178. On Shaky Ground

  On Saturday 12 November our friends Graeme and Barbara arrived from the north island, having been lucky to catch one of the early Saturday ferries; later ones were cancelled due to rough weather, then sailing resumed in the late evening. 

So we all had a nice dinner and went to bed and then just after midnight were very rudely awakened by the caravan rocking and rolling, far too much to be merely the wind. It felt rather like being in a boat in a rough cross-sea. It was pitch dark outside, nothing to see except the huge Super Moon. Thank goodness for social media, nothing about the earthquake came up on the TV for ages and without being able to listen to the radio, we would have been in some confusion. As it was we knew all about the tsunami threat long before it came up on the TV. The orchard is about 7 km from the coast but not within the danger zone so we decided to stay put, if fully dressed “just in case”, as did most of the other orchard inhabitants. 

Penny, old earthquake hand that she is, soon went back to sleep and the subsequent aftershocks didn’t even wake her.

In this map the orchard is the wider long green oblong near Ouruhia with lots of little green flecks  (trees) and at one end some white objects – that’s us and about 12 other caravans/motorhomes/buses. The second map, smaller scale, shows a corner of the tsunami danger zone where evacuation was ‘advised’ although not required. The coastline is just out of sight on the right.


it was devastating to follow the news about Kaikoura and the lovely coast road which we have travelled so often. No to mention the seal breeding grounds and in particular the pup nursery and waterfall which we’d visited a scant three weeks earlier. Here are two photos again:



Barb and Graham were doubly lucky as apart from not being stranded for 12 hours on the evening ferry, they’d had all their belongings shipped south a week earlier. 

Sitting in the caravan in the orchard we’ve barely felt the aftershocks; the caravan moves slightly  when anyone moves around inside so we are all so used to the slight movements we don’t notice any extra ones. 

At least Christchurch was spared this time. The following weekend we went for a great walk on the beach with Asti and her tiny dog Evvie; but signs along the way to Brighton Beach – houses still under repair, red-zoned land, rough roads –  reminded us of those earlier devastating quakes.


That same weekend the Motukarara Races were on; we’d known about them for years but never managed to be in the right place at the right time before.

The racing was very much a family picnic affair, very relaxed and casual. There were so many family groups. It seemed just about every type of group was catered for, from large marquees with white tablecloths and smart waiters to roped-off enclosures where various shade gazebos were erected. There was not a great variety of food but it was sufficient. The TABs were very popular, there was even a small one for children (!).




Having spent some time with quarterhorses in Queensland, the trotters with their different conformation and gait were quite strange to see at first. img_3889img_4032img_4050


There were even some pony trotting races:


Children were well catered for ….




It was a lovely day and we hope to make up a family group picnic next year.

Dave is now hard at work fixing up a special WiFi aerial which hopefully will give us the fast access promised by the modem we purchased recently. 

Next week start a two-week homesit down south at Oturehua, caring for someone’s farmhouse, 3 dogs, 1 cat and 2 chooks. 


177. A Couple of Local Shows

We’ve been sort of vegetating in the chestnut orchard since returning from Picton with Penny. When we first returned to Christchurch some of the trees wore little green flecks but 3 weeks later the orchard is a glorious sea of young vibrant green leaves. There are pukekos, ducks, quail, a pheasant and some rabbits in the sea of grass which has grown incredibly fast since it was mowed only a few days ago.


Dave has been busy bringing our water pipe system up to the new compliance standards. That involved replacing just about all the piping under the caravan. Penny tried to assist.


We went to the Canterbury Motorhome and Caravan Show (dismal – all the dealers were too busy selling vans out of their yards to attend), then the Hororata Highland Games which was as wonderful as ever. I always enjoy the drive towards the western mountains through the Spring countryside with flowering gorse and broom. There were all the usual events plus the spinning/knitting competition again and another ‘new’ attraction, bicycle polo …..












img_3594We missed the pie-eating contest last year so had to have a look. The winner, after several heats and a tomoato-sauce-no-hands final, was the young woman at the right end of the table.

I tried to photograph the winner of the Kilted Mile (which involved several obstacles along the way including eating a pie) but he was too quick for me.



Then there was the annual Canterbury Agricultural Show on a dull grey day where we gorged on THE best whitebait patties made by some people from the Chatham Islands, watched the showjumping, inspected some exotic farm animals, and Dave bought himself not one but two distinctive hats. (No photos of the hats yet but keep an eye out for them!).

Beautiful well-turned-out horses …




Lots of alpacas …


This is a Cape Barren goose, a threatened species in its native Australia. It’s not strictly speaking a goose but more like our Shelduck.


A young African pygmy sheep.


A cute little cart.


Lots of wool, including a knitting display.




This is a Highland Pony stallion named Finglenny out of Blaven by a stallion in the UK, Hirstmund Beaujolais. He is a rising 3 years old.


A cooking demo …. mouthwatering aromas wafting everywhere in the food tent.

It was such a long walk back to the car park that we took the courtesy bus. We must be getting old!!!