Archive for January, 2012

Rail Trail

January 29, 2012

Saturday 28 January

This morning we were off to do a part of the Central Otago Rail Trail, as the weather seemed to hold promise for the day.  After sorting out what we needed, we left our parking spot at Oturehua and headed for Auripo which is where Bernice dropped off Roy so he could start his walk to Lauder.  Bernice meanwhile drove through to Omakau to pick up a bike and start her journey biking from Omakau through Lauder to meet up with Roy somewhere along the track.

By the time we were both underway, a bit of a strong breeze had developed which made for interesting cloud formations, as well as sometimes difficult biking/walking conditions.

So on with the intrepid journey, by foot through the hinterland to cross the Ruggedy Range from the Ida Valley to the Manuherikia Valley through the Poolburn Gorge.  This appeared to be an interesting section of the Rail Trail of about 10.5km.  (and downhill)

First off to a good start from the site of the original Auripo Station

1 auripo

Interesting views from the Rail Trail down onto the plains of the Ida Valley including this one of a cut field of grass ready for baling.

2  patterned paddock

Of equal interest were the cloud formed as a result of the wind blowing over the ranges at close to a right angle to the ridge direction setting up these waves of cloud.

3 cloud 1

Facilities along the way were provided by DOC up to their usual standard of cleanliness and lack of untoward odour.

4 toilet

Here we see contention from two wave fronts of different ridges

 6 clouds 2

First real point of interest on the trail itself was the Poolburn Gorge Viaduct.  It took three years to build and is 37 metres high and 109 metres long, the highest and fourth longest bridge/viaduct on the Rail Trail.

 9 poolburn viaduct

The viaduct is about three kilometres from the start point and is very soon, probably after 500 metres, followed by the first of two tunnels.  The entrance to which is in a deep cutting.

 11 tunnel

This tunnel is curved so that as one enters their is no “light at the end of the tunnel” just an inky darkness.  The first 50 or so metres of this tunnel are lined but from there until the middle section there is bare rock.

12 tunnel lining

The middle section is again brick lined as is the far end of the tunnel.

13 mid lining

A further kilometre into the trail and the second tunnel is found.  This at 220 metres, is longer than the first but is a straight tunnel.  Again it is lined for the first part and again at the far end.

 14 entrance tunnel 2

However at the far end there is evidence of seepage not seen at all in the first tunnel.

 15 water seepage

Finally coming out of the tunnel one is approaching the end of the gorge and looking toward the Manuherikia Valley

16 cloud

The cloud forms here are again spectacular with all sorts of shapes and clouds in different layers.

17 cloud

Along the Trail there are a number of ganger huts erected to provide shelter and resting places for gangers working on the original line.   This one at Poolburn even had a fireplace.

18 poolburn ganger 

At last the Manuherikia Valley, the green line right across the mid ground is the course of the Manuherikia River.

19 cloud

And again on this side the cloud formations were very interesting.

20 cloud

Next came the Manuherikia Bridge, 110 metres long and 14 metres high it is the only curved bridge on the Rail Trail.

21 manuherika

Finally the last bridge is a small wooden one over the Lauder Creek.

 23 lauder creek

An unusual warning sign.

24 gun club

And a usual companion appears on the horizon

25 livingston

Finally the end of the section at Lauder Station

 26 lauder

Then a misjudgement was made to continue the walk toward Omakau.  An additional seven kilometres.  Just a couple too far.

But the cloud formations were well worth the walk but not necessarily the accompanying sore feet!!

27 cloud

28 cloud

29 cloud

30 trail

The over pass of Muddy Creek Road

 31 overbridge

And more sky…

32 cloud

33 cloud

34 cloud

35 cloud

And that was the end of the day for me, other than a pick up by the boss and a drive back to Hayes Engineering in Oturehua. 

