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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
High cliffs in the south of the north
Sarah
12/02/2008, Putangirua Pinnacles

The southernmost DOC site on the North Island is at Putangirua Reserve. Here is Puff under the cliffs that tower above the river in the campsite, just off the road.
There was a strong breeze blowing from the south, so we actually spent the night tucked away behind some bushes, and even so we shook occasionally in the wind.
There were only two other vans in the site, and in fact they were the only two I'd seen after turning off the main road at Featherston.

Places and people
Glowering skies over the lake
Sarah
12/02/2008, Lake Wiararapa

For a few days we decided to have separate adventures. Pip is spending a few days with her mother, so Beryl gets her to herself for once. In the meantime Sarah is exploring the area known as the Wairarapa, after the large lake at its centre. Pip knows the area well; it's Wellington's playground, known as 'over the hill' all of her life.
Tuesday afternoon was pretty gloomy, with racing clouds and quite a breeze kicking up across the water as I stood on the western shore.

Places and people
Bluebridge
Calm
11/02/2008, Cook Strait

These cattle and sheep were travelling with us, fairly undisturbed (but we had a very quiet passage.
With a van, Bluebridge is significantly cheaper than the competition.

Places and people
Off to North Island
Lots of rain
11/02/2008, Picton & Queen Charlotte Sound

We tore ourselves away from Mel and Michelle's fabulous hospitality on Saturday. That night we stopped at Pelorus Bridge, an old favourite of Pip's. It is the site of a bridge across the Pelorus, historically a major obstacle on the road between Nelson and Picton. Now there is little there except a café, and extensive DOC camping availability, surrounded by walks of all grades into the bush.
Pelorus was the sailing vessel that explored these parts, and thus this useful pre-chronometer instrument is honoured. Funnily enough, in the Tasman the French ship Astrolabe lent her name to several geographical features. Rather prettier than calling the headland off which you've marked a waypoint GPS Cape.
On Saturday we did several of the shorter walks, which were great. We planned to do the longer walk (and remember the camera) on Sunday morning, but woke up to torrential rain. Standing-under-the-hosepipe rain, so we abandoned that plan.
Instead we drove on to Picton and met up with Milly, the other owner of the van. Her pals Helen and Mary kindly invited us to join their Sunday night BBQ, which was great fun.
The pic is the Queen Charlotte Sound as we steamed north. We consoled ourselves with the thought that we will be coming back in a few weeks, not least to return Puff to Milly.

Places and people
Sushi on the beach
07/02/2008, Tahunanui

In the evening Peter Bethune, the man behind Earthrace, was speaking just down the road. We stopped en route for sushi on the beach in the wonderful sunshine.
Peter himself was interesting, with lots of headbanger stories about his world record attempts in his spectacular power boat. We (Pip and Sarah) are a bit sceptical, because the habitat loss, deforestation and loss of valuable agricultural land to the biofuel demand is itself unsustainable and ecologically damaging. The answer must rely on less damaging sources of energy and reducing reliance on oil type fuels.

Places and people
Short walk in the New Zealand Bush
07/02/2008, Tinline Beach

We motored up to Marahau, on the edge of the wonderful Abel Tasman National Park, and did the first short section of the walk to Tinline Beach. It was amazingly busy, but has inspired Sarah to seriously consider a long tramp as part of this trip.

Places and people
More home comforts
07/02/2008, Mahana

Outside Nelson, Pip's old friend Melissa lives with her partner Michelle. They have a beautiful spot, overlooking the Bay. Bailey, their chocolate Labrador, is a very happy dog.
Mel and Michelle do a lot of travelling too. Check out their site at www.worldsoutoyster.com.

