Day 403-405: Kaiapoi to Lake Rotoiti, New Zealand


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Published: March 8th 2010
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Kaiapoi to Lake Rotoiti


Friday, March 5th


We decided to try a new technique for getting Birdsy on the Boesman's roof, because she's just too heavy for the two of us to lift comfortably. We positioned her bow in front of the Boesman then lifted her stern until it rested on the front roof rack. From there we slid her up and into position. It required much less muscle power than our old technique and we hope to be able to use the same technique to get her down as well. This technique should also benefit the poor old Boesman. He’s had enough knocks and scrapes already.

When we were all packed we drove through Kaiapoi to Rangiora, a lovely little town a few kilometers to the north-west. Here we stopped to get a new flask, because our previous one had come to a bitter end when it fell over yesterday, shattering the glass interior. While browsing around a few shops we found a great book on NZ birds as well as a new "shockproof" flask. Back at the van we narrowly escaped getting a $200 fine. When we'd registered our van last year they posted the card to Nicol in Auckland, so to the suspicious eye of a traffic warden it appears as though the Boesman is unregistered. Ferdi convinced the officer that we really did have it registered, so he suggested we print out our receipt and put it on the dash so that we don't get an expensive surprise one day. That was a close one! If we'd arrived 2mins later we'd have had a ticket.

We stopped near the park where we had samies, then we set off for Hanmer Springs. In Culverden we stopped at the great pie shop and sat outside munching away on delicious fresh pies. A lady biker came over to inspect the canoe (Birdsy’s first female admirer) and asked if we were going to the Antique & Classic Boat Show near Nelson this weekend. We knew nothing about it and wished we had known about it earlier. Unfortunately Nelson was a good 350km from us so we just didn't want to drive that far. Besides, we were meeting the Mitchells for the weekend and were really looking forward to it.

We drove on to Hanmer Springs, stopping at a lovely picnic spot a few kilometers before town. Here we cooked up some Date Squares and then lay about for a while. It suddenly clouded over and started to rain, so it didn't look like a nice weekend was in store for Hanmer Springs after all. We checked online to see if we could find any info on the boat show. On the official website we saw that the event was held 100km closer to us than we had thought, and amongst other things they had canoe races. At the word "races" Talita's eyes started sparkling and after a bit of uhm-ing and ah-ing we decided to drive the 220km to Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes National Park.

We let Lisa know that our plans had changed, and felt a little bad about our sudden change of mind, but what good is having a mind if you can't change it? We set off for the four and a half hour drive, passing through Lewis Pass, then turned north. We stopped at Maruia Falls where Talita finished making the Date Squares while Ferdi wandered about outside. We were horrified to discover that the area was swarming with Sandflies. How quickly we forgot the terror of these little monsters!

Soon after leaving the
Gorgeous strip-wood canoeGorgeous strip-wood canoeGorgeous strip-wood canoe

One day we too will build a beauty like this
falls we turned due east for Murchison where we got a drop of fuel (it was way too expensive to fill up). Here we got our second female admirer who just raved about the canoe. Soon we'll tire of the attention Birdsy draws, but so far we're still enjoying it.

We continued on, heading for the town of Saint Arnaud, right by Lake Rotoiti. Before reaching town though, we turned into the DoC camp of West Bay. We parked up right by the lake, but just as Ferdi was taking a picture of our nice camp spot a very friendly DoC officer pulled up and directed us to an official camping spot 500m up the road and away from the lake. She was so nice about it that we didn't mind, and soon we were settled in. It was 9pm before we started cooking dinner, but Talita boiled up a beaut of a meal. After having a bath in the basin we called it a night. We'd traveled 220km farther than we had planned and we were knackered.

Today's highlights:
1. Escaping an expensive ticket.
2. Great pies.
3. Learning of the boat show.
4. Making it to Lake Rotoiti.

Saturday, March 6th


We woke early in preparation for the 11th annual Antique & Classic Boat Show. We were very excited, but when we arrived we were immediately intimidated by the quality of the rest of the boats. We spotted a little strip-wood canoe that made us wish we'd spent another 300 hours sanding and polishing Birdsy. Ferdi was apprehensive about entering the event, thinking that we'd look like total fools by comparison, but Talita was very keen. She gave Ferdi a bit of time to acclimatize to the idea, and before too long we were registering Birdsy in the show. We couldn't compete in any of the events because we have no life-jackets, but were content to unload Birdsy and have her on display. We were also happy to find that getting her off the roof was as easy as getting her on using our new technique.

It was a great event. There were sail boats, power boats, jet boats, steam boats, row boats, and even a few radio controlled miniature boats. We wandered amongst the gleaming wood and found it hard to believe just how much time and effort these guys put into their boats. We couldn't fathom how much work had to go into some of these craft. Some literally took years to complete. A few of these were "floating furniture" as one guy called it. We were surprised that 99% of these beauties got to cruise the water, because if some of these were ours we wouldn't even have brought them from the shed. But what good's a boat on dry land?

Sitting by Birdsy we ended up meeting a bunch of nice people. She wasn't the most beautiful boat here, but she was the only one of her kind. A lot of people were intrigued by her construction and we fielded quite a bit of questions. One guy we met had built his row boat from old drawers made from Kauri wood, another built his sailing dinghy from recycled wood. Mike, another nice guy we got chatting to, had made an absolutely stunning strip-wood kayak. It took our breath away because it was his first boat as well. We thought we'd done a good job on Birdsy for first timers, but seeing his first attempt humbled us completely. He also had two extra life jackets and he said we could borrow them if we wanted to take part in the canoe race.

