Backpacking Pensioners travel blog

Waimakariri River at Kairaki

Checking the traps

The whitebait fishers

Marie at her camp

On the road to Kaikoura

A friendly neighbour

Kaikoura Beach

Sylvia's comments

We were more than pleased to get the news that the money transfer had been successful and that once the paper work had been completed we could collect our home. We had gone to Tod's for a coffee, use the internet and say good-bye. I reminded him that we would call back when we passed that way again in 4/5 months time for a piece of cheesecake. He very kindly surprised us with a gift of some sandwiches and muffins to take as a snack lunch. Thank you Tod, we appreciated that kind gesture and they were welcome. We returned to the hotel to collect our belongings and say good-bye to people there and we were on our way. It was raining heavily as we walked down the road where Rob would bring our motorhome out from the docks.

We set off to drive to the testing station in Christchurch; we had already visited it on one of our many trips to the city, so we knew where we were going and arrived with no mishap. The bit of banter that was exchanged with the staff, as to the fact that Scotland had stayed in the World Cup longer than the All Blacks, was soon ended when one of them piped up she was English and joined forces with Jeff. The front page of the daily newspaper, and most of the inside was devoted to what had gone wrong with the team, but there was one consolation for the Kiwi's, Australia had gone out first. The whole country appears to be in mourning

Our motorhome was driven into the inspection area and we were told it would take an hour for the testing so we wandered off for lunch (there was no where to eat any sandwiches so we saved those for tea). On returning we found the van had passed it's test. Now we could register it once we had our exemption from requiring a 'hubble'. In New Zealand diesel drivers are taxed on an estimation of the kilometres they will drive, so we had to work out a kilometres plan and purchase our credits, the diesel at the pump does not carry any tax. When these credits run out we are required to purchase more. The 'hubble' is a distance measure fitted to the vehicle's wheel so authorities can check that we have paid the necessary tax for the distance we have covered. As a 'hubble' cannot be fitted to our Jayco we have to rely on our speedometer reading which is less accurate. The gentleman who grants the exemptions was otherwise occupied so we had to sit and wait.

After what seemed a while, well I only had 'Hello' magazine to read, it was all done and we had all our stickers to put on our windscreen and new number plates. In keeping with our background, NZ allocated us EEC 441, another easy one to remember. Now we had to get our electrics checked before we can go on a power site. It was getting late and we thought we would not get it done tonight but we found a firm that did the testing, changed our connecting plug and put our new number plates on for us.

Our next task was to shop for food and gas bottles, find a site for the night and sort out our home. The gas bottles did not seem to have the connections that would fit our van, but at least we could use our electrics. Once on the site we set work to unpack everything and get the van back to being habitable, it was now we really appreciated our sandwiches for tea.

Tuesday morning we contacted the local Jayco dealer who recommended a place to help with our gas bottles, so at 10.10 am we left the camp site and set off in search of the place. On the way we passed Louise, our shipping agent, outside her office so stopped to thank her and show her our van. We arrived at BOC and they couldn't help but sent us into Christchurch to another place, who also couldn't help, who gave us another number to try. Here we got an answering machine so left a message and we went for lunch. After lunch we had not received any call so we phoned around and visited several places before we eventually found someone who could help and we had two full gas bottles on board.

We drove across the city and picked up the road that would lead us to Highway 1 and north. Today had been a frustrating one but all our trips to and around Christchurch had paid off as we had got to know the city well and had managed to get around with no bother. As we headed out of the city Jeff asked if we had been on this road before, I had just replied that we had not when we passed the camp site we had stayed on last night, from the other side. It was 4. 50 pm and after nearly 6 hours and 80 kms we were back where we had started from.

We were heading north to Kaiopi where we would turn off Highway 1 and drive to Kairaki. We were going to meet Rosemary, a friend from my social work days in Scotland. Rosemary lives in the north island but had flown down on Monday to stay with her friend Marie for a week. We had been invited to park on Marie's drive for the night, so it would give us a chance to meet up again after over 10 years. Having driven all over Christchurch with no problems we missed the turning in the small town of Kaiopi so had to double back. Soon we were at Marie's and all sitting in the late afternoon sunshine with a glass of wine, some nibbles and good conversation. Marie has been out fishing for whitebait and she was telling us some fisherperson tales and showing us the catch of the day. This was to be for our tea. Darryl, Marie's friend, joined us and brought with him one of his home made salami's, which was delicious. We spent a pleasant evening with them and retired early, you have to rise early to get your place on the river for white baiting.

Next morning after breakfast we donned our warm winter woollies and headed down the road to the river mouth to learn about catching whitebait. I was surprised to see how many people were there and it was like a small village, as most people had vans or shelters to sit in out of the cold. We found Marie standing guard over her patch and with a bigger catch than yesterday. She explained the intricacies of the task and we watched as she frequently checked her net. I wandered up to her shelter to speak to Rosemary and after a short interval we wandered back to the house to get a coffee, a warm up and a chat. Jeff remained at the beach with Marie. After catching up with each others news we them made lunch and wandered back down to the beach.

Once lunch was over, Jeff and I said our good-byes (we will meet Rosemary again in the north) and headed back to Highway 1. It had been a dismal damp morning, with showers, but as we headed north the rain set in and it was hard to see the scenery as we drove passed it. We had been recommended a camp for the night at Montuna Beach. The site is a council owned one and is right on the river bank. We got there and parked up with a nice view over the river and watched the rain. It rained all night and was still raining next morning when we left, so we did not see a lot of Montuna beach. Instead of returning to Highway 1 we took the secondary roads around the headland. This was a single track road which was often turned into a gravel road, but it passed through some lovely scenery. Driving along with the rain falling, the mist covering the hills and sheep on the roads we could have almost thought we were back in Scotland. We eventually reached the main road and headed for our destination, Kaikoura, where we hope to be able to see some whales.

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