Post Mortem

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Nothing is ever set in concrete, plans change and flexibility is good. I pack far too many possibilities into the planning blog and that’s great, it not only gives me options but also ideas for the next adventure. Some days I am inspired to go out and conquer mountains, other days lying around and reading with lovely views sounds really pleasant.

Then there is the weather. November is a fickle month in New Zealand; it can be amazing, it can be awful. November 2016 was infamous for being mostly cool and wet on the West Coast and windy inland with the occasional spectacular day included. I noticed how grey it was as I scrolled through the thousands of photos I took, comparing them with April, a far more settled time of the year. I planned this one for spring as a time of birth for both animals and birds.

Then there was the earthquake. I think we all know that while we can look at an epic event and think wow, how terrible for those involved, but it’s until we have experienced it or have actually attended we don’t really get the true feel for it.  Maybe the earthquake deserves it’s own blog page.

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What I had planned . . . . .

What I did . . . . . . . .  back tracking!

These 3 factors were the reasons for my plans being different to those planned but I also have an excuse to go again 😉 It also meant I backtracked up the West Coast and added around 400 kilometres to my travels. I could have gone over Arthur’s Pass but then it was too soon after the earthquake for me to feel confident. My choice, but not one I regret. I’m saving that until next time (next year/this year?).

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The grey route on the right, with the two crosses (in between the crosses the road is not functional), is the pre-quake route, the blue one the current one. The centre one is the aircraft route.

I kept a total of all my expenses, an interesting exercise.

Expenses Accomodation Food Entertainment Diesel

59.55

5 November

20.00

19.99

6

20.00

27.50

7

12.00

29.56

52.24

8

12.00

5.35

9

27.00

52.04

10

27.00

1.40

11

30.00

12

30.00

7.03

100.00

Ponamu/Jade search

13

30.00

27.26

68.93

14

30.00

15

10.00

16

10.00

35.71

17

18.00

27.70

135.00

Okarito Bird Sanctuary

18

20.00

6.68

35.86

19

20.00

39.44

20

24.78

34.12

38.34

21

550.00

Doubtful Sound Cruise

22

24.78

23

24.00

49.17

43.43

24

18.00

23.65

46.58

25

25.50

12.45

29.49

26

25.50

5.00

27

27.00

5.00

28

23.00

3.89

37.80

29

19.50

17.10

37.00

30

26.00

6.80

Dec 1

26.00

7.50

2

20.00

27.15

54.01

3

20.00

55.36

4

5.00

620.06

531.85

443.68

I was surprised how much I spent on diesel but I did travel over 3000 kilometres. Food, well, I was on holiday and while I still work I do treat myself. When I travel after I retire I will be more thrifty. Accomodation was reasonable and I did get 3 nights at $10 each post the quake in Hokitika instead of $30 per night. That was so kind of them.

HIGHLIGHTS:
Karamea, my first visit. It’s a beautiful place, has it’s own microclimate. Unless you are a whitebaiter go outside the season, the residents are busy as whitebait command a high price. A return visit is planned to visit the caves.

Okarito white heron (Kotuku) bird sanctuary, the only nesting place in New Zealand with the bonus of a jet boat ride. Awesome for a bird watcher.

Hokitika for it’s lovely beaches, sunsets, stone mats, ponanu/jade search (Arahura Greenstone Tours), Hokitika Gorge, artists and the town has a lovely feel.

Doubtful Sound overnight cruise for amazing unspoilt scenery, amazing food (especially if you like lobster (crayfish as we call it), venison and more lobster. Birds, penguins, dolphins and great fishing.

Glentanner at the bottom of Aoraki/Mt Cook a birdwatchers delight, lots of native birds, lovely scenery and close to the mountain and the beautiful blue waters of Lake Pukaki.

Reefton, my first visit and I will return. A mining town that is creating it’s own identity through tourism (gold mining and history)

Westland (referred to by me as the West Coast), because it is a beautiful region of New Zealand, quite spectacular in scenery and a region where I feel at peace.

They may not all be places tourists on a tight itinerary would go to but a must for all Kiwis and backpackers.

My regret is not getting to Kaikoura. When I got to Picton, on day one, I spent some time deciding to go east or west first, mainly because of the weather forecast. I really did want to save Kaikoura, a special place, until last. It was not to be.

I have a wonderful four weeks, I could have done the same trip all over again and not come home for another month but I have responsibilities. 🙂

It was a test too. I had only been away in the Ducato for a few days at a time and didn’t know how I would feel living in it for four weeks. It was a success. I can’t think of one thing that didn’t go well.

I love going solo ❤

Back to Picton.

