone rock formation called Castle Hill which looked vaguely familiar, as it had been used for some scenes from The Chronicles of Narnia. We had a walk and clamber over the rocks with the high snow-capped mountains surrounding.


A scene from "The Chronicles of Narnia" film - Castle Hill

Limestone outcrops with snow-capped mountains

Huge limestone boulders...Luke is the king of the castle!

Can you see a face in this rock?

Beautiful mountain views

Nearing Springfield

Our journey continued to the town of Springfield where we decided to stay the night in the mountains so we could go skiing tomorrow, as it was still early in the afternoon I challenged Luke to a dual of Carcassonne and was miserably defeated!!

Our game of Caracassonne

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