Backpacking Pensioners travel blog

Our lunch stop on the way back to Alexanda

Alexanda town clock, high up on the hill

Gardens at the fruit and veg stop

The Remarkables back at Queenstown

Lake Wakatipu

Another view over Lake Wakatipu

A view from our POP stop


Jeff

One of the items we discussed at the Herriot rally with some club members was 'free to air' television. It seems that there is an electrician who lives and works at Alexandra, and he makes up satellite dishes at reasonable cost. The necessary equipment will enable us to have good TV reception and much more choice of programme, in most areas of New Zealand. We are making our way back through Alexandra towards Queenstown so as to continue our journey down the side of Lake Wakatipu to Fiordland.

Leaving Herriot, we took a roundabout route to the main road so as to see some more of the local area and drove along to Kelso. An old barn had the word Kelso painted on its side and there was a modern plaque testifying to the fact a community was once their; we did not bother to stop. After turning north on route 90 we passed through a different type of countryside than experienced over the high hills to Herriot. This time we were between the hills and the undulating road passed through a gorge.

Before reaching Ettrick we phoned some people who owned a POP site for the use of club members, (Park Over Property), and asked if we might use the site tonight. It transpired that the property was a vacant lot which had power plugs for three vans, access to clean water and a slot in a shed door to put money donations through. If you charge for two or more vans at one time you are viewed as running a camp site and subject to all the rules that go with this. Here there was no charge, just voluntary donations. The owner of the property informed that they lived at Invercargill where they have a Garden Centre. After I was given the code for the lock so I might gain access to the electricity supply, we drove to the property. We were parked in a secluded corner of Ettrick with an apple orchard at the back of us. Once on site we took a lovely evening stroll to support the local economy by visiting the Inn.

Our journey over the next two days will take us back along SH8 to Alexandra, Clyde and Cromwell and on towards Queenstown before turning south down SH 6. Plotting this on our route map with the facilities available will be beyond us. However we will make it as accurate as we are able. The first stop of our journey today was at Roxburgh, where to our surprise we were hailed by a passing motorhome. It seems we are getting recognised. Travelling north, the passing scenery was just as good in reverse as we enjoyed last Friday; this time we were approaching the snow capped mountains instead of leaving them behind. Two and a half miles before reaching Alexandra is a lake area where camping is permitted and this was our stop for lunch.

After eating we visited the electrician who makes up the satellite dishes for the 'free to air' TV. He was unsure if he had all of the parts needed to make one up at short notice and promised to phone us after 4pm with a yea or nae. We set off to view Alexandra. In the big cheap Wharehouse shop I bought a pair of pants and we selected two CD's. One was by Paul Potts which includes 4 Christmas songs and the other by a very fine young New Zealand singer named Will Martin. You are sure to hear more about this young man who should enjoy a good singing career.

Alexandra owes its beginning to the lure of gold that brought thousands to the Dunstan goldfields and it's permanence to the dredging boom of the 1890's. Nowadays it is more of a service town and owes its prosperity to the orchardists who followed the gold. High on a dominant hill is a very large clock which is easily seen from the town; some locals never use a wrist watch. The river has been known to flood several times but recent flood banks should prevent the river from damaging the town centre in the future. We enjoyed our town centre stroll on a very warm day, and had coffee and cake under the shade of a tree. At 4 pm we phoned Boyd, our electrician. He had a satellite dish for us.

Back at the home of Boyd, who is a Maori, very skilled electrician, and a hell of a nice man, we were shown how to use the satellite dish. The de-coding box was installed and we also purchased a power inverter to allow us to use our computer, or charge our camera batteries, from the van engine battery. This should allow us more opportunities for bush or cheap camping, and all of these purchases will have a value for selling on to someone else when we no longer need them.

It was 7pm when we reached the home of Tub and Robin 6 miles further along the road at Clyde. They were waiting for us to share a barbecue with them. We provided the wine, hand picked by us, (well chosen after trying several bottles at the van Asch winery), and we were then taken on a drive around the local area. The high spot of the tour was up a steep and winding road to a lookout with views for many a mile. Back at home we continued the conversations and I borrowed Tub's folder of jokes to read before bed time.

After reluctantly giving Tub his folder back, we bid them fond goodbye on this Tuesday morning and carried on with our travels. Our first stop was at a nice fruit and veg road side shop which had been full of Japanese tourists when we past on our way south. To our surprise we were hailed as long lost friends by one of the staff wearing her shop uniform. Don't people look different in their work clothes? We will never remember all the faces we met at the rally; why is it they don't have the same problem remembering us? Sylvia took photographs of the nice gardens and we treat ourselves to ice cream with real fruit. The fine quality vanilla ice cream is put into a machine with a good handful of fresh fruit and they are blended together; highly recommended.

Once past Cromwell we travelled through the Kawarau Gorge where we had viewed the river surfers last Friday. The high hills of rock with sparse or no vegetation had impressed me when we first drove through the gorge and this was my favourite section of the road on our return journey. When we reached the van Asch winery we bought another 3 bottles of the 'Pinot Gris'; it really is a nice wine.

At Frankton we filled up with fuel before embarking on our journey with Lake Wakatipu on our right, and the Remarkable Mountains, followed by the Hector Mountains on our left; stopping at a picnic area for lunch with a lake view. Time was moving on. We left SH 6 at Five Rivers and drove across back roads to Mossburn. This proved to be a nice little town with good facilities for travellers. Throughout todays 114 mile journey we had enjoyed excellent weather and we were feeling tired. Our plan to reach Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland was thwarted by too much sight seeing, but who cares.

Sylvia had found a POP site just 3 mile along the road from Mossburn. She telephoned the house and learned the site was vacant and we could stay the night. The house was situated a few hundred yards from the road on farm property with lovely views. When we arrived we were welcomed and shown an area of lawn to park on.

A particularly lovely big tree was bang in the way of the satellite and I was unable to try out our new TV dish. It seemed churlish of me to ask such nice hosts to chop the tree down and so we did without our new TV facilities.



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