We made ourselves comfortable by the shore and enjoyed the spectacle of the various races as well as an acrobatic display from a glider. Soon it was time for the canoe race and we took Birdsy down to the water. There was only two other canoes, but a few kayaks (Mike's included) were also going to race. We started on the outside, so right from the beginning we were a little behind while the kayaks were way out front in seconds. We made good speed and by the time we reached the buoy where we needed to turn back we'd overtaken the two other canoes. Unfortunately Birdsy was nearly impossible to turn 180 degrees! We lost our lead instantly, making a very very wide turn. Trying in vain to make up for lost time we paddled so hard that Ferdi's paddle started to delaminate (pull apart). No matter how hard we tried we couldn't catch the others and we ended first from the wrong end. We were exhausted and a little disappointed, but it was fun nonetheless. None of the races are taken very seriously. It's all in the name of fun.

We had a celebratory beer, because Birdsy isn't even completed yet and she's had her first show and taken part in her first race.

At the end of the day we left Birdsy in the display area and drove back to camp on the west side of the lake. While Ferdi glued and taped his delaminating paddle Talita cooked up a creamy pasta dinner, after which we took a glass of wine for a walk down to the lake. We were good and tired and were asleep long before 10pm.

Today's highlights:
1. Entering Birdsy in her first show.
2. Meeting a bunch of nice people.
3. Seeing the strip-wood canoe and Mike's amazing kayak.
4. Losing our first canoe race glamorously.

Sunday, March 7th


We got up early once more and drove to the show area. When we went to collect Birdsy we inadvertently got friendly with one of the organizers who ended up lending us a couple of life jackets so that we could go for a row to Whisky Falls. It was supposed to be the "breakfast run", but there was no one else on shore, so at about 8:30am we set off by ourselves.

It was pretty cold. Seems like summer has already departed the south island. We paddled for about an hour before stopping at a spot on the opposite shore for a potty break. Back on the lake we had a long battle to get away from the entourage of Sandflies we'd picked up on shore. Soon after we spotted a familiar shaped kayak in the distance. It was Mike and his friend William. They'd started an hour ahead of us and were now on their way back. We spent half an hour chatting there in the middle of the lake, getting to know each other a bit better.

During the half hour chat we had drifted quite a bit in the opposite direction so there was some lost ground to be made up. On our way once more, with the wind from the front, we made for a small jetty below the falls. We finally reached the jetty, got out for another potty break and took some pictures. To see the falls you have to be about 100m into the lake, so it wasn't spectacular or anything. Nonetheless, it was an accomplishment to have come that far.

We changed places for part of the return journey; just to feel how the other seat feels. Unfortunately the wind had changed direction, coming at us from our 11 o clock. With aching arms and shoulders we battled our way back. We didn't dare take breaks longer than 15 seconds because the wind would bring Birdsy to a halt.

After what felt like an eternity we reached the show shore. The round-trip had taken us three and a half hours and we were tired, exhausted, but pretty happy. We devoured half a pack of ginger biscuits with our tea before munching on our samies. The sun had finally made an appearance, making up for the morning cold by bringing lots and lots of heat.

We had thought that we were pretty unique (crazy?) building a boat while traveling, but as things turn out we weren't the only ones. We met a guy who'd built his boat while traveling Ireland and had it shipped back to NZ when he returned. Ferdi helped him carry his boat to the lake and at 1pm we joined the rest of the boats on the lake for a float past the spectators. It was great!

We left Birdsy on a grassy spot where we could keep an eye on her and the rest of the boat show from the back of the Boesman. We opened the rear door, stacked our pillows up, and spent the rest of the afternoon watching various people looking at, knocking on, rubbing and lifting Birdsy. The lack of 20 and 30 somethings at the show were notable, most people being over 50.

At about 4pm we loaded Birdsy on the roof and set off north for Motueka, a town en-route to the Abel Tasman National Park. It was only a 106km, but we were exhausted from the last few days and the drive felt like forever. We reached Motueka around 6pm, got a camp (very noisy and filled with migrant apple pickers), made dinner, had a shower and then hopped into bed with our books. We couldn't remember when last we'd been that tired.

Today's highlights:
1. Spending the whole morning on the lake.
2. Taking part in the floating parade.


Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21


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Mike’s award winning creationMike’s award winning creation
Mike’s award winning creation

Can you believe it’s his first boat?
Mike’s kayak in its natural environmentMike’s kayak in its natural environment
Mike’s kayak in its natural environment

Mike’s in the back with his friend William in the front


9th March 2010

just missed you
Hi to you both,I have been following your travel blog from way backwhen you first started out on your bid adventure.What a great couple you both sound and that you trust yor lives to god in all things. I was down in Reefton 2 weeks ago to see one of my sisters who has a real bad cancer and will no be with us in this world for much longer,it was a sad tirp but thier faith is so strong we had a lovely time and said our goodbyes with the knowledge that we will meet again. I went to Karamea to see a niece of mine who is a share milker with her husband not to far from the camp ground where you have been staying,so thourght I would call in to meet you both,what a shame it was to find I had missed you by a couple of days,poor Margaret was so sad that you had gone and she had to wipe away a tear when she spoke of you.Iam now back at home in the north island and am catching up on your tavels.keep safe and god bless.

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