Sunday, 27 May 2012

Planning the future.

Yes we are still here and sorry about the length of time since I last blogged.

It took us several years to plan and organise our life aboard Narrowboat Gypsy Rover and we are now back at the same stage working out where we go from here. Where would we like to live? Our present home being on the top of a hill with very little public transport is not ideal. Travelling the country since our motorhome arrived back in October we have seen numerous places that have a certain appeal. We just have to weigh up the pro’s and con’s.

The decision in 2006 not to store our furniture but dispose of it seems to have been the right decision as we are now replacing the essentials with new gear which will set us up for the future. In the meantime a constant watch on Trade Me, and eventually we will find all the other little bits and pieces we would like. This week we move back home after 6 years, interesting!

With our 3 month South Island tour now behind us we have seen many aspects of life away from the big city lights. With the South Island being New Zealand’s largest land mass with less than a third of the population life is very different. Staying at a variety of places like A&P show grounds, race courses, farms, small holdings and private properties has been very interesting.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

What do we do now?

We have recently had notice that our tenant will be vacating our home at the end of the month. It looks like a change of our plans as we are reluctant to get another tenant now.  We have been extremely lucky in the last 6 years when we headed for the UK to live on our narrowboat.  For the first few years my eldest son lived there before he moved to Hastings in 2010. When he shifted north he found his partner’s mother who has rented it until now. How lucky we have been with such excellent tenants and the property is as good as the day we left, if not better.

The problem is, no furniture! So yesterday Kathryn took us into the Hutt and we traipsed through all the appliance stores to see what was on offer.  The list had to start with a washing machine and a bed.  The rest will follow later as time and funds allow.

After several years using a front loader machine in the UK, this was our preferred choice.  Due to the recession it is a good time to bargain with the salespeople.  Don’t pay the advertised price, always negotiate.  We were able to purchase a brand new Electrolux Front Loader Machine as recommended by the Consumer Magazine for half price.

ElectroluxElectrolux Front Loader Machine.

Today it was extremely wet and cold, so another good day to walk around and check out prices so that we can get an idea on what we are looking at.  Although we had no intention of buying anything we actually ended up with a lovely bed at several hundred dollars below the advertised price.  Another example of negotiating, it was too good a deal to walk away from.  They really don’t want you to walk out of the door empty handed.

In the meantime the exchange rate is improving in our favour to bring the funds in from the UK to pay for them.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Windy Wellington!

We left a calm Richmond early this morning intending to drive to Picton to see if there was a possibility of getting the ferry back to Wellington.

My 96 year old mother had been shifted to the hospital wing of her retirement home and I decided that due to the fact that today was Mothers Day in New Zealand I wanted to visit her.

We had a good trip back up and arrived at Picton around 12.30pm.  I went in and booked the trip across on the Bluebridge Ferry for 2pm.  Couldn’t have been easier.  With the NZMCA discount the cost was $7.00 cheaper than on the Interislander that we travelled down on in February.

We had a reasonably calm trip across Cook Strait in brilliant sunshine. It was dark when we arrived in Wellington around 5.30pm so we headed straight up State Highway 1 to Paremata where we knew we could park overnight. The weather was predicted to worsen and sure enough it was blowing a gale directly off the Tasman Sea when we got there. We decided not to park in the usual spot but headed for the car park where it was a little more sheltered. After a couple of hours with the wind intensifying we turned around and faced into the wind.  We were joined by a small hire campervan around midnight who sheltered in behind us.

This morning we headed across the park to pick up some flowers and chocolates for Mum before driving the 3 or 4 Kms to visit her.  She was pleasantly surprised to see us after being away for 3 months.

We then headed over Haywards Hill to the Hutt Valley and are now parked up at our friend Kathryn’s in Stokes Valley.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Sunny Nelson (well not today!)

Despite the inclement weather we ventured into Nelson this morning to re-acquaint ourselves with the city. First up was South St, a preserved street of 1860 Tradesmen's cottages. The cottages can actually be rented as holiday cottages.

South St Nelson.South St Nelson.

