South Island meanderings…October 2017 …. Kaiapoi-Amberley-Glentui-Waimakariri Gorge-Springfield

01 Oct – still parked up at Riverlands Holiday Park – had planned on leaving by the end of September, however, Neville made a late decision to put another solar panel on the roof of the motorhome.  Will get the work done while there, so we can enlist some help, should we need it, to hoist it onto the high point of the roof.

03 Oct – fine but high overcast day and no wind – perfect for getting the solar panel mounted.  Over the last couple of days we’d collected the panel from a private ‘seller’ in the Christchurch area and the roof area was all cleaned and prepared.  The panel is going onto the roof at the front of the motorhome above the ‘luton’ sleeping area which is the only place left that’s not cluttered with skylights and vents.  Neville tied a rope around the panel and I had the other end tied around my waist to keep it tight as it was lifted and raised with the help of a couple of ‘blokes’ pushing it up on the other side of the motorhome.  In the event it was all an anti-climax and in less than a minute it was sitting on the roof ready to be attached.

However, it took the rest of the day for Neville to attach the L-shaped aluminium brackets to the panel and glue them down on the roof to secure it.  I was the ‘gopher’ – fetching and passing things up to Neville at the top of the ladder, holding the ladder in-between and advising if it all looked to be ‘square’ or not.  All went without a hitch till the end when he was coming down the ladder towards me and he overbalanced and took a dive over the side towards the ground.  He was fine thankfully…however, as he launched into space the heel of his shoe clouted me and I ended up with a cut and a large ‘egg’ on my forehead.  Luckily my fringe was long enough to hide the technicolour bruise that followed and saved me having to reassure people that I didn’t need police intervention!!

Monitoring of the solar input over the next few days showed that we now have around 50% more input into the battery, which is going to make a huge difference over the winter months when the sun is low in the sky.  Also means we won’t need to hook up to power very often to top things up.

We buzzed around Christchurch a number of times over the next couple of weeks buying a few parts for the motorhome, picking up mail and having our fill of shopping malls.  Shouted my Brother and Sister-in-Law out to lunch for their joint Birthdays and enjoying their company before we move out on our travels again.

14 Oct – we walked down to the river to have a look at some speed boats competing in time trials as part of the weekends main event on Sunday.  Racing from the Kaiapoi River Bridge all the way upstream to the Waimakariri Gorge Bridge.   One of the boats was parked outside one of the Motel Units at Riverlands.

Next morning we heard the boats taking off up-river at 1 min intervals, then all went quiet and we never heard them returning.  We forgot about them and then heard on the News that evening that the race was called off when one of the boats encountered a tree trunk that was hanging over one of the channels in the river and the co-pilot was killed.  What an awful thing to happen.

We spent that afternoon cleaning the motorhome.  The camp has a wash-down area at the back so it was great to have use of unlimited water.  Neville was up the ladder again, scrubbing the roof with the broom and sugar-soap, getting it ready so we can spray it with wet’n’forget afterwards to inhibit mould growth.  He even managed to clean behind the awning mounting and got rid of the dead locusts we’d collected there over the summer months.  We also so washed down the sides of the van and by the end of 3 hours all was looking ‘sparkly’.  The first ‘proper’ clean it has had for around 2 years!

Sprayed the roof with the wet’n’forget a couple of days later and Neville also put a cut & polish on the top/front of the motorhome which made it look great.  Now we just have the rest of the bodywork to polish but will wait till we have had some rain to wash off any residue from the spray.  Methinks the whole thing will need another complete wash-down before we get around to that though, as we will have moved on and be covered with dirt and dust again.

Meanwhile I was keeping the laundry busy…washing up everything in sight and giving the inside of the motorhome a thorough spring cleaning.  So the night of 20 October was our ‘last sleep’ at Riverlands.  T’was a bit sad really…have become quite attached to the place!

