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New Zealand
2015 - 2016


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  South Island

Blenheim has lots of reasons to linger.



We often stay at the Racecourse where, every day, someone is training.
These are trotters; you wouldn't believe the speed.

Blenheim also has wineries of course.  Lots!  List here
We chose Alan Scott this time around and had a great lunch of lamb rack with buck wheat salad, including radish, beetroot and petals, accompanied by a bottle of 'Hounds' pinot noir. 
Our dessert included wasabi and white chocolate panna cotta, Lemongrass and ginger shortbread  and soil !!  That wasn't the garden variety of course but a crumbly mix of chocolate and nuts.  The panna cotta was quite savoury and interesting.  Certainly different!  Chef has a sense of humour which really works in the food.  I didn't take my phone in to the restaurant so no pics.

Southwards ...



Just south-east of Christchurch is the Banks Peninsula.  Captain Cook first sighted The Peninsula in 1770 and it is named after Sir Joseph Banks, a naturalist.

In 1838 Jean Langlois, the captain of a French whaling ship negociated and bought the land from the local Maori chief. He returned to France to collect emigrants planning to settle the land.
By the time he returned in August 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi had already been signed and New Zealand had become an English colony.

It is very scenic, well mostly. Our trip this year has been spoiled by miserable weather.  Click on the map for a larger version.

what to do with your old skis   Giant swing

Giant slide   Bush piano

fantail  



We found a delightful campground at Little River, pictures above.  It's all very rural and the owner Markus, charmed us.  The birdsong at 5.30 a.m. was also worth being woken for !
There are 18 acres of walks, swings, giant slides and treasures to discover.

  

This is Vince at the Gemstone and Fossil Museum at Birdlings Flat.

Even if you have no interest in geology, do go and find it.  It's free to go in and this guy is unique. 
He has invented the machines that cut and polish large pieces of rock.  The piece in the centre of those screws is fossilised wood. 
The machine cuts slices that are then polished in a 'lap', below.   



The lap vibrates the rock slices in a mixture of water and cutting grit until they are very smooth, then they can be polished in the same way.
At this stage, the sludge you can see is a mixture of ground down stone and some remaining grit. 
When all the grit turns to sludge it's time for the next process.  These have been going for 3 weeks and are nowhere near done yet!

  

Further south, on road 72 (or is that 77?) after Windwhistle and the Rakaia Gorge, turn off at Staveley. 
There is DOC
(Department of Conservation) property with a walk to the Sharplin Falls.
The walk is delightful along the river for about 20 minutes.  Then there are several flights of stairs to climb. 

  

We were devastated to find, having climbed stairs for 25 minutes, that a rock fall is blocking the path and we couldn't reach the falls. 
Well, the exercise was good for us I suppose. 
(Picture below stolen from Google Earth)

Sharplin Falls



Lake Opuha is a great freedom camping spot and we even had a little sunshine

  

Left; Bowyers Stream.  We think the water must originate from one of the glaciers in the Southern Alps because of the colour. 
On the right, some of a delightful little private collection of birds at Peskis, a great NZMCA member privilege.



While in Geraldine we visited the amazing work of Michael Linton.
This is based on the Bayeux tapestry and is also an incredible puzzle Michael challenges you to solve.
Here's the web page, it's amazing.  It has puzzles and games as well as the mosaic.
If you live in England, you will have a chance to see it this year as it is to be transported to Hastings for the 950th anniversery of the battle. 
The Mosaic will be on display from August through to the end of October at St Mary in the Castle, Hastings.


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Here are a few stills from our dash cam.  Sorry about the colours.
This is SH1, the main road that runs all the way from top to bottom of New Zealand.
  


Yes, that lorry and it's trailer has had to go through that right-side tunnel above, there's also a very sharp bend immediately the other end!

  

Between this road and the western side of the country there is mostly ... nothing!



Oh, there are a few sheep

  



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