Summer finally seems to have arrived, its 30 something deg C, not a cloud in the sky and was hot last night and looks like it will be tonight as well. The forecast is for this to continue for at least 4 or 5 days, which is nice, but it’s a bit too hot to do anything energetic.
|An amusing personalised numberplate we saw|
As it happens we’ve been driving in the van for most of the day, partly to get from Ranfurly towards Aoraki Mount Cook, so it hasn’t been quite so bad with the air con on. We didn’t make it all the way, as it’s a long way, but also we wanted to go over Danzy’s Pass, which is a gravel/rocky roadway in a remote mountainous area. It is not recommended for campervans, but we checked with the i-site in Ranfurly and they told us our smaller van should be OK, its steep in places, with very sharp hairpin bends with large drops off on a narrow road they said, well, they were right! Fantastic views all the way and the 45km road took us well over 2 hours, so you can tell we were going slowly!
|The curling rink at Naseby|
As we approached the pass we went into a town called Naseby, which seems to be the curling capital of NZ. I think I’m right in saying that the sport of curling originated in Scotland (Alex will no doubt put me right on that) and is now an Olympic sport. We both have mental views of people sliding ahead of the stone, rubbing the ice with brushes to fine tune its speed and direction to get it as close as possible to its position. ‘We must have a look’ we thought, so pulled into the car park to see an outdoor skating rink and luge track (both closed for the summer), as well as a big purpose built stadium for curling. We had a look inside to see three full sized curling lanes in a really good facility. Watch out Scotland, NZ will be on your tail in the next Olympics!
|Naseby town centre|
Anyway, once we got onto Danzy’s Pass proper the views were just fantastic, we stopped a couple of times for photos and it was absolutely quiet and amazing. As usual, the photos just don’t do it justice, but it was great! On one occasion we stopped for a large bird of prey pecking at a dead rabbit in the road in front of us, I’ve been trying to get a photo of one of these for ages, but on each occasion they fly off majestically before I can get my camera out, this was the same unfortunately.
Sheep were also a hazard, they’d run off when we approached and, on several occasions, one would get separated and run off in front, with no-where to go, cliff face one side, huge drop off on the other, we’d just go at snail pace until it could find some refuge to allow us to pass.
|The Flying Pig cafe|
Eventually we got back to civilisation and ended up in a town called Duntroon which, according to our climbing guide, has a couple of climbing crags and a bouldering area. The climbing is a bit hard for us and well spread out, so we decided to give it a miss as we want to get on to Aoraki Mount Cook, where there’s some multi pitch climbing (if the weather stays fine), so instead we stopped in the town at the ‘Flying Pig’ café, which was, very pink, for a coffee, a look at the gaol and stocks and finally made our way across the road to the ‘Vanished World’ fossil exhibition and museum.
|Best place for her!|
The exhibition was interesting and they have a trail you can follow in the locality to view fossils in the rocks and hillsides, but more interesting was the guy who ran the place as a volunteer. He was well past retirement and was great to talk to, we spent what must be half an hour having a laugh with him and talking about everything, fossils being only a small part of it. He’d never heard the old saying from a British barber ‘something for the weekend sir?’, so we had to explain, which caused great amusement to him.
|Lunch by Lake Aviemore|
As we left he told us to take a side road off the main road further on and go over the dam at Lake Aviemore, round the lake and returning to the main road by going over the dam at Lake Benmore, as its very picturesque. Well, it was and we stopped for lunch right next to the lake, stopping again when Jackie spotted a pear tree and apple tree next to the road, allowing us to pick our own fruit.
|Dinner on the barbie at the campsite|
We finished the day at Omarama at a very nice campsite. As there is an oven in the kitchen here, I made apple crumble and custard (custard powder from the local shop as Jackie thinks its wasteful to use only the yolk of an egg for real custard!), so after a BBQ followed by crumble and a bottle of chilled white wine, we’re full, contented and happy people. As I write its 9:00pm, the sun is just setting and I’m sitting outside the van still in shorts and tea shirt! Not a bad life!