Day started with Plan A – a stopover at Hanmer Springs after a walk in the beech forest along and across another of those fantastic NZ rivers, which followed a chat with the DOC ranger in which we praised the work of DOC in providing so many fabulous campsites in an exquisite environment.
And have we mentioned the hillsides covered in gorse and broom?
A late breakfast was spoiled a bit by inconsiderate drivers who drove past sufficiently quickly to create a dust cloud that added that little bit of extra grit to our scrambled omelette. We drove down as we were leaving to where they were parked, with the evil D intending to skid past and coat THEM with dust, but they were two family groups preparing to set out on a hike, so the good D won out, and only an unseen glare was offered in retaliation.
On arriving at Hanmer Springs, Plan B was developed – let’s go straight through to Christchurch. Hanmer Springs is a lovely township in the Southern Highlands style, and was full it seemed of wedding groups and giggly girls – not our scene! So after a coffee and a wander, back on the road south.
We had previously written that drivers here obeyed road works speed restrictions. That comment must now be moderated: they do in the country, but here in Christchurch the same rules that apply in Canberra are in operation: the speed signs are only advisory. As we travelled around the outskirts of the city to get to our van park, there was only one vehicle that stuck to whatever speed was designated: a white Mercedes Maui campervan, being driven by an Aussie nicknamed Ove.
Here we are pretty much at the end of our three-week odyssey. A quick tally: one night in an hotel, 8 nights in paid van parks, 8 nights in DOC campsites and 4 free camps. Tonight we stocktake food and wine supplies, and T can pat herself on the back for ending with almost a zero balance on food items. D is a bit more cautious: there may be some wine left over, but he reckons that’s a better outcome than a dry last night.
Tomorrow we’ll catch the bus into town and wander the CBD, perhaps reflecting on changes since we were last here in 2008 on a CDSS tour that D was leading – pre-earthquake in 2011.