And from her?  Well, I got on my bike and pedalled…..and pedalled.  It took me just on an hour to reach Lauder from Omakau, and then continued on until I met up with ‘he who must…’.  Of course I did not have a camera with me so you will have to take my word for it that the scenery was stunning, the sun shining, the wind blowing…and to prove that the wind does make a difference, it took me just 35 minutes for the return journey from Lauder to Omakau. Oh, it is a little downhill as well.   Back to Omakau, return the bike and gear, pick up the car and back down the road to pick up the foot-sore Roy.  The speedo on the bike told me I had biked 24.3kms, not bad for a very unfit moi! And the lasting effects?  A very, very, sore bum! 

Sunday 29th January

Off today, first stop was Omakau and the very nice Recreation Grounds and the necessary dump station.  Then off over to Alexandra (again!), we are parked up here at the very nice POP at Molyneux Park, where today we have spent the day catching up with things such as blog/internet, grocery shopping, and generally relaxing and resting the sore bits! 

Four seasons in one day

January 29, 2012

After three nights in Oamaru, Mum safely out of hospital and back home, we pack up and leave town – this time, fingers crossed,  for some months!

We left Oamaru late on Thursday afternoon (26th Jan) and headed for Ranfurly, however we decided to press on a bit further and head for Oturehua for a POP at Hayes Engineering.  However, just out of Wedderburn the winds started to blow, and blow and blow making it very difficult to keep the van on the road so it was with some relief we arrived at the POP early in the evening. 

parkedParked at the POP

rail trailRail trail just off the main highway at Hayes Engineering.

We quickly got ourselves set up, dinner made and TV tuned.  The latter was a novelty as for some time we have only been able to tune into TV3 and Prime therefore out TV watching was very limited but thanks to Mike, he had sorted it al out for us before we left Oamaru.  However, we soon had to switch to watching a program or two from the Hard Drive as it had started to rain heavily and what we thought was rain fade, was disrupting transmission.

We woke in the morning to discover that it was a little more than that rain that fell through the night … it was SNOW!  This is late January, the height of summer?  Two to three inches on the ground and the hills around well covered.

morning 2Morning

fenceFence line

not going farNot going far

plantsOur herb garden slightly snowed upon

tractorTractor in the yard of the Hayes Engineering site

All around one could hear cracking as branches from the many willow trees, around the site, had branches spilt under the weight of the snow.  We were hemmed in as well, as our route out was barred by fallen limbs from a tree next to the road out.. 


It was not long though before it was cleared away, so we headed out for a day trip. 

removingClearing tree across exit

We had been recommended a trip to Hamiltons for a view over the Maniototo Basin, so with maps in hand and Roy navigating, off we headed. 

mountainsMountain range covered

Wedderburn Wedderburn mid-summer

A cross country drive from Wedderburn through many a dusty windy back road, through Patearoa, forded through streams, driven around fallen trees (well, we do have a 4WD!), up hill and down dale and not too many wrong turns, we eventually found ourselves at Hamiltons, or what remains of it – the cemetery.  Once upon a time there were 25 liquor outlets, 40 shops and up to 4000 people here at the height of the diggings.

across the maniatoto 2Looking across the Maniototo

signBelieve it or not we did not go through this road!

Then past the Orangapai TB Sanatorium (now a religious centre) to Waipiata, then onto Ranfurly.

A full round trip back to Oturehua then off to Auripo to check out the Rail Trail where Roy will be dropped off to start walking toward Omakau, Bernice will be hiring a bike and riding from Omakau toward Auripo, and hopefully we will meet up and both head back to Omakau!  This is weather dependent of course, definitely no high winds or rain and certainly no snow!! 

…try again, Central here we come!

January 23, 2012

We returned for a brief visit to Oamaru and end up staying for longer than we had anticipated, this time because of a fault with the hydraulics on one of the levelling jacks as it would not release and return to its travel position.  We were stuck.  We had planned to leave on Tuesday (17th) however the repair man could only come out on Wednesday afternoon, but he could not jack the van up high enough to remove the leg in question so we had to pack everything up and take it to the workshop so it could be done over a pit.  That done we then had to await the repair. 

men at workWhat is under here?