I woke with a feeling of sadness, only one more night until my return home, but also with a feeling of apprehension. . . . . . .

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The 7.8 earthquake on 14 November, while I was in Hokitika just a few weeks ago, had caused huge damage to a significant length of the road from Picton to Christchurch, State Highway 1, the main road from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island. It’s largely a coastal road in this area and this is where the damage was, caused by huge slips and the ocean floor rising. There is also a railway line that follows the road, so no cars or trains until the slips had been cleared and the road and rail was made safe. It may take up to a year to be fully open. The alternative route is much longer and on secondary roads that are not made for heavy traffic conditions and big trucks. This was the cause of my apprehension and it seems silly that in 2016 I drove about 5,000 kilometres in the South Island! Maybe it’s the concentration of trucks and the condition of the road. I’m not a nervous driver, I had been on gravel roads with tourists who were not used to our roads and, at home, drove on the other side of the road.  Anyway, deep breath and just do it. . . . . . . . . !

The original route on the left and with the detour on the right. Quite a difference!

As I am writing this (January 2017) I am happy to report that the road has been opened from Kaikoura south. This has meant that tourists can now get to Kaikoura to whale watch, swim with the dolphins and see the beautiful pelargic birds. That was on my to do list, I had planned to stay in Kaikoura for 6 days and it’s still on my list. I am delighted for the good people of Kaikoura to have the tourists again. It’s what Kaikoura does and does well.

The first part of travelling was on quite roads with lovely farming countryside and with lots of old buildings and sheds. It was a pleasant drive.

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Not far from Inangahua is this lovely bridge. I wonder what I would feel if there was a train coming the other way, that I think may be exciting!!

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I stopped in Inangahua for breakfast. We were talking about pies and the owner assured me that theirs were the best and I got to see the pies being made too! They were a lovely couple, I recommend a visit if you are passing. The pie, consumed later, was one of the best. As I was leaving, I spotted a Weka, a semi tame youngster. I was given some bread to feed it and they took photos. They were so kind.

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In Inangahua, I can’t remember the name.

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The clouds look lovely and, of course, so do the sheep ❤

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Back in the Upper Buller Gorge, such a pretty area and with narrow roads.

It was from Murchison on I was apprehensive, nervous about big trucks and narrow roads. My two visits to the South Island had given me confidence in driving the Ducato, no problems with that, and the backing camera was an awesome help but my natural wussy nature takes over after the close call with two trucks last time (not my fault, I may add).

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I saw this on the way down and couldn’t get a photo, couldn’t stop. Someone actually lives here though the house is at the side and in reasonable condition.

I stopped for lunch, my pie, where I saw the flock of Kerurus last time and where I embarrassed the Spanish tourist 😉 No Kerurus this time but the Buller River was looking lovely.

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It was also here I saw the first Weka, not this time though.

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OMINOUS 😦

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So 80 kilometres of narrow roads, that, in the few weeks since the earthquake ,had visibly deteriorated. The local roading people were on the job and repairing constantly.

eek

Get over mate and it’s only a small car, showing the narrowness of the road!

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There’s a truck coming  . . . . . . .  I would actually breathe in 🙂

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This was in poor condition.

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Whoops!

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I was surprised to see some snow as I neared St Arnauds, which is near ski fields but this was early December! At St Arnauds I turned off to Lake Rotoiti. I’d called in last time and the weather wasn’t great then, not great today either.

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One day there will be no clouds and no wind . .. . . . . .

I hadn’t seen an eel with blue fins. We only have two species here, none have blue fins.

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This group of older ducklings where having a lovely time and putting on a great show

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This adult, a few problems with grooming  🙂

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And this Mandarin totally out of place, I’ve not seen one in the wild.

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Imagine this with more snow and sunshine, no wind and a mirror image. Still, it is a favourite view.

I knew when I was getting closer to Blenheim as the grape vines appeared, encroaching into farming country.

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I love their clean straight lines.

I was really pleased the Kiri (GPS) took me the back roads, so I missed Blenheim with the horrible narrow (near miss with a truck) bridge.  And I was relieved to reach Spring Creek.

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Rail freight that had come from the North Island by ferry to Picton was still going by train to Spring Creek where it was loaded on to long haul trucks. For me, it was a short drive to Picton.
My apprehension was founded, in places trucks were having to go over the verge of the road, nearly everyone slowed down when approaching another vehicle and everyone, truck drivers and other motorists were very courteous and considerate.

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My apprehension was founded, in places trucks were having to go over the verge of the road but nearly everyone slowed down when approaching another vehicle and everyone, truck drivers and other motorists were very courteous and considerate.

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It was a beautiful night, the last night of a wonderful four weeks.

~~3 December~~