Christ Church Cathedral was next on the visiting list. This building was originally designed similar to Cathedral's in the UK with tall spires. The main part of the building was completed but the bell tower or spire was put on hold until 1964. A redesign was called for and the tower was changed to it’s present design. Made from Takaka stone, it is a very impressive building. While in the Cathedral the organist was having a practice session so we had a free recital thrown in.

Front doors Nelson Cathedral.Front doors Nelson Cathedral.The Rose Window, Nelson Cathedral.The Rose Window.The Font, Nelson Cathedral.The FontThe bell tower, Nelson Cathedral.The Bell Tower, Nelson Cathedral.

It was pleasing to see old and art deco buildings surviving in the CBD among new and refurbished buildings. Dot and Jenny even found a sale on at Millers with everything under $20  which they both took advantage of.

Art Deco State cinema building Nelson.Art Deco State Cinema building Nelson.Stained glass windows in the dome.Stained glass windows in the dome.IMG_7772Three in a row.Nice food here.Nice food here.Symons Memorial gas lamp in Nelson CBD.Symons Memorial gas lamp in Nelson CBD.

On the way home we called into see my daughter and family for a while. Returning to the camp we found visitors hoping to catch up with us. It was Gilbert and Jude who owned a narrowboat in the UK who we apparently passed several times on the “Cut” but never actually met. They sold their boat two years ago to return to New Zealand. They are flying out in a few days time to start a new adventure with a Swift motorhome that they have arranged through Paul and Diane at Castle European, Tauranga. Good luck guys.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Nice time in Richmond.

Along with Robin and Jenny we visited the Waimea Club yesterday, just along the road from the camp for the Sunday Roast at a mere $10. Beef and Pork were on offer and none of us were disappointed. Dessert was on offer for a decent sized bowl at $5 but none of us felt we required it.

IMG_7445Club Waimea Richmond

The club also has a caravan park out the back of the premises which we had a look at. The park was full to say the least and twice the cost of where we are now so no further interest was shown. We have however decided to stay on here until Saturday as we are all very impressed with the area.

Later Dot and I visited my daughter and family on the other side of Richmond. A very pleasant afternoon soon passed and we returned to camp along with some wild venison sausages. My son in law is an avid hunter around the Nelson lakes area and there is always venison and wild pork in the freezer.

IMG_7447Richmond A & P Grounds Richmond

With this great weather still hanging on we had a quiet morning in camp with a quick visit to the local supermarket. After lunch we called into a local Caravan and Motorhome dealer to see what was on offer but nothing spectacular was found.

We then took a trip out to what they call Boulder Bank on the north side of the harbour. It is a very unusual naturally formed rocky substrate measuring 13 kilometre in length.  Stretching from Mackay Bluff and ends at Nelson Harbour.  Haulashore Island was once a part of the Boulder Bank but is now an island after the bank was cut to allow entrance to the harbour. This cut is now 150 metres wide and is dredged every six months to a depth of 10 metres to allow access to the harbour. The Boulder Bank separates Tasman Bay and Nelson Haven.

Boulder Bank, Nelson.Boulder Bank, Nelson.

Saturday, 5 May 2012


There was nothing exciting planned for today. Just a short journey to Richmond taking us closer to Nelson. There was no rush to get away from Motueka and before we left we stocked up on apples from the laundry. We don’t know who was supplying the apples and pears but they just kept on appearing. At the last count there were 5 boxes.

Yer, I can pull it, no sweat!Yer, I can pull it, no sweat!

The road through to Richmond seemed to be a relatively new road as it was reasonably straight and fast. We soon found our next camp at the Richmond A&P grounds. Unfortunately the only draw back is no showers but we can live with that, we do have our own in the motorhome after all..

Moutere inlet.Waimea inlet between Motueka and Richmond.

This afternoon we walked into town for a nosey and had a look at a huge tree stump we had seen on the way into the camp.It turned out to be a Tasmanian Blue Gum planted by Francis Otterson, an early Nelson pioneer in 1847. It was one of 2 planted but the other was cut down in 1959. The remaining tree was put under court order protection until 2005 when a limb broke off. Inspection showed that the tree although still sound was a public liability so was cut down leaving the huge stump.

