Success is getting what you want; happiness is liking what you get

Monday, January 22, 2018

Where to Today?

We did a bit of a “Grand Tour” today – it certainly seemed like it, travelling far and wide to places unknown, and covering about 150kms on our round trip.  One thing we did notice were many of these pumps/pipes on farms as we passed by, presumably to get artesian water from the water table for irrigation.  If we are not right in our assumption, please feel free to correct us.

For artesian water, we think

First stop was up SH77 to Methven, (a place we had been before), which had the feel of an alpine village, not unlike Ohakune in the North Island.


There were two large pubs on opposite sides of the road, the Brown Pub, and the Blue Pub, both vying for business in their own ways.  The Brown Pub was selling itself as “your true country pub”, while the blue pub was more trendy and part of a large resort.  With Methven not too far from the Mount Hutt Ski fields, there is sure to be plenty of customers for both.

Brown Pub and Blue Pub at Methven

Magnificent War memorial at Methven

Climbing the hill out of the Rakai Valley, we stopped to take in the wonderful views.


Views over the Rakaia River

We were making for the Lake Coleridge Power Station, the first large powerhouse built by the government, completed in 1914.  The construction was a remarkable feat for that time, as it was built on loose shingle of the Rakaia River, which lead to many engineering problems which needed to be solved.


Front and back views of the power station

There was a large info board to read, and old bits and pieces from the power house artfully displayed.  The intake pipes from Lake Coleridge snaked down the hill deliver the water to the power house.

Intake pipes

Once we had seen the power house, we had to go and find the lake – and off we went, bouncing along a narrow, winding, unsealed road.  Must admit we were surprised to see several cars of tourists when we arrived, we really felt that we were all alone as we travelled along.  Swimmers and boaties were warned to be aware as whirlpools form by the intake area.  Fishing is allowed, with chinook salmon, and both brown and rainbow trout in the lake.

Lake Coleridge

Back on the rough road we went, kicking up a dust trail behind us.  But look at this wonderful view – it certainly is desolate mountain country.  Then we had to turn left at Dog Box Corner.



Turning off the dirt road we joined SH72 and stopped briefly at the quaintly named village of Windwhistle.  These day it is just a shadow of it’s former self, with only a school and a mechanic’s garage there now.  Windwhistle takes it’s name from the fierce gale force winds which regularly occur. 

I wanted to stop further along the road at Glentunnel as I had read about the “world famous in New Zealand” Public Library and Post Office, and what a gorgeous little building it is.  The local citizens raised money to build the library on land donated by Mr Deans of Homebush.  Built by Thomas Lamport, the building incorporates every type of brick and terra cotta tile then produced by the Homebush Brick Tile and Pottery Works at Glentunnel, using local clay. Sadly, the library was not open so we could not have a look inside.

Glentunnel Library and Post Office

Like so many of these small towns, Glentunnel had a history of coal mining, as their welcome sign shows.  The coal mine opened in 1872, the men working with the picks and shovels used in those days.  The mine finally closed in 1938.


Driving through Hororata we passed the St John’s Stone Church which was badly damaged in the 2010 earthquakes and is yet to be repaired.  Then we finally joined the busy SH1 and we were back in Ashburton and the quiet and peace of our POP with the chickens and miniature ponies once again.  It was another great day spent sightseeing.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Ealing to Ashburton

What a delightful day we spent at Ealing NZCA Park.  We arrived at lunch time, picked a possie on the lush green grass, and set ourselves up in this lovely park, which is well sheltered by large mature trees.  There was plenty of room to spread out and by the time early evening arrived, there was only six or so vans scattered around the park.  Deciding to take a day off from sight-seeing we had a relaxing afternoon, sitting under the shady trees, reading, and one of us decided to take a well earned Grand-dad nap.  There is an old church on site, which now serves as a meeting room, and another ever popular book recycling.

Ealing NZMCA Park

The next morning dawned cloudy and much cooler, and we started off the morning with our obligatory Sunday morning breakfast of bacon and eggs.  Time to move on again and we drove just 35km to our next stop in Asburton, their POP called Donegal Downs, which had been recommended to us by other campers.  Such lovely friendly hosts, they welcomed us with open arms and as an unexpected bonus, some freshly laid eggs courtesy of the resident chooks!


We have the back paddock to ourselves at the moment, but who knows, other campers could well arrive during our time here.

Donegal Downs, Ashburton

There is a lot to keep us entertained here, with chickens clucking around, several doves, three miniature ponies over the fence, and watching the antics of Wolfie the little white Spitz dog.

Chickens and rooster

Wolfie the Spitz dog

We took a brief trip up town to find a money machine and have a quick look around.  The handsome clock tower commemorates the first 100 years of County Government.  The tower has become widely recognized as the symbol of Ashburton. In 2004, the New Zealand Institute of Architects acknowledged the significance of the Warren and Mahoney structure in presenting them with an “Enduring Architecture” award for their design based around four slender post-tensioned concrete columns. And it is interesting to look through the glass panels at the working clock mechanism.

