Sunday, 14 December 2008

Back to Christchurch

The views of Lake Pukaki were much better today as the rain had stopped and it was much brighter. Though none of the surrounding hill tops were visible. At the foot of the lake I turned left and rejoined Highway 8 which took me past Lake Tekapo. Sharon & Murray told me later that there are no motor boats on Lake Pukaki because a kind of volcanic silt blocks the engines. I didn't see any but there are motor boats on Tekapo. What I saw was another very beautiful turquoise lake. My route took me over Burke Pass and I had wondered if this would be a steep climb but once again the road was well designed and it was just part of a pleasant drive.

I stopped at the Farm Barn Cafe for fruit juice and the sickliest cake I've ever eaten - sort of millionaires shortbread with coconut and sultana's too! Certainly did the job as an instant sugar hit. But I rejected the offer to take away the half I couldn't eat!

Shared some fond memories with the guy running the place - he had worked for some time at Loch Fyne. Realised as I left the cafe that my timing had been perfect - a coach party pulled in as I got into the car. Until then there had been only two other customers.

At Geraldine I decided to take the "inland scenic route" back to Christchurch. The hosts of lupins continued and for a long time were the only feature that told me I was in NZ rather than Scotland. In fact I was starting to wonder why I'd chosen a scenic route that required clear skies to be scenic! Especially when I got to Mt Somers - a dozen or so houses a couple of shops - but definitely no mountain!! It wasn't lost in the clouds - there isn't one - I drove round twice just to make sure.

But then I got to Rakaia Gorge and, as I hope you can see from the photo's, this really is a gorge with steep steep slopes on both sides. It made the choice of the scenic route well worth while.

At about 5.30 I rang Sharon with a progress report and was told that I was probably about 2 hours away, and that there was roast lamb for dinner. So with thoughts of that in mind I made my way back to Waikuku beach and my last night in the South Island. I suppose it had to happen - I got to the store at Waikuku beach and then couldn't find the house. Sharon's phone was off when I tried so I drove about some more and still couldn't find it. After about 20 minutes I got through to Sharon who said that Murray was out looking for me - and just at that I saw his very familiar van! Rescued and escorted home!

Murray was very disparaging of his efforts but the dinner was absolutely great - I really enjoyed both the meal and the company. Sharon told me that the total for Christmas dinner at their place had risen to 14 - I'm not surprised as they are such welcoming and comfortable hosts. Thank you both once again for looking after me so well.

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