South Island 2018

South Island Days 14 and 15 : 6 - 7 April 2018

I got up to to a clear starry sky over Lake Heron at 6am, and left Liz in the warmth of her sleeping bag, and headed around past the farm house to boat shed we had seen yesterday.  I took a few shots but wasn't really getting what I wanted so I moved further around the shore to find a little bay that faced the rising sun.

I stood and waited for the sunrise, watching the paradise ducks flying around and the little bit of cloud that there was on the horizon light up.  After an hour or so I headed back to camp, had some breakfast, drank some coffee, packed the van ( for the last time in a scenic location; our last night before flying home to Napier will be spent at a camp site in the suburbs of Christchurch ), and left at about 8:30am

We pretty much drove straight into Christchurch, which took about 2 1/2 hours, for the camp in Papanui ( Top 10 Christchurch ) checked in ( using a drive through checkin ), paid the $48 and parked the van.  We have stayed at this camp before, and it is a great location both for getting to town and the airport.  It is used a lot by people starting or finishing their campervan holidays in the South Island.

We jumped on a bus and headed into town, getting off at the Central Bus Station and having a quick wander along Colombo St. This is our 3rd visit to Christchurch since the earthquakes that struck in 2011, and each time there are more and more buildings built, and it gets more of the feel of a City again.  This time is no exception, with a new area of Cashel St having been reopened which gives Christchurch a good central shopping area, and also with the main 3 banks having returned to the CBD.   One of the best things about the new buildings in the Christchurch CBD are their use of alleyways and laneways within the buildings, with little hidden courtyards and cafes.  I can only assume this comes from the planning rules that are in place for these new buildings; so well done Christchurch City Council!

So we grabbed some lunch at Ballantynes then wandered around the shops, through the Square ( still no change to the Cathedral ) and along the Avon to the Earthquake memorial.  Then back to the bus depot at 2:30pm and back out to Northlands Mall for a wander around the shops and a milkshake.  We walked back to the camp at 3:30pm and relaxed.

We decided to have a night off from the sunset / sunrise schedule of the last couple of weeks, and headed in to the Casino for some tea and a donation to their coffers, and drove back to the camp at 8:30pm.  It feels weird being back in a city again, after 2 weeks travelling around some of the quieter areas of New Zealand, with the traffic and people all around. 

We were up at 7:30am the next morning, had some breakfast then packed up the van. As this camp is the starting point for peoples travels there is a cupboard in the kitchen for all those left over things that you might have at the end of your trip ( sugar, salt, pasta, beer etc ). So we paid forward all our left over supplies, including the gumboots we bought after arriving in Christchurch.  We then packed all our belongs into our bags and headed out of camp at 9am.  Before we returned the van we needed to fill up with diesel and also fill the gas bottle.  So after visiting 2 service stations we ticked both of those boxes and headed out to the Mighty offices out by the airport to return our home on wheels ( and settle up the final account ), and catch the shuttle to the airport.

As per normal we had plenty of time to kill at the airport ( we checked in for our 1:20pm flight at 10:30am ), so we headed upstairs to catch up on some work, have coffee, lunch etc.

We went through to our gate at 1:00pm, and onto the plane and off home again at 1:30pm.


Wrap Up

This was a really interesting trip for us; the focus of this trip was photography, and we spent most of our time either shooting or processing photos.  We didn't do any tourist activities that you would normally do on a South Island holiday, and it was nice not to feel the need to do them. 

Again we got to visit some of New Zealand's amazing locations, and again we made the effort to visit some areas that aren't on the tourist route, but are equally as stunning.

But the highlight ( and the main purpose for the trip ) had to be the Warbirds over Wanaka airshow; just an amazing day of planes in a stunning location.  

Until next time....thanks South Island


South Island Day 13 : 5 April 2018

Fine, hazy, windy, 23°C

Got up at 5:30am and left at 6am to head to the Boulders, this time we parked at the main visitor centre carpark and walked down the steps to the boulders.  We were first on the beach this morning, probably because the tide was high which is not as good for photos, but it was lower than last night which was good.

We spent about 1 1/2 hours taking photos as the sun came up, chatted to some other photographers, and tried to avoid the waves.  We headed back to the van and then back to camp to grab some breakfast, empty the waste tanks etc.  We left again at 9am and headed north on SH1.

Just a note for anyone heading to Moeraki in a camper van; the road into the camp at Moeraki is terrible, it was washed away a few years ago and has never really been fixed.  It is passable but really rough.

