20th January 2004

For those that have asked when we are returning. Flight Christchurch to
Singapore 25th Feb. Singapore to Heathrow arrive Heathrow 28th Feb. at 6.50pm
At terminal 3. But may change.....

There were two ways out of Picton and we took the wrong one. Although it was longer, it was flatter and went around all the hills, just like Scotland. Camped overnight near Havelock in a caravan which the owner said we could use for the same price as camping.

Next day we arrived in Nelson in the pouring rain, but still with a backwind. After looking around the shops we set off for Richmond to find Gladys and Murray. Their house has a lovey garden and overlooks Richmond and the bay. They made us very welcome and we stayed in an annex of the house which Murray had spent days clearing of all his boxes and drink cans. No, he does not drink a lot but makes model airplanes from the empty cans he collects and sells them on the local market. The house and workshop are full of these tin-can aeroplanes which he showed David how to make. David knows how, but it is obvious that quite a bit of skill is needed to get them right.

Although she has been quite ill recently, Gladys prepared a lovely evening meal.  The rain kept on for the next two days and we stayed three nights until the weather improved. During this time, Murray used his local knowledge to get our stove repaired, our tent sewn up and David's cycling shoes repaired.

It was two days ride to Westport over some fairly hilly roads. On the way, we found a rucksack and belongings that had obviously been stolen. A passport, air tickets and camera were still there. No contact details were found. As it was the weekend, the embassy had only an answerphone, the local police said they had no report of loss. After several abortive attempts to get into contact with the passport holder by e-mailing the travel agent, we eventually handed the lot to the local police. There is a lesson here. It is useful to put an e-mail address on all your documents including passport in case they are found, as there is no security risk and it can only help in recovery.

Carrying on south along the coast from Westport, the road went up for a mile, then down, then up, then down etc all the way to Punakaki. The coast was something like the California coast called The Big Sur, and just as misty. From Greymouth a decision was made to head inland on a loop via Lake Brunner.

The road was now very quite and reasonably flat through farmland and bush. A campsite overlooked the lake and mountains and David failed again to catch any trout, but a young Canadian managed to catch a six pounder for breakfast. Luck was again on our side as it rained overnight but was lovely and sunny all day.

Continuing back towards the coast on minor roads we found a pretty secluded spot by a reservoir and camped wild but it was so stony that we made a cushion of bracken before setting up the tent.

This area is a gold mining area still with some active mines and there are huge quarries with piles of stones and rubble scattered everywhere. Coal is also mined here and even road cuttings are made through coal seams so that the road in places is walled with coal.


Dave and Joan Wooldridge