Otterson's Gum, Richmond. 158 years old but felled in 2005 for safety reasons.Otterson's Gum, Richmond. 158 years old but felled in 2005 for safety reasons.

The tree measured approximately 44m in height with a 32m x 26m crown spread. The trunk measured 3.9m in diameter at a point 1.5m above the ground. All was not lost as a sapling from the tree was presented to and planted by descendants of Francis on another family property.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Riwaka Resurgence?

Another beautiful day in Paradise, what more could we ask. This morning was spent doing the laundry and sunning ourselves during morning tea and lunch.

After lunch Robin took us on one of his Tiki Tours, first to the local museum which is housed in the old High School building. Here we found out that the airfield alongside the camp grounds has been in existence for quite a while. It has made a name for itself with quite a few early aviation landmarks and is prospering very nicely with it’s sky diving, flight training both fixed wing and helicopters. There has been a few mishaps, one where a plane crash landed on a house roof.

Motueka museum in the 1913 District High School building.Motueka museum in the 1913 District High School building.

The area is also known for it’s fruit and Hop growing  for the Brewing industry. They also used to grow Tobacco Hops but I believe this has now finished. In early days all produce had to be shipped out through the Port of Motueka until the railway arrived but that ceased in 1955 after improvements to roads and the emergence of road transport.

Mock up cabin of an 1800's sailing ship.Mock up cabin of an 1800's sailing ship.

The only reminder of the Port of Motueka is a monument which also commemorates the Accession of King Edward VII and the death of a local soldier in the Boer War.

This double sided memorial is to a soldier in the Boer War and the Accession of King Edward VIIThis double sided memorial is to a soldier in the Boer War and the Accession of King Edward VII

Out on the mud flats lies the rusting hulk of the Janie Seddon which was supposed to have been called the Janie Spotswood but the Prime Minister of the time, the Rt Hon Richard Seddon decided to name it after his niece. The ship was built in 1901 in Scotland as a Submarine Mining vessel serving in both World Wars in Wellington Harbour. In 1946 she was decommissioned and sold. Her new owner converted her to a trawler which she was not really suited too. She was laid up at Motueka Wharf in 1950 and beached for scrapping in 1955.

The Janie Seddon, examination boat and converted to a trawler. Built 1901,laid up 1950 beached for scrap 1955.The Janie Seddon, examination boat and converted to a trawler. Built 1901,laid up 1950 beached for scrap 1955.

Another place of interest was the Riwaka Resurgence which is the headwater of the Riwaka river. Hidden away in the Kahurangi National Forest the river surges out of an underground cave, cold and crystal clear.

The Riwaka Resurgence in the Kahurangi National Park. Headwaters of the Riwaka river.The Riwaka Resurgence in the Kahurangi National Park. Headwaters of the Riwaka River.

The whole area is cold, dark and damp with Moss and Lichen growing on everything. Sunshine obviously doesn’t reach this deep canyon very often.

So damp and cold below the Riwaka Resurgence that moss and lichen grow everywhere.So damp and cold below the Riwaka Resurgence that moss and lichen grow everywhere.The pathway through the Kahurangi National Park to the Riwaka Resurgence.The pathway through the Kahurangi National Park to the Riwaka Resurgence.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Dropping out of the sky.

Today we said farewell to Geoff and Pauline after going out for a farewell meal last evening, as they have to head back to Wellington for Pauline to have her hip replacement. We again had a mild overnight frost  leaving us with another cloud free sunny day.

Peninsula suspension bridge with a 3500kg weight limit.Spotted yesterday. The Peninsula suspension bridge with a 3500kg weight limit. We’re too heavy for that.

We spent most of the morning sitting out in the sunshine watching the aircraft and helicopters taking off from the airfield next door. There is a flying school located on site which accounted for some of the activity. Every now and then a plane load of parachutist’s went up and we watched them return to earth. Some of them were displaying their expertise with a few stunts. The pilot of the aircraft that took them up came back to earth very rapidly also. It looked as if he was going into a nose dive pulling up at the last minute before landing safely.

