Owaka and Balclutha

Thursday.

Left Waikawa this morning heading toward Papatowai.  Decided that we needed to head toward Balclutha to see about repairs to the stabilisers as we are unable to extend the slide-out without a stable platform.

Before we got there we were going to look at Tautuku Beach as a possible stopping point.  However we flagged it as the book said it was a narrow drive in and it did not show a symbol for large vehicles.  We did get a good sight of the beach further along and now wished we had perhaps unhooked and explored.

 puraukanui Bay Tautuku Beach

Papatowai did not provide much of a prospect as likely parking spots were well marked as No Camping.  However we did visit Lost Gypsy  a man designing and building all sorts of intriguing automaton .  There was any number of items to enthral the smallest boy (or at least bring him out in the older one of the party).  There are a number of movies of his work at http://wn.com/Papatowai

Look at The Gypsy Bus and Moving Sculpture in particular.  It is definitely worth a visit for anyone travelling past.   The location is easily recognisable from this character standing on the side of the road.

P1040806 Greetings to allP1040807 The Lost Gypsy bus museum

P1040810 One of the larger sculptures

So continued across the bridge to McLennan and then decided to have a look at Purakaunui Beach.  On the way we decided to visit the Purakaunui Falls.  This involved parking the van at McLennan unhooking the car and driving off into the wilderness, well it felt like that.  We arrived at the spot and then had a walk in the bush to the falls.  On the way we spotted these falls which shamed the Niagara Falls previously mentioned near Waikawa. 

niagara

However further on we did come to the Purakaunui Falls.

purakaunui 2

On the way back came across this tree.  The trunk at the lower level is completely hollow, but there must be enough left for it to support the growth of the quite large trunk above the splits.

hollow bernice

Back to McLennan by a different and faster route and decided to continue on to Owaka.  We thought of camping at Jacks Bay as we had been told it was a good spot.  On the map it showed that there was a bridge between the road to Jacks Bay and Pounawea which would provide a short cut back to Owaka.  Drove out to Jacks Bay but there was only a small parking area suitable for shorter vehicles than ours and it was occupied.  So across the bridge to Pounawea.  But no, the bridge had a weight restriction, we would have been 150% of the allowable weight, so instead of an easy 6km to Owaka it turned into a 14km trip.  Live and learn.

Nothing at Owaka so looked at two possible sites, an LCP (Low Cost Parking) and a POP (Park over Place) between there and Balclutha.  Set out according to the book and ended up at the intersection for the LCP without having seen hide nor hair of the POP.  So off to Ahuriri Flat Road and LCP 2217  where we found very hospitable host.  The wind was extremely strong but we managed to park on the grass, and proceeded to settle in.  The owner, Kevin, popped his head through the door to give us some free range eggs and to invite us along for happy hour.  During the ensuing conversation, Kevin mentioned that he built motorhomes, and it came up that we were heading toward civilisation to get the hydraulic jacks seen to.  He offered to have a look, managed to get them to work briefly and came to the conclusion is was an electrical problem and that tomorrow morning we could follow him into Balclutha where he knew we could get it looked at.  Sorted.

We then settled in for a few drinks over a very few happy hours!  The bottles of good wine kept appearing and it seemed very rude to refuse a “try this one, its very good”!  We managed to weave our way back to the van, I think we had dinner, and then crashed into bed.  Boy, are we ever out of practise!

Friday 11 November

Up early and off into Balclutha to the electrical shop where we found a couple of helpful chaps.  We left the van with them whilst we went off to attend to chores and check out the free wifi accessible all along the main street – thanx Balclutha Township.  The van was duly sorted by lunch time, what we thought was going to be a long and involved and expensive fix turned out to be reasonably simple.  It was drizzling steadily by now so we decided to stay in Balclutha for the night at the Town & Country Club. 

BalcluthaParked at the Town and Country Club

balclutha 2  Looking out over Balclutha from our parking spot.

Saturday 12 November

At the end of today Roy told Bernice “we have travelled far too far and in one day”! Yes, we went the huge distance of 114kms from Balclutha to Roxburgh.  Bernice reminded Roy that on this particular day one year ago, we travelled 405kms from Loana to Nimes – THAT was a long way to travel in one day!

Along our travels today we headed through the Manuka Gorge – a Gorge we have long heard about from Mike & Ann as they were warned of this “difficult” Gorge to travel through when they first moved to Dunedin.  Now we understand the mirth this caused – there is nothing difficult about the road at all, we have driven the van through the Karangahake Gorge now THAT is a Gorge.

Stopped off at Lawrence for coffee and a rest, and to utilise their free wifi (wow, these small towns know how to treat visitors) and then on  to Roxburgh, where we went and checked out Pinders Pond, a very scenic parking spot.

pinders pond 

However, we ended up staying at the POP in town behind the Chemist shop.

Now, if ever any of you are heading through Roxburgh you must stop at the Endemic Art Gallery.  This is where Rebecca Gilmore paints her amazing wildlife scenes, her husband Gregory Slui  is a very accomplished photographer and the works for sale are so good, it is hard to resist … wall space in the van is at a premium though.  Do pop in for a look, we are sure you would be impressed.    Their web site is www.endemicgallery.co.nz

A good nights sleep and we will see what tomorrow brings.

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