The great New Zealand Road trip south....

Sun 15 Jan 2017 06:57
"46.36.54S 168.21.26E"
So we have now driven from Cape Reinga the North of North Island to Bluff, the South of South Island.... The best part of a thousand miles.
We left the boat in Whangarei the day before New Years Eve and headed south to Martinborough to meet our friends the Hendersons, Sky Lark. New Years Eve was splendid, starting with a bit of a tour of a local Winery or two!  We then visited a fantastic model railway layout and museum. I do miss my model railway, maybe when I have grandsons.... Or daughters! (Gill inserted that bit!)
Another museum we spent all day in was Te Papa in Wellington.  You could easily spend several days looking round this fantastic interactive spectacle. We were all fascinated and it was extremely popular.  The Hendersons then set off to catch the ferry whilst we went to see the latest Star Wars film before eating a magnificent curry and catching the overnight ferry to South Island. 
The ferry arrives in Picton where the Edwin Fox is in dry dock. She is the last surviving ship that took convicts to Australia and also early settlers to New Zealand. They have decided to preserve her but not renovate. Replica steerage bunks allowed one to see how little space a family had to live in. The concept in New Zealand seems to be that museums should be hands on, it works well. 
From there we headed to Blenheim...and more museums! Five museums in four days, I thought this trip was about amazing scenery!  We also found the home of Blenheim Vintage Car Club. A big barn full of classic cars from the 1920s to the 1970s. An incredible thing about this country is how many classic cars are on the road being used on a daily basis!
Next stop Hanmer Springs where we met up with Sky Lark again and also Jade. There are hot springs and pools converted into a water park. Big slides and hot spa pools. We spent all day there. Kaikoura, the epicentre of the recent earthquake was an eye opener!
A second earthquake town, Christchurch was a sad ghost town. 
After that we headed further south to Oamuru. The best camp site and the best town we have visited in New Zealand. The first night having sampled the brewery Eleanor and I walked down to the breakwater in search of blue penguins returning for the night. We were rewarded by seeing dozens run up the beach! As we walked back we saw a juvenile about two metres away running around some upturned dinghies.  The following day we wandered around this charming town and visited Steampunk HQ. An array of mechanical artefacts and skulls designed to delight and surprise. Old trains converted to futuristic (post apocalypse) with bits of rusty steel all around. An "Elf and Safety" nightmare, but fine in NZ, apparently you can't sue people if you are refreshing. That evening we all headed to the breakwater and once more saw penguins. When we returned to the camp site a number of the little fellows joined us. Just delightful. 
Further feathered fun was found in Portebello near Dunedin where we saw the beautiful and majestic Royal Albatross. These birds can live to over sixty, have a wingspan up to 3.5 metres and fly nearly 1,000 miles in 24 hours!  Sadly the Long Line fishing industry is decimating the population. 
We are now in Bluff, the theoretical end of New Zealand. As can be seen from the photograph we have done "The Great New Zealand Road Trip".  We have also now been to the place that persuaded me to come to New Zealand.  To quote the Lonely Planet. "We can't think of another hardware shop to have made it into a Lonely Planet guidebook...." E. Hayes and Sons however has in and amongst the gondolas of nuts, bolts tools etc. around a hundred old motorcycles and cars. A free museum in a shop, they even serve free coffee!  The pride of their exhibition and the reason why we are here is the Worlds Fastest Indian, Burt Munro's record breaking motorbike.... Top notch!
We rounded the day by watching Superbike and sidecar racing. Heaven. 
More to follow....
From a very windy town, far, far south
Alasdair, Gill, Habitat and Pickles...with Stewart, Louise, Eleanor and Hannah


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