Thursday, June 4, 2015

Where to Go Next?

Church of the Good Shepard on the shores of Lake Tekapo
Now that our “official tour” of the South Island and southern end of North Island is complete and Vicki and Larry are winging their way back to sunny Florida, we have to decide where to go. I had not really planned anything after the two week road trip, but we still need to get back up to Gulf Harbour Marina and the boat. And our new batteries have arrived in Wellington so we need to get back to continue the updating of the electrical system.

The drive out of Queenstown past the Mount Cook range and many other mountains and forest area was lovely - although sometimes hair-raising. And I am just the passenger! Just as in California, you can't go directly straight to anywhere. One always has to go around mountains, through passes, over saddles and along river valleys to get there. The scenery is great, but the driving is tiresome and requires great concentration so we don't have a lot of conversation along the way.

At first, we were going to continue south east to Dunedin and the coastline. However, with the World Cup Cricket matches still going on after weeks of it, we still cannot get into Christchurch, one of the Cricket tournament areas. To get out of Queenstown without retracing our trip along the west coast, we need to head toward Christchurch anyway.

On our way north, we passed through the Lake Tekapo area and visited the famous little stone church known as The Church of the Good Shepard. Lake Tekapo is New Zealand's highest lake at 710

Our room in the inn in Rangiora!
meters above sea level and is an amazing turquoise color. This color is a result of "rock flour," which is the fine dust created at the head of the glaciers as they grind against the mountain. The sunlight reflecting on the dust particles create this vivid coloration of the water.

The church was built in 1935 as a memorial to the pioneers of the Aoraki/Mount Cook Mackenzie area. Nearby is a bronze statue of a sheepdog with the inscription: "without the help of which the grazing of this mountain country would be impossible."

We went out for dinner - thank you very much!
And, by the way, the mouse is still with us - as far as we know! So we stopped at a home improvement store and bought a couple of mouse traps! Tonight we will serve a fine dinner of peanut butter - and maybe another Oreo for dessert!

Come to dinner, little mouse!
Thinking we would just drive and see how far we get, we will go without booking a reservation. Maybe with luck we can get a room in the out fringes of Christchurch and do a day trip to the city center. Vicki has a friend who never books a room and always ends up getting one. The only thing I can figure is that he travels high-end and doesn’t care what the room costs! I even tried that but to no avail! There is just no room in the inns of Christchurch during the World Cricket Cup! (Not only does the game go on and on for hours, so does the tournament go on and on for days and weeks!) 

There was no where to sit except at the table, but it worked.
We ended up in a Holiday Park camping area in a small trailer-like structure in Rangiora. It was the only thing available and we were still 20 km outside and northwest of Christchurch. Dennis teases me about when we were first dating and I took him to a number of black tie events. The first fundraiser event he took me to was in a VFW Hall! It was for our parish and fun, but the contrast deserved a chuckle. So now he is ranking this lovely overnight room right up there with the VFW Hall! At least, it was clean even though the bed was horrible, but it got us out of the van for a rest.

We made the decision to just keep driving northwest rather than to go back to see Christchurch in the morning. People seem to be very moved by the aftermath of an earthquake that happened there a few years ago and how they are rebuilding. It will have to be on our to-do list for next year, as I think we will bring the boat back to yachties-friendly New Zealand and fly to Australia for our land cruising. Not sure yet, but we like it here.

An interesting "American" lunch. Most places don't
serve yellow mustard - or any kind of mustard.
Up early and out of there quickly, we were on the road back across the mountains to the northwest area of Nelson. I wanted to see the Wearable Art Museum there. It had been highly recommended by several friends. Again, without a reservation, we ran into challenges. So much for David’s winging it without a reservation idea! Finally, we found a lovely place, the Tudor Lodge Motel, with the most delightful managers, who had fled Serbia a number of years ago. They were very helpful as we needed to deal with battery import paperwork and needed a scanner and fax. They gave us all the free Internet time we needed.

Nelson Bay on our way out of town.
Nelson is a lovely resort town right on Tasman Bay and very close to the Tasman Sea and Golden Bay. The area boasts that they have the most sunshine of any place in New Zealand. It has white-sand beaches, numerous parks and lakes and three National Parks in the region. It is also a city of arts and crafts and many festivals. Unfortunately, we did not see any of it as we were dealing with paperwork until it was time to leave to catch the ferry in Picton, a couple of hours of driving through the mountains to the east. I should have given us one more day in Nelson, but we were both somewhat anxious to get back to the boat – and our own mattress! So now we will have to go back to Nelson – next year!
Picton is a lovely little town. Nice harbor area.
Although the distance from Nelson to Picton isn’t far (only 134 km or 1:47 minutes) it is another twisting hilly mountain drive and this time with a lot of traffic. The trip is a major east-west route for trucks coming from North Island on the ferry. We got there just in time to have a pleasant lunch at the harbor before boarding the ferry for the 3.5 hour ride back to North Island. It was nice to be out of the van and sitting in the lounge with a forward view of the trip. This time the day was sunny and clear so the crossing was scenic.

Once we landed in Wellington, we beat it north to get free of the next morning's rush hour as we wanted to be on the road very early the next day. Thanks to the AA tour and lodging books (that are free everywhere in the information kiosks in NZ), we found a nice room in Porirua at the Marina Motor Lodge. The lady must have thought we had had a rough day as she brought two glasses of wine to our room! Ahhhh! Relax! Then a short walk to dinner.
Up early and on the road by 7:00 AM to Rotorua! Again, but this time for a tattoo!

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