Heading back to Christchurch

Trip Start Jan 23, 2013
Trip End Apr 24, 2013

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Monday, February 11, 2013

We both really liked the laid back atmosphere in Motueka. Our motel room was both spacious and well equipped in fact it was bigger than our apartment in France.

Sunday shopping laws here are not so restrictive and the local New World (100%25 Kiwi owned),think Tesco sized,is open until 9pm on a Sunday.

It's quite fun having a good rummage around foreign supermarkets and a couple of pointers. For Heinz read Watties, for Relentless read Mother!. Mushroom suppliers need some competition and wine and beer tax needs to be reduced!

But in any case the scallops from Nelson and sweet n sour chicken were on our menu, and served ala Wally in time for Top Gear washed down with a nice bottle of local Chardonnay.

We felt we deserved the starter after the exercise walking for miles around the sand spit in Motueka which is apparently world famous amongst twitchers for the migrating birds using the spit as a bird arrival and departure centre (Kiwi description not ours), some of which come annually from as far as Alaska which is a pretty impressive distance for an annual getaway without using jet propulsion.

While Wally was moaning that we seemed to be walking further than he normally cycles we came across a field of Pukeko ( like chickens but with blue breast and bright red beak. Jans description).

Despite the comfortable room the noise from trucks rumbling through the night intruded, not helped by the fact that double glazing doesn't seem to exist anywhere we go and in fact all the window furniture we have used is of the same useless design. A business opportunity must exist there for someone.

It was warm but overcast when we left Motueka heading towards Kaikoura our final destination of the Nz bike tour. The last of the tight alpine passes today which to be frank Wally had just about enough of with the bike fully loaded.

We were in the clouds for the last few when we came across another set of Petrol Head Poms. This time it was the vintage Bentley Club on tour.

Down from the passes and back into wine country we couldn't help but notice how different the vineyards were in Nz compared to France. So much more regimented and corporate here.It was approaching 30c when we stopped off in another New World to pick up lunch in Blenheim the largest town in the North of South. Even so about 1km from the town limits on Highway 1 leading to Christchurch, the road was empty except for the usual hordes of motor-vans carrying tourists like us.

It's hard to imagine but this winding strip of tarmac known as Highway 1 is the Nz equivalent of the Manchester to Birmingham road but as wide and as much fun to ride as the old A414!

Soon the South Pacific loomed into view as we headed into Kaikoura as did a big black cloud that threatened but didn't deliver.

A sudden prod from the observer required us to stop and investigate strange movements on the shoreline. There in front of us was a large colony of seals enjoying themselves.

Kaikoura itself is a small seaside town in need of some TLC. Pretty empty too so we can only imagine what it is like in winter here.

Another comfortable room with fantastic views of the bay (but due to the black cloud not very photogenic).Our friendly hosts Bob and Linn were refugees from Christchurch. They were in their house when their gable end wall and fire place disappeared!!! They won't be returning to Christchurch. The knock on effects we probably wouldn't think about but their kids lost their house and their jobs too!

Much of this went unreported in the UK understandably, as a week after Christchurch the Japanese disaster occurred.

Jan had a sleepless night due to trucks rumbling past our accommodation which would possibly explain why we don't see many during the day or maybe she was sleepless as we had to return the GS the following day.
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Dave Kinghorn on

Thats enough bird spotting, you're not Attenborough!

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