The grand walk
See that middle peak? That's where we climbed too. I'm still recovering...
After a lie in (hurray!), just a few miles south of Farewell Spit, we drive back south and stay over at Richmond, south west of Nelson. The next day, after stocking up on food, gas and petrol, we head south and after a few hours drive, we stop at St Arnaud - a tiny village in the middle of nowhere surrounded by lakes and hills - also known as the Nelson Lakes There is a general store/petrol station, an alpine style hotel/café and a sprinkling of houses, most of which seemed unoccupied. There is a department of conservation camp site here with power so we decide to stay for a couple of nights.
On our first full day, we decide to go for a walk - not a gentle stroll around the lake (my idea) but a full on hike up the nearest huuuuuge hill (Paul’s idea). Started off as a gentle ascent but after an hour, it become steep and zigzagged up the side of the hill. At one of my stopping points where I was about ready to collapse with exhaustion, I looked at Paul and he’d hardly broken a sweat….sickening. Anyway, after 3 hours or so of
Right next to our campsite.
trudging up these uneven paths strewn with tree roots, rocks and the odd stream, we both made it to the summit and enjoyed our lunch while taking in the excellent views. I was actually pretty surprised just how far up I‘d staggered as all of the ascent is under cover of trees so you‘ve no idea how far you‘ve come and how far is to go. Paul tells me that it was 1600 metres high - well done me!. The descent was luckily, a lot easier and quicker and I was so pleased to be back at the van and having a cup of tea!
After the second night at St Arnaud (which was incidentally bloody freezing in the van and all blankets and duvets were utilised to keep us warm!) we drive on for several hours through hills and valleys and just the odd farmstead and eventually arrive at Hanmer Springs - a small Alpine style town nestled at the bottom of snow capped mountains - very picturesque. The town is based around the thermal pools and spa so naturally, we had to try it and so the next day, hired a private thermal pool (www.hanmersprings.co.nz). Whilst waiting
for our spa appointment, we had brunch at Mumbles café which made the most delicious looking cakes and slices of chocolatey, gooey delight, and then to work off our brunch, we went on the most taxing of attractions - yes, the crazy golf! The spa was an excellent idea and we soaked our aching muscles in the hot water for near on half an hour and walked back to the van feeling warm, relaxed and revitalised.
On our second morning at Hanmer springs, we wake up to the rain again and after packing up with minimal trips outside the van, head towards Christchurch which was an hour and a half’s drive. The rain and wind was incessant and before reaching the city, I was given the task of finding a place to stay (in the campsite book) and then navigating us to that place. Unsurprisingly, I picked an excellent place - Amber holiday park and directed us to there immediately, where we parked up and in between showers, ran across the road to the nearest cheap department store called The Warehouse and made our best purchase ever - a fan heater. I shall worship the person who invented it
If the lake was a side profile of a hand, we started from the bif of grass just in front of the thumb. 1600 metres high! Mental......
as instead of piling on fleeces, coats and blankets, we just have to plug this marvel of modern technology in and hey presto - balmy temperatures all evening. So after enjoying this novelty for several hours, we plan what we’re going to do on our first day in Christchurch.
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