India| Vietnam | Cambodia | Laos | Thailand | Malaysia | Indonesia | NZ | Fiji | Cook Islands | USA

Monday, 10 January 2011

257-260: Road trippin' with my two favourite allies

After seven glorious days of sunshine in Christchurch (which is a very odd thing to say about that usually awfully dreary span of time between Christmas and the first few hungover days of January) and with all the bits and pieces we thought we needed for Emilio the Van, we set off in a southward direction and what did it do? It rained.

Not even proper rain, not instantly-drenching all-consuming rain...just English rain. That kind of ever-present drizzle that brings just enough cloud to obscure fantastic vistas and just enough dampness to make you not want to be outside. Which was a shame. Nevertheless we continued on to idyllic Akaroa.

Akaroa is, supposedly, a “French heritage village” but, much like Pondicherry in India before it, the only French thing about it is the street signs. Luckily the quiet bay that it sits on, wrapped around the green mountains bring more than enough je nais se qua to the small settlement. It also boasts the first, of what we hope will become many, free camping sites where we passed the evening with views of the bay from the shelter of our beloved Emilio.

From Akaroa we continued south passing through a number of small towns, each the same. Wide roads, stretching farmland, a small high street of shops and an unnerving general lack of people. Now I know, I know, that New Zealand is famously full of sheep not people but we weren't even seeing many sheep! My concern abated – slightly - when we reached Ashburton; big town, many people, and we parked up by Lake Hood for another rainy night in. But where were the sheep...?

Ah yes! Day 3 on the road didn't bring us much in the way of sunshine but the Peel Forest sure showed us where some of the sheep were hiding. The Peel Forest is an immaculately preserved nature reserve with plenty of walks and a fantastic camp site ran by the DOC (Department of Conservation) who, I'm sure, you'll be hearing more of in the future.

Here there were lots of families on their summer holidays and we managed to pick up some local recommendations from regulars to the area. So after a few walks and a number of gloriously hot showers (gotta get it while you can) we made our way the short distance to the Waihi Gorge.

As we drove down the gravel path to the DOC camp site at Waihi Gorge we knew it was going to be special; huge mountains in every shade of green dotted with white clumps of sheep rose up next to the shallow but perfectly clear Waihi River. Though the water was freezing the skies had cleared and at last! we were blessed with brilliantly blue skies.

From our spot we could hear the farmers whistling to their sheepdogs and the merry bleating of sheep just over the steady flow of the river as it wound through rapids and onwards to the coast. This is the life.


  1. Trish says:

    Happy New Year 365 including Emilio! Sounds wonderful! xxx

  2. so glad you found some sheep and some people!! Even better you have found the sun. God bless you - enjoy New Zealand - wish I was there again. Loved it!