South Island meanderings…July/Aug/Sept 2017 …. Kaiapoi/Riverlands Holiday Park

01 July – Left Rangiora and drove straight to Kaiapoi to check in at the Riverlands Holiday Park, where we stayed for around 3 months same time last year (while waiting for parts to arrive from the USA to fix our diesel heater).  It was also a good place to ‘winter-over’ during the worst of the colder months so we’d decided to return this year.  As we drove in through the gates it felt like we were ‘coming home’ seeing as it’s the place we’ve spent the most time in since we bought the Motorhome.

View from Kaiapoi town bridge

Was good to catch up with family and collect mail that had accumulated since we’d last had it forwarded to us back in Richmond.  Neville had also been having a ‘spend-up’ on Ali Express getting a few things sent while we were in the area and able to go and collect it.

We caught up with some of the permanent residents we’d met last year.  There were two other longer term ‘rigs’ in the camping area and it was a common theme between us, musing as to how close the ‘nightly’ visitors would stop alongside us, to be right beside the corner power connection post that served four adjoining sites.  The sites at Riverlands are very large so there is no need to be crammed tightly together and we didn’t see anyone with a short power lead that wouldn’t have reached if they’d just moved over a metre or so and stopped in the centre of their site. Grrrrr!

A few wintry storms passed over NZ while there and we sure got our share of rain that formed big puddles around the camp, however, they drained away quite quickly as the soil must be fairly sandy being close to the river.  At least we didn’t get the big floods that other part of the country suffered or snow for that matter.  We did get some snowflakes one day but they melted as they hit the ground and the lowest temperature we had was -04° degrees for 3 days in a row.

On the ‘down’ side, being close to people again we both caught colds and it took weeks for us to shake off the nagging coughs that went along with it.

We resumed our walks alongside the Waimakariri River just over the stopbank behind Riverlands.  On the 23rd July we headed northwards along the stopbank to the point where the Kaiapoi River meets the Waimakariri and found the path viewing platform were underwater.

The South Island was hit with heavy rains over the 21-23rd July with many areas flooded – Oamaru, Timaru, parts of Dunedin and around the Heathcote River in Christchurch (to name a few).  The Selwyn River just south of Christchurch was also a torrent…which in some ways was a good thing as this river has been stagnant and polluted for a long time.   Hopefully the deluge has flushed it through (we’ll make another visit there when we head off on the road again to check it out).

Clouds making some pretty spectacular sunsets at times.  Looking over the road past the irrigator for the farmers cows.  Amazing how the colours change in a few minutes.

24 Aug – we got itchy feet so drove north up the coast calling into the beach area of Wairaki where the Waimakariri River empties into the sea.   It’s whitebait season again and lots of hopeful people were manning their nets on both sides of the River.

Wonder if its best to be at the front of the line for the best catch??
Other riverbank was pretty crowded also
Estuary view
Southern Alps view from Waimakariri River mouth

We also called in at The Pines, Woodend, Waikuku and Amberley Beaches before looping back to Rangiora and ‘home’.

02 Sept – Highlight of our time (for me anyway) was getting to see the Cirque-du-soliel performance of “Toruk – The First Flight” at the Horncastle Arena.  I went with my Brother and Nephew when my Sister-in-Law was unable to go, and they offered me her ticket.  Needless to say I was absolutely delighted.

We had really great seats in the second row near the arena floor that made us feel all part of the action.  There was a central stage where a lot of the aerial acrobatic action was and a large ‘cliff-face’ at one end of the Arena that was lit with digital projections changing it to be a forest, waterfall, rockfall, flowing lava, shadows of giant birds and creatures and so on.  It also rolled open in the middle where the various performers and weird and wonderful creatures from the Avatar movie story would appear.  The costuming was spectacular and the ‘dancing’ and ‘aerobatics’ amazing.  The performance wasn’t like a traditional ‘circus’ but told a story of two brothers’ quest to save the Sacred Memory Tree in a far off land.  The changing scenes depicting their travels through strange lands and the tribes they meet along the way.  The story was ‘narrated’ so it was easy to follow what was going on and it all culminated with one of the brothers being able to tame and ride the fearsome giant winged predator ‘Toruk’ that was menacing the skies above Pandora.

Many of the performers operating the animals and creatures were all dressed in black to indicated they were ‘invisible’ but how they controlled the poles and equipment was a great co-ordinated skill.  The snarling ferocious ‘dogs’ featured in the Avatar movie were so life-like…one of them jumped up on a platform right in front of us, stared straight at us with menacing fiery eyes and snarled…I found myself cringing back in my seat!

Before the show, the audience was invited to download an App on their phones and contribute to the lighting effects when vibrations prompted them to hold their phones up facing the Arena to create flashing white lights depicting lightning, wave them around to create swirling stars and so on.  The whole show was a real experience for sure and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  When I remembered, I snapped off a few photos but they are pretty ‘grainy’ as flash photography wasn’t allowed.

Met up with my family one day to walk around Hagley Park and into the City to have a look at the newly opened shopping precinct and grand opening of the new H&M Store.  Nice clothing and reasonably priced too.  Still a lot of building work going on but the area is starting to look like a buzzing city centre again.

The Avon River in Hagley Park
Hagley Park

Peacock Fountain
Fountain has quite a ‘history’

Election Day came and went…then it all became a long and drawn out process waiting for Winston Peters to make up his mind which Party he was going to make victorious!  By that time I reckon most of NZ was fed up with the whole process.   We now wait and see how it all goes???

We didn’t think we would stay at Riverlands so long this time around, but somehow the weeks just flew by and before we knew it… daylight saving arrived and then it was the end of September already.

Early evening at our Riverlands campsite

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