Christchurch To Hanmer Springs

Leaving behind Lake Lyndon and with it Arthurs Pass, it was onto Christchurch for a quick stay at the NZMCA camp at Weedons whilst we had a house battery issue checked out by UCC Motorhomes.

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Arriving at the UCC office we left the Motorhome in the capable hands of Ross their manufacturing manager while they kindly lent us a Honda Accord to run round in. With the loan car we decided to head out towards New Brighton Beach for a look see.

First stop was to find a store that stocked some decent rain coats as well as some better walking shoes as with winter coming and no sign of us going home yet we needed to be better equipped. We found the Big Brand Outlet Store with everything we needed at decent prices now we just need to break in the shoes so we can get out walking some of the tracks here in the South Island.

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As Sarah had not been in Christchurch prior to this trip she had not seen any of the devastation caused by the earthquake so as we got closer to New Brighton and we started to see the empty sub divisions where all the houses had been removed it was a real eyeopener that really brings it home.

Arriving at the Pier which is currently being rebuilt after being damaged in the quake it wasn’t really a day to be strolling along the promenade with a biting southerly blowing so when Ross called us to say that he had looked at the Motorhome we headed back to the warmth of the car to defrost and collect the Motorhome.

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It’s only a short drive up the road from UCC Motorhomes to the camp at Weedons where as you can see from the above photo of all the hail down the side of the van it didn’t get any warmer.

However as we went to register for the camp it got a lot warmer in the shed as they had a blazing fire in the woodburner and then Renee and Geoff who we have met a couple of times on the road also popped in to say that they thought it was us they had seen arriving in the Dethleffs. They came over to our Motorhome and we spent a couple of hours catching up.

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The next morning we went with Renee and Geoff to the Hornby Mall taking advantage of their car rather than trying to park our motorhome to grab a few supplies as well as a little vacuum cleaner to get to all those hard to reach spots in the MH. At $189.00 not a bad investment.

With the battery issue not properly resolved and our intention to spend some extended time here in the South Island we headed to Burnsco to pick up one of the last 2.0KW generators (the model has since been replaced and gone up in price) as an emergency back up. We also wanted to get the waterproof connector 10amp to 16amp but these weren’t in stock so another detour to RV Supplies out by the Airport.

Reaching RV Supplies (Maui) we found that parking out front was all broken yellow lines so we had to park a little down the road as we didn’t fit in their marked spaces only suitable for cars. Hello – Don’t you deal in Motorhomes!!! Anyway part purchased without hassle.

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It was very disappointing that parked at Maui under their sign are a three of NZMCA motorhomes all with their member numbers still visible with no attempt made to cover them over. I assume that these are part of the Mightyway fleet, as we know that Maui runs this service. So one can only hope that Maui themselves cover over the numbers/wings before the vans leave the premises but you would have thought it was the owners responsibility.

Leaving Christchurch behind after our fleeting visit it was onto Oxford 80 kms up the road to catch up with Brian who we had met whilst riding the Otago Rail Trail. With the motorhome parked up on his driveway and plugged into power it was good to be able to turn on the heater under power for the first time. Since we almost never plug into power we are still learning how to use some of these things.

Turns out Brian is quite the cook with a wonderful pork belly meal and a glass of wine for Sarah it was  great evening. Thanks Brian.

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Leaving Brian who was on his way to a Freewheelers Rally we headed towards Hanmer Springs and the Lewis Pass with the motorhome clocking a major milestone with the 10K  mark coming up after just 7 months use. Not much point in having something like this if you are not going to use it don’t you think.

Arriving at the NZMCA camp in Hanmer Springs (#7224) it turns out that we had missed the snow on the ground by 24 hours but that’s OK after all it is still April. There was however some of the white stuff on the hills around the camp making for quite the pretty picture.

The camp is actually 7 kms out of town and of all the NZMCA camps we have stayed in so far it’s probably top of the list for not much to do right here around the camp. Thankfully however as it’s a tourist town without the crush of people that Queenstown has it actually has parking available either in the village or nearby for our 9 metre motorhome.

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Arriving into the village at our usual time, crack of dawn, actually more like 9am we discovered that nothing opened before 10am it was however a good chance to wander through the village without being bothered by the hoards.

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Harrogate St was almost opposite where we had parked the motorhome a name with some real history for me since my Mum’s parents lived in Harrogate in Yorkshire England and I can still remember the occasion visit there.

The village itself isn’t much more than a short main street with cafe’s, clothes shops and bars however it does seem to have grown quite a bit since we last visited. We wandered through the village spotting the old hospital which has signs at all the gates telling the public that they are welcome.

How could we refuse an invitation like that. Setting off around the grounds there are lots of notice boards that talk about the history of the buildings firstly as a place to “Take The Waters” whilst recovering from whatever ailment beset you at the time. Later on it was used as a recovery hospital for those suffering from injuries in WW1 and later again a womens hospital.

These days the building are sitting empty making me wonder who owns and maintains them, maybe they could be converted into an upmarket hotel where again people can come and take the waters as the pools next door are a seething mass of people.

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intending to take a couple of photos from the top of the hill behind it. As we neared the top a couple of tourists stopped in their van to ask if we knew where the Connical Hill Walkway was of course being tourists we had no idea ourselves only to discover with a few more paces that we where standing at the entrance to the track.

The Walk up Connical Hill is a well formed switchback type track that lead you up through the stands of conifer trees with viewing areas back down over the village as you reach the end of each switchback. It’s quite interesting how quickly you seem to climb up with each switchback getting us further up the hill as well as giving better photo shots of the whole area.

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Suddenly some funny white stuff started to appear close to the path mostly in places sheltered from the sun. It’s been so long since I have stood in snow I just about forgot what it was. Breaking through to the summit the snow was much more abundant but had still retreated from what it must have been on the previous day or two.

The views from the top of the hill are really spectacular with the small building on the summit having a fence around it that marks North, East, South and West it’s a chance to have a good look at the countryside around us before crossing the Lewis Pass.

Crossing the Lewis Pass with a couple of stays along the way will be the next episode of this blog.

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