104. Geraldine

Have caravan will travel – so what is the point of staying in one place all the time? So while we wait with fingers crossed for our Christchurch home to be sold, we took off for a few days in and around Geraldine. We’d heard about a great POP called Peski’s just outside Geraldine and it turned out to be wonderful. A large private property offered ample parking, bush walks, a washing machine and shower etc and delightful owners who showered us with lettuce and rhubarb from the extensive garden.

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There is the bush walk which goes down to the river.

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IMG_5592We parked up beside a grove of gum trees (prophetic perhaps as we hope to tour Australia in 2016?) When playing with Penny’s ball it somehow became lodged between the spokes of Dave’s bicycle. Penny couldn’t find it for ages.

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Determined to explore, we set off one day in the ute for nearby Waihi Gorge but a sign said No Dogs so we headed off for Te Moana Gorge instead. We knew there were a couple of camping spots somewhere along the road, and a very long gravelled road it turned out to be, narrow and twisty, through bush and pine forest.  Not for a large caravan like T5.

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We found three reasonably flat and open camping grounds, but the nearby creek was infested with didymo which left white rims round the rocks when they dried out and would have made playing in the creek unsuitable for young children.

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We went right to the end of the Te Moana road, through the gorge and upwards again, past a couple of remote dwellings and finally reached the end – a big locked gate to some privately owned forest lots.

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Although the weather was not very good we decided to take a day trip to Tekapo. It seemed strange to be driving the familiar road without our boat in tow. We inspected the new NZMCA camp on the lake foreshores. ….

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….. and viewed with some awe all the recent building developments in the township. The new bridge is quite imposing.

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But the most important thing to see was of course the lupins. Although a little past their prime, they still glowed and lightened up the dull day. The number along the roads seems to have decreased a little but there were still magnificent patches including a spot on the road towards Mt. St. John where Penny spent a happy time chasing after – what?

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IMG_5660We thought we’d go to the Observatory cafe for lunch but the sight of a newly introduced road toll for the steep climb deterred us. Fair enough, that road must need a great deal of maintenance, but the views on that particular day were not likely to be very extensive. An indifferent lunch at a newish cafe in Tekapo sufficed.

We headed back for Geraldine but turned off to explore the hinterland around Pleasant Point and find the signposted “Hanging Rock”. After a long drive on gravel roads we found it beside a bridge over the Ophir river. There were also a couple of ducks and some wildflowers. It was a very dull overcast day, not exactly a photographer’s ideal.

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Quite by accident we discovered a wonderful cafe just past the hanging rock bridge. Cafe 1882 is part of an old sandstone homestead once belonging to several generations of a local pioneering family (of course) but this one had links to the early freezing industry down near Timaru. Cattle were brought up to this area to overwinter. There is also a small vineyard. We sampled their pinot noir – delicious – but only available to cafe patrons. Their Death by Chocolate brownie was to die for. We will go there again!

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The bed of the Ophir River was awash with wildflowers so next day, with slightly better light, we went back for another look. This time we drove right down onto the river bed and had a lovely time photographing everything in sight.

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Then Dave decided to drive a little closer to the hanging rock on the other side of the river, and on the way there we hit a small gully hidden by overgrowth and got stuck. It took 2 hours and much hard slog with shovel, balloon jack and multiple use of the normal jack, plus some considerable rearrangement of the river bed under the wheels, before we got free.

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In all that time not a single car went over the distant bridge. A lone fisherman came walking along with his dog, but he only had a small car parked well away.

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With bad weather threatening we left Peski’s with regret next day and made it back to the chestnut orchard just in time to set up T5 before the hail started.

 

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