South Island meanderings…September/October 2016 … Kaiapoi-Christchurch area

September has arrived so it’s officially ‘Spring’ and already there haven’t been so many frosts. We continued our stay at the Riverlands Holiday Park in Kaiapoi over September and most of October and have sat there literally watching the grass grow! The camp ‘workers’ closed off the camping spots behind us, prepared and replanted the whole strip with new grass seed.   Over the next 6 weeks we watched the new grass appear and despite the continuous efforts of the local birds during the daytime and the rabbits at night, the whole area was a lush sea of green by the time we departed.  Good to see a Park rejuvenating their campsites for the enjoyment of campers over the coming summer season so they won’t have to park on bare soil patches caused by a few long-term caravans with awnings that were there when we arrived.

Neville pulled the Webasto Heater out from under the truck again and the newly arrived parts were replaced in the unit.   With the aid of a ‘neighbours’ trolley jack and a few blocks of wood it was back in place a lot quicker than the first time around (thank goodness).  Best of all…no water leaks and the heater still behaving itself…yay!!

We went to the Christchurch Home Show at the Horncastle Arena with my Brother and Sister-in-Law mid-October – they were looking at acoustic fencing while Neville and I enjoyed telling the ‘pushy’ vendors that their spa pool, lounge suite, security system etc etc just wouldn’t fit in our ‘house’.

The weather in North Canterbury was a bit of a mystery during October…it almost seemed like the days were just alternating from wet one day, sunny and fine the next.  No doubt the local farmers were relishing the rainy days.

22nd October and we packed up for the last time and drove out of Riverlands Holiday Park to resume our meanderings. It was a little sad saying goodbye to our ‘temporary’ residence – it was a great place to stay and ‘blob-out’ for a while and the overall cost was offset by what we saved in diesel if we’d been travelling around.  The camp owners were very friendly and kept the camp pristine – we will stop there in a flash if we pass this way again and need somewhere to stay awhile.

First stop was the newly opened DOC Camp at Awaroa/Godley Head which is east of Lyttleton opposite Banks Peninsular and from the clifftop, overlooks the Lyttleton Harbour Entrance.

View over Lyttleton Harbour
View over Lyttleton Harbour
Pilot Boat heading out the entrance
Pilot Boat heading out the entrance
Pilot off to meet an incoming ship
Pilot off to meet an incoming ship
The Harbour Entrance
The Harbour Entrance

We only stopped overnight as it was more pricey than other DOC camps and you have to book on-line which is not set up to accept our Annual DOC Pass.  But you have to book and pay before they email you the code for the padlock on the gate to enter the camp.  To be honest it wasn’t good value either as despite the recent publicity about this being a newly opened camp it was not laid out at all and there were only two toilets that didn’t flush as there was no water feeding up the hill due to a failed pump…just as well we had our own loo!!

Godley Head was an extensive Coastal Battery Defence Area during WWII and there are wartime buildings and gun emplacement sites dotted around the headland.

Ruins & Harbour Entrance
Ruins & Harbour Entrance
Walkway past WWII Buildings
Walkway past WWII Buildings
These buidings were quite intact
These buildings were quite intact

Unfortunately the more interesting ones are currently fenced off being deemed unsafe from earthquake damage so it was a bit disappointing that we couldn’t explore them when we got there.  Notices say they will be restored…but no doubt that will be a long term project…if ever!!

There are long walkways/cycleways around the headland that were being well used on a fine Labour Weekend.  Great views down to Taylors Mistake bay near Sumner, for miles and miles northwards up the Canterbury coast and down into Lyttleton Harbour on the south side.

View towards Taylors Mistake
View towards Taylors Mistake
Taylors Mistake Bay - walking/cycling track around the headland
Taylors Mistake Bay – walking/cycling track around the headland
View across Lyttleton Harbour
View across Lyttleton Harbour
Lyttleton Harbour
Lyttleton Harbour

The road from Lyttleton is still closed so you have to access the area via Sumner.  At the top of the hill, the road out to Godley Head is sealed but narrow with steep ‘scary’ dropoffs on one side.  It’s actually quite a long way out along the headland, thankfully we didn’t meet too many cars or any wide vehicles, like us, on the way in or out.

Along the road to Godley Head
Along the road to Godley Head

We stopped off in Sumner on the way back, strolled along the waterfront and ventured into the sea cave for a looksee while the tide was out.

Sea Cave at Sumner
Sea Cave at Sumner
Cave - sea entrance
Cave – sea entrance

From there we spent a few nights south of Christchurch at Weedons Club Park again, while we organised a flying trip to the North Island for early November.  Once that was sorted we headed out to some Freedom Camping places near Lake Ellesmere.  One we’d stayed at before but a couple of new ones… Tai Tapu Domain and Coes Ford.  Of the two, the latter one was the nicest and it was being well used by Tourists in all sorts of vehicles and tents too.

With all the bad publicity about Freedom Campers it was nice to see this area was well set up by the Selwyn District Council with a toilet block, basins for washing dishes, seating benches/tables, rubbish and recycling bins.  This is what needs to be set up all around the country for people who cannot afford expensive self-contained motorhomes.  Everyone here was ‘doing the right thing’ and enjoying the large area alongside a nice clear running stream.  In our observation where facilities are properly provided they will be used and it prevents people sneaking away and camping in areas where there are no toilets…hence creating problems.

Christchurch Council has just declared a blanket ban of all non-selfcontained campers across the city…trying to force them into Caravan Parks, however, most of them will not want to pay between $30-$48/night to camp there…and I can’t say I blame them, especially as freedom camping is advertised as generally being allowable in NZ.

This Country makes lots of money from tourism but I feel this attitude is somewhat discriminatory against budget travellers and screams of “we just want ‘rich’ tourists please”!!  We can understand the budget people, as we too fall into this category.  We prefer to freedom camp and spend our money on ‘activities’ and local businesses in an area, rather than on accommodation we don’t need – seeing as our accommodation is our travelling ‘home’.  So while the term ‘free-loaders’ is used, it doesn’t take into account all the businesses like supermarkets, fuel stations, cafe’s, tourist attractions etc. etc. that benefit from the budget tourists too.  Areas that are not making proper provision for these people are basically forcing them to move on which means everyone misses out on their tourist dollars.  Anyway….that’s my soapbox opinion for the day!!

So that took us into November.  Not many photos to show on this Post, the camera has been having a bit of a rest!!

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