Catching up after a few days

Trip Start Oct 18, 2010
Trip End Feb 20, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Monday, January 24, 2011

Hokitiki to Nelson and then on to Blenheim

Sunday 23rd January 2011 

1000 in the forenoon

Yesterday we enjoyed a very pleasant drive across grassy plains and through mountain gorges to the town of Nelson which is situated on the north coast of South Island NZ.  Nelson sits on a wide shallow bay with houses climbing the hillsides all around it.  Incredibly busy roads around here, it was just like being in the UK, you have to wait at junctions before turning out!  Unfortunately we arrived on Saturday afternoon when many of the shops are closed and today being Sunday most will be closed.  Flanders and Swan, who were rarely unkind, once dismissed NZ with a very few words - “We went to New Zealand, but it was closed”.  That was back in the 1960s, not much change here then. 

What was particularly difficult was finding somewhere to eat, however we had been advised to try the “Boatshed” which turned out to be a very small, very good, fish restaurant standing on stilts in the harbour.  We were squeezed into one of the last tables available even at 1700.  If we had tried any later we would have been out of luck. 

At our last stop the hotelier expressed her doubts about this part of NZ (west and north coast) ever developing a tourist trade.  I don’t wish to be unkind, but if you want tourists you need to provide tourist services, shutting up shop at 1300 on Saturday won’t crack it.  (The excellent café in Hokitiki shut at 1430 every day and was closed on Sundays.)  Even McDonalds and Subway close very early around here.  Our motel is almost empty, (three cars in the car park this morning).

NZ has its financial problems just as the UK has, one very easy answer would be to boost the tourist trade and scoop up our millions of dollars.  The country sells itself, all you need to do is get the people here and support their needs and interests, only Queenstown really does this well.  US tourists love it here, they get a reasonable exchange rate and by taking a one night stopover in Hawaii have a reasonable journey.  We have met a lot of Americans and Canadians here.

 I have to be careful with my humour here however; having finished our jet-boat experience last week I passed the comment that - “It was some years since I had had such an adrenalin rush whilst wrapped tightly in black PVC”, the Canadians creased up, the Americans, waiting to board, clearly did not approve.  Heigh-Ho cultural differences strike again.

Its very cloudy and windy this Sunday morning, we awoke at the very late hour of 0840 and the next paragraphs will no doubt recount or adventures before we move to Blenheim.  You may recall that the battle of Blenheim was won by the Duke of Marlborough in the 1700s, the Duchess kept a diary and recorded - “The Duke, returning from the war, entered my bedroom and took his pleasure of me without removing his riding boots”.  That’s the way to treat them chaps.  Men were men in those days.

1900 the same day

Weather stayed very cloudy and is now providing steady rain.  This is a spill over from some dreadful weather in the North Island.  We spent the day driving north along the cost, nice drive with no outstanding features.  Pleasant lunch of fish and chips out of the paper whilst sat on a bench watching the gentle surf from the Tasman Sea roll up the beach.  Very relaxing.  Viewed what must be the largest terminal moraine in the world this afternoon, but as this is a geographers special interest item I will not bore the rest of you with my description.  The glacier that left it behind must have been monstrous.

We have become avid readers of NZ newspapers whilst we have been here.  I love them because they are written in such a sober manner and in such excellent English.  Their respect for the English language is exemplary and except for some local oddities like “farewelling” for a funeral, are models of English composition.

Monday 24th January 2011

Exciting drive to Blenheim along Queen Charlotte Drive, 20km of reverse hairpins.  Blenheim is full of interest and Vineyards.  Went to superb aircraft museum owned secretly by Peter Jackson.  Also tasted and bought wines, it’s a tough life but someone has to do it.

Very good meal here tonight with ecellent wines.

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Jim on

I burst out laughing in the office over this entry, engaging and entertaining as ever!

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