Day 394-396: Lake Pearson to Christchurch, New Zealand

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February 25th 2010
Published: February 26th 2010
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Lake Pearson to Christchurch

The Boesman needs a refreshing cool drinkThe Boesman needs a refreshing cool drinkThe Boesman needs a refreshing cool drink

Thank goodness we always have water with us!

Wednesday, February 24th

The wind just got stronger and stronger during the night, at times heaving the van from side to side. It was almost like being parked right next to a highway where trucks slam past at 120km/h every few seconds, but we slept well regardless of the rumpus.

After a slow morning we left camp late. Soon after being on the road Ferdi noticed that the Boesman was getting a little "hot under the collar". It got worse as we climbed through a steep section and we pulled over at the first convenient spot. We could hear water boiling somewhere and realized that the radiator must've all but run dry. We had a cuppa while we waited for the water to cool down, then found that our suspicion was correct; there was very little water in the radiator. Luckily we carry a 20L water supply with us so we topped up Mr Radiator and set off again. The Boesman was running nice and cool once more.

We stopped by Castle Hill Village to use the facilities and drove around the quaint little town. It's all new and modern houses and from the look of the area it's probably covered in snow during the winter. We drove on to the Castle Hill car park from where a short hike took us to the limestone behemoths that cover the hillside. We spent an hour wandering around these humongous limestone boulders, taking a gazillion pictures and enjoying the strange serenity of the place.

Next we stopped at Lake Lyndon for lunch, but the wind was so strong we hardly ventured from the shelter of the van. Afterwards we drove on to Darfield where we found the post office and mailed our cabin key back to John and Margaret. We'd completely forgotten to return it when we left.

From Darfield we drove into Christchurch. It was horrible to be back in a city. To help us cope we stopped and got an ice-cream each, then beat a hasty retreat heading south for Banks Peninsula.

Driving the winding road up and over the hills reminded us of the road through the bluff to Karamea, although the scenery was nothing like the west coast. We didn't want to stay in a campground so we followed the road west of Akaroa Harbour to a small out-of-the-way town called Wainui. Like Karamea
Great vistaGreat vistaGreat vista

Castle Hill
it's on a "road to nowhere", which suited us just fine. It's also right next to the water with a view straight into the Pacific through the heads at the entrance to the harbour.

When we finally arrived in Wainui we found a camping spot right next to the beach and immediately went for a swim. The water was clear and cold so we didn't stay in too long. After our swim we sat in the sun snacking on an orange, reading and writing.

Talita cooked up another great dinner and we sat outside enjoying our new found freedom; almost no Sandflies! We were still paranoid though, checking each time something touched our legs. After dinner we sat staring at the ocean while enjoying a cup of hot-chocolate.

While Talita took a stroll down the road Ferdi played guitar. We spent the rest of the evening reading and enjoying the sound of the surf. Ahhh... Sweet bliss!

Today's highlights:
1. Visiting Castle Hill.
2. Great camping spot.

Thursday, February 25th

We woke to the sound of the small surf crashing on the beach. It was another sunny and beautiful day, and after breakfast we sat reading in the sun. We had no plans for the day, totally in chill mode.

We decided to take Birdsy for her first cruise on the ocean. The little surf gave us no grief and once past the breakers there was just the faintest swell. Birdsy handled beautifully and we rowed across the Akaroa Harbour at an angle, heading for a spot on the distant shore. It was a relaxing cruise and before we knew it we could hardly see the Boesman in the distance. Then the wind picked up. Birdsy's broad side acted like a sail, and with the wind blowing off the peninsula we soon found ourselves battling to stay on course. It was fun nonetheless and it wasn't too long before we were cruising near the shore. Most of the time we just paddled slowly along, but at one point we decided to see what Birdsy could do if we hustled her along. We were surprised by her speed (and how quickly our arms got tired). If we row regularly we might just shake those last few pesky kilos.

Back on shore Birdsy was treated to a bit of a photo shoot. She looked so pretty lounging there on the beach that Ferdi couldn't resist.

We were having tea and doing some modifications to the roof racks when a car pulled over and two old guys popped out. One made a bee-line for the canoe while the other, Bruce from Aussie, came by for a chat. He's 80 and been a canoe-ist all his life. We spent a few minutes chatting with them and got a few tips on seat placement and efficient paddle strokes. They couldn't stay long because their wives were waiting in the car, no doubt frowning at them behind tinted windows. When they'd left we had lunch, then gave Birdsy her bath and put her back on the roof.