Meanwhile we catch up with friends and family and try to attend to all the little chores we can think of that need doing.   Thursday morning and the repair man calls to say that he needs the van back at the workshop to re place the jack.  Job done, we head on out of town, heading for Alexandra and to meet up with friends Michael & Bernadette.  However, the wind was blowing so hard that Roy spent most of the drive struggling to keep the van on the road and it was with some relief we eventually arrived in Alexandra.

parked at AlexParking spot in Alexandra

A lovely evening was spent chatting, talking and laughing, oh and just to remind us how great the movie is we watched The Castle yet again.  We have decided to stay here for a day or two before moving on again.

Whilst we were parked up in Alexandra, a gent wandered along and invited us all out to his orchard to help ourselves to his apricot trees.  So on Friday we all went off to pick apricots, which is all very well to pick them, but them you have to think about what you are going to do with them all.  Some are being made into jam, some into pickles and relish and the rest will be stewed up and bottled for later use.  And yes, I know it would be easier to freeze them, however, one has limited freezer space!

apricots 1Apricots everywhere

apricots 2and even more apricots.

Later in the day we headed off for a drive out to the Lower Manorburn Dam as Michael & Bernadette were visiting family who were staying out there.  Not only is it stunning countryside we also found a great place to park beside the Manuherikia River. 

lower manorburn damManorburn Dam

racegate lower manorburnRace gate

looking down toward alexLooking toward Alexandra

riverside 2Manuherikia Riverriversideand another view of river and parking spots.

Saturday morning and the local Farmers Market is on in town so we head off to check that out.  Although there is an abundance of fruit, and a couple of other food stalls, the rest was more garage sale type of stalls so a bit disappointing.  We headed off out to the Clyde Dam where we have heard that there is a great parking spot on the other side of the Dam right on the edge of the Lake.  Sure enough there is a great parking spot right on the edge of the Lake although it appears to be a very popular spot.  We will probably move here later in the week.

Meanwhile, we are making our first loaves of bread with the sourdough starter we have grown.  So far so good, it looks and smells delicious, and is especially good with the Apricot & Vanilla Bean jam I made last night.

 sour dough breadthis was all that was left after the bread was taste tested!!

Sunday morning and a lazy slow start to the day.  We get an invite to have morning tea with Margaret and John, a couple we met at the Mayfield POP.  They too live full time on the road and have also spent a couple of years touring Australia so it was great to chat with them, swap tales and glean insights into all aspects of this nomadic lifestyle.  Later we all headed into Clyde to check out their Fruit festival, however, it was very disappointing with only a handful of stalls, most of which were at Alexandra the previous day.

Never mind, back to the van where its time to deal with some more of the apricots, this time to bottle apricot pulp.  Tomorrow will be relish/chutney making day.

Sight of the day was this van where every window (bar the front window) was covered in stuffed toys…..??

stuffed toys 2

PS.  Sunday night we were invited over to John & Margaret’s van (Sightseer) for evening drinks, which stretched into staying for dinner and then a very entertaining evening spent with many tales and much laughter…we even dragged in another couple of motorhomers.  Many, many thanx John & Margaret for your wonderful welcome and hospitality.

PPS.  Monday morning and we are all set to leave for our next destination which was to Lauder to do some of the Rail Trail, however we get a phone call to say Mum was in hospital, so guess what folks?  Yep, we are back in Oamaru!!  Oh and Mum is OK but will be staying in hospital for a few days.

Déjà Vu

January 15, 2012

Friday morning in Ealing dawned with steady rain falling, the first rain we have seen for some weeks so it was rather pleasant for a change.  Time to pack up the van and head off, this time our destination was Hook to friends Anne & Paul for the night.  By the time we reached Hook Manor, large pools of water had formed all along the roadside so with some tentativeness we pulled onto the grass verge (remember, this is where we got the van stuck in the mud a few months ago). 

Anne and Paul were not at home when we arrived, they were in Christchurch where Paul was getting his post operative check up, so we headed into Waimate to get a few bits and pieces and to also get a good coffee at Nosh on the way back.  We spent the rest of the afternoon preparing dinner in readiness for Anne & Paul’s return and generally chilling out.  They duly arrived home with their grandson Ethan in tow, their daughter Bridgette arrived home from work, and soon after their other daughter Michaela arrived along with her husband Brad and Ethan’s sister Sophie. 

