A Travellerspoint blog

Oamaru to Dunedin and then Arrowtown

To Arrowtown via Alexandra and Cromwell

overcast 15 °C
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We thought the road to Dunedin was going to be fairly flat and so it was until about 30 kms to go, when suddenly we were climbing very steep hills and, of course, coming down again, several times. I must admit that I'm over it!

We stopped at the Moeraki Boulders as the site was just off the road we were on. The Boulders are unusually large spherical boulders lying along a stretch of Koekohe Beach on the Otago coast between Moeraki and Hampden. They occur scattered either as isolated or clusters of boulders within a stretch of beach where they have been protected in a scientific reserve. The larger boulders, 2 metres (6.6 ft) in diameter, are estimated to have taken 4 to 5.5 million years to grow while 10 to 50 metres (33 to 164 ft) of marine mud accumulated on the seafloor above them.

Apparently there used to be just a small cafe on the cliff where people could buy a coffee after their 2-minute visit down to the Boulders. Now there is a huge visitor centre with plenty of parking for the huge tourist buses. People stagger down a steep path to the beach and then mill around the Boulders wondering why on earth they came all this way to see some rocks on a beach (there aren't that many). We took a few mandatory photos and carried on our way

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An hour or so later, we drove into Dunedin where the hills were completely capped in thick cloud. After checking in, we decided that as it wasn't actually raining, we'd take a long walk into the centre of town. The council is replacing underground pipes in a huge section of the centre and it really isn't a pleasant place to walk. However, we made it to the Dunedin Public Gallery where, of course, a large gallery was being "changed". Most of the work was underwhelming but I did like "Isle of Brechau, Sark" by Rhona Haszard 1929

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And, of course, we had to have a look at the Town Hall (1880 to 1930) and the Railway Station (1906) and take a couple of photos

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The next day was very overcast and drizzly but even so we took the scenic drive alongside Hoopers Inlet to Lower Portobello. The road is rarely more than a couple of metres from the water. There are two "attractions" along the road, one is Glenfalloch Gardens (which was closed) and the other is Lanarch Castle (they wanted $45 each to visit - dreamin!)

Back in Dunedin, we drove up some incredibly steep hills to get to the Botanic Gardens and then walked up incredibly steep paths around the gardens

On our last day in Dunedin, we awoke to rain and a completely overcast sky. There was no choice really - we forfeited today's accommodation and decided to take a leisurely drive on State Routes 1 then 8 to Alexandra or Clyde. We stopped for a coffee in Roxburgh and were quite taken with a metal sculpture in the main street. In Alexandra, just before heading off to find a place to stay, we thought we'd call the motel in Arrowtown that we were due to stay at the next day. They had nothing available on booking.com but it's always worth calling a place direct, and we were lucky. So we carried on driving and stopped off at the excellent Historic Precinct in Cromwell before tackling our last ever series of ridiculous hills/mountains into Arrowtown

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Posted by kforge 07:33 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Akaroa to Oamaru

Via Timaru

rain 11 °C
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Our morning drive out of Akaroa was easier than expected, probably because there were far less roadworks. The rain was constant all the way to Timaru where we stopped off at the Aigantighe Gallery. It's located in the suburbs but is a really good little place. There was an excellent exhibition of local bloke who managed to draw and paint through the whole of his 7 years in POW camps in Italy and Germany. Some of the gallery's permanent art was on display and I particularly liked Limb Report by Imogen Taylor 2021

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After lunch in the town centre (by the way, eating out is very expensive in South Island) we continued on to Oamaru and had time to have a good looked around Harbour Street which has a fine collection of mid to late Victorian buildings, most of which contain very quirky arts and crafts

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The following morning, our first stop was the Steampunk HQ. Steampunk is a quirky and fun genre of science fiction that features steam-powered technology. It is often set in an alternate, futuristic version of 19th century Victorian England steam powered devices – the ‘world gone mad’ as Victorian people may have imagined it. Examples are machines like those in the writing of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, and in television shows such as Dr. Who

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After Steampunk HQ, we visited Annie, the mother of a Mullumbimby friend of Jeni. She suggested taking us on a short driving tour of the inland area, to places we probably wouldn't know about. Our first stop in the hills was at Annie's friend Peter's off-grid "work in progress" property. From there we had a short drive to Danseys Pass Crossing where Annie unveiled a G & T picnic next to the river

