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

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Moving on to Chatterley Manor

It’s time to say goodbye to our POP in Akaroa – and we have certainly had a great time here in this French flavoured village.  Where we have been staying we have been surrounded by lovely trees full of birds singing their hearts out.  Particularly the vocal tuis who visit us in the garden, visiting us in the garden, and serenading us with their amazing repertoire.  Here in our host’s garden we found this warning sign aimed at the lemon thief, and around the corner we think we saw the culprit.  What do you think?


Seen in our host’s garden

Our first stop was at the Duvauchelle dump station, and while Robin was attending to the business, I was admiring the sea view across the road. The tide was out, and the bay was a millpond.


It was 54km to our next stop, and we stayed at Waihora Park Reserve CAP (charges apply parking) overnight.  As it was yet another 30deg plus day, we parked close to the large shady trees. 

Waihora Park Reserve

After lunch we took a trip to Birdling's Flat, a very steep shingle beach and is well known as a place to find small agates and a variety of other attractive rounded pebbles.  We didn’t find and fancy stones, just lots and lots of rounded greywacke stones.   Due to strong ocean currents, swimming and surfing is not advised.  Birdling's Flat is named for the William Birdling  and family, who were the first European Settlers to farm the area.

Shingle beach at Bridling's Flat
Nothing beats an ice-cream after a hot afternoon sightseeing

With a few morning jobs to do we left the caravan behind at Waihora Park and I was dropped off at a laundromat while Robin went to fill the gas bottle again.  This wasn’t just any old laundromat but a very busy coffee bar, and coffee roasting business as well.

P1150108 P1150087

And who should I meet up while I lugged my big laundry bag through the door but number one son Michael, who was meeting a friend for coffee.  Once I had the washing machine going I went and ordered a coffee for myself and crashed his coffee date.  Not too sure how he felt about that, but Mum’s don’t mind embarrassing their children, even when they are grown up, do they?  And it was better sitting by myself waiting for the machine to complete it’s cycle.

All on a coffee date together

Robin arrived to collect me, and we went back to hook up the caravan and get on our way to the next stop – not to far away, Chatterley Manor CAP at Tai Tapu.   We were meeting up with caravan club members Bill and Val, who were just starting out on their own South Island Adventure.  Our parking area was in the back paddock and we arranged our vans to get maximum shade with the awnings, very necessary in such hot weather.


It was great to meet up with Bill and Val again, and we had a lot of catching up to do.  The plan is to spend three nights here before we go our separate ways, we will be heading north, and Bill and Val will continue south.

Bill and Val in the back paddock at Chatterley Manor

Monday, 29 January 2018

Akaroa Scenic Mail Run

It’s always tough to have to set the alarm clock for an early morning wake-up call while on holiday.  We had booked seats on “Akaroa’s World Famous Eastern Bays Scenic Mail Run” and wanted to be sure we got to the pick up point in time.  With another cruise ship in the harbour, we knew that the streets would be full to overflowing with tourists again.  While we waited for our ride to arrive, we admired the War Memorial.  When we were here six years ago, the memorial had been badly damaged in the Christchurch earthquake, and was roped off.  And close by was a sculpture of Lt Charles Meryon, on board the French Naval Escort ship, stationed at Akaroa from 1840-46.  He was a very talented artist.

War memorial and French artist Charles Meryon

And in memory of our aforementioned trip in 2012, here is another photo from the archives.  This shows Geoff and Eileen who were part of our travelling group, having lunch down by the Akaroa boat ramp.  Geoff had forgotten to bring a hat with him, so he was snapped with one of my tea towels protecting his head from the hot sun!

Geoff and Eileen, Akaroa in February 2012

Our red Rural Post van arrived, and we climbed aboard.  There were only four passengers, we were joined by two Canadian tourists from the cruise ship.  Friends of theirs had down this tour previously, and thoroughly recommended it.  The map painted on the vehicle showed our route.


The trip covered 120km, weaving in and out of 10 bays from sea level to the crater rim.   We stopped to drop off mail, (and to collect outgoing mail as required) to farms and settlements.  It was a bit eerie driving in and out of the clouds along Summit Road – not much chance of a photo stop up there in the cloud cover.


The van stopped here and there, popping letters and packages into a wide variety of mail boxes.  If the flag was up, there was mail to collect.  We stopped at a letter box in a tree trunk, one made out of a microwave, and another made from a copper hot water cylinder.

Some quirky letter boxes

Driving down to Pigeon Bay we stopped at the community hall.  Here rural postie Jeff got busy sorting the community’s mail into their individual post boxes.  He opened up the hall to show us the sprung flooring, perfect for the dances which were a big part of rural community life in earlier years.

Pigeon Bay

The name of Decanter Bay came from the natural rock formations on the coast.  The pile closest to the headland was topped by a flat rock and looked just like a decanter in former times.  Wind and weather have obviously changed the shape over time.  The area was settled by immigrants from Scotland, so maybe the taste for whisky may have something to do with the name too.

