20 July 2007

French Pass

We were warned not to try the French Pass road in a motorhome, unless there was no wind at all - many cars and vans have blown off the cliffs along this road. Weather was predicted calm for 3 days, so we were off...

Wonderful views once past Okiwi Bay, the road became narrower and rougher, and a lot dustier, but there was nowhere to get to the water (all private roads to million-dollar baches along the shoreline).

We couldn’t even park at the locality known as French Pass “township”, it was full of cars belonging to absent boaties, and visitors to D’Urville Island, so breakfast up at the lookout - where many local weka brought out their young for a free feed.


Turimawiwi - Once the ford has been executed, and another 7km of rough road has passed under us, this serene spot awaits - no-one else in sight. HUGE sandhills, another river crossing if you choose, but the going gets tougher, as you need to proceed along the beach from here, including quicksand and ever deeper river crossings - an adventure only for 3 or 4 serious 4wd’s together - so we call it a day and stay here 3 days, living on fresh mussels and fish - not much trout in the river.

Turimawiwi Sunset - No power, no phones, no radio, no tv, no city lights, so a great view of the comet here, but couldn’t get it on film. We keep a close watch on the local weather here (remember, satellite tv?), because if it rains in the hills, we could be here for 2 or 3 weeks to wait for the river to subside enough to get back through the ford at Anatori.

17 July 2007

Don't Try This at Home !

Anatori - This requires 4wd . . .
Yes, you need 4wd to get through here safely - the rocks on the bottom are very slippery and unstable. Don’t try this at home!
After crossing this ford (which is very susceptible to rain in the hills), you can get to a fantastic spot a further 7km along a rough road, to a serene beach called Turimawiwi.

To Anatori

Coast road to Anatori - away from the madding crowds, good condition metal roads, fantastic vistas along this west coast . . . the road gets rougher, but still easily navigable without 4wd.

Anatori, stopover after 50km of rough roads, on the west coast of the South Island, as far as you can go from Cape Farewell southwards. Quite a few sandflies, but a really peaceful spot between the cliffs and the river. Deciding whether to cross the river (if it rains in the hills, we could be stuck on the other side for a couple of weeks).

04 May 2007

Farewell, Cape Farewell

Cape Farewell, northernmost point of the South Island, ready to go down the west coast as far as we can. No 4wd required around here, just dusty roads.

Cobb Reservoir, Upper Takaka valley

More trout here, but mostly small. Along a long, winding, single lane road, we had to back up a couple of times when oncomers panicked when they saw a motorhome approaching and just froze. The road can be seen wending its way down the left side of the hill, and then along the edge of this water reservoir. Sometimes very windy, and sometimes huge sandflies, but superbly isolated. Stayed 3 days at the far end.

Cape Foulwind

On the way to Cape Foulwind, Westport - just a break, away from the tourists, then heading up to Karamea and Kohaihai, to meet the huge sandflies.

Cape Foulwind, just southwest of Westport - wild windy and wonderful.

More Rainbow Road

Driving up the Rainbow Valley - the road gets narrower, rougher, and very few vehicles. The motorhome handles it with ease - we don’t need 4wd yet...
You usually have a choice between a small narrow bridge with weight restrictions, or a ford. So far, the bridges take our preference, as the fords look pretty rough - and sometimes deep - and no other vehicles to help out if we get in trouble.

The 4wd book says “Caution through 3 mobile screes.” What the heck are mobile screes? We soon found out, but put the motorhome into 4wd just in case - they looked a lot more unstable than they actually were - they’re just patches of road that have washed out, been filled with loose rocks, and washed out again - many times. New roadways have to be formed after major washouts like this.

Some of the fords through this patch really WERE rather deep, and slippery and rough. And then we met an articulated truck coming the other way, with a bulldozer on the back! It was going through to repair the road we'd just driven through.

23 April 2007

Lake Tennyson

Arriving at this lake in the middle of the Rainbow 4wd road, it’s overcast and dull. We set up across a 4wd track, away from where the tourists are likely to stop. Not much wind yet.

Next day, the sun shows up. This is better. We can see the tops of the mountains, and blue sky. Go trout fishing. A couple of small ones for dinner (no limit to size here, but it wouldn’t seem right to keep anything less than about 350mm).

Walk around the lake, and release about 20 trout, keep 3.
This spot is easy to get to in a normal road car, just a few large rocks, as long as you come up from Hanmer Springs. Further north is evidently REAL 4WD up to Nelson Lakes. Stayed here 5 days, gutsing up on brown trout.

19 April 2007

Guide River

We found a great spot after winding down a neat 4wd track off the Molesworth Road, started trout fishing. Couldn’t see the dusty road for about 20km. Well set up - level, protected, close to trout fishing - what more could we ask for?

About 2 hours after we set up camp, a DoC guy spoils our fun. “You can’t stay here, drive 60km that way, and camp in the DoC camp. The local farmers might be shooting tonight.” Not a soul for 50 km - Yeah Right! So we move on, right out of the Molesworth.

18 April 2007

The Molesworth

Don’t know the name of these flowers (probably Daisy, or Rose, or Violet...), I thought the paddocks had gone mouldy. Only open for 2 months in summer, 120km through NZ’s largest station (Molesworth Station). Supposedly a 4wd road, it’s really just a long, dusty, corrugated, dusty, winding, dusty road that you’re only allowed to do 50km/h on. Any car could get through this road with relative ease.

Not allowed to stop here either, this is leaving the Awatere Valley. Wonderful country, pretty mediocre road, only punctuated by avoiding about 20 cyclists. 120km of dust and more dust. We found out that the rear sliding window is not totally dust-proof.

Awatere River stopover

Beside the river, open air solar showers, just the local farmers for traffic - peace at last after the bustle of North Island morons, the ferry, and tourists packing out Blenheim.

A short break before going into the Molesworth Road, relaxed here for 4 days.