Archive for February, 2012


February 25, 2012

Tuesday through to Thursday we spent in Franz Josef confined to barracks as the weather decided to turn disastrously wet! And when we mean wet, we mean really, really wet.  We have not seen so much rain fall in in such a short period of time.  We put out the large 20l buckets to catch some rain water that was pouring off the edge of the van, with the buckets filling in 15 minutes!!  At least we had plenty of fresh, clean drinking water.  But actually, that created another problem, how to get the water into the tank as it requires mains pressure on the inlet?  We will sort that one out another day.

Franz Joseph 1One half of the Franz Parking spot viewed from the gate (before the rain)

Franz Joseph 2The other half.

franz joseph 3and from the rear of the parking spot, our van at the front with the glacier hidden behind clouds in the background.

Meanwhile, what to do when you are confined to the van?  Firstly you deal with  all those blackberries and apples you picked the previous days.  Jam, relish and pies made, but we decided to make some Blackberry & Apple Jelly, and to do this a bit of improvising needed to take place.

applesbag of apples

pieputting the finishing touches to a pie

Blackberry apple pie 2pie completed…note the “rolling pin” in the background  – a bottle of Walnut Wine we brought back from the Dordogne region of France!

And you also make some sourdough bread.  Our starter is fantastically good now and we are making a loaf of bread every three days or so.

sourdoughDough on the rise.

sourdough breadready to go in the oven.

Blackberry apple piePie sampling underway with loaf cooling ready for sampling!

Then onto Jelly making, first we needed a jelly bag, well, an old tea towel was sacrificed for this purpose.  Then we needed to suspend it from something, so the laundry plunger was put to use.  Hmmm, but what can we balance it over? oh yes, the multi purpose bucket that was used to collect rain water and also doubles as a laundry bucket.  So all set up with a bowl placed into the bucket to catch the jelly. with everything carefully balanced and in place.

blackberry jellyHere is the jelly left to drip overnight.

Next day all cooked up, bottled and sampled.  I think we are set up now for pickles, jams and jellies.  However one cannot turn down the opportunity of free produce so we will see what we next find.

rainand the view from the van over the park, no not quite a lake but getting there!

There was also a spectacular thunder and lightening storm one night, the storm must have been just about directly over us as the thunder and lightening were occurring simultaneously, with the sound echoing round the hills.

We also found ourselves meeting more nice people, and one couple in particular, Pat & Sue,  who we seemed to have a bit in common.  We discovered that that also play Sequence – the board/card game what a lovely way to waste an afternoon in the rain.

On Friday we decided that enough was enough and we left Franz in the pouring rain to drive toward Hokitika.  The rain did not desist, as we passed Lake Mahinapoua and the iconic jetty we photographed the other day, today, the said jetty was only just visible above the water level.  Unfortunately the photographer was a little slow in getting the camera ready so you will have to use your imagination. But she did take a photo of the obligatory road sign

wet and slow25k/hr for the next ???

We arrived in Hokitika to bright sunshine and quickly got ourselves parked and settled in yet another one of the fantastic NZ Motorhome Assn parking sites.

hokitika 2parked up with the sun setting – that means Happy Hour?

hokitika 1And a view across from the river bank.

upstream Hokitika bridge Looking toward the Alps from the bridge into Hokitika.

The Park Over Point (POP) is on land that was once the local airport.  The area was one of the earliest to have a scheduled air service in New Zealand with South Westland Air Services serving the West Coast.  To commemorate the early pioneer Company and its major personalities there are these three information boards and a propeller statue mounted just outside the POP entrance.



airport memorial 2


Errata:  Several posts ago I mentioned the size of the New Zealand Orchid flowers.  The size should have been 6 – 8 mm about twice that which I originally posted.  Sorry about that!


February 21, 2012

We spent last night at a spot just out of Fox Glacier, in fact just opposite the scenic lookout for the best views of Fox Glacier and of Mt Cook.  The parking place was on the road to Gillespies Beach and as we had planned to visit there at some stage, it seemed a good place to stop.  It was a stunning afternoon weather wise so we managed to get a good view of both of the sights.

fox glacier 4Fox Glacier

cloud peircerCloud piercer, Aorangi Mt Cook

We set of into toward town to look at Lake Matheson, but we got there just on dusk which was too late to do the walk, we put this off until the morning (weather permitting of course).  We found we finally had cell and internet reception so quickly checked emails, texts and phone before heading back to the van for the evening.