Decanter Bay

Morning tea was at St. Luke’s church in Little Akaloa.  It was  built in 1906 by local farmer and craftsman, John Menzies  on a wooded knoll high above the bay, and has beautiful carvings in timber and Mt Somers stone, depicting Maori designs. In 2014, St. Luke’s underwent extensive renovations to repair minor earthquake damage and bring this beautiful building fully up to code.



St Luke's Church

View from the church grounds

There was mail and parcels for Okains Bay store, the longest continually operating store in New Zealand which opened in 1873.  Our Canadian visitors expressed surprise at seeing a bright red telephone box next to the shop.  Very necessary, we were told, as there is no cell phone coverage in this area.  Wonder how all the teenagers get on without cell phones?  And yes, the proprietor does cook up fish and chips.


At Okains Bay Store

Le Bons Bay was the prettiest bay of all, we decided, with a lovely sandy beach.  We got out to stretch our legs and take the short walk along the track to the beach.

Le Bons Bay

Each time we dropped down to a bay, we then had to climb back up to Summit Road to continue on our journey.  We stopped at a large shed on the Hickory Bay Corner to drop off even more mail.

Mountain top mail deliveries

Then it was our final trip down from Summit Road back to Akaroa, stopping to take photos.  The large cruise ship is anchored off shore, and the passengers are ferried in and out on small tender boats.


This was a great trip, and we could certainly recommend it. We were taken up hill and down dale, along some rather narrow, windy, and unsealed roads, and got to see all sorts of places we probably wouldn’t have got to on our own.  Saying our goodbyes, we decided to go to the French Bakery “Sweet As’ for lunch.  And what could be more French than crepes? 

French crepes for lunch

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Akaroa Harbour Cruise

A morning on a harbour cruise to check out the wildlife sounded like fun.  With boarding passes in hand we waited patiently for the boat to arrive.  The boat was licensed to carry 99 passengers, we were told, and with a big group of Asian school kids arriving, there certainly seemed to be a full complement.

All aboard the Black Cat

The morning started with the usual safety briefing drill, no running, no smoking, keep children under control, and whereabouts of life jackets.  All quite necessary, and the the skipper took us around the harbour, checking for wildlife to show us.

Our trip

We saw some New Zealand Navy Seals being put through their paces

And farmed fish business is alive and well in this area.  We saw rows of mussels growing and further out, a salmon farm.  Young mussels grow through stockings, anchoring themselves to the ropes with their strong beards. The farms are usually located in sheltered or semi-sheltered areas where there is sufficient depth of water at low tide to keep the longline droppers off the bottom. Salmon farming takes place in large floating net cages, moored to the sea floor in clean, fast-flowing coastal waters. Young fish from freshwater hatcheries are transferred to cages containing several thousand salmon, and are harvested when they are about two years old, weighing 2.5 to 4 kilograms.

Farming mussels and salmon

The passengers were all hoping to see wildlife and we weren’t disappointed.  The small Hector’s Dolphins were difficult to photograph as they raced through the water, swimming alongside the boat, zipping underneath, then reappearing again.  Hector’s dolphins are among the world’s smallest marine dolphins, found only in the inshore waters of New Zealand.  They are the only dolphins in New Zealand with a rounded black dorsal fin. Their bodies are a distinctive grey, with white and black markings and a short snout.

Hector’s dolphin

Giant Petrel

Traveling close to the cliffs we saw Elephant Rock, can you make him out?  Plus sea caves and other interesting rock formations.


Rock formations

Everyone rushed to look at the babies – cameras were clicking madly as the boat quietly eased closer to the nursery rocks.  These are New Zealand fur seals, and when the sealers arrived in force during the 1790s, the demand for seal-fur hats, seal-leather shoes, and seal-oil for lighting, almost had them hunted to extinction. With a complete ban on sealing after 1894, they are making a come-back.


New Zealand fur seals

Robin had been standing up at the bow of the boat taking photos for most of the trip, and finally came inside to warm up.  And there on the wall was a great picture of a Hector’s dolphin, showing it leaping out of the water.


We then did a little more exploring, driving to Duvauchelle Hotel for lunch. The hotel was badly damaged by the earthquakes that struck the region in 2010 and 2011. The oldest parts of the hotel were demolished after the earthquakes, the remaining parts of the building were reopened as a single-storey establishment in September 2013.  Our lunch was delicious, pork spare ribs for him, and belly pork for her, and the prices were very reasonable too.

Lunch at Duvauchelle Hotel.

There must be something about little old Post Offices, as we have found several during this trip, then lo and behold, there was another one.  This little beauty served as the Robinsons Bay Post Office from 1912 till it closed in January 1960.  It was the smallest Post Office building in Canterbury.

The former Robinsons Bay Post Office