11 January 2019

St Anne's Lagoon

This picturesque lagoon a few kilometres north of Cheviot is a great place to stop for a picnic or to stretch your legs.

The gravel roads runs along the lake and leads to an area you can park under mature trees.

The area had had a lot of rain recently so we stuck to the harder road and parked.

Another car wasn't so lucky and had gone onto a dirt road and got stuck. A guy in a Toyota happened to come along and tried unsuccessfully to tow the Ranger out. Eventually a winch was used and the owners of the Ranger were freed.

As per normal, Bernie boiled the jug and I went walking with Oakly and Boo. Yes - it's dog friendly.

It's hard to believe this lagoon can dry up. When we were there the lake was so full, the trees were surrounded in water.

In 2017, after three years of drought conditions, the lagoon completely dried up, which threatened the lives of thousands of eels. The local community, DOC, ECan (Environment Canterbury) and some school kids collected eels and transported them in drums, to be released in the Waiau River.

St Anne's Lagoon (Mata Kopae) is set in 40 hectares of beautiful parkland. The day we visited we didn't see any bird life, however it's known as a popular spot for bird watching. This wetland is home to many geese, swans and pukeko.

Opposite the lagoon is smaller pond smothered in weed. Luckily Boo managed to stay dry ... a few years ago as a pup Boo had seen weed similar to this in Blenheim and had mistaken it for grass. She started to bound across it and disappeared! Fortunately we were close by so Bernie reached in and scooped her out!

10 January 2019


Sticking to our plan of keeping our traveling from place to place under two hours we headed south from Kaikoura. Less than an hour later we arrived at a small settlement named Parnassus. It's on the east coast of the South Island, between Kaikoura and Christchurch. In 2008 the Parnassus school closed and is now used by the NZMCA as a park for members. There's oodles of space to park on the grass but after a long stretch of wet weather the grass was very wet. Like most campers, we stuck to the concrete area to avoid getting get stuck.

Parnassus seems an unusual name, so I did a little research and discovered ... Many years ago, a local sheep run owner, Edward Lee, noticed a likeness between a local hill and the sacred Mount Parnassus in central Greece. It was Edward Lee who named the area Parnassus.

As I mentioned it's a small area so there wasn't a lot to explore. 

The nearby paddocks were covered with round baleage. I'm guessing these bales will be wrapped, before being carted away to be stored. Eventually they'll be used as feed for stock.

Other paddocks looked ready to be mown. After being cut, the fields will be raked and then baled.

If we visited this area in a month or so, this wild apple tree, growing along the roadside, will be ready for picking. Yum, nothing like sweet, crispy, spray-free apples!

Noticing the forecasted storm approaching, we headed back to camp. That night we drifted off to sleep to the sound of thunder and rain. Bliss.

9 January 2019

An Overnight Stay in Kaikoura.

After leaving Ward Beach we decided to only travel one to two hours, which made Kaikoura our next stop. 
We planned to stay at an NZMCA park at the Kaikoura Trotting Club in South Bay, which is about five kilometres south of Kaikoura. However when we arrived it was full ... time for plan B. 
At the end of South Bay, there's a dump station, we headed there to dump our grey water and rubbish. While Bernie did that, I walked the dogs along the foreshore.

We parked beside South Bay foreshore, with the local bird-life entertaining us, while we discussed where we should stay. 

I'd heard lots of positive comments about "Donegal House" being a nice place to stay. It's an Irish Hotel and campervan park about 3kms north of Kaikoura and it's dog friendly. Perfect.

There was loads of space to park, one side have the powered sites and opposite is the unpowered area. We found an unpowered spot to park and settled in for the night. Our view was looking over a pond.

The next morning Bernie lifted the carpet tiles and put them along the fence to dry. I'd forgotten to mention that we hadn't remembered to put the water container into the shower as we left Ward Beach. We were traveling along the coastline, when we heard a bang! It happened at that time where there was nowhere to pull over (Murphy's law), so we continued driving for a few kilometres until we found somewhere to stop. And, you've guessed it - the water container  had fallen onto the floor and emptied out (all 20 odd litres) over the carpet. Luckily, it was an easy fix. The carpet tiles came up effortlessly. The weather was fine with a slight breeze, so in no time at all the carpet was dry and back in its rightful place. As the saying goes, 'Every cloud has a silver lining', we now had a nice, clean floor!

