Last Day in Nelson…….
A full day is planned for today centred around three great loves of mine….shopping in markets, sport and food.
Saturday is Nelson market day and we all head into town to mooch around the stalls that run down main street and fill the central car park. On the way buskers perform in an auditorium especially set out for them. It’s rather like Covent Garden in London with big crowds showing their approval of the acts.
The market comprises fine food and farmers’ produce as well as arts and crafts and clothing. We have to buy a little something for the expected baby and could have bought a lot more if we didn’t still have a lot of travelling to do.
Jack has gone off to play cricket and so Ian and I go to play golf without him there to shame us. Ian plays a blinder to come back from 3-1 down to win the last hole and the competition in a hard fought exhibition of general mediocrity.
Licking my wounds after another defeat on the greens, I look forward to watching Jack playing in a 20-20 game of cricket. We get to the game as his side are fielding and defending a score of 107. The standard of play is very high and the young quick bowlers are soon demolishing the lower order leaving the tail to be mopped up by a young leg spinner ( age 14 I believe) of remarkable skill. Fearless, he bowls with a smile on his face, tossing the ball up and bamboozling the young batsmen in the opposition. The standard at this age is very high as the lads field brilliantly, holding two stunning catches. The keeper, who is not the regular keeper, takes a brilliant catch and three stumpings. It is all very enjoyable. Jack has played two games in the day and won both as the opposition are bowled out for seventy. In the morning game he had scored a 20 n.o and taken 4 wickets which makes up for the first ball duck in the afternoon.
His game over, he then rushes home to change before heading off to a campsite for the weekend with four friends. They like the outdoor life these Kiwis.
The evening takes us to a restaurant of Katie and Ian’s choice at the ‘Boat Shed’ on the beach in Nelson where we treat them to a lovely meal as thanks for a wonderful stay.
It has been a great bonus to be able to spend our last days in New Zealand in the family homes of friends in Te Anau and now in Nelson and to share their lives. We are convinced that this has to be one of the best countries in the world to bring up kids.
Sunday 5th – Hanmer Springs…
We say our farewells and Ian promises that he will try to get down to see us in Cornwall when he makes his U.K visit in July.
On the way we stop at Murchison and visit the town museum. It is crammed full of the daily artefacts of the past generations and is fascinating. The area was decimated by a serious earthquake in 1929 when half a mountain fell on the town and then again in 1968. It drives home how the country is constantly changing, facing destruction and then rebuilding just as it has to now in the centre of Christchurch. We stop for lunch at some falls at Maruia that were formed after an earthquake shoved the land upwards by 30 metres changing the course of the river.
The scenery over the Lewis Pass is impressive with yet more Alpine valleys and plains covered in summer flowers and miles upon miles of forest.
We are staying at yet another well appointed YHA in Hamner and arrive in time to explore this Alpine ski and spa town. We are tempted to try the public hot springs but decide against. There are huge trees in the vicinity of the hot springs that are easily half as big again as the rest of the trees in the town and we wonder whether the trees themselves are nourished by the warmer earth and the healing waters just below the surface. They are truly gigantic trees.
Monday 6th – Australia bound.
The ride to Christchurch airport is plain sailing through the alpine plains and down to the coastal flats. We have time for a final yomp on a New Zealand beach just before Christchurch and arrive in good time to return the hire car and check in.
It transpires to be fortuitous that we arrive early. Firstly the dreaded New Zealand signage leads us all over the airport before we eventually find the hire car desk. There, awaiting us, are Marilyn’s trainers that have been left by Caroline and John. I will be sad to lose the socks and sandals look now that she is reunited with her proper footwear.
Having returned the car, we check in. Our initial relief at the news that we can put four bits of luggage in the hold and we are not over the weight allowance is soon dampened when my passport refuses to go through the electronic checks. For a full half hour we hold up the queue while the check-in person gets her supervisor and eventually informs me that my visa has the wrong date of birth. She has to phone Canberra in Oz to get a change done and we have to wait some more until I am allowed to go through with the correct date of birth reinstated.
It is with some relief then that we eventually get air born. The rest of the journey is pretty uneventful. Even the dreaded border control has a soft edge as the tent is checked in my presence by an elderly officer who chats and jokes and gives me the all clear without them having to scrub the tent or my shoes.
We are greeted by Barb and Dav who have driven up from Apollo Bay to meet us and then drive us back to share the next week or so sharing their new home and exploring the surrounding area.