Looking southwest from Paraparaumu Beach




Karapiro to Picton

Picton to Woodend


Christchurch to Ashburton

Ashburton to Fairlie

Fairlie to Awamoko

Awamoko to Middlemarch

Middlemarch to Clyde

Clyde to Invercargill

Invercargill to Bluff

Bluff to Te Anau

Te Anau to Arrowtown

Arrowtown to Wanaka (Twice)

Wanaka to MacKenzie Country

MacKenzie Country and Twizel

Twizel to Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier to Hokitika

Hokitika to Reefton via Karamea

Reefton to Twizel

Twizel to Takaka

Takaka to Picton

For extra photos, click on PHOTO GALLERY above. Autoplay or view individually.

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Moeraki BouldersMoeraki BouldersFleursMacraes Minemacraes flat pubSeacliffCadburysFarmers MarketDunedin StadiumLarnach CastlePort ChalmersOtago Harbour

Awamoko to Middlemarch- 9/02/2012 to 13/02/2012

We started the day at the Whitestone cheese factory in Oamaru. Oamaru, home of Oamaru stone obviously, has many very old large stone buildings. Down in the harbour area the old buildings have been given a new lease on life as the “Victorian Precinct” where artisans, cottage and age old traditional industry has been set up to draw in the tourists. There are stone carvers, soap makers, book binders, and hat makers. Even the clothes and tea shop are Victorian. Of course our only purchase was a chocolate croissant from the Dutch bakery, not very Victorian.

The visitors guide bills the blue penguin colony as a great attraction, so off we went to see cute penguins, or not. They wanted $24 to see the breeding stages indoors. The Penguins could only be viewed outside in their natural environment at dusk, not 11.00am. Even the penguin photo board outside suggested you pay a $2 donation to take your kids photos.

We drove further down the coast to view the Moeraki Boulders. The boulders are large spherical stones, some are almost hollow like hatched eggs; others have cracks or lines like turtle shell patterns. How the boulders were actually formed is a mystery. A sign down the road says the Maoris believe they are natural crayfish pots (I feel a Waitangi Treaty claim coming). The boulders are eroding and breaking up and the cynic in me wonders how the $2 maintenance fee they ask for is going to help preserve the boulders, especially when they let tourists clamber all over them.

Apart from the boulders, Moeraki is also famous for Fleur’s Restaurant. It is a seafood restaurant serving fresh fish straight from the boats and is highly rated by international seafood chefs. We had high expectations and were severely let down. The one waitress in our seating area was French and it was her first day. After waiting 20 minutes to get her attention we discovered she couldn’t understand our English and didn’t really know the different seafood on the menu. Our fish was over cooked and Roger’s plate was missing half the garnishes. Other diners complained about the service and the food to the manager. The whole time Fleur ignored the chaos, signed cookbooks and posed for photos. Fleur’s husband spent an hour opening the mail at one of the tables, disrupting the staff. For the high turnover and the high prices charged you'd think Fleur would serve complimentary water, but even that costs $4 a bottle.

Palmerston was next on the tourist route. The guide said stop for a NZ famous pie. McGregors Mutton pies looked like they had been to Auckland and back; we passed them up and joined the purple-rinse bus tour queue for an ice cream. Palmerston’s population barely reaches 900, I am unsure why the tourist bus stops there and why a shop selling 30 types of ice cream would not label them.

Thursday night’s camp was near the Waikouaiti race track. Not much different from Friday which was at the Wingatui Race Track, Mosgiel. Friday I had a date with some serious chocolate at Cadbury’s but first we went back through Palmerston (go straight to jail, do not pass go) to visit former transport associates who were camping at Dunback. Bob and Wendy took us for a tour of Oceania Gold’s gold mine at Macraes Flat. There is a long history of gold mining in the region and thanks to our tour guides knowledge of the area we saw the two ends of the spectrum. We viewed old equipment and cob cottages when they mined 13,000 oz of gold over 40 years by pick and shovel. At the other end we viewed the large working open cast mine (they also have underground mines) which turns out 500oz of gold a day all done by machinery. 500 ounces is about $1m a day.

