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Saturday, 1 January 2011

Burringham to Boston-My 2003 World Trip-Part 5-South Island New Zealand

South Island NZ

Nelson & Tahunanui

       The ferry crossing was a bit choppy, the views were still good. Taranaki was very prominent and eventually looked like an island on the horizon as we neared Marlborough sounds.
        Picked up my new Mazda when we berthed at Picton and I headed for Nelson .The sun came out, and the car radio was playing the sweetest songs. The roads were empty, the scenery fantastic and cruisin' was a pleasure.
          Got to Nelson and found Tahunanui, where I was to stay with my nephew Bill Rauth, his wife Donna and their two kids Lorna and Eamon.
            Bills mum(Peggys sister) Kate is in the Otumarama Home and Hospital in Nelson, having suffered strokes and a heart attack. Kate was the first of Peggy's family I met, and we'd go and visit her and her late husband Bill in their house in Blackpool while we were courting.
            I hadn't seen Bill since he was a teenager and I'd never met Donna or the kids, but I received a very warm welcome, beautiful New Zealand fish for tea then washed down with some very nice Ranfurly.
              Sunday 13th July. Up early enough to take a short walk down to Tahunanui beach and admire the wonderful views around Nelson bay.
        After a guided tour of Nelson, Billy took me up to Otumarama to see Kate, I wondered if she would know me. I needn't have worried, as soon as she saw me she let the other residents know that 'My Scotchman' had arrived. It was great to see her, she was in good form and I brought her up to date and showed her pictures of the family.
        We took her out in the wheelchair to the local, and though she's quite paralysed down one side, she can still play the 'pokies' and have a glass or two of beer. She still loves the 'Craic' and really looks forward to her weekly outings with Billy. On the way back to Otumarama we walked through beautiful gardens in Broadgreen house. Otumarama itself is set amongst trees and shrubs and has a really nice relaxed and comfortable feel about it, and the staff are brilliant.
        Back in Tahunanui Donna had the Sunday dinner all ready for us, and afterwards Billy played his guitar.
          Monday 14th July. Both Donna and Lorna are working, Billy is a self employed painter and decorator and is waiting for a call so I head off for a look around Nelson.             
       Walked up to the geographical centre of New Zealand and took pictures.
I talked to this English guy who was backpacking.I can't remember much about him,but it'd be good if he comes across this picture sometime.


                Went up to Otumarama and collected Kate .Had a lovely afternoon looking round the hills, parks and waterfronts of Nelson bay then went back Roto St for tea .

Lorna Kate Billy and Eamon

              I never managed to get a still picture of Donna,but Eamon got her on the video camera.I don't know if she's camera shy or maybe I just didn't try.

Me and Kate

            Tuesday 15th July. Billy's between jobs, so me him and Eamon take off on a tour. We have a great day out, we see their old house, we see an old settlers house turned into a mini museum. Through apple country and the town of Motueka, watched trout in crystal clear waters, onto the beach at Kaiteriteri looking back towards Nelson Bay and then down to Ruby bay where we barbecued. Not bad for a winters day. Visited Kate late afternoon.


             Wednesday 16th July. Went Gold prospecting with Billy today. We went up the Lea valley along a fault line. Fascinating to see the land shifts and the results of old earthquakes.I was a bit apprehensive driving along some of the narrow tracks, in case we disturbed an overhanging ledge or a shale scree ready to slide. Billy’s a bit of an amateur geologist, but as usual with me it's in one ear and out the other. We went down to the river and Billy with his prospectors hammer opened a few likely looking stones, but we never even got a fossil that day. Next time we'll take a pan as well.
                    Up at Otumarama later we got to play the 1998 Ireland reunion video for Kate which brought back great memories for her. The staff and the other residents seemed to enjoy it as well. Thanks to Sharon and Sally for making a copy to leave with Kate.
            Thursday 17th July . Good breakfast and Billy's packed me up for the road and I'm heading west.

