88. Bankside, Rakaia

We left beautiful Rarangi with regret, it was a lovely interlude with the dogs in such an outstanding home and environment. Friend Robyn arrived home from overseas the day before so we met her at the St. Clair Winery and had a delicious platter featuring the best of Marlborough produce, washed down with a glass of pinot noir. I can’t wait to go back there again!IMG_2010


We were heading for a Jayco Caravan get-together at Geraldine, but rather than make the long haul in one day we stopped at the fairly new NZMCA site at Parnassus, just off SH1. That night there was a very severe frost and when Dave went to put the kettle on next morning discovered we had no water – all the pipes were frozen! Luckily there was just enough water in the hot water bottle for our morning coffee, and porridge made with all milk is delicious. As the day wore on the cold water started to flow again, but something had happened to the hot water system and we had no more hot water until the valve was replaced some days later. We took care to fill the kettle and also a saucepan with water that night.

We stopped at Christchurch just long enough to have lunch with Ray and catch up on all the news, then on to the Brewery Cafe about 11 km past Geraldine where there is a good POP site – but no other Jayco caravans. Where was everyone? It wasn’t till the next day that two others turned up.

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We had a splendid breakfast next morning at the Brewery Cafe. That evening the entire Jayco contingent – 6 persons – enjoyed a beer tasting followed by a meal at the cafe.

Jayco Owners Group05Next morning the endless comparisons and ‘tours’ of the three caravans from both male and female perspectives flowed on and on. In summary it was a very fruitful and enjoyable gathering and even Penny had fun with the miniature schauzer from one of the other caravans. We also met the owners of the brewery and learned something of the history. 

From Geraldine, after a long stop at the Barkers’ shop in town (of course!), we went straight to our new homesit just north of the Rakaia Bridge of mixed memories.

Some years ago pre-T5 we were heading for Tekapo for a long weekend with our boat and just as we got onto the bridge one of the boat trailer tyres burst. We could not stop on that narrow bridge so continued, emitting the most alarming sparks and bursts of flame as the rim of the tyre bit into the roadway. The moment we got off the bridge we leapt out with a fire extinguisher, as did the man in the car behind us. Someone else had phoned the police and the local off-duty cop arrived soon after, not having stopped to change into his uniform. He was very helpful and soon after a local garage man arrived with some heavy duty tools and together he and Dave managed to bash the distorted wheel off and put another wheel on, which just lasted to the nearest garage where we left the trailer to be fixed. There was no fishing on Lake Tekapo that weekend. 

So now we’re halfway through our second winter homesit and the time has flown. I am really enjoying playing at being a farmer’s wife on a large dairy farm with a lovely warm kitchen-family room with big wood fire and full internet access at any time of the day – bliss! We have both been catching up on viewing all the videos we could not watch while in the caravan as they take up too much bandwidth. There are no cows around at present, they are dried out over winter. Our charges are Ally the friendly Jack Russell cross who fancies herself a biker’s moll, always going off for a ride with the farm hands, and Marvi a half-grown and always hungry, endearing little grey tabby. Ally and Penny seem happy to swap beds beside the fire.



A contented threesome – the eyes have it.Bankside02The weather the last two weeks hasn’t been too bad either apart from some heavy rain. The homestead is very sheltered so we hardly notice it when it blows; for some reason we were also spared much of the snow and power outages that occurred all around us at Methven, Darfield, Hororata etc. – all within about 25 km. We can see the snow-clad mountains easily from the kitchen garden, and the first week there were some splendid sunsets.



We took a drive towards Methven; at that stage there was only a little snow on the mountains.



A few days later, the picture had changed. (Photos taken from close to the homestead, the mountains seem so much closer in clear air).

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I’ve completed Volume 3 of the Circumforaneous Gibbs Book-of-the-Blog and am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the printed volume towards the end of the month. I’ve fixed it up so the whole book can also be downloaded as an eBook for $4 from blog.com.

Rakaia township is our nearest shopping point, only about 5 minutes’ drive away over the river. At the moment the river is running high following the heavy rain on the west coast which flooded Hokitika.



I’ve passed through Rakaia innumerable times but this is the first time I’ve really got to know the township. It began on the northern bank of the river in the 1850s. In 1856 William Dunford acquired a ferry licence and over the next few years an accommodation house and stables were built. At times travellers had to wait for days with their horses, coaches, stock, bullock teams and drays until the river was passable. River drownings were not uncommon. In the 1860s Dunford had two specially-designed punts made, replacing the original punt,  to carry passengers and possessions. Cobb & Co. built stables at the south end in1864, and by 1872 when the new road and rail bridge was built most business enterprises were based on the south bank.


Apart from the well-known huge salmon sign ….


… and visitor centre and a large modern farmers’ centre, Rakaia has TWO 4-square mini-marts almost back-to-back (why?), 2 old pubs, a medical centre, tiny pharmacy, old wooden church and masonic hall (now a private home?) still awaiting earthquake repairs, and not much else apart from the usual country town homes and some marvellous old buildings surely worthy of heritage status but sadly neglected. IMG_2181 (2)

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Near the leaping salmon sign are two nondescript huts, but look closer and one has two peculiar doors, one with a spyhole. Signs tell the story ….  IMG_2197 IMG_2196 IMG_2192  IMG_2188