After a nice lunch and geocaching (yes, Bob and Wendy are hooked) we headed off to Dunedin via Karitane, home of plunket and Seacliff, home of a notorious mental hospital. Once over the hill it was all down hill in more ways than one. The weather had packed up and it was raining. Cadbury’s was about to shut and were booked up with cruise ships all weekend. Dunedin, NZ’s oldest city, normally full of scarfies/university students, who live in cold, damp disgusting flats not fit for humans, doesn’t do freedom camping. Hence the reason we drove around the Octagon in peak hour traffic and went to Mosgiel.

Saturday we headed back to the Octagon to go to the “Thieves Alley market”. The streets are closed off and there are stalls and entertainers everywhere. I bought some supersized pig salt and pepper shakers Thieves Alleyand Jaffa Cakes. After a short walk to the historic train station, gallery and gardens we found the Otago Farmers market in progress - organic greens don’t go with Jaffa Cakes. We headed along the Otago Peninsula to see Larnach Castle. A slight detour took us to the new enclosed stadium built for the rugby world cup. Fortunately for us it was being used as the headquarters for the NZ Masters Games and we could go in and have a look around.

But back to Larnach Castle. Larnach, a wealthy banker turned politician, built his family a castle out on the Peninsula back in the 1870’s. The short story is: wife had many children, dies, he marries his sister in-law, she dies, he marries a woman 20 years younger thanAlice him who has an affair with his son and so Larnach commits suicide in Parliament. The children fight the third wife over money and eventually the castle goes to ruins. The Barkers bought the castle in 1967 and restored it making lots of money out of tourists like me who is up to visit number 3. Larnach Castle is worth the admission fee, however the car park keeps getting further away and there are no facilities for old folk and disabled people. Here is a question for my parents: About 1967 (when the castle was for sale) you moved North and bought a house, why didn’t you go South and buy a Castle?

Sunday we headed down the other side of the harbour to Port Chalmers and then further around the coast to the end of the road which takes you to Aramoana, known more for some local idiot going on a rampage and killing many other locals in 1990. It is actually quite a nice place with a wetland boardwalk, sandy sheltered beach and an abandon wharf and breakwater laden with sunbathing seals.

Monday, my Cadbury’s tour day finally arrived. Much cheaper, more fascinating and lots more free chocolates than the tour we did in Bournville, England. They had a giant waterfall display where they dumped a tonCadburys of chocolate in a few seconds, splashing the arrogant Aussies who wouldn’t get behind the line. We saw chocolate buttons being made, Roses chocolates being packed and heard the Jaffas being rolled. There were no Easter eggs being made because they make them a year in advance and 2013’s egg production starts in the next couple of weeks. I wouldn’t say Cadbury’s are the most efficient company as they have 70 million tons of chocolate in storage, buy the purple chocolate buttons (for Easter rabbits) from Vancouver and chalk up a few food miles with Aussie. Apparently NZ makes the raw chocolate, sends it to Aussie who turn it into Moro Bars etc and they send it back for our market. All that chocolate is going to be put to good use as Tuesday hopefully will see us start the Otago Rail Trail from Middlemarch. So far things are not going well, we arrived at Middlemarch to find the only campground has gone bankrupt and I have already eaten half the chocolate bars.

Next page...


SealExhausted at Otago Heads
tall poppyThe Tall Poppy Cafe, Port Chalmers
Larnach CastleLarnach Castle
StadiumReplaces the House of Pain
Farmers MarketFarmers Market Dunedin
CadburysCadbury Factory Silos
SeacliffLooking back from Seacliff Road
Macraes Flat pubMacraes Flat Pub
Tonka Toy4-wheeler Tip Truck
FleursFleur's Restuarant, Moeraki
Moeraki BoulderMoeraki Boulder
Moeraki BoulderMoeraki Boulder