Tour of the South Island – Day 1
Peter and Margie left first thing the next morning and I spent the day re-sewing the cockpit cover while Bill finished off his varnishing.
We got up early on the Sunday morning and loaded everything into the car and drove back to the boat. We quickly unpacked the car and repacked it with all our new camping gear, some food, and a few bags of clothes, so we could leave the next day on our tour of the South Island. Monday morning arrived with the sun and we set off for the west coast. We headed south to Blenheim where we turned onto highway 63 passing vineyard after vineyard on our way to St Arnaud where we stopped for lunch. We had cloudy skies and the weather wasn’t as warm as it had been in Picton – was this the norm for the west coast? We joined our first traffic jam. NZ has a ratio of 15 sheep to each person, these sheep were being moved to different grazing, holding up the cars as they went.
We continued to Murchison on the Buller river. The Buller Gorge offers spectacular scenery and is home to New Zealand’s longest swing bridge.
We turned onto highway 69 and headed for Greymouth, the largest town on the west coast. The boom time for Greymouth came in the 1860s when the gold rush brought the development of road and rail links. Many of the old character properties still exist including Monteith’s brewery started in 1868. The town has a selection of café’s and restaurants as well as numerous jade galleries. The Tranzalpine train leaves Greymouth for Christchurch.
Just outside Greymouth we had to share the road with the rail track, fortunately there weren’t any trains coming. We continued to Hokitika for our first campsite. The campsites here are very nice. There was a communal kitchen as well as the usual shower block and it was next to the beach.
After putting the tent up we went for a nice walk along the beach to end the day.