Saturday 18th February

parked at FoxEarly morning view of the van with Fox Glacier in the background

Gillespies Beach was the first port of call this morning, the van was safely left parked up and we headed off through some beautiful beech forest to the Beach.

sign to gillespies beachSign at the start of the road to the beach!

gillespies beachLooking north

sun bathing at gillespies beachWhere else in the world can you see  in one shot Glaciers, Mountains and girls sunbathing on the beach!!

On returning from the beach we decided to walk to the lookout at Fox Glacier

fox glacier 3 Danger on the way

franz joseph 2 The face of Fox glacier

Just after lunch time we were on our way to Franz Josef, just 23kms up the road.  The road was, in places, steep and windy which kept our interest piqued.

speed 335km/hr for the next km?

speed 4now 25km/hr..what next?

speed 215 – that’s what!

speedHairpin bends, reminiscent of Switzerland.

We arrived in Franz Josef in time to set ourselves up and to host Happy Hour for the evening.  Parked next door to us were Richard and Ellen, a couple we had met at Lake Dunstan.  A wonderful evening ensued with many tales told.

happy hour Rather a large Happy hour gathering.


Sunday 19th February

The early morning riser took himself off for a walk to the base of Franz Josef Glacier.

franz joseph 4From the lookout about 40 minute walk from the Glacier

franz joseph 3Getting closer


franz joseph faceThe face of the glacier

at the faceAnd to prove it I’m here

Today we headed off for a look around Okarito and the surrounding area.

Okarito beach 2Looking north along Okarito Beach

Okarito beachand looking south.  Please note the weather, and the crowds!

Right in the carpark  we did find blackberries….unflattering photographic evidence follows!

blackberries Enough Blackberries to make some Blackberry & Apple Jam.

Roy tried his hand at fishing in the lagoon, but still no luck.

On the way back to Franz, we came across Lake Mapourika and this iconic scene.


Back to the fantastic NZ Motorhome Association Park over place in Franz, and again we host another happy hour.  Although not quite as large and for the first time, it split into male and female (a little to do with an intermittent shower and sheltering under two awnings).

Monday 20 February

After making the jam this morning, we packed ourselves off to spend the day in and around Whataroa

First stop was at the edge of Lake Wahapo, we headed off down a gravel track to see where it led and came across the intake for a hydroelectric power scheme.  The actual station was further down near The Forks on the road to Okarito.

power station inlet

Next stop Whataroa and a look around the couple of shops/gallery that are there, then off for a wander around the countryside.  Out to Whataroa Gorge, although there is little evidence of a gorge where Roy again tried to entice some trout onto the end of his line.  Again, no luck.  I keep telling him to put some bacon on his hook cos who can resist the aroma of bacon?  Never mind, he keeps trying.

On our way out of the gorge, we stopped to check out the blackberry situation, in no time at all, we had juice stained hands and two ice cream containers full of ripe, juicy blackberries!

blackberries 2

So home for the night, no Happy Hour today as we were late back and no one else had organised one!!  19 vehicles in tonight!

Jacksons Bay

February 17, 2012

Thursday 16 February

The sandflies got the better of Bernice so we fled to the West Coast, which is probably not the best place to go to get away from sandflies! 

Before leaving Roy took a walk on the path from the parking area to the Blue Pools parking area.

fungi 3Fungi at the base of a beech tree.  It is about 40cm in diameter

fungi 2 Detail of the outer leaves? of the fungi

fungi 1Another smaller example (about 30cm) on the opposite side of the tree

 majestic beech A majestic example of a Southern Beech

Along the way to Haast  we passed over many narrow one way bridges, round varying degrees of slow and tight corners, and the ultimate in giving one confidence – a runaway exit!


narrow bridge The view from the passenger seat of the narrow bridge, and yes, it is damn close to the left side of the bridge!!

slow slow down

 down hill EEeeek!

runaway 1


run off yep, that’s it up there!

We stopped for a morning cuppa break at Pleasant Flat where we met another couple of motorhomers who gave us a recipe to make,  they assured us, an effective sandfly repellent.  So armed with this knowledge we headed to Haast and the shop to buy the ingredients (baby oil and Dettol) and made up a bottle of the stuff.  Well, it appears to sort of work. We shall reserve judgement until it has been well proven.  The same couple also told us that we can park up at Jacksons Bay so we have headed for there.

Haast River Haast River

Harst and a sign to prove we are here!