Places and people
Waitangi Day
06/02/2008, Nelson

Beryl, Pip's mum, rang to say she and her friend Betty had got a good deal to Nelson for a few days. We took the spectacular drive over the Lewis Pass, needing about seven and a half hours to get there. Beryl and Betty were staying on the eighth floor of the smart Rutherford Hotel and kindly treated us to a Waitangi Day dinner in the Café Affair.
They introduced us to stonegrilled food, the latest thing! Your food is served raw on a super-hot square of granite. It might be steak, lamb, chicken or seafood, and you can cook it to your fancy. Yum.

Places and people
Retail moments
03/02/2008, Riccarton, Christchurch


Riccarton market was a blast too. Some excellent salami, ice-cream and Pip's fantastic new hat. (This picture was actually taken several days and hundreds of kilometres away, but that's life.)

Places and people
Blessings on Lou for an improved quality of life
Good
02/02/2008, Christchurch

The first time we were in Christchurch Lou swapped our smaller duvet for a big one. Sarah's life improved immediately, as her bottom stopped touching the metal sides of Puff every time she moved in her sleep. (And she's a restless sleeper.)
This time, seeing Sarah driven distracted by sandfly bites, Lou helped again. This little aloe vera plant is an off shoot of Lou's mighty specimens. Just a leaf rubbed on the bites really helps. And it's a great change from all the ghastly chemicals.
The accompanying bear, Stripey, accompanies us on many travels. He was a gift from our friend Paul, who's recently had a bereavement and has been much in our thoughts.,
We had a good three days in Christchurch. Not only sleeping in a real bed and eating Lou's great cooking. We went to a dyke dance which was a great change and met lots of lovely women. Incluidng Liz and Cynthia, (who we'd had dinner with first time round). They're getting hitched on 29 February. Best wishes girls.

Places and people
Is DOC having a laugh?
01/02/2008, In Christchurch on 2/2 but computer hasn't caught up with NZ time yet!

Most Department of Conservation sites are peaceful, the loudest disturbance the drone of attacking insects or the chatter of a stream.
Not so the Avalanche Creek park opposite the DOC site in Arthur's Pass. It's right by a goods siding and trains were working all night. Grumpy and fraught morning, not helped by cold rain./ Breakfast in a café (a rare treat) helped.
We visited the extraordinary karst landscape of Castle Hill (known also as Kura Tawhiti). This area of weathered limestone looks, from a distance, like some ruined town. The blocks are weathered into extraordinary and haunting shapes. It's paradise for rock-climbers, of course, but even ordinary mortals can scramble about a bit and enjoy the view.
Now we are back at Lou's in Christchurch, and she has offered us a real bed! Woohoo. Space. Two sides to it. Fantastic!

Places and people
Serious highway engineering
01/02/2008, Arthur's Pass township

It's an ongoing process, keeping a major highway safe and fast in this challenging place. This is the stunning Otira Viaduct, opened in 2000. It wasn't here last time Pip came this way in 1998; she took the old, infamous Zig Zag highway which corkscrewed along the edge of the cliff. It was deemed dangerous and unsustainable, and the decision taken to create this bridge. (Construction must have already started when she drove through.)
It is particularly interesting because not only is the sheer engineering pretty awesome, but this is an area of immense conservation and cultural value. Transit NZ worked with the Department of Conservation and tangata whenua (people of the land, the Maori) in the decision on whether to build the viaduct (compared to, for example, a tunnel) and then in the design and construction process. Thus, for instance, the areas of the surrounding National Park such as the old road were replanted with native species grown from seed collected locally.
It cost a lot of money of course, but it was deemed essential to maintain this central highway. It can still be closed by heavy snow, or made pretty exciting in high winds, but it has enormously high resistance to seismic disturbance and rock-fall deflectors on the four piers. Pretty impressive.
We are parked for the night at Avalanche Creek DOC site, essentially a car park opposite the Visitor Centre in Arthur's Pass township. We bought some splendid sausages at the Blackball butchers (just outside Stillwater); tonight it's the garlic venison and beef with cauli mash and beans. Warming in all this rain. But - hooray! There are no sandflies.

Places and people

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