Ashburton clock tower

Inside the glass panels

Pretty fountain in centre of town

We have just had a little taste of Ashburton today, and no doubt we will be out and about exploring tomorrow.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

From Aviator, Hanging Rock, to the Railcar

Goodness me – it’s amazing what you can stumble across while out exploring.  We certainly came up trumps, (can we say that word?) – and ended up finding things we didn’t even know we were looking for.  A trip to   Temuka led us to follow a yellow road sign for several kms out in the country to view the Richard Pearce memorial. He was a  New Zealand farmer and inventor who performed pioneering experiments in aviation, taking to the air nine months before the Wright brothers flew their aircraft. The plaque reads: “The memorial commemorates the first powered flight to be made by a British citizen in a heavier than air machine.  Most evidence indicates this flight took place on 31st march 1903 and ended by crashing on this site”.

Richard Pearce Memorial, Temuka

Then we backtracked, because we had seen another yellow road sign  pointing the way to Hanging Rock.  That sounded interesting, so off we went, up and down country roads until found and drove across the Hanging Rock Bridge.  But just where was that dratted rock?

Hanging Rock Bridge

The Hanging Rock wasn’t visible until we had turned the car around and driven back over the bridge.  And there it was, scoured away underneath and definitely hanging over the river - Hanging Rock is a limestone crag on farmland and due to recent significant outcrop collapse in this area is considered dangerous to climb.   No worries there, we only wanted to view it.

Hanging Rock

Pleasant Point was definitely on our travel plans, merely because it sounded so nice and well, pleasant.   So off we went, and eventually arrived at the Pleasant Point Railway Station.  How disappointing – we read that there would be a steam loco trip on Sunday, and here we were at the station and it was only Friday.


But, as luck would have it, the dinky Model Ford T Railcar was running and the next trip was due to leave in 5 minutes time.  How about that, an unexpected train trip!

Model T Ford Railcar

This little darling is quite unique, we were told.  New Zealand Railways built only two of these which ran on branch lines in Southland from 1926 to 1931 – and sadly, no one knows what became of them.  RM4 was rebuilt from original plans and photographs, and is on a 1925 Model T Ford truck chassis.

The driver’s controls

The passengers jumped aboard, us two, and a grandmother with her two young charges.  As we travelled up the 2km track to Keanes Crossing Station, the youngsters were allowed to push the horn button as we approached several level crossings over the rail track.  They certainly had fun with that.  The railcar then needed turning for the return trip, and Robin volunteered  to help the driver with this task.

Come on – push harder!

The engine shed was a surprise, chock full of engines, carriages, and lots of memorabilia.  Our guide had us climbing in and out of carriages, and then we admired the various engines.  I remarked that I remember travelling on the old “bone rattlers’’ in my much younger days, the second class carriages which took commuters to Wellington and back.

I remember travelling in these

Diesel shunter

D16 Steam Engine

There was even a model railway set up to amuse the children, full of trains going around the tracks, flashing lights, and moving accessories, including a flock of teeny tiny chickens pecking at their feed.

Model train display

Displays outside included a single man’s hut, and a signal box.

The railcar chugged back along the track to Pleasant Point Station, and our guide presented us all with autographed certificates, just to say we had been there, done that!


That kind deed deserved another so we asked him to pose by the railcar and have his photo taken, and he happily obliged.


It was a great day out indeed, discovering unexpected sights, and ending with a train ride.  It doesn’t take much to make us happy!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Caroline Bay

Caroline Bay in Timaru was on our list to visit, and what a pretty place it was.  The sun was shining and people were out and about enjoying the beach.


There has been extensive planting done to restore the sand dunes and they were awarded the Best Dune Re-vegetation Project trophy in 2010 after they were revegetated with native sand binding plants. A long wooden walkway protects the fragile environment, and a colony of penguins are now established in and around Caroline Bay.


Protected sand dunes

The wide sandy beach looked inviting, and as school holidays are still running there were plenty of youngsters about.  And dogs, we noticed, sadly taking absolutely no notice of the “No Dogs” signs on the beach put up to protect the penguins.  This beach is the only sandy beach between Oamaru and Banks Peninsula. The beach is bounded by housing on one side and a very busy port on the other.


Lovely sandy beach

Black Billed Gulls were happily going about their business.  With a slimmer build and not as common as their Red Billed cousins, they usually nest on the shores of inland lakes and along the braided river banks in the South Island.
Black Billed Gull

The Piazza straddles the railway line and provides access for pedestrians via a grand staircase or via a lift which is unique for a public park in this country.  We drove up to the top to see what was up there.  The stair case is an amazing structure indeed.

The Grand Staircase

Water trickles down from bubbling fountain at the top.

The Piazza overlooked lovely gardens

And views of the bay

There was an interesting double sided bronze circular statue on the Piazza – goodness knows what that represents.  “Encircling the Baroque” was completed by Llew Summers in 2017.

Encircling the Baroque

On our way back to camp we passed some signs which led us to Waipopo  Orchards where we came away with a box of freshly picked apricots.  The tiny shop was busy with several cars pulling in at the same time as us.  Just a shame we are on holiday as I would have loved to purchase a big carton and make some apricot jam – no chance of doing that while travelling around in the caravan.

We also passed some signs on fences from locals who embrace the Phar lap legend so stopped for a few snaps – a play on words it seems.


More memories of Phar Lap

We were invited to a BBQ at Lou and Tony’s home in the evening.  Lou is a quilter too so there was a lot of catching up to do.  Many thanks, it was great to meet you at last and we appreciated your wonderful hospitality.

Tony cooking our dinner

So ended another great day in the South Island, we certainly are having a wonderful time.