We were underway early Sunday morning on this my 60th birthday.
Although the little town was still sleeping the sun was up by 6:00am air was crisp and still. With daylight saving the South Island has a wide spread of daylight hours (about 5:00am to about 9:30pm) allowing for a great many activities to be crammed into a day.
We drove around the peaceful still Bays of Akaroa Harbour through Devauchelle, Barry’s Bay, French Farm, Petite Caranage Bay and Tikao Bay. Always the backdrop and the accompanying scenery to the drive was the fairy tale like meadows, neat well managed farms and sheep.
Heading on through Little River, where we ate breakfast, we made for Birdlings Flat near Lake Ellesmere. This is a place I wanted to visit as I remember the stony, wild beaches and the sparse landscape that my father would sometimes bring me on his raft fishing expeditions.
He had his raft invention that he would sail out over the breakers with a long rope and many hooks attached to it. He had a mechanism made from a bike tube that would collapse the sail when the raft was far enough out and then later he would haul in the raft and remove the fish as each hook came ashore.
We drove past Lake Ellesmere, the 5th largest lake in New Zealand, to Tai Tapu where my sister Rose lives and we found her sprightly and healthy and looking much younger than her 72 years.
It was a wonderful reunion and there was an added bonus of having my nephew Nicholas there.
Rose’s garden is spectacular with the main focus on a collection of magnificent roses. Walking into the garden the smell from the roses pervades your senses and the colour explosion is a delight.
The grass is soft and green and healthy veges and fruit trees abound.
Rose had the garden severely damaged in the earthquakes especially with the liquefaction that oozed from the ground covering everything with its smelly mud. She has done wonders to get things back in order and displays that same spirit that we see all over the city of just getting on with life and attending to what needs doing each day.
We had a lovely lunch and talked and laughed and generally caught up on the past years before it was sadly time to say goodbye and move on since our time is very limited. It was such an awesome experience to be able to catch up with Rose and Nicholas after so long.
We detoured out to West Melton where Rose used to live and fell in love with the small farms out there, all neat and beautifully looked after before heading out to State Highway 1 with the intention of getting at least as far south as Ashburton by nightfall.
As we arrived into the large regional centre of Ashburton there was still plenty of light left so we continued on until we made it to Timaru where we spent the night.