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Finally, we went to Elephant Rocks - it was an interesting landscape but neither of us could work out the "elephant" tag

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Posted by kforge 05:20 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Gore Bay to Akaroa

By-passing Christchurch

sunny 22 °C
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After a very good home-grown breakfast in the company of our lovely hosts, we set off on the 199 kms drive to Akaroa. Google Maps told us it was about a 3-hour trip, so we knew that somewhere we'd be held up. After turning onto Hwy 75 off Hwy 1, things were going well unto just after Little River. From there, I have to say it is one of the most demanding mountain roads I have driven on: very few barriers and roadworks every few kilometres. To call it a highway is a bit of a joke. In the end we arrived at or motel in Akaroa after a 3:45 hours drive and were ready for a pleasant 2-night stay. It's a great little town

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The following day, we walked towards the lighthouse only to find it draped in while plastic. We assumed it was being restored but kept going on the 2km walk just in case there was something to see. There wasn't. Back in town we walked up Rue Jolie to take a look at a fine collection of late 1800 houses

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In the evening we had a drink at the Tini Bar (formerly the Harbar) with sweeping views of the Akaroa Inlet and an amazing display of storm clouds

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Posted by kforge 18:37 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Picton to Gore Bay

via Blenheim, Kaikoura and Cheviot

sunny 20 °C
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From Picton we had a 30-minute drive to Blenheim where we wanted to visit the Marlborough Art Gallery. As is our usual luck, the main gallery was closed as a new exhibition was being installed. However the secondary gallery had a wonderful exhibition of New Zealand artist Don Binney's work

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And while in Blenheim, I was able to purchase socks and underwear in a Countdown supermarket (Woolworths) to replace all the items I'd left in a drawer back in Nelson. The drive from Blenheim to Cheviot was along the spectacular Hwy 1 much of which was rebuilt in the amazing time of 13 months after the 7.8 earthquake in November 2016. The crucial highway reconnects the major road route between Picton and Christchurch

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At Cheviot we left the highway for very small Gore Bay Road. We had booked a place called Cathedral Cliffs Garden on Cathedral Road but were a little bit stumped when we lost the mobile signal. Fortunately just around the next corner, a local was out walking and apparently the road we were on turned into Cathedral Road in a few kilometres. So after a big uphill effort by the little Toyota Yaris car, we turned into what looked line a botanic garden. The large house was built on the cliffs about 250 metres above the sea and our apartment at this wonderful B&B had a 180 degree view of the Pacific. The 5-acre property really was a botanic garden. There aren't too many proper B&Bs left in the world but this place reminded us of how good a B&B can be. If you're heading up the east coast of South Island, try to book in at Cathedral Cliffs Garden, 257 Cathedral Road, Cheviot (Gore Bay) - phone is +64 (0)3 319 8667

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Posted by kforge 02:08 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Nelson to Picton

Via the scenic route through Havelock and Linkwater

sunny 20 °C

We said goodbye to our wonderful host Kerry at around 9:50 and took the road towards Havelock and Linkwater. The road to Havelock was quite mountainous and from Cullen Point we had great views of the Mahakipawa Arm of the Pelorus Sound. From Linkwater to Grove was fine farmland. From then on the road to Picton had stunning views of the Grove Arm of the Queen Charlotte Sound. However, this is not for everyone with dozens and dozens of hairpins. As we approached Picton, we turned a tight corner and there was the giant "Ovation of the Seas" cruise ship (4,900 passengers), docked in Shakespeare Bay. The dock itself was covered in thousands of huge logs which we assumed were going to be loaded onto a freighter once the ship had left. Not the most scenic arrival as they were whisked off in a stream of buses

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Picton itself has a lovely location and is where the cross-Tasman passenger and vehicle ferries arrive. We checked in and had a walk around the marina where Jeni decided she wanted to do the steep and Bobs Bay walk. Not only was it very steep, it was also very dangerous and apparently the view at the end was no better than the view at the start!

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The town is OK for an overnight stay but unfortunately there was a fierce wind coming off the Sound so we couldn't enjoy a drink outside at any of the cafes and bars

Posted by kforge 02:33 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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