A spur of the moment decision saw us packing up and heading out. We wouldn't have minded another night in beautiful Wainui, but we felt like moving on. We headed back the way we came and asked Emily (the GPS) to take us to Diamond Harbour, located on the other side of the peninsula. Trying to keep us on the main roads she plotted a route around the peninsula. We looked at the map and saw some minor road could take us there over the peninsula, so we headed in that direction, ignoring Emily’s pleas to make "a legal U-Turn".

We headed due North for Pigeon Bay, then followed a steep, narrow, winding dirt road over Wild Cattle Hill and down to Port Levy. The going was dusty and slow, but once we hit Port Levy we were on tar seal again. The rest of the drive was a relaxing cruise.

We found a free camping spot in Purau, selected a shady spot, and settled in for the afternoon. When Ferdi walked out to take a picture of our camping spot a guy arrived wanting to look at Birdsy and ask some questions. She sure draws attention.

We had a relaxing evening and Talita cooked up a storm. After dinner we watched a movie, then snuggled in for the night.

Today's highlights:
1. Birdsy's first ocean cruise.
2. Finding an alternative and adventurous route to the other end of the peninsula.
3. Another free camping spot.

Friday, February 26th

While hanging out by the van this morning four little Fantails came and played around us. They took turns hovering near our faces before darting back into the bush where they'd hang upside down, hop around and fan their pretty tails at us. It was a short-lived delight, because all too soon they left to spread joy somewhere else.

After a short walk on the pebbly beach we set off for the "big smoke"; Christchurch. We followed the coastline then drove through the Littleton Tunnel and up to the coastal suburb of Brighton. Paddy used to live somewhere in this area and we went to check it out. We found a great camping ground right on the estuary with big hedges separating most campsites. We liked it so we booked in for five nights.

With our accommodation sorted we set off to do some grocery shopping. We were dressed for summer and nearly froze inside the supermarket. When our pantry was filled once more we found a grassy spot close to the beach and had a fresh picnic lunch in the sun, trying to thaw out. Toon and Caroline had introduced us to the joys of Chai tea, so we had a cuppa before going to lounge on the beach for an hour.

When we'd had enough of the sun we drove around exploring the Brighton area. It's a strange place; big new homes with manicured lawns right next to weathered and worn old houses rotting where they stand. We took a walk on the beach by the inlet to the estuary, then returned to camp where we sat on the lawn drinking Chai and chatting. The temperature is weird here. The sun is scorching, but the wind is very cold, so when you're in the shade you need a jacket, but in the sun you cook!

We made a beautiful curry dinner, had a shower, did some blogging, then watched a movie.

Today's highlights:
1. Getting a free show from four little Fantails
2. Finding a nice campground.
3. Picnic lunch and lounging by the ocean.

Thought for the day:
It's very easy to say and even mean that you surrender your will to God. It's a whole other kettle of fish to actually manage it on a moment to moment basis.

Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21


Birdsy attracts fans from far and wideBirdsy attracts fans from far and wide
Birdsy attracts fans from far and wide

Bruce taking a picture while Brian watches on
South Brighton camp spotSouth Brighton camp spot
South Brighton camp spot

We'll be sleeping next to great and powerful Steve for the next five nights

26th February 2010

Limestone or granite
Are you sure Castle Hill has limestone boulders. My guess, being that they are boulders, is that they are granite. You will find a lot of igneous rock with all the volcanoes around. We live next to Pikes Peak in Colorado that has sedimentary rock as the plains meet the mountains, which was pushed up (forming the Garden of the Gods) by a batholith, and the west side of this uplift is bordered by volcanoes...a geologists paradise. Since you are in New Zealand, you should take advantage of its great geologic features and study up on it. Your canoe sure is nice. My experience with canoeing in northern Minnesota in the Boundary Waters, although my canoe was rounded on the bottom, was that a strong wind would blow me off course, and then trying to get back to shore against the wind was very, very difficult. Be careful taking it out to sea on a windy day. We wouldn't want to loose you!
27th February 2010

Geology and the art of canoeing against the wind
Hi Bob. Well, when you asked about the stone I wasn't entirely sure so I checked the web for info. They say it's limestone. As for canoeing on the ocean, Talita won't allow any paddling in the open ocean, only bays and flat water. We'll be careful though. Rather safe than sorry! Thanx for another comment! We really appreciate it!

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