Franz Josef and West Coast

             An early start and it's a nice sunny day. A quite frosty night has left the roads a bit slippy so no hurry. Once I get out of the Nelson suburbs I've got the roads to myself and begin to enjoy the scenery.
My first stop is at Murcheson to view New Zealand’s longest swing bridge. Then on through Victoria forest park and the spectacular Buller gorge where the road twists and turns and clings to the side of the hills and runs alongside fast flowing rivers. Through native forest where the buzzards are feeding on the dead possums on the road(At night if they're on the road they become transfixed to the vehicles lights and are unable to move, so in effect commit suicide. But don't grieve for them, they’re vermin and are responsible for the extinction of many of New Zealand’s wonderful native birds).
And so to the town of Westport named after it's Irish counterpart, a fishing port and mining town. I ate my sandwiches and watched stevedores loading timber onto a ship.
A quick look at the seal colony at Cape Foulwind and then my next stop was at Punakaiki to see the blow holes and pancake rocks. The awesome power of the sea at work.

Down through the towns of Greymouth and Hokitika, past the preserved gold mining town of Shantytown and then to the village of Franz Josef Glacier,population318.
       Booked a room at the Montrose where the proprietor suggested a trip up to the Glacier viewing area before the mist came down. So I did.

Franz Josef Glacier or Ka Roimata O Hine Hukatere(Tears of the avalanche girl)

The views were spectacular, and way in the distance the little dots I picked out were people on guided walks.
    Back in the village I go into 'Our lady of the Alps' catholic church and feel close to Peggy, she’s with me tonight. Into the Alice May for a beautiful dinner of Lamb cutlets washed down with Alpine lager. A geographic and history lecture from the barman and I'm ready for a good nights sleep. A really comfortable bed in the Montrose ensures I get it.

       Friday 18th July. A real frosty morning as I check out of the Montrose, fuel the car and head south.
       I stop and view the Fox glacier, not as spectacular as Franz Josef I thought. Then I continue south to Spruce bay and the Paringa river then head on  through natural rainforest, wild coastlines and secluded lagoons to Haast. Here I'm in another 'Lord of the Rings' location.

     Now I'm heading inland and into the Southern Alps proper, heading through the Haast pass. I keep repeating myself but New Zealand has got to be one of the most scenic countries in the world. So beautiful. I stop numerous times to admire the views.The impressive snow capped Mount Brewster, the spectacular Thunder Creek falls, rushing mountain streams and waterfalls at every turn flowing into the creeks and joining the main rivers. Mother Nature at work.

Lake Hawea

Through Makarora and along Lake Hawea to Wanaka and Lake Wanaka for lunch.

Wanaka is a holiday town and a base for winter skiing and so was fairly busy. I had a very tasty portion of Steak pie and chips.
    Back on the road and I wonder if I'm in Scotland as I pass through Clyde, Bannockburn, Alexandra and Cromwell. I arrive in Roxburgh and seek out Liz and Colin Robb.
Colin’s Landcruiser overlooking Roxburgh

  Liz is the second of Uncle Stan’s three daughters and the mother of Angela(who I met in Queensland) and Rachel currently serving in the New Zealand Armed Forces. Colin her second husband owns the main garage in Roxburgh and collects antique cars. Liz works with Colin in the running of the garage.
    I get a warm welcome and an invite to stay the night which I gratefully accept. A very pleasant evening of good food, great discourse and some excellent Scotch concludes another memorable day. The good folk of Australia and New Zealand are much more informal than we are here in the UK and maybe we could learn a lesson or two from them.
           Saturday 19th July. On the road to Dunedin, I stop at Millers Flat and call on Philip and Sally Jory and their children Nathan, Dylan and Charlotte. Sally is the youngest of Uncle Stan's daughters and I believe Philip is a fencing contractor. This was just a quick courtesy call and I was to come back to Millers Flat and Roxburgh later when I would find how three very enchanting kids could be so tiring.  


   Now on the road to Dunedin and the landscape is changing from mountains and lakes to rolling hills. I get to Dunedin and eventually find Musselburgh and Uncle Stan.
            Uncle Stan's been in New Zealand since he was 15, but made a visit to the UK in 1981 which included a trip to Scunthorpe. We’d stayed in touch regularly (at least Peggy had) and kept up to date on how our families were doing.
     In more recent years Stan became a widower having lost his wife Alma after prolonged illness, and was himself seriously ill which resulted in a spell in hospital and 'just in the nick of time' surgery.
           It's great to see him and he doesn't seem a day older after 22 years. After a life time in New Zealand he still retains his Scottishness and his great sense of humour. I get fed and shown my room complete with electric blanket on the bed. Later we have a quick look round the city in the car and Colin and Liz pay a flying visit. I sleep well that night.
        Sunday 20th July. Over the next 10 days Stan and I were constant companions and every day we did something different. Today we went in Stan's car out to the Otago peninsula, where we watched seals, albatrosses and cormorants. I dropped the video camera and was sure I'd broken it. We then called in to visit one of his old neighbours Noel who's hobby is restoring old motorbikes, mainly BSA slopers although I spotted an old Francis Barnett. A visit to another old friend Dorothy where we partook of tea and biscuits, then a photo call around a Maori church which Stan has connections with.