Anyway back on the seal and north again, we stopped briefly at a church in the little seaside town of St Andrew's ( yes, it has a golf course as well! ) for some photos, then onward again.  We turned off at Winchester and headed inland to Geraldine for a quick bite of lunch at 12pm, and a wander around the shops.  Today my cheese roll intake was added to, although they used the fancy name of Scroll's instead.

Onwards again across the South Canterbury plains and into Mt Somers, then in to the Ashburton Lakes area.  We visited this area a couple of years ago and loved the scenery, and the peace and quiet of the place, so we were heading in again.  This is where I took one of my favourite photos:

This time we were heading to Lake Heron so we turned off the seal at Hakatere and onto the dusty gravel road into Lake Heron.  Again the scenery on the drive didn't disappoint with rugged hills rising out of the valley, snow on the distant mountains and a few small blue lakes on the side of the road.

After about 20 minutes on the gravel road we arrived at our campsite ( part of the Arrowsmith Station ) in a little valley next to the lake.  We paid the $20 fee into the honesty box, ignored the sign that said the camp was closed between April and October ( the toilets on site were still unlocked and there was one other camper in residence, so it looked open to us ).  The large site had about 30 caravans parked up ( all empty except 1 ) so it would be a busy place in summer.  The camp has no mobile coverage at all, so we were completely off grid for the night.

We found a spot, then went for a walk along the road past the farm house, talked to a family of Tahr in a paddock until the male got grumpy and started to attack the fence, then around the lake a bit further, then back to camp.  Time for a rest and some coffee!

I headed out again about 4pm to walk in the other direction to the southern shore of the lake ( the lake edges vary quite a lot, from swamps to tree lined beaches to open grass plains with stony beaches ) to have a look and take some photos.  Back to camp at 4:45pm.

Back out again at 6pm to the south shore for sunset among the rocks then back to the van in the dark at 7:15pm

Time for tea and rest.

South Island Day 12 : 4 April

Fine, 23°C

Another early start this morning to a partly cloudy sky.  I walked out to the beach and then around onto the rocks are the left hand end of the beach, and watched the sunrise develop.  After a nice sit on a rock for an hour or so I walked back to the beach, met Liz, and walked back to the van for some breakfast.

We packed up and left at 8:30am and drove back into Dunedin.  We wanted to see the Otago Wildlife Photography Competition Exhibition at the Otago Museums, so we drove back through town, got some supplies at a Countdown, then stopped briefly to get a shot of the Railway Station, then to the Museum.  Found a park on the street ( how about some parking for campervans in town DCC, so I don't have to take up 2 pay-and-display parks! )and walked to the museum a couple of blocks away.  It is surprisingly warm this morning given that we are well into Autumn and there is snow due next week.

We had a look around the exhibition, with some amazing photos on display, and then grabbed a coffee in the cafe at the museum.

Back to the van at 12pm and we drove out to Port Chalmers then up and over the windy road back to Waitati, and back onto SH1. North again stopping in Palmerston ( South ) for diesel then to Moeraki, our home for the night.

We checked in to the Moeraki Village Holiday Park ( $35 ), parked up, and had some lunch.  We spent the afternoon catching up on a few digital jobs then headed out to the Moeraki Boulders ( about 6 minutes up the road ) at 6:15pm.  The tide was quite high at the boulders, so we stayed as long as we dared then headed back to the Moeraki Harbour for the last of the sunset colour.

Back to camp at 7:15pm for some dinner.

South Island Day 11 : 3 April 2018

Cloudy, clearing, fine, 20°C

Awake at 6am to a cloudy sky, but fine 2 hours later.  Got up at 8:30am, had breakfast then packed up the van. Left the camp at 9:30am, drove into Alexandra to take a couple of photos of the Clutha River and the old bridge, then we headed across the bridge and south towards Roxburgh.

As you climb up out of Alexandra the landscape becomes quite surreal, with large fields with large rocks scattered across them.  It is hard to know if these are rocks on top of the landscape, or if we are seeing the top of jagged peaks poking through the soil. After about 30kms of this landscape the road descends back down into the fertile fields just north of Roxburgh and then into the town itself. We detoured across the Clutha River for a look at the current ( version 3 ) bridge, along with version 1 and version 2 bridge remains.

Then back onto State Highway 8 and south again.  Most of the way along the road from Roxburgh south we had the Clutha Gold Trail cycle track shadowing us, which looks like a nice ride which partly follows the old railway embankments in the area.

