Saturday, September 23, 2006


The heater and our new fleece blanket things were brilliant. Although the van isn't the best insulated thing and so it isn't exactly balmy, the heater keeps the worst of the cold at bay. As it's an oil heater we could leave it on overnight with no annoying fan noise keeping us awake. That honour went to the wind and rain, which started up during the night and rocked the van quite viciously. And I hadn't even written a 'If the van's rockin', don't come knockin'' sign yet.

It was still raining when we got up in the morning so we endeavoured to go outside as little as possible. This led to us both quite comically trying to get from the back of the van into the front over the seats. It wasn't the most graceful manoeuvre from either of us. And pointless too, as I had to get out to unplug the 240v cable and then Gemma had to get out to wipe the windows.

The rain made for some lovely rainbows set against the mountains as we drove away from them back toward the coast. Eventually the mountains became hills and the hills became farmland. We passed some lakes and hydroelectric dams and motored past many nice looking views because there was nowhere to stop. We stopped at a Maori rock art site in the Waitaki valley. The art here is not so well preserved, despite being quite young. The least preserved being the bits that have been hacked off the rock and put in museums.

We arrived into Oamaru and parked up at the 'Top 10' van park. After lunch we had a walk into the town and the harbour area via the public park which backs onto the van park. The park was quite nice although not everything is in bloom yet. They did have a display house that was full of pretty flowers and a pond with some exceptionally fat ducks. Because the harbour is so prominently marked on tourist signs about the place I thought it might be a lovely yacht harbour with nice cafés around it. It wasn't. Being cheapskates we decided to pass on paying to get into the Blue Penguin colony. We went for a coffee instead. Gemma said she felt like Oamaru was a bit odd and scary. It seemed OK to me. The town is full of Victorian era buildings with grand façades, many being old bank buildings a sure sign of former prosperity. The town was apparently a major centre for refrigerated meat shipping, New Zealand lamb having fed the United Kingdom for many years. Today the buildings have been turned over to artists and craftspeople.

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