Peninsula suspension bridge with a 3500kg weight limit.Looking along the Peninsular Suspension Bridge

This afternoon we ventured into town for a bit of shopping. At “The Warehouse” we came across the worst customer service we have seen in any Warehouse that we have visited.

There was only one checkout open and the Supervisor called 3 times for staff to open other checkouts due to a long queue. Even the lady who was on checkout called to 2 young ladies in the customer service office who were doing nothing more than talking to come and help. The response was an obvious snub. The supervisor then opened a checkout herself with the comment she didn’t know if she could remember how. Eventually one young lady from customer service did begrudgingly open up another checkout but the whole thing was a disgusting display of poor customer service. I think Mr Tyndall would not be impressed.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Down on the Farm.

Frosty start to the day at Tapawera camp site.Frosty start to the day at the Tapawera POP.

Waking to a –3.3deg frost this morning was bad enough but to have the gas run out about 15 minutes after putting the heater on was not fun. Dragging myself out of the pit again to dress and go outside to change the tanks over soon had the eye wide open.

Jenny getting to grips with goat milking but Billy wants in on the act.Jenny getting to grips with goat milking but Billy wants in on the act.

Hot porridge was needed after all this frivolity to thaw out the inner man. After breakfast we went down to the barn to see the goats being milked and have a chin wag with Mike and Gail. We were duly supplied with our dozen free range eggs and a litre of goats milk to take away and try.

Gail showing how it should be done.Gail showing how it should be done.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Rail Sitters at Kiwi!

There was no hurry to leave Murchison this morning but when we did leave the NZMCA park was empty. A great little spot right in town.

The NZMCA Pop in Murchison.The NZMCA Pop in Murchison. A great spot.

Along the way we stopped off at the Hope Saddle lookout where we could see the light coating of snow dumped on the mountains over the past 2 days. The Saddle is 2085ft above sea level but low cloud shrouded some of the view.

The view from the Hope Saddle on SH6 to Nelson.The view from the Hope Saddle on SH6 to Nelson.Views from the Hope Saddle on SH6 to Nelson.Views from the Hope Saddle on SH6 to Nelson.

Dropping altitude we came down out of the forest onto open farm land. This area right through to Motueka is known for growing fruit and Brewers Hops.

Hops orchard at Tapawera.Hops orchard at Tapawera.

In Tapawera township is a replica of the old Kiwi Railway Station which was on the Nelson to Glenhope Railway. The building houses a photographic record of the area from the late 1800’s and the women’s protest when the railway was threatened with closure. This line was an isolated line not connected to the mainline and as road transport and roads improved freight tonnages dropped and in 1952 was threatened with closure. After some protests the line was given a reprieve until 1955 when closure was again threatened. 

History of the closure and sit in of the Nelson to Glenhope railway.History of the closure and sit in of the Nelson to Glenhope Railway.

Nine plucky ladies took it upon themselves to protest by having a sit in on the railway track. One of these was the late Sonja Davies MP who blocked the line for 8 days. On the final day men arrived to demolish the goods shed and some of the ladies sat on the workmen's ladder trapping the men on the roof or replacing the corrugated iron as fast as it was taken off.

Replica of the Kiwi railway station at Tapawera. It was here women chain themselves to the rails to halt closure of the line.Replica of the Kiwi railway station at Tapawera. It was here women chained themselves to the rails to halt closure of the line.

When the train with the track demolition crew arrived they were again stopped by the ladies on the track. Other protesters shouted support from the side line but eventually the Police had to arrest them all which gave them the press coverage they were hoping for. Unfortunately it didn’t save the line but it did create a rather interesting piece of history.

Whose this coming up the path?Who’s this coming up the path?

Our park over site tonight is another small farm where the proprietor is a shearing contractor. As a side line they breed Welsh ponies, run a few sheep, cattle and chickens for free range eggs. We have already put in an order for a dozen in the morning. Another unusual attraction are some goats that they milk and provide them with up to 3 litres of milk a day.