What followed was a fantastic fun evening of games  – yes, ok, Brad and Roy were crowned Sequence champs (this time), good food and wine and lots and lots of laughs. A really fantastic very relaxed evening, many thanks to Anne & Paul.

And for the first time in many months Roy & I slept in a bed……in a  house!! We can report that it was very nice too.  Although we do have to admit that standing under a continuous stream of water in the shower felt a little weird as we are so used to the soak, stop water, soap up, turn water on, rinse off, type of shower.  After a leisurely breakfast and start to the day, we eventually headed off towards Oamaru with a great sense of déjà vu! 


January 12, 2012

Mayfield 2

We arrived in Mayfield  mid afternoon on Saturday intending to stay for a couple of nights before moving on.  After settling in, it was no time before it was ‘happy hour’ and we joined our fellow campers in the communal “shed” for a very enjoyable afternoon of sharing tales and good spots to stay.


We headed into Mayfield to the amazing second hand shop for a cruise through the treasure trove of a store.  Found a few treasures.

On Monday we headed off into Geraldine for a look around the town.  Along  the way we came across a couple of guys who had set up a dart board on a tree in a layby and were quite happily playing a game of darts.   The most interesting thing in Geraldine was this “parking spot” for your dog, situated along the outside wall of the supermarket. 

dog parking Dog parking

We returned to the POP and awaited the arrival of Don and Helen who were to come and visit on their way home from their trip up North.  Another couple had arrived at the POP while we were away and we were in the middle of a cup of tea with them when Don and Helen arrived.  They joined us and we set about solving the problems of the world.

Over the past week or so, we have struggled to find anything to watch on TV, so thank goodness for Antony and the external hard drive he gave us, full of programmes that are at least pleasurable to watch such as the latest two series of QI. 

Wednesday we left Mayfield and headed to Ealing and the NZMCA parking spot. 


We arrived with no one else in sight but were shortly joined by a couple of guys to mow the paddock.  We moved the van so they could mow all of the park, then we were left on our own again.  Soon after we were joined by another van, then another, and then another.  Shortly there were 5 of us there.  We headed off for a drive to check out the Rangitata River for possibly fishing or other parking spots, then returned to host happy hour.  Whilst happy hour was underway another two vans arrived and they soon joined us.  What a lovely group of people, everyone got on and a very good time was had by all.

Thursday and Miss Rose turns 6.  We spent a lovely day with the family, including making pasta by request of the birthday girl with the Pasta machine we gave Erica for Christmas.  And  delicious it was too, with all the children helping with the making of the pasta…read that as lots of flour and pasta everywhere!  Rose chose to have a rocket cake for her birthday cake which was skilfully made by Erica.

Rose's cake 2The cake

    Rose's cake Blowing out the candles

We ended the day making paper dolls (yes, I remembered how to make them) including colouring them individually and making those folded paper ‘choose a colour, choose a number, and tell your fortune’  games.

So far……

January 7, 2012

Well, not very far at all really.  On New Years Day we moved from Tinwald to Ocean Beach Road at Lowcliffe which is near Jason & Erica’s but out on the coast.  It is a stunning spot right on the ocean front, we even have a couple of other NFA’ers here with us for a day or two. Roy can still give Jason a hand with the building job at hand, but more importantly he also gets to try his hand at surf casting with the new rod, reel et al.  And I get to be a stones throw from the ocean, I love the sight, sound and smell of the sea!

hot rod This hot rod club was next door to the parking spot at Tinwald.

seaAnd this is the view out of the front window at Lowcliffe.

The only drawback is that there is no phone or internet here, but then perhaps that is a good thing?  Well, it does mean that an awful lot of other things are getting done, such as sorting through all our photos to put on the digital photo frame.  I have been through the 20,000+ photos! and put just 762 onto the memory stick for the photo frame!

The grandchildren have very kindly given us both a dose of a cold. Roy even took to bed for a day as he was feeling so terrible, I appear to have not had it to quite the same degree, thank  goodness.