21 Oct – farewell Riverlands – left about 1030 and headed northwards to Amberley.  The regular Farmers Market was on, so checked it out and bought a few goodies.  Then drove to the beach and found a spot at the Domain to stay the night.  In the end we stopped there for 4 nights, only $10/night unpowered, the weather was great and we went for walks exploring along the beach and dunes.

There is quite a large lagoon and wetland area towards the south.

Pines behind the beach

On the way back we walked past the southern side of the beach camp – this area is for campers with dogs…it was almost chokka.  Lots of people travel with their four-legged companions for sure!

Another day we went exploring along the beach to the north – followed a path along the top of the dune and came across the road again leading across a little bridge and then towards the Amberley Golf Club.

Amberley Beach and northern bluffs

We also found an official walkway nearby that circled around another lagoon and wetland area.  We set off, but didn’t get far as the track disappeared underwater for a fair distance.  The ground has probably subsided due to earthquake movement.

Wet feet zone!

The Walkway re-emerges

Not to be outdone we walked up the roadway to the other end of the Walkway and followed it back to the waterlogged area – meant we had to walk that part twice but it wasn’t far and we saw the views across the northern part of the lagoon and enjoyed the display of seaside wild flowers along the way.

On the way back we had the choice of along the beach, through the trees or along the road.  We chose the path through the trees.

25 Oct – Drove inland to Rangiora and after a visit to the supermarket, parked up at the Ashley River Domain (again).  Another rental motorhome already there and we chatted for ages with a couple from Australia who have been holidaying in the North and South Islands for the last 8 weeks.  They fly home tomorrow so we scored a couple of wooden levelling blocks from them that they’d had cut specially on their trip.  Great – they will replace the ones we’ve lost over the last year!

Next morning we headed north to Lowburn then west to Glentui.   Drove up into the hills to the Glentui Bush Domain.

A walking track through the forest starts from there, passing the Glentui Falls and then looped down the other side of the river back to the Domain.  Longer tracks head up the range to Mt Richardson.

Glentui Falls

Last bridge
Almost back

We were glad that we walked in a clockwise direction as we went down some quite steep sections that would have been a hard slog the other way around.  The way we walked the inclines were more gentle and the only real tough bit was at the very end, climbing up from the river to the Domain area.

Glentui Domain

We ended up staying the night at the Domain which is operated by DOC.  There was a sign at the entrance to indicate no camping, however, the place was deserted except for the car in the photo which was parked there overnight, earlier its occupants had headed off with packs and guns into the hills.  All was well and we left the next morning.

Drove on to Oxford and then to the Waimakariri Gorge River Bridge.   We have stayed there on a number of occasions and its a good ‘free’ spot overlooking the river.  Stopped there for three nights.

The weather was sunny and hot and we went for a walk downstream and upstream along the riverbank.

Walking down the Waimakairi River

The river must have been in winter flood when we were here last as the water then was flowing  from bank to bank.  This time we were able to walk upstream under the road bridge, which was quite impressive from below.

Upstream through the Waimak Gorge

Whoever climbed up and painted the large graffiti on the bridge foundation must have been mad…but it’s quite an impressive feat.

30 Oct – we headed out and drove to Sheffield.   Bought pies and cakes from the Bakery and then headed (on SH72 towards Arthurs Pass) to Springfield.

Going to stop there at the Kowai Pass Domain camp which is a very reasonable $5pp/night.   Quite a large area and a number of ‘big-rigs’ there already having lots of room to spread out.  A couple of them had long grass growing around them so have been there a fair while.

The camp is older but has lots going for it – a large ‘homely’ lounge building with TV/games/books, kitchen, hot showers $1 for 4mins, dump station and fresh water, children’s playground, tennis courts, washing machine for laundry and friendly ‘hosts’ on-site.  It’s a popular place with a steady stream of rental vans and cars pitching tents each night.

In the end we stayed on for 2 nights…mainly because we got ‘gas-bagging’ to people in neighbouring motorhomes and when it got to lunchtime we decided it was a bit late in the day to move.  But no hurry…we’re in slow-mode anyway!!!

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