Backpacking Pensioners travel blog

A teal colony on the road to Blenheim

An unusual road sign

The seal colony

A view on the road to Blenheim

On the road to Blenheim

On the road to Blenheim

On the road to Blenheim

Back in a wine area

A view on the road to Blenheim

The ducklings


Wairuu River on the way to Blenheim

Black Valley river entering Lake Rotoiti

Lake Rotoiti

Evening at Lake Rotoiti

Sylvia's Comments

Still feeling terrible I spent most of my day around the camp site due to the fact that I could not walk far. At least I caught up with some washing and reading a good book. Jeff went out to the town to do some shopping and get a blow of fresh air. It seems a whale watching trip is not going to be on the cards for us, copeing with sea sickness and this infection is too much for me.

On Wednesday morning we decided to move on to Blenheim, the next major town on Highway 1. We left the camp site and set off up the road with the snow capped peaks of the Seaward Kaikoura Range on our left and the rugged coast line of the South Pacific Ocean on our right. It was a lovely sunny day, which added to the breathtaking views we were experiencing. We stopped at the Ohau Point Seal Colony where we were treated to over 50 NZ fur seals, mainly lazing about on the rocks. Some were playing about in the sea riding the waves. We could have spent all day just watching as there was always something happening in the colony. It seems that the bigger you are (as a seal) the better the rock you get to lay on and any one that dares to put a flipper on your rock gets short sharp shift.

We stopped a few times on the journey to have a coffee or to take photographs, but mainly I was snapping away out of the passenger window trying to capture the stunning views. When the highway left the coast the road wound its way through the hills and farm land. Everything is so green over here, and the sheep have lovely white coats rather than the dirty white colour we were seeing in Australia. However it is much colder so we cannot have everything.

We arrived in Blenheim and found a camp site on the outskirts of the town and by a river. We have only been on three camp sites so far and everyone has got its resident ducks to greet the new arrivals. On this one as we opened the door a few of them rushed over to say 'hello' or perhaps they thought we had some food to share. As well as being by the river the camp site was very close to the main road going north and the railway line, but we soon got used to the noise.

Blenheim is the best place to access NZ's biggest wine growing district and situated on the flat Wairau Plain. The Taylor River flows through the town centre and there are some pretty gardens and walk ways around it, but apart from that there did not seem to be much else. After lunch we set off to find a health centre as I had used up all my anti-biotics and still had this awful pain. This time the doctor sent samples off for testing and prescribed another course of drugs, so I hope this will work. We sat at a pavement café and had a coffee and carrot cake. Jeff asked for large flat white coffees and they came in what I can only describe as soup bowls with no handles. I think that is the first time I have not been able to finish a coffee, will need to check in future what their version of large is.

On Thursday morning we spent time at the camp site just being lazy. At one point when I looked out of our window I saw a family of ducklings hot footing it across the grass towards our van with their mother in pursuit. I quickly opened the door and got the camera out to take a photo when they appeared, the mother seemed to think they should not be there and was giving them nips up the backside to move them on. I told her I just wanted to take a photo of her family and she then appeared to round them all up in front of our door. It was a really funny experience, and it was as if having spoken to her she felt safe.

After lunch we walked through the camp site and along the river bank before heading off to the local store for supplies. By this time I had walked as far as I could and so turned around and went back. Jeff continued his trip into the town to have a look around and get some more shopping. I spent a frustrating afternoon trying to get on the internet with the camp site wireless hot spot, we had booked a day's internet access but after 1 hour it had cut us off. After a number of phone calls to the people who run the internet site they decided to cancel my payment and for me to start again. However this did not work as each time I put my e-mail address in, it said there was a current user with that address. In the end I gave it up as a bad job.

On Friday morning we set off to do a tour of the wineries and tasted some great wines, leaning on the counter helped ease my back, so this was a therapeutic activity! We then returned to the surgery where I was told that my test results indicated there was nothing wrong, this was a bit of a relief in one way but I am still troubled by the pain. They photocopied all my notes so that if I have to call at another doctors I can show them what has been done.

We felt it was now time to move on to our next destination, St Arnaud, in the Nelson Lakes National Park. Leaving Blenheim on Highway 63 we drove through the Wairau Valley with steep mountain ranges on either side of us. We crossed many rivers, all of which were very fast flowing with a thick greyish colour water. They were all very wide and I would imagine look spectacular when in full flood after the winter snow melts. Along this valley are many vineyards, and in fact we had bought a bottle of wine made from grapes grown here. Once again I was hanging out of the window with the camera trying to capture the sheer beauty of it all.

We arrived at St Arnaud and turned off the highway and headed for the Department of Conservation (DOC) campground on the eastern shore of Lake Rotoiti. We made a spectacular entrance by driving down a dip and banging our back end so that the spare tyre fell off. As members of the New Zealand Motorhome and Camping Club we have our red wings on the front and back of our van. To our embarrassment we had pulled up next to fellow members who were sitting outside their motor home watching all of this. The gentleman came around to offer assistance and then asked Jeff why he had not used the path; we hadn't seen any path at the time only tyre tracks going down the dip. Well another mistake we can have a laugh at which did not cost us anything this time.

We walked back to the Information Centre to pay for our site but it had closed only 5 minutes ago. Our return journey was along the banks of the lake where some people were preparing to go off on a fishing trip. It was a lovely evening and tomorrow we hope for another fine day and that we are able to do some of the walks in the area.

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