115. Homesit in Blenheim; Murchison to Hanmer

We’ve spent the last 10 days in indolent laziness (!?) looking after Robyn’s home in Blenheim and her darling little 16 year old Burmese cat Kassia. Last time we were there Kassia was rather wary of Penny but this time they simply ignored each other which meant a more harmonious household altogether with all of us watching TV in the evenings – Dave and me in comfy chairs, Penny in her bed on the floor between us and Kassia alternating between our laps.

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I did take full advantage of a large washing machine to wash all T5’s bedding, mattress protector, etc., not the sort of stuff you can do when on the run. I also did a small amount of gardening and some baking and Dave mowed the lawn. But mainly we read and caught up on all the internet videos we are unable to watch with our expensive intermittent internet access on the road, and I did some much anticipated family history research and took photos of some glorious sunsets.

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We didn’t even venture out much apart from the occasional shopping trip and two quick drives to Picton to see the jeweller who is redesigning my wedding and engagement rings to make one composite ring. One of the stones came out of the engagement ring and I was told the whole setting was so worn that I would soon lose more. My fat little ring finger can only carry so much, I do sort of envy the people who have about 5 rings on one finger!

The vineyards everywhere are green, green, green; most have had top and sides haircuts and many are now sporting netting veils or skirts as well. The methods used do seem to vary from vineyard to vineyard, possibly from grape variety to variety as well. Despite our plans we didn’t manage to have another vineyard lunch, and the 2-for-1 pizza night at the local Renwick pub was booked out.

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After 10 days it was time to head back to Christchurch. We opted to travel via the St. Arnaud-Murchison-Lewis Pass route from Blenheim. I don’t think I have travelled the first part of this route before, i.e. Blenheim to St. Arnaud NOT via Nelson. It is very different to the Kaikoura route, initially through miles and miles of vineyards where I could sometimes see black grapes practically dripping off the vines.

The only break in the monotony (but it’s nice gentle monotony) was a stone water trough at Marchburn with a story. It had resulted from a local settler mentioning at a meeting in 1915  “….the inconvenience caused to settlers and the general public by the absence of water on the  road between Waihopai and the Wairau Valley. “ The cost of erecting a windmill, tank and trough was estimated at 30 pounds, part of it raised by the settlers. Some time after it had been completed, “ A three year old boy who had been missing from a nearby Accommodation House was found safe and well three days later at this site.”

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It is a far less twisty route than the coast one but there is one mountain range to overcome before Murchison, close to the Rainbow Ski Area and just before one leaves official Marlborough and enters Tasman. These photos were snapped from the moving car, as usual we cannot stop easily when towing T5. One photo missed was of some covered hay bales – in soft pastel colours! Yet another flavour for the marshmallows-for-baby-dinosaurs?

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We made an overnight stop at Murchison. The NZMCA POP is becoming more and more popular. The first time we visited there were only a few other vehicles, now the park is more than half full and this is midweek and off-season. The old stables next door have been reopened as a junk shop (they call it the Dust & Rust Vintage Store) with several interesting old vehicles and other stuff outside. I should have taken photos in the evening when the sun was behind me rather than these morning shots.

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Inside is very interesting with lots of quality junk-antiques for want of a better word, at very moderate prices. Old farm tools but also old household items, typewriters, china, beautiful coloured bottles,  vinyl records, books, dolls. What I liked was the merchandise was spread out rather than all crammed together in overwhelming fashion as at the other junk shop in the main street, the one every visitor to Murchison sees. One had time to examine and think and also move around rather more easily!

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Next day, on to Hanmer via the Lewis Pass. Somewhere around Maruia we spotted more marshmallows in the deep turquoise-blue first (and only) seen near Riverton in Southland. No pinks though, and no rainbow colours.

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This is an avenue of poplars to the north of Maruia. Already the leaves are getting sparser and just starting to change colours, and it is only the second day of Autumn.

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A zig-zag track of cows….

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We stopped for a coffee break just past Springs Junction (we do not have fond memories of our last meal at the cafe there):

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And so to Hanmer. We thought there was a fire on the horizon but it turned out to be just a dust cloud. Strangely, several days after we left Hanmer there WAS a huge fire, and quite close to where we were camped at the NZMCA POP near the Hanmer River bridge.

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After a couple of days enjoying the late summer ambience and the hot springs, it was time to move on, but not before we did a little blackberrying. Huge, juicy fruit. Where? Shhhh! Close to the Hanmer River.

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We are now in our familiar haunt – the chestnut orchard northern Christchurch.

 

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