Maori Church

Back at Musselburgh after nearly taking the video camera apart I managed to get it working again.
           Monday 21st July. A look round Dunedin this morning and it really is so Scottish. Statues of Robert Burns and other notable Scots. Scottish street names. On the top of Signal hill I think it is there is a very large rock from Edinburgh. They’re very proud of their Scottish heritage here.
        After a look round the cathedrals we head for the beautiful botanical gardens. Here we have a 'croque-o-dile' sandwich each, Stan gets bird feed and the doves climb on his arms and shoulders to feed while the ducks mill around his feet. Should have got a still picture of that. We look at the giant redwoods and other exotic plants then chat away to the parrots.
       Later we went out to the peninsula again where we spoke to Wong, a wildlife guide from Queenstown. Stan is very outgoing and will strike up a conversation with anyone. Wong had the best binoculars ever. I was always too slow with the cameras to get the albatrosses, I just about managed a wingtip.
        Tuesday 22nd July. The highlights of today included getting swamped on St Kildas or St Clair beach by a Tsunami whilst gossiping. A walk to the summit of the Flagstaff reserve with magnificent views of Dunedin and the snow capped mountains to the east. Over to Signal hill for other great views of the city and a visit to Badwin Street, the steepest street in the world.

Uncle Stan on Flagstaff Summit

              Wednesday 23rd July. A haircut in South Dunedin, and tea and biscuits with neighbours Genevieve and Wally filled our morning.
           Afternoon and we take a lovely run up the coast to Moeraki and the Moeraki boulders.

These perfectly round boulders are apparently formed the same way as a pearl is formed, as the mudstone cliffs are eroded by the tide they roll out and eventually get broken up by the tide.

Moeraki Boulders 

     On the way back we stop at the quaint town of Palmerston, and I get some New Zealand souvenirs.
            Thursday 24th July. A visit to see Bill Leslie an infirm old friend of Stans is followed by a look round Dunedin’s old Railway station, the university and the truly brilliant Otago Museum whose exhibits include a complete whale skeleton and a friendly fish known as Eric the Gourami.
           Friday 25th July. Today we're heading inland to spend the weekend with Liz and Colin but first were going south to the Catlins, so an early start to do lots of sightseeing.
          An interesting walk round the town of Balclutha where I disturbed one of the Radio Clutha presenters mid broadcast. Then on to Kaka point and the Nuggets(Tokata) where the lighthouse was built in 1869 and is a breeding area for Gannets, Sooty Shearwaters, Shags and Yellow Eyed Penguins with Fur seals and Sea Lions in abundance. Lunch in the cafe at Kaka point and then onto Cannibal bay to look for sea lions on the beach. Beautiful but only sea lion tracks, they were out fishing. Here there is a promontory called the sleeping Maori, amazingly looking as such.
Heading inland now and we follow mighty Clutha river up to Roxburgh and to Liz and Colin’s, good food and a really comfortable bed.
More like a leprechaun than a hobbit
         Saturday 26th July. I explore the town early while Uncle Stan does a bit of gardening. Colin and Liz finish work at noon and we head off in Colin’s Toyota Land Cruiser on a tour of the hills overlooking Roxburgh, lots of gates for Liz to open and close.

Fantastic afternoons viewing of the town and river, orchards and vineyards, open cast coalmining, hydro power stations and the dam on the Clutha.
      Sally, Philip and the kids come over in the evening and we have a great get together and I get beaten at pool.
Uncle Stan, Sally, Philip, Colin and Liz, Dylan, Charlotte and Nathan.

        Sunday 27th July. Stan and I are away for the day to Queenstown on Lake Wakatipu. 