Andre                                         Theo

eating yummy oranges

Most days though, Roy has been to assist Jason with the building of the ‘shed’.  And Bernice has managed to keep herself occupied either at the van, with the grandchildren, or attending to chores in town.

shed 8 Foundations complete

shed 5Admiring  handiwork, with a helper on my back!

shed 7 

Roof going up

shed 6

Getting the boss’ approval!

shed 4

Nearly there…

shed 3 

There.  Roof up, iron on…now Roy can leave the rest to Jason for a while. 

We head back to the van at the end of each day so that Roy can have a go at losing more bait, hooks or sinkers!

 surf caster  In action


Look!  This is what I caught!

We stayed out at Lowcliffe until Saturday 7 January, when we moved off to replenish stocks, fill the tanks with fresh water, empty the waste tanks and give Jason & Erica a bit of a breather from us.  We headed inland to Mayfield, to a lovely POP just out of the township in the countryside.  It is rather quiet here, especially after being so close to the sea with the noise of the waves crashing onto the shore.  We shall stay here for a day or two and then? goodness knows.  However, we will be back to Eiffelton on Thursday as it is Rose’s 6th birthday and after that we have no idea!

Family, friends and a New Year.

January 1, 2012

Over the last few days we have noticed how many things we have around us, remind us of friends and family, and of places we have visited. 

We start the day off with breakfast of toast, made on the toaster bought by Rachael for us when we were in France, with the homemade bread from the recipe that sister Hilary gave me, which is made in the loaf tins that were Mums (they could even have been Grandma’s).   On our toast we have the honey from Paul’s bee hives, which is spread using silver cutlery that we were given as a wedding present from Mum & Dad.  Or maybe we have a boiled egg (hopefully one of Lex & Jocelyn’s delicious free range eggs) eaten out of the egg cup holders we purchased in Verdun whilst canal boating in France with Roger & Ruth.

Lunch is usually a simple affair that usually incorporate cheese and chutney.  We are currently eating the chutney that sister Sue gave us as well as some that sister-in-law Ann made.    On to dinner where we may have a curry made to the recipe gleaned from sister-in-law Leslie, incorporating the fresh lime leaves and chillies picked from brother Steve’s garden, also using the fresh spices that Steve gave us.  Dinner may be something simple cooked on the BBQ (purchased on a mammoth shopping expedition with very patient nieces Jenna & Rebekka).  The BBQ has it own table, thanks to friends Bill & Estelle. Or maybe we have risotto cooked in the Le Creuset pan that I bought on a shopping expedition with Jacky & Edwina.  There may be a sprinkle of Parmesan Cheese we brought back from Parma or a splash of Balsamic from Modena.   If Roy is very lucky, there may be some homemade baking, whipped up in my trusty 1950’s Kenwood mixer that brother Mike has restored and baked on the oven tray carefully cut down to fit my oven from Mum & Dad.  Or it may be something made from a recipe given to me from James & James -  the No Knead Pizza dough is a particular favourite. And of course everything is cut utilising one of the knives that Steve gave us, or my very special knife I purchased at Dehellerin’s in Paris! And if oysters are on the menu, they will of course be opened using the special oyster knife Roy purchased in Royanne.

The van is parked up, the hydraullic levellers set down and resting on the blocks (with ropes attached for easy retrieval) made by brother John whilst we were visiting him in Whakatane.

Then there are all the other things that surround us; the quilt made by Ann, the spice rack made by Mike, the coffee cup given to me by Altrusa,  jams and pickles made by me from recipes given to me by friends and family, hazelnuts from Don & Helen, pictures drawn by grandchildren……and much, much more.  

There are of course many, many reminders of our children Simon, Jason, Antony & Alexandra! Including the movies and programmes that we watch courtesy of Ants. And Alex, we are using the Pukeko tile that you gave us on your last visit home! We have put up the digital photo frame Ants gave us for Xmas and the photos roll around reminding us of travels, people, places and events. This year we will be using the calendar Alex made us for Xmas with the photos of our trip around Italy together.

All in all, friends and family are never far away, we wish you all a wonderful New Year with lots of love, friendship and happiness.