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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Picton to Woodend - 21/01/12 to 24/01/12

As much as I like volunteering at rowing regattas with a couple of thousand kids, sharing my holiday with them is another story. So we decided to head straight down the east coast, avoiding the more populated tourist areas of Nelson and the Marlborough Sounds until after the school holidays.

For those that don’t know, I spent most of my childhood growing up in Marlborough, so we had no particular plans to see Blenheim except a quick visit to see my Grandparents and great grandmother at the Omaka Cemetery in Blenheim. They were safe and sound and going nowhere fast, unlike us who escaped Blenheim’s dry barren Wither Hills; yes, our drinker friends, that is the name of a wine company as well. For those of you hoping for a wine review – sorry, I don’t drink wine either. The photo gallery shows the very dry hills in contrast with the green grapes. Not something you see in the Waikato.

We called in briefly to Lake Grassmere, where they collect salt water in dirty ponds, dry it out for the salt, scrape it off the ground into stock piles exposed to the elements, shovel it up with rusty equipment and sell it to you as table salt. If you didn’t know about the chemical purification processes I missed out, then the sights of Lake Grassmere could actually put you off salt. This is also close to where they propose to put the new ferry terminal which will remove the need to spend an hour or more doing 5 knots in the Tory Channel and Queen Charlotte Sound.

After a lunch stop at Ward Beach we decided to stay there in the NZMCA POP (park over property) with six other vehicles and to catch our tea. As fish don’t dwell on the shore, to where the wind kept taking the lines when cast out to sea, we had to dine on supermarket chicken. Check out the photo of the rock visitor’s book - did I not say NZMCA members were interesting! Ward Beach motorhomers have a whole new concept of a pot luck dinner, our fellow campers (two elderly couples) dined in one motorhome but all slept in the other.

The next day we headed to Kaikoura famous for crayfish, whale watching, swimming with dolphins, seals and tramping. Unfortunately like most of the places we visit they normally have a drought right up until we arrive. Today we brought rain and wind, so there will be no outdoor activities. It did however bring the seals in for a photo shoot and gave us a chance to buy Frances a tacky (oops, classy) birthday present.

Cooped up in the bus, out of the elements, I discovered that all our essential holiday toys come in black (see photo); where would we be without 3 laptops, freeview TV, 2 GPSs and cellphones etc. I also had time to ponder Roger’s clothes packing choices. He brought 7 peaked caps and 3 woollen beanies. This may not seem strange to some, however at the first shopping opportunity he buys a peaked cap; apparently it’s the start of his South Island collection. My brother will be pleased to know that with all those caps to chose from he has had his EET cap on the whole time. [Editor - Who got blamed for forgetting the travelling teddies?]

Even though Monday was better weatherwise there was still a chill in the air and snow on the mountains so we moved on, promising to return when weather conditions were more favourable. Probably also when we win lotto, as crayfish prices were so steep we had to settle for blue cod last night.

After making stops at Cheviot, Gore Bay, and Domett, we settled on Amberley Beach for Monday night. It is a true coastal community, no shops or services, but civilization is only 5kms away. Nice beach for fishing; we got tips from a man who took the government earthquake payout and escaped Christchurch after he lost his house. The area has lots of coastal and inland tracks so we got the bikes down and discovered there are more dogs and cats here than people.

I have dedicated Tuesday to my parents and did the North Canterbury loop, visiting Ashley and Loburn where my mum and dad played rugby (with All Black greats) and netball respectively. We then went passed the Rangiora maternity hospital where I (and Todd Blackadder) was born, weighing in at 10 pounds, 10 and a half ounces, probably something my mother isn’t going to forget.

For today’s coffee review we are going to Rangiora Bakery, training ground of Dean Brettschneider, legendary baker and son of one of dad’s old work colleagues. Also famous for being the slice supplier to McDonald’s cafés, however I am not sure that that is still the case.

Because we were in the area we are also doing a coffee review at Seagar’s Café in Oxford (as in Jo Seagar, famous for her “easy peasy” saying and annoying voice when she does her cooking programs). Inland Oxford is having a little heat wave, so we stepped inside to the airconditioned café. South Islanders must be indecisive diners as everywhere we go the café workers leave the counter unattended and ignore us for several minutes; Seagars was no different. After waiting 15 minutes to be served and then getting a change of wait-staff twice, who we couldn’t hear over the aircon/radio and wooden floors, they would not even accommodate making an ice chocolate. I settled for a hot chocolate which came deconstructed; however I was aware it came like that as we watched our first waiter spill the contents of a previous customer’s order at their table. I suppose at $11, for 2 drinks and a melting moment, it was a bargain. The melting moment lived up to the standards I expected from Jo Seagar; yip, her and I have those big hips for a reason!

Anyway Frances will be pleased to know we did stop in Cust to buy her a nice birthday present and didn’t buy her a practical gift from Jo Seagar’s cookery shop.

Tuesday’s campsite is the Woodend Beach campground so we can use the laundry equipment. However, according to Camp Mother on reception, they don’t have a laundry or internet. Strange woman, they had all of the above.

Next page...


Woodend campgroundWelcome to Woodend Campground
Ashley RugbyAshley Rugby Club
visitors bookVisitors Book, Ward Beach
Wither HillsWither Hills, Marlborough
NecessariesAll Black travel kit
Rock on sealSeals on the rocks at roadside
Ward BeachOur home for the night, Ward Beach
Lake GrassmereLake Grassmere