 Before we set off, Oakly, Boo and I went off to have a look around.

This huge gum tree growing beside Donegal House was brought over from Australia as a seed in someone's pocket. (see more info below).

Our first stop was back at South Bay to dump and fill up with water. Being such a scenic area we stopped along the beach for lunch.

The dogs didn't need asking twice when I suggested we go and explore.

I loved all the blue borage along the roadside and the red poppies growing in amongst it. I wasn't the only one who appreciated the blue borage - hundreds of bees were visiting too.

The crimson flowers of the pohutukawa tree were eye-catching.

There's so much to see around this area and I've got my eye on a couple of walks I'm keen to do. Plus there are the seals - I love seals! Although it was a brief trip, we still enjoyed our visit and next time we'll put aside more time to explore. Until next time ....

8 January 2019

Wild and Wonderful = Ward Beach

Ward beach was everything I'd hoped it would be - and more. And as it was only a few hours from home, it was put to the top of our 'To Visit' list.
The spot we stayed, was right beside the beach. It's owned by local farmers (Herb & Pip Thompson). The Thompsons have generously put aside an area at the north end of the Ward Beach Picnic Reserve area. No overnight parking is allowed in the reserve area but Herb and Pip have set up a place where NZMCA members and self-contained vehicles can stay for a donation.
I know I've said this before but I've just got to mention it again ... the simplicity of pulling up in our wee bus, turning off the key and knowing you're now set up is bliss. So quick. So easy.

And better still, we had the spot to ourselves - just how we like it. Isolated and private, no need to pull the curtains. The photos below show our view. 

Not long after arriving, it began to drizzle. An ideal time to sit back and enjoy a cuppa, while admiring the view and listening to the sea pounding onto shore.

Luckily the rain didn't last. So the dogs and I were off to explore.
I apologise if some of the photos seem a bit strange ... unfortunately my camera started playing up. I can't really blame it - I've had it for about three years now and it's been well and truly thrashed. For some reason it altered the ISO whenever I took a photo, so the light randomly changed with every photo I took.

The 2016 Kaikoura earthquake (7.8 magnitude), uplifted the seabed about 2 metres, which exposed a range of rocks. In the photo below you can see where the original tide mark had been.

As a result of the earthquake, Ward Beach now has its own type of 'Moeraki Boulders'. It  took about ten minutes to walk (north) to find these new 'Ward Beach Boulders'. The beach is covered in small stones, making walking quite slow. If you're keen to see these spherical shaped rocks, low tide would be the best time.

I decided not to walk any further, as the sky was darkening and rain clouds were moving closer. 

We stopped to explore the rock pools as we wandered back. Oakly had to peer into every pool and investigate every crevice. Just like me, he gets so much enjoyment from nature.

Although we didn't see much life in the tidal pools, the different formations made it interesting.

How do these plants manage to grow and thrive in such harsh conditions?

Back at the bus we had dinner, watched the sunset and settled in for an early night. I don't think Oakly slept all night, he'd spotted a rabbit and spent the whole night sitting in the drivers seat watching and waiting!

The next morning I was up early, hoping for a nice sunrise and also hoping the cray boats would be launched.

Oakly, watching the sunrise with me.

An hour or so later, I heard a bulldozer start up. Yahoo - that meant, the cray boats were about to be launched.

After walking over the stones, I could see why a bulldozer was needed to tow the boats down to the water - everything else would sink and get stuck.

Bernie chatted to one of the fisherman and discovered, before the earthquake the cray boats only had a short beachfront to launch from. The photo below, shows Bernie and the fisherman - prior to the earthquake, the beachfront (where they're standing and several metres to the right of them), had been underwater.

Once the boat was skilfully launched, it powered away to check the cray pots. 

Occasionally, the sea becomes too rough, making it too dangerous for the boats to be brought out of the water. When this happens, they wait further out until conditions are calm enough to approach shore. And as you can imagine, this may take several hours.

Time was marching on, so we wandered back to the bus for breakfast, but not before Boo struck an early morning pose.

Again, organising the bus to leave was effortless. As we were leaving I spotted a pile of painted stones beside the gate (I'm not sure how I missed these when we arrived). Campers had decorated rocks and/or written their names on them. What a cool idea. 

We loved our stay at Ward Beach and look forward to visiting again.