Published: April 6th 2011February 20th 2011
We stayed in Stonehurst again and managed to stock up on some supplies from the ‘free food’ shelf, but we were really here to get the van fixed (again) and to get in touch with some of the special needs schools in the area. So Mitsy went into the garage around the corner from Stonehurst where a we were told it was probably a blockage with the fuel pump as we had run the tank to empty and dredged all the rubbish from the bottom of the tank and then expected her to go getting up steep gorges!! But all fixed for less than 100 bucks so is running great again- just need to remember to get fuel in every town and not run her low again!!
Whilst Mitsy was being repaired we walked all through Christchurch again and went to visit the museum which we never got a chance to do the first time around. It was a really interesting afternoon and we wondered round for ages. They had really good art exhibition on at the time from an army artist. Some of the paintings were spectacular and he did some mixed media work too which was really good.
The displays on the Maori culture and history was good and they have some great artefacts. I also phoned the two special schools in central Christchurch to see if I could go and have a look around to see how the education system works over here. Both were very obliging and I spent a lovely couple of mornings within the schools. Allenvale school was the first I visited and it was really nice to chat with the deputy principal about how the system works. They are in a really old building which has had recent renovations but they are looking for funding for a new school. The following morning I went to see Ferndale School and after a brief chat and tour with the deputy principal I had a lovely hour with Rachael’s class before a fire drill rudely interrupted circle time!! I left them to it when it was time for morning tea (snack) before going out as its always hectic when you are trying to organise pupils and staff for an outing!! They too are in old buildings but with a new admin block and some of the buildings were condemned after the September earthquake.
Ferndale we headed straight down the coast towards Ashburton. We had decided not to take the inland scenic highway as we thought we would be nearer the coast and coastal views by taking the direct route - we were very wrong though. Its one of the few straight bits of road we’ve driven on out here and it seemed to go on for ages. It was very flat, very long and very straight. There were also no views of the coast just rural land either side of the straight road. When we got to Ashburton it was a largish town no where near water or rivers so after a quick stop for lunch we headed on down to Timaru. Once parked up I slept for a little while (all that straight road had tired me out!!) before we ventured out for a walk. We headed down next to the river and walked along to the sea. It was a nice warm evening and the walk did me good after the drive. The following morning we went into Timaru itself to the botanical gardens where Mark got all arty again with the photos of flowers and things!! We then went down
no it wasn't us!!
to the beach which is meant to be one of the safest swimming beaches on the coast - not surprising really has it has a harbour one side of the bay and a rocky outcrop the other so is very sheltered!! Unfortunately it wasn’t a very warm day so we didn’t spend very long on it.
We headed onwards to Lake Tekapo which is beautiful as it has a mountain rock deposit that has turned is turquoise. It was a beautiful colour and a massive lake but ever so commercial. All that was on the lake’s edge was this little quaint church and then lots of souvenir shops and restaurants as well as a motel. Every five minutes another tour bus turned up so after a short toilet stop and lunch overlooking the lake we decided not to stay but head on up to Mount Cook. The drive to mount cook was lovely as you skirted the edge of Lake Punkaki, which is also a brilliant turquoise because of the rock deposits. It was absolutely huge and we drove around the edge of it for a good hour before getting into the valleys of the alps. As we were
driving up to Mount Cook we thought we could see ice and / or a glacier on one of the mountains. It wasn’t a very clear day so all the mountain tops were covered with cloud. When we got up to Mount Cook all that was there was a hotel, shop and visitors centre. So we bought some (very expensive) supplies and headed down to the Department of Conservation (DOC) campsite. These are very basic but very cheap campsites which I think we will be using more of as we travel around. We had looked at the walks that were around and decided to do the 3 hour return walk at Hooker valley to the glacier terminal lake - yes it was a glacier we had seen on the drive in!! As it was still relatively early and the forecast for the following day was rain we decided to do the walk that evening. We weren’t expecting the boulder hopping and climbing that we encountered. Most of the time we were walking in the valley but you couldn’t see the glacier at all - there were points, such as when we were boulder hopping by the side of the river,
when we weren’t even sure we were heading in the right direction!! It had been spitting since about half hour into the walk but not enough that we were actually getting wet. Then after about an hour and quarter it started to really rain, within about 5 minutes we were soaked. It was then I realised that what I thought was a waterproof jacket really wasn’t!! But determined not the let the rain beat us we carried on to the terminal lake. I was glad we did. The lake wasn’t huge but you could see the sheer ice cliff that was the edge of the glacier and there were icebergs in the lake which I was really excited about!! After a short time at the waters edge it finally stopped raining and we began the hour and half walk (or trudge) back to the van in very wet clothes in order to do a well needed dinner!!
The following morning Mark was up early and saw a glimpse of the peak of Mount Cook above the clouds with the first rays of sun. He did try to wake me but 6.30 AM isn’t in my vocabulary whilst on holiday!
So we off towards Twizel but who knows where we will actually end up!!
There are more photos below