Straight roads with a Beech Forest tunnel make the drive into Jacksons Bay quite stunningroad to Port Jackson

and we arrive at Jacksons Bay and find the spot to park.  Literally right on the beach.

Port jackson 4

port jackson 3

port jackson 1That’s us on  the right  viewed from around the rocks

Port Jackson 2   And the view across the harbour

Once settled we wander off for a walk to check out our surrounds and meet our fellow motorhomers and also check out the wharf for the possibility of fishing off here later on. 

Port Jackson wharf Port Jackson wharf…and this chap wandering ahead, oh and the weather is not bad either!

Dinner tonight?  Fresh fish and chips, bought from the fish caravan by the wharf as the fisherman of the party is yet to provide fish for the table!  And not from want of trying though.  Not to be beaten, after dinner, he was off back on the wharf getting his line wet.  Others managed to catch a fish or two, but still we wait!

Friday 17 February

The fisherman was up and off early to the wharf this morning, still no luck though. After a quick breakfast we walked up over the point to “Ocean Beach”.  Its not quite like Ocean Beach at the Mount, however, pretty in its own right. 

epiphyteEpiphyte growth on a beech tree alongside the track to Wharekai-Te Kou.

Wharekai te mou bay 1The beach.

restingResting up on arrival.

conglomerate Most of the rock around and in the bay is conglomerate.

On the return journey we came across a Fiordland Crested Penguin hiding in a stream.

fiordland penguinWell, it was in focus before it moved.

It must be said that at this stage, the sandfly repellent seems to be working well.  The sandflies still hang around but they are not biting and who could blame them?  The smell is not the greatest, I am sure that people take a step or two backwards once they get a whiff of the stuff that I have plastered all over me!!  I keep with me a small bag of paper towels soaked in the stuff ready to re apply should the need arise!  Want the formula?  2/3 Baby oil, 1/3 Dettol, mixed together and apply liberally!  We have mixed ours in an empty liquid soap dispenser but a small spray bottle would be just as effective.  Just remember to shake the bottle well to mix before applying.  Someone else has just told us that they used a similar formula in the Australian Outback to keep the flies at bay; their recipe was 1/3 each of Dettol, Baby Oil and Methylated Spirits – do not stand near open flame!

We pack up and move on, with a stop at Hapuku Estuary to take in the walk around the wetlands.

nz orchidNZ Orchids.

nz orchid 2and more.  The individual blooms are three to four millimetres across. It has an extremely strong and heady sweet perfume.

ferns 2Epiphytic ferns

ferns…. and some more.

cobwebAh a genuine cobweb, not quite as extensive as those near Cromwell but better constructed.

supple jackSupple jack strangling trees.

Then off up the coast further to find a suitable point to stop for a day or two.

bruce beachMaori Beach, Bruce Bay.

whitebaiting standsWhitebaiting stands at Okupu.

whitebaiting standNot dissimilar to dip netting in Europe.

west coast weatherTypical West Coast weather.    

Spotted along the way

mobile home with tvThe genuine mobile home complete with TV aerial.

Cromwell part 3

February 17, 2012


We are going to leave Cromwell soon, we are, really.  Well, perhaps tomorrow. Its just so relaxing, pleasant and peaceful here we are having trouble dragging ourselves away.  It also helps that our fellow motorhomers here are very, very nice hospitable people, and they also feel the same way – we are all moving off ‘tomorrow’, its just that we are not sure when tomorrow will be.

This time of the year the vineyards are all very busy covering their vines to protect the fruit. It looks as though spiders have been busy overnight, covering the vines with their cobwebs.

cobwebs 2

cobwebs 1In fact they have these crazy contraptions attached to small tractors that feed out the netting.  Some vines are covered over completely from the top, whilst others are covered from the bottom of the vines to about half way up.  We have not worked out the difference or as to why as yet.

Wednesday 15 February

The day has come, we have decided its time to move.  The weather forecast for the West Coast for the next week appears to be very favourable so its time to go.  First we head into Cromwell to the dump station, also heading to Lowburn to fill the water tanks from the lovely bore water there.

We had no real plans as to our destination today but we are heading toward the West Coast. 

View from the passenger windowLake Wanaka en route past Lake Wanaka toward Makarora.

plane parkPlane parked at Makarora beside the road.

We ended up for the day at a DOC parking spot at Camerons Flat, a few kms past Makarora where we were told that there were no sandflies!  Yeah right. Bernice is proving to be the magnet for the said sandflies and she is not impressed.

camerons flatParked at Camerons Flat before the 12 other vans/cars turned up.

up the Makarora riverAnd the view from the van looking down the Makarora river valley.

