My last post had us leaving Dunedin on our way up the coast towards our eventual destination of Christchurch. As we left Dunedin we checked out the steepest residential street in the world, Baldwin Street, and a lookout over the city. At morning tea time we made an impromptu stop at Waitati, visiting a gallery and made a very surprising find. A delightful cafe within a nursery. It had delicious snacks for us to keep up our strength and as it had started to rain, it was great to get out of the wet weather.
We drove up the road to the Orokanui eco-sanctuary which was very interesting and informative. Unfortunately the rain had set in so walking around the sanctuary was out of the question, we will just have to go back one day! Our drive continued up the coast stopping whenever we felt like it, taking in the Karitane beaches, sea views and rock formations. It was still raining but we decided to stop at the Moeraki Boulders, not knowing anything about them. We sent my husband down to the beach to see if they were worth walking in the rain for and he came back soaking wet saying we had to go and look at them! They were incredible!! Just huge balls of rock sitting along the waters edge, some broken open like alien eggs and others whole and perfectly spherical. It also stopped raining!!
The rain continued on and off all afternoon but it didn’t stop us discovering delightful places along the way. Like Fleurs Place – apparently it’s an international renowned restaurant, visited by Rick Stein, but we didn’t know that until we wandered in for afternoon tea. It was amazing!! The atmosphere, the writing all over the walls, the food, the sunshine pouring into the cafe and the beautiful waterside setting. We didn’t want to leave. We chatted to Fleur herself and wandered around reading the messages all over the wall and soaking up the delightful atmosphere.
We drove on with no plans for our accommodation for the night. And so we stumbled into Oamaru in the middle of celebrating their annual Victorian Festival. We did wonder why there were people dressed up in Victorian outfits and when some penny-farthing bikes went whizzing by we knew something different was happening. Despite the busyness of the festival we were able to get a night’s accommodation in the centre of town and set about exploring. It is also apparently the Steam Punk capital which we knew nothing about! We watched a band perform in a warehouse, stopped and chatted to some elegantly dressed locals, admired the penny-farthing bikes as they did laps of the main area and had a delicious meal. The light show on the old buildings was worth watching too. It was a fantastic place to stop and we enjoyed the ambiance and history.
In the morning we drove around the town, spotted a steam train full of Victorian dressed people chugging along, looked at the millions of birds along the pier and played in the park for ages before leaving to continue our drive towards Christchurch. This park was one of the best parks to play in, especially if you’re a grownup! A flying fox, an elephant slide, penny farthing swings, a roundabout, a climbing frame, a giant hamster wheel, a pirate boat…..such fun!
After reluctantly leaving Oamaru we headed inland taking in great snow views and stopping at Geraldine and Methven (where there was a blue pub and a brown pub). No doubt this place would be very busy in the snow season.
We finally arrived at our accommodation in Christchurch after many stops to take pictures of Mt Hutt and other snowy mountains along the way. We visited Lyttelton as my husband’s family had lived in the area before moving to Australia and exploring the family history is one of his hobbies. There was a great seafood restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf so we had a delicious dinner to top off another great day.
The next day was our final day in New Zealand and after a late start we drove a very scenic road to the French town of Akaroa. It was beautiful and even the huge cruise ship in the harbour disgorging all its passengers couldn’t dampen the atmosphere. The town crier was working very hard to enlighten all the tourists about the town’s French history.
The next day we had an extremely early start in order to get to the airport on time and our wonderful two weeks in New Zealand were over!
I absolutely loved our holiday and I fell in love with New Zealand. It was our first time across the ditch but definitely won’t be our last time. I’ll be back…..
Thanks for your interest – (although this trip was in November 2016 it’s taken me some time to finish off writing it up but I’m glad I have finally done it). Hope you enjoyed travelling with me.
My previous posts on this trip can be found here if you are interested:
Travel blog New Zealand #4 cycling tour starts
Travel blog New Zealand #8 final day of cycling
Travel blog New Zealand #9 Dunedin