After coming down from the hill from the DOC camp at Godley Head, we made our way into Christchurch central to get the oil cap issue sorted. Rocking up to the Fiat dealer I spoke to the parts person who had helped me the day before, he grabbed a mechanic who with one twist removed the cap. Superman in a mechanics outfit I could not believe it.
From the Fiat dealer, it was off to find a bite for breakfast and then off to view some of the sights of Christchurch. Neither of us are city people and although the city is open with not that many tall buildings we both felt slightly uncomfortable in the central city.
Before we left the city, we did, however, take a quick walk around the central area looking at the buildings new and old in various states of repair or building it’s very fascinating. So sad to see the Cathedral in the state it is, even worse than last time I was here two years ago I am sure.
From Christchurch, we wanted to visit Akaroa. When we had last been here 27 years ago, it was a very quaint little village that we both fell in love with. I guess the traffic on the road should have been some sort of clue as to the kind of place it is now with a constant stream of traffic including many campervans heading in both directions. Having stopped at the top of the hill to allow the line of traffic behind me to pass, we had a reasonably clear run down the hill.
It’s a bit hard to see in these photos. Still, there were two cruise ships in town, and the little village was awash with hundreds of extra tourists over and above the plethora of Campervans, making us feel decidedly uncomfortable. With all these people around, we decided to visit some of the quieter spots.
Walking away from the village towards the lighthouse we stopped for a couple of photoshoots, but as we did not have any cash on hand, we couldn’t pay the $2.50 to climb to the top a bit of a shame but maybe next time. From the lighthouse, it was up a muddy track to enter the cemetery from the bottom. There are some ancient graves here with one person born in 1794, the oldest we found. I was also interested to see part of the cemetery for dissenters. (Atheist in today’s speak). It was sad to see a number of the gravestones that had toppled in the Christchurch earthquake still lying on top of the graves without being righted, but I guess the council has other priorities or there are no family members left to sort it out.
The back streets of Akaroa are filled with some historic cottages and villas, some of which have gardens that have had hour after hour spent looking after them with all type of flowers on display. If it wasn’t for the two cruise ships together with all those dam campervans (haha), it would be a great place to stay. But with the site full to overflowing we felt we had to move on.
Driving back towards Christchurch we made a detour to the NZMCA campsite just outside of town at Weedons (7561) with the thought of spending just the one night. It’s an interesting camp with the Main Rail line and State Highway 1 just about next door and the flight path for the Airport directly overhead, so you would think that the noise would be unbearable, strangely enough, though you barely notice the noise. We ended up saying two days just relaxing.
Leaving Weedons, we decided to take the inland scenic route although with the low cloud from the rain there wasn’t much to see early in the drive. Reaching the turn off for Lake Coleridge and knowing there was a campsite there I suggested to Sarah that we pay a visit with her agreeing we set off towards the lake. Reaching the above signboard and the end of the sealed road, we followed the metal road to the camp at Harper Diversion about 20kms. The road was in a reasonable state in most places but heavily rutted in others and covered by a slip in a couple of places. Along the road, we had several 4WD vehicles going the other way giving us extraordinary looks, Like what is this doing on our road?!
Reaching the camp, we came across Charlotte (from France) and Gerald (from the USA) who came up to the van wanting to know if we were going out today as Gerald had fallen out of his bunk during the night damaging his knee making it hard for him to walk. (it’s 30kms back to the road) . As the camp was nothing special after a quick discussion Sarah and I decided that we would give them a lift out back to the road. Not far from there, we came across Chris (from Adelaide) who was wet and cold and also looking for a lift. All three of these walkers were doing the Te Araroa Trail with Charlotte and Gerald starting the trip at Cape Reinga. We dropped Chris at the Lake lodge about 15kms up the road and Charlotte and Gerald in Rakaia as we arrived at the camp.
Arriving at the Rakaia George Camp (7801), we found a great spot right on the cliff edge overlooking the river. We had a bit of fun putting out the step though with all the gravel it had collected on the road making the electric operation a little tricky. A good wash and scrub down it’s now good as new.
The water of the Rakaia is a glacial blue but did not feel that cold although I could not see myself going for a swim as the current was very fast flowing leaving you feeling you would be swept away in seconds. As we walked along the riverbed, we noticed the rather dilapidated footbridge that runs under the main road bridge I imagine OSH would have a fit if you tried to use it. All in all, a beautiful place I am not sure where we will head from here but will study the travel directory and look for inspiration.
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