Last leg

I forgot to mention the Maoraki Boulders in the last post. Amazing nature! Perfect spheres on a small section of beach. An enterprising chappy has set up a cafe and asks people to pay to go down onto the beach to see the Boulders. Needless to say we park in the car park down the road and walk along the beach. Apparently he has no right to charge, but who can blame him? Hoards of tourists tramping through all day. Easy money! The 3 really liked the boulders, and we spent a while wondering around.

 So, after Wanaka, which we are sad to leave, we stop and gave a quick swim in Lake Hawea. Hot hot hot, and the water is translucent with beautiful pebbles at the bottom. Blissful. We wallow around for a bit, disturbing the peace of the two vans resting by the waters edge. Pleasant flats DOC campsite was avarice.  Rio and Elodie saw a Tui very close up, which they were very pleased with. The next day we stop for lunch at Lake Paringa. Boiling up bean squelch for lunch on the good old gas stove while the 3 jump around in the water. I am so glad that the story of the biting eels was told to me after all my delightful lake swims. It would have really put a crimp in my enjoyment. Otto /McDonald DOC is our resting place for the night. Not many sandflies and another luscious lake, Lake Mapourika. It’s so warm we stay in for ages, enjoying the setting sun and glistening water. The end of the trip is making itself felt now. We push on to Hokitika. Probably our favourite town. We find a lovely little campsite with the friendliest owners. After the tent goes up, we head to the beach. As this is Jade country, we all try and find a piece. Not as easy as you would think. Plenty of beautiful stones, but no jade! We get some chips from Porkys and head down to the beach for lunch. They all strip off and charge in, jumping around. Until a local comes over and says jumping is fine, but swimming not advisable. Too much undercurrent. Shame. The sea looks inviting. We finish the chips, fending off the gulls, who can spot a chip a mile away, and head back in time for eels feeding. The owners have a pond with eels in. Not the small, decent sized eels that Grandpa used to catch,  but big bottom dwelling beasts. They rise up out of the mud and snatch the piece of frankfurter on a stick which the children wave around the surface of the pond.  Much squeaking and excitement when one energetic eel launches itself 3 or 4 inches out of the water to grab the meat before one of his brethren. They also have a goat, (billy) a sheep (xenia), rabbits, Guinea pigs, cats, dogs, a bird of some kind. Xenia escapes, and we spend a good while charging about trying to catch her! Can’t run for laughing. I’ve never seen a sheep gallop before! I catch her eventually with the tried and tested method of the held out hand. She gives me a pained look as I manhandle her back to her pen. Billy, who had been pitiously bleating, ceases to complain,  and cavorts about a bit. Xenia ignores him, still feeling disgruntled. Geoff gave me Jade carving for christmas.  We looked into it for the 3, but they decided they wanted to collect a stone from the beach and Polish that instead. Great fun collecting them, and they are beautiful. I select a piece of jade and get stuck in. Great experience! Really interesting and though it took me all day, I could have done two or three more days work on it just smoothing it. Very please with my pendent. Geoff is on top of the weather, and books a caravan for the last night. Wet and windy sounds good from the cosy comfort of the van! The tail edge of a cyclone is on its easy to the west coast. We pack ourselves in as the rain us whipped about by the howling wind. For reasons best known to myself, I persuade Geoff to drive back to the beach to find a particular stone I saw yesterday but didn’t pick up….. it’s absolutely howling, and O and I brave the elements and run down to the seafront. The sea is an absolutely roaring mass! The wind is so strong I can barely push against it. With the wind blasting sand and rain in my face, i see its a futile mission. We dive back into the car, soaked. Geoff has the grace not to say anything! Onwards towards Arthur Pass. There are trees down, and a few across the road. Most we wiggle around,  and one is just being moved by drivers. The trees all around are being tested to their limits, and leaves are flying everywhere. We push on up the pass. We hear later that it was closed, so we must have got there just in time. The whole east coast is being battered. We come in and out of the storm as we drive inland. We stop for a quick bite to eat, but no one is very keen to hang around as the lake is having trouble staying grounded, and the trees are swaying around like overcooked broccoli. Our main aims on the pass were to enjoy the beautiful scenery and see a kea. Failure all round. The scenery was windswept and bleak. What we could see of it anyway, and any self respecting Kea would have been tucked up in bed. We made it through to Christchurch. The weather got better and better, and we settled into our cabin in the sushine. Appart from squashing our  stuff in the required bag limit for Jetstar, our main job is to sell Pearl.

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