Roy went off for a walk to the Blue Pools whilst Bernice remained cocooned in the van with all the fly screens firmly in place!

However first he went further down the road to Camerons River where there was a short walk to a Lookout which gave views back toward the Makarora River and our parking place.

camerons lookoutYes that is us parked at the top left of the light coloured patch at the left of the photo.

From there a quick backtrack up the road to the track into the Blue Pools

swing bridgeTwo swing bridges were encountered, this being the first across the Makarora River.  This was after some 15 minutes of walking downhill from the road through typical Beech and Totara bush.

blue pools 2 Looking down the river to the second bridge which is over the Blue River where the two meet.  The rock towers have been made by various visitors over time.

blue pools 3The second Swing Bridge across the Blue River and the Blue Pools. Note the large slip at the far end of the bridge.  Obviously not too old but it must have created havoc at the time it occurred!!

blue pool 5  Looking down into the Blue Pool below the bridge.  The water is extremely clear giving a good view to the bottom of a deep pool.

blue pool 4 Lovely Rainbow trout spotted from the bridge.  Unfortunately there is a sign here requesting people not to fish the pools!!!

rock gardenA closer picture of the rock garden at the confluence of the two rivers.  Prone to destruction during heavy rain events in the headwaters of either or both rivers.

In th

Cromwell part 2

February 12, 2012

This is probably the longest we have stayed in one spot for a while.  11 days (so far) on the shores of Lake Dunstan. We have plans to head to the West Coast, but we have been staying on here as Roy needed to be within reasonable driving distance of Dunedin and/or Timaru.  It is amazing how it makes one feel being held up by other people, as we are actually quite happy to be here so long as it is our decision to stay put and not someone else’s.We did travel to Mosgiel on Friday 10 February as Roy could finally get his task completed…only nearly 2 weeks after he asked for it to be done.    Gripe over!

Not far from where we are parked is a marker for the 45th Parallel, interestingly, another marker for the parallel is just out of Oamaru. Same parallel but very different landscape, weather, geology and geography.


We have seen some lovely sunsets and cloud formations and in the photo below you can catch a glimpse of the full moon in the top right hand side.  Oh and it is amazing the people you meet, the 5th wheeler in the photos below in front of our van belongs to a couple from Tauranga…….but what do you know?  they used to be in Tokoroa. We spent many a happy hour reminiscing and catching up on mutual friends.

parking sky

We have been out and about on a few drives around the area and came across this interesting sign!

ps 1

With this “man and his horse” near the sign.

ps 2Perhaps he is as happy as a pig in …….

Of course we should mention the weather, it has been glorious with temperatures well into the 30’s most days.  We have even taken to having a swim or two to cool off.  The evidence is below;

swim 2

swim 3 swimbathing beauty!

We have even caught up with more of the ladies Alex and I met on our Singapore trip, I ran into Joan from Milton at the ice-cream shop!  And we had a lovely dinner with Marie, Glenda and Toby last week at Glenda’s place.

There are a number of people parked up here who are here on a semi permanent basis, some are working on nearby vineyards or orchards and there is one family here who live in their very large 5th wheeler/truck who have 8 boys!!  Yes, 8!  And they would have to be one of the happiest, nicest families we have come across.  You hardly know that they are here, the kids play happily together and spend a lot of time in the water and riding their bikes. 

Roy has been out every day trying to catch one of those elusive fish…. no luck so far but he keeps trying.

Another day and another drive – well, we do have a 4WD! -  this time over the back of Bannockburn to Clyde.

cromwell 2 View back to Cromwell from the top of the pass.

And this is what we get up to every afternoon around 5pm….people come with their chairs, drinks, and sometimes nibbles, when we sit in the late afternoon sun, talk, laugh and solve the problems of the world. Cheers!



February 5, 2012

Gale force winds were forecast for Central Otago for Tuesday and Wednesday, with this in mind we decided to stay put in Alexandra for the next couple of days.  Fortunately, the forecast winds seemed to avoid us for a change. 

Thursday morning we left Alexandra and headed toward Cromwell,

dont knowView from the road looking across the top of the Clyde Dam to a fabulous parking spot. 

Onto Cromwell, first stop was the dump station and refill with water.  We had heard from another couple of motorhomers that you can park alongside Lake Dunstan, in particular behind the Lowburn Collie Club. 