We stopped in Lawrence ( the site of NZ's first gold discovery in 1861 ) at 11:30am and had a look around the town.  It seems to be over supplied with Churches and Bank Buildings, both a reflection of the gold rush times I guess.

Then onwards again back down across the plains to State Highway 1 and then north to Milton for some lunch at a little cafe at 1pm.  I am trying to fit in as many cheese rolls to my diet as I can while I am down in this part of the world, so I had a couple more today.

Onwards again then across the Taieri Plains then up and over into Dunedin.  Unfortunately the only way to get from South of Dunedin to North of Dunedin is to crawl through the centre of town, so after what seemed like 1/2 hour of traffic lights and one way streets we climbed out the other side and then down to Warrington, which was our destination for the night.

We found the free camp ( thanks Dunedin City Council ) and parked up at 3pm.  This camp is located on a wide sand spit between the sandy beach on one side and an estuary on the other.  The camp area itself has some permanent toilets as well as a few portaloo's scattered around, and in the morning we counted 60 vehicles parked up for the night.

We went for a walk to the beach ( the south of the South Island as some amazing sandy beaches ) then to the estuary and then back to the van to relax.

Out again at 5:30pm for the short drive up to St Barnabas Church ( also spelled Barnabus on some maps ) on the hill overlooking Warrington to shoot the sunset.  St Barnies is a stunning little country church, with one of the biggest series of stained glass windows I have seen in a church this size, and it is on the back wall of the church as well. The windows were installed in 2 stages, the central window in 1896, and the other 4 windows in 1935.  The story goes that the later windows were designed for a church in Brisbane to commemorate the soldiers from the First World War, but because the windows were made in Germany they were rejected by that church and purchased for the little church in Warrington instead.

The sunset was nice and it was very pleasant standing in amongst the graveyard watching the darkening sky.  At 7pm we headed back to camp for tea and relaxation.

South Island Day 10 : 2 April 2018

Rain, wind, fine, 20°C

Awoke to the sound of wind and rain washing out the sunrise shoot, so we had a wee lie in.

Got up at 9am and grabbed breakfast and packed up the van. The rain had gone but it was still windy.  Time to say goodbye to the awesome camp at Glendhu Bay, and we headed back into Wanaka at 10am, for some more shopping.

We left Wanaka at 11am, and headed out past the airport ( there were still quite a few planes from the Warbirds over Wanaka there, which was causing a bit of a traffic jam with people slowing down to look ) and the south along the side of the Clutha and Lake Dunstan to Cromwell.  Today and tomorrow we will follow the Clutha from it's source in Lake Wanaka to near it's outflow at Balclutha.

We headed through Cromwell and crossed over the Kawarau Arm of Lake Dunstan to get to Bannockburn.  We drove around the vineyards and through the pretty little town then back across the bridge and back into Cromwell.  We decided to visit the 'historic' area of Cromwell, as the previous 2 times we had been here it had been raining.  We parked up and had some lunch first at 12pm ( fresh croissants and ham and cheese... ) then walked around the buildings that they had rescued / rebuilt from the old part of Cromwell that was now sitting underwater in Lake Dustan ( which was formed from the filing of the Clyde Dam in 1992/3 ) After a nosey around we headed back to the van and drove across the bridge and onto SH8  which would take us through the Clutha Gorge to Alexandra.

We drove through Alexandra ( or Alex as it normally known ) and found our camp at Alexandra Holiday Park ( $38 for 1 night ) and found a spot to park at 2pm

We relaxed for a bit in the sun then had a wander around the camp and down to the river, then back to the van and out for a scout for a location to shoot the sunset.  We headed to the old pioneer cemetery on the east side of the Manuherikia River then headed up the lookout on the road to Little Valley.  This lookout has a great view over the town of Alex and the surrounding area, and the hills have amazing rock formations and wild thyme covering the whole area.  We thought this would be a good spot to shoot later so we headed into town, gave a small deposit to the local gaming machines then headed back up the lookout at 6pm and waited for the sunset.

I never get tired of shooting sunsets, as you never know what you are going to get from Mother Nature.  Tonight looked really promising, lots of high cloud around, but the planned shot over the town yielded no colour in the sky as a big area of dark cloud appeared just before sundown, but the sky exploded in the other direction.  So Liz and I scrambled across from where we had set up our cameras to the other side of the ridge to capture the colour before it faded.

We headed back down the road at about 7pm and back to camp for some dinner.  Now that daylight saving has ended the evenings certainly feel longer which is nice when you want to edit photos / type blogs before bedtime comes around.