This is one of South islands premier tourist spots and the scenery is just beautiful, with the Remarkables overlooking the town. The delights of this town are too numerous to mention and are well documented, the views just spectacular.
The Remarkables from Queenstown

We headed on to Arrowtown where you can still hire a pan and go looking for gold,had lunch and looked round an old Chinese village. Quips from my uncle of 'Stan Lee, Chinese laundryman'.


Back in Roxburgh we had Colin’s dad visiting, we sampled the fish and chips from the Hungry Hobbit and I conversed with Rachel on the telephone.
Monday 28th July. After a walk round Roxburgh and a couple of the nationally famous 'Jimmy's pies’, Stan and I headed out to Millers Flat.
              Sally shows us round the village and a trip to the school where we see the beautiful murals she helped design. I saw some of Sally’s paintings later, she’s a very good artist.
              A trip in the car along the river tracks brings us to Horseshoe bend swing bridge built in 1913 for the gold miners, and still as solid as the day it was built. Further along the tracks and we're at 'The lonely graves’. The story goes that back in 1865 in the Horseshoe goldfield an Irishman by the name of William Rigney found the body of an unknown man washed up by the river and so buried him and put a wooden cross up stating 'Here lies 'Somebody's Darling''. They erected a gravestone in 1905.When William Rigney died in 1912 they buried him alongside, and on his gravestone they put ‘Here lies the body of William Rigney, the man who buried 'Somebody's Darling’. The graves have become a bit of a tourist attraction. A plaque explains that what actually happened was slightly different, but finishes by saying why let the truth spoil a good story.

The Lonely Graves

        Back to Millers Flat via Beaumont, and after dinner Dylan, Charlotte and Nathan decide that Uncle Jim is flavour of the month and wear me out. Great kids though.
Back in Roxburgh I'm ready for the wee dram that Liz sets up for me.
             Tuesday 29th July. Up with the morning mist, I’ve had a great time down here in Otaga but its time to move on. After saying my farewells to Colin Liz and Uncle Stan, I’m on the road, sorry to be leaving’ My ain folk’, but also looking forward to my further adventures.

Mount Cook

  I'm heading north with a plan to visit Mount Cook National Park via Alexandra, Cromwell and Omarama, the scenery is just fantastic.

Morning Mist above Alexandra


Making good headway I get to Mount Cook by noon, where I spend an hour and send off a couple of Postcards. At a height of 3754 metres and with Mount Tasman behind at 3497 metres these really are the most impressive mountains I've ever been near. I had problems taking good pictures because of the position of the sun, but I came away awestruck.Making good headway I get to Mount Cook by noon, where I spend an hour and send off a couple of Postcards. At a height of 3754 metres and with Mount Tasman behind at 3497 metres these really are the most impressive mountains I've ever been near. I had problems taking good pictures because of the position of the sun, but I came away awestruck.

Mount Cook
Back the 55 kilometres to state highway 8,I head east towards Christchurch and the Canterbury plains. Mountains and lakes are replaced by farming, pasture and rivers and I drive to the north of the city to the small beach resort of Waikuku ,where I find a holiday cabin for the night.
          Wednesday 30th July. Another walk on Waikuku beach ,then I'm heading back to Nelson via the east coast. Stopped for a while in Kaikoura. The road from Kaikoura to Blenheim for most part is very rugged and rocky and clings to the coastline. It was a beautiful sunny day and I'm listening mainly to country and western on the car radio. This is brilliant.
       Back in Nelson I called in to see Kate before getting to Donna and Billy's place.
     Thursday 31st July. I take an early morning walk on Tahunanui beach. After lunch Billy and I go up to Otumarama and take Kate out to the local. Then I say a tearful goodbye to Kate. A quiet rest of the day with Billy Donna and the kids.
     Friday 1st August. Said my goodbyes and made an early start for Picton. Took the picturesque Queen Charlotte Drive route. Very scenic.
       Time to kill in Picton before the ferry and I had a good look round. Very historic.
              Uneventful crossing to Wellington and I book into the Richmond Guest house whose proprietor is a character called John.
         I meet another John and his friend Sean in an Irish pub and accept an invite to the Wellington Irish Society where I spend a very pleasant evening.
         Saturday 2nd August. Shuttle bus to Wellington airport with the company of would be interior designer Julie. Flight QF4026 to Auckland is a Boeing 737 and on time.
          Flight QF155 Auckland to Los Angeles is 3 hours late but we're eventually airborne and it's goodbye Australasia welcome to the Americas.


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