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

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Blackball Bke WheelFrom greymouth bridgeBrunner coal minemt white signpostbloody big rocksApproaching tekapoWally at Maadi Cup Twizel

Reefton to Twizel - 21/03/2012 to 26/03/2012

Carrying on our mining theme, we left Reefton and went to Blackball which was not only famous for a coal mine and the 1908 strike that was the catalyst for the NZ Labour Movement, but was also renowned for their salami. Even though we saved them the cost of freight, by buying direct from the factory, it still cost twice the price of buying it from the supermarket. There is not much happening in Blackball, but they have gone to the trouble to make a history centre and memorial to miners who have lost their lives in the area, including Pike River. The i-site consisted of a plastic box on a post; the Blackball Hilton was for sale again; and the only thing worth stealing was the cat on the doorstep of the shop - not that we go around looking for things to steal.

We went back to Greymouth to collect our mail and even though it was 27 degrees and pure blue sky above we still couldn’t get excited about the place. We spent a quite a while doing just a few chores in Greymouth; nobody is in a hurry and we had lost a lot of time with only a couple of hours left to find a suitable parking spot for the night.

Heading for Lake Brunner we came upon the Brunner Coalmine ruins which was definitely worth a look. Sixty-seven men lost their lives in this mine, which not only produced coal, but was also used to manufacture coke and fire bricks. Quite a bit of the original site has been preserved, with the addition of memorials and audio speakers in the bush to surprise unsuspecting tourists. We didn’t quite make it to Lake Brunner as we found a nice free site at the Arnold River Power Station with the peace and tranquility interrupted only by the many coal trains that rumbled past during the night.

Thursday saw the end of the beautiful weather and it was back to the reality of the Wet Coast. We couldn’t see how picturesque Lake Brunner and Moana could be, but when buying a camp ground, you should at least view it in all weather conditions. I think the real estate agents had photo-shopped the picture because the houses definitely weren’t there in the advertising brochures; never mind. Cheque books away, we headed for Otira, a town once for sale, lock, stock and barrel for a $1m. We couldn’t see any for sale signs, but then again with the fog, rain and low lying cloud we couldn’t see anything, not even the Otira Viaduct until we were on it. Bit of a shame because we came here when they were constructing it and would have liked to have seen the finished product in person.

The one good thing about the poor visibility was that it hid the diesel smoke the bus was emitting going up the very steep hills of the Otira Gorge and Arthurs Pass. We stopped briefly at the Arthurs Pass township for a coffee review and a look at the growth caused by the Tranz Alpine train stopping there. There was no train today, only school groups throughout the National Park discovering the joys of wet camping.

The sun did appear just as we left Arthurs Pass and we were able to go and see a special bridge, some ski field entrances (one of us has ski field envy) and some rocks. At Castle Hill you can wander into the hills and walk amongst giant limestone rocks. They are often used by rock climbing freaks and have little metal pins and cleats permanently fixed for rope holds. It was in this area we discovered how really stupid or strangely suspicious geocachers look. Why would you pretend you were just looking at a pile of rocks as if they were the most fascinating thing on earth, then 5 minutes down the road get out of your vehicle to marvel over a fence post? More stupid but funnier was the two students who leapt the farm fence to climb a rock and then discovered the very large bull lying behind it. They did a mad dash and hurdled the barb wire fence, ungracefully landing on their backsides.

We took the back road towards Methven and after spending 1½ hours trying to find a free parking site that wasn’t boggy or remote, we not only discovered a hidden little gem called Whiteciffs but found a lovely POP in Mayfield. So on Thursday night we parked up in the middle of a field with sheep, miles from anywhere, pitch darkness, absolute silence and as a bonus you can get internet. The lovely owners even supplied us with a list of walks, scenic attractions and distances to ski fields; anybody interesting in skiing?

We were on a mission to get back to Twizel for our Maadi Cup duties. We headed south and of course being creatures of habit we did the same old thing. Drive to Geraldine, visit the same shops, drink and eat the same food at the same cafe (can’t beat a whitebait sandwich), drive to the same South Canterbury towns, dump the waste at the same disposal site, visit the same people (cool kid), get diesel from the same petrol station, go to the same supermarket and then drive to the same campsite at Lake Opuha, and you guessed it, got the same noisy neighbours. Five families, kids in bed, parents all getting trashed around an illegal fire with the stereo blasting bass-only crap. Lake Opuha is a nice campsite, just don’t go there on a weekend or public holiday.

Saturday morning the campers were quiet so we sat and enjoyed the sun for a while before heading to Twizel via Burke’s Pass. The wind was so strong blowing through Lake Tekapo and Pukaki that I thought the bus would blow over. We passed a few rowing trailers struggling in the wind and a few van loads of rowers in for a chilly treat. Luckily the weather wasn’t affecting Ruataniwha too much and crews could still go training, mysteriously without the need for any safety boats.

Sunday was pretty much the same, rowing training, meeting other volunteers, eating oysters and getting our free drink vouchers, pondering the snow levels on the mountain, checking the modifications to the numbers hut and the roster. Interesting and amusing that all the assistants they are sending to me for numbers hut on Monday are Karapiro volunteers not South Islanders. They even rostered my brother on to help me (he won't be here for another four days yet). Some more Karapiro officials have shown up un-expectedly, so we are now heading for North Island domination.

Monday, the first day of racing, went well and Karapiro now has an experienced boat weighing assistant, although I think Roger would have rather been boat driving. He didn’t get any boat duties but my absent brother got two shifts on the water. It was dark and cold in the morning when we started and some of the North Island coaches said the wipers froze to the windscreens on the way in. It took a long time to thaw out, especially now that the brains trust put a veranda on my hut to keep the sun out. They also made it lower, to suit me, forgetting most rowers are near on six foot, hence there are a lot of rowers and coaches with red marks on their foreheads. My nephew had a good win, but so did his father's old school in the other heat; the battle has just begun!

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Where's Wally Protest March in TwizelWestlake Wallies in Twizel Parade
Aproach to Lake TekapoApproaching Lake Tekapo
Limestone rocks at castle hillLimestone Rocks at Castle Hill
mt white signpostAlmost at the Mt White Bridge
Brunner coal mineBrunner Mine Site
grey river, greymouthGreymouth and the Grey River
rememberance wheel, balckballRememberance Wheel, Blackball