Which brings to me to a point about so called ‘Freedom Camping’.    The Freedom Camping term has such negative connotations and really relates to those who park/sleep in cars, have absolutely no facilities and give those of us who are responsible and self contained a very bad name.  We are not Freedom Campers, we prefer the term ‘Self Contained Parking’. Stepping off soap box now!

parked 2Parked up.

calm This is our view from our van, parked up on the shores of Lake Dunstan, reflecting on life!

Friday, Roy had some business to attend to in Queenstown so off he went for the day.  But not before stopping off in Cromwell to organise somewhere for Mike to forward our snail mail.  Whilst he was in town, he ran across Glenda (one of the women Bernice & Alex had met in Singapore at the Netball World Champs) whom just happens to own the local Mitre 10.  Guess where we had our mail sent on to? 

Saturday morning and we headed into town to do a bit of shopping and to meet Glenda for a coffee and collect the mail.  Thanks Glenda, and thanks Mike, the mail turned up Saturday morning!  Whilst at the supermarket we saw this caravan and thought that perhaps our next downsize would be to something like this? 

caravan 1Cute caravan

 caravan 2  Small, but perfectly formed!

Or perhaps we could tow it with the RAV4 and use it as a dog box for whoever should be in it!!

We met up with Glenda and Marie (another fellow Singapore/Netball traveller) and invited them out to see the van and to join us for drinkies.  They brought their friend Jenny along with them and we settled down for a relaxing afternoon drink or two.   Well, drinkies turned into dinner and more drinks……

girls 1 

Bernice, Marie, Jenny and Glenda – toasting Alexandra (the daughter not the town!)

Stories told, plans made for us all to go to the FastNet Netball World Champs in Auckland in November, great food, lots of laughs, wine supplies depleted!  Shall we do it all again tomorrow?  You bet!

Meanwhile Roy has been trying out his hand a fishing, but so far without any luck. 

But I have been consulting all the local or itinerant fishermen to try and pick up as much information as possible.  So men can ask directions, it just has to be for the right task!!

Now I find out that I am being outfished by my son who went to Port Charles for the weekend and managed to get fish.


February 2, 2012

We are starting to get the hang of this lifestyle,  with the wine glasses coming out late afternoon for a relaxing drink before we start on organising dinner.   Speaking of which, we have had a few stunningly simple dinners, tonight was a particularly good example; Bread and Roast Tomato Salad.  Sounds simple enough but the flavours were fabulous and of course the bread was our homemade sourdough. 

However, some things never change as over the past couple of days have seen us very busy in the kitchen. The weather forecasts were for gale force wind and rain which did not eventuate so it seemed appropriate to plan some indoors activities.  We had purchased a lovely big box of tomatoes which we have subsequently turned into Tomato & Chilli Relish and jars of Roasted Tomato Passata.  We should be reasonably set up for preserves over the following few months.

Mondays highlight was watching the local Fulton Hogan team delivering a building onto the site next door to us.  Apparently this building is to become the local “Men’s Shed”. 

First indication of anything happening was when this truck and trailer unit turned up in the car park next door to the POP with a shed on it.

shed 11

There is a gate between the car park and the location where the building was to go, with a six foot fence either side. No problem just lift the whole building up by extending the wheels on the trailer unit.

shed 10

shed 9

Then slowly proceed through the gate with the sides of the building overhanging the fence on either side.

shed 8

shed 7

With little room to manoeuvre inside the fence it turns out that the wheels of the trailer are also steerable.  This is done by a guy wandering around with a remote control box.  So between him and the driver of the truck they are able to turn the whole system on a sixpence.

shed 4

Note the gap in the piles where the wheels of the trailer will go to allow the shed to be positioned on the outer piles.  These holes caused a small problem as the wheels of the trailer managed to align themselves in the right place to coincide with the holes so the whole unit had to move forward again and the holes were filled  with wooden blocks.

Finally in position the weight of the shed was transferred from the trailer to four jacks on each side of the building controlled by the operator at the blue control panel.  Each of the eight jacks was operated independently until the weight was lifted up off the trailer.

shed 3

Then the trailer moved out from under the shed.

shed 1

Lifted up the trailer again and moved off the site

shed 14

The team then moved in under the shed to install the missing piles

shed 13

 shed 2

And finally here is the end product.  The “Men’s Shed” installed on site.

 shed 12  

Over the next few days the building was tied to the piles and services are being installed to provide electricity water and sewage.

So a slightly different method of establishing a shed from that which was undertaken at Jason’s place!