This was my shortest trip so far, but I made the most of it, taking a byroad, and doing extra investigations. I was pleased when the sun rose this morning over a cloudless sky, but they rolled in soon after and I had to hurry to catch the mountains on the other side of the lake.
After a shower I went for a wander to the shore and took a couple of artistic ones.
Then I set to and unplugged and tied everything down, and made off for the other side of town and the historic Church of the Good Shepherd, a landmark picture for many New Zealanders. It even graced the cover of my romance – (although I would not myself have picked the South Island shot for a Coromandel tale, but I had no say in the matter.) The sun was burning off the low clouds and so things were looking clearer by the time I parked outside and took these snaps.
From here it is only an hour to Geraldine, where I planned to stay for the night. As I left town I felt a pang seeing the cloud-covered mountains growing smaller in my rear vision mirror. I sailed fast down a few straights aware that if it was completely clear I would have seen the mountains all around me still, but dropping down in to the valley again, and into Burke’s Pass, suddenly the sun was glaring in a blue sky, and a coffee sign caught my eye at the wee group of buildings on a corner. So I pulled in and took a closer look. Very glad I did.
There is an artist who lives here, and does carpentry, metalwork, and collects an interesting range of objects. Not only that, but he’s constructed a small replica township out of all the memorabilia. A hard-working woman was in the hut serving espresso, and later she moved in to the store to go behind the counter there – she was IT for the whole place. I bought a couple of small iron objects from the plethora of those for sale, as momentos.
Fairlie was the next township I encountered, halfway to my destination. It was a pleasant town with a main street and plenty of cafes and stores on either side, but the most important one was the Bakery, which had reached finalist stage in regular ‘BEST PIE IN NEW ZEALAND’ competitions. I chose a pork belly and apple pie, and took it outside into the sun to enjoy. Delicious.
Another ten minutes beyond Fairlie, a sign pointed off the main road to ‘Lake Opuha’ 8kms, and so I veered off track, turned the sound down on my Apple Maps guide, who was repeating “Return to the Route” with monotony, and found myself pulling up on the shores of a secluded lake shore, the snow-capped peaks surrounding it. I hadn’t quite left them after all. I stayed here for a while, eating my orange and enjoying the view.
Back on the road, it seemed a short while later that I steamed in to Geraldine, which was basking in a gorgeous sunny afternoon, the blossom trees in evidence and a larger town than any in the last two days. The Top 10 Holiday park is in the centre of town, on a park-like surround of lawn and trees. I was the first camper van to book in for the night so had a nice choice of spot. Then I set off walking in to town to check it out. As you can see from the map, I did a good job of covering the area. I went on the River Walk, and wandered the streets looking into window. I visited the museum.
I had a salmon noodle dish at the new foodie place in town, that is a Barker’s Food Hall and tasting spot. Yes, Barker’s – the condiment people I know well from our local supermarkets, are based here. So the luxury of a free tasting spot to try all their condiments was great. Eventually I tired of all my walking around and headed back to the van. I think it will be a night of reading and relaxing before heading to Christchurch tomorrow.