Monday 23 December 2013

Family & Invercargill

Well it’s been a few days since my last post & while we don’t seem to have done much it’s felt like we’ve been very busy!

We are ensconced in an inner city camp ground here in Invercargill just a short walkable distance from the family(not that we’ve walked yet). The small camp ground is perfectly adequate, set back off the road with tall shady trees, very good amenities & with a few semi permanents down along the back fence which is where we are parked at the moment.
The hosts are fairly new to the campground and are in the process of beautifying the grounds with plenty of plantings. It’s a very busy park with lots of people passing through it nightly. We yet again got caught out with our satellite dish & TV reception when we first arrived. We backed in to our site straight but unfortunately the neighbours trees blocked us so we had to pull out and reposition, hence the odd angle we are on.  A caravan next door (on our right) left this morning and we’ll be shifting in there for the rest of our time once the lawn has been mowed. 
And wouldn't you know it, it's like coals to Newcastle. Right over the back fence is an old abandoned church!
The family, David’s daughter Rachel, her husband Cameron & the children, Ollie (6) & Ruby(4), were pleased to see us and we were thrilled to finally see them again after 8 months & also see their “new” home & city nearly three years after they shifted down here. It was reassuring for David & great for us to see how well they have settled into life in the deep south, they used to live half a kilometre from us in Tauranga so it was a big wrench for us all when they left.  I love that the kids are rolling their rrrrs just like true Southerners.  
We spent the first few days catching up with them, relaxing & getting the van back into ship-shape order. We also did the necessary appointments; hair & dentist (David broke his tooth, & I chipped one) and finished our Christmas shopping. Not long after arriving Rachel & Cameron took us out for a welcoming coffee at the award winning café The Batch (shouldn't that be The Crib?), very pleasant too and then on a mini tour of Invercargill pointing out all the landmarks & places we could visit when we were ready.
We checked out E Hayes & Sons, a Southland institution & an early version of the department store or as they claim “the ultimate bloke’s tool shop” with something for the ladies too. Located within the store are plenty of old motorbikes, cars, tools etc on display with pride of place being taken by The World’s Fastest Indian, Burt Munro’s bike which  broke the land speed record in 1967  at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA.

We also visited Ollie’s school and Ruby’s kindergarten. Twice. The next day we went to see Ruby’s Kindergarten Christmas show, what fun that was, sitting on the small chairs with the rest of the parents watching the littlies perform “A Pukeko in a Ponga Tree”. All dressed up as one of the items in the song or holding props that they’d made themselves which represented some of the others.  It was super cute!!
That's Ruby in the red twirling her pois
For my overseas readers here’s the lyrics, a pukeko is our native swamp hen, a ponga is a tree fern, kumara a sweet potato….you get the idea (I’ll let you google the rest)

On the first day of Christmas
 My true love gave to me
 A pukeko in a ponga tree 
On the second day of Christmas
 My true love gave to me
 two kumara
 And a pukeko in a ponga tree 

On the third day of Christmas
and so on, until... 

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Twelve piupius swinging
Eleven haka lessons
Ten juicy fish heads
Nine sacks of pipis
Eight plants of puha
Seven eels a swimming
Six pois a twirling
Five - big - fat - pigs !
Four huhu grubs
Three flax kits
Two kumara
And a pukeko in a ponga tree!

I’d have to say Invercargill is a lovely city. There are lots of heritage buildings from the Victorian, Edwardian & Art Deco eras, with plenty of beautiful old villas & houses too. There are also loads of green spaces including, what must be the jewel in the crown, the very large Queens Park right in the centre of the city. Fortunately for Invercargill, when the John Turnbull Thomson the Chief Surveyor laid out the town in 1857 he had the foresight to set aside 81 hectares (200 acres) of land  for the park. There’s now an 18 hole golf course, animal park, aviary, sculpture park, formal gardens, band rotunda, fitness trail, children’s playgrounds and the Museum which is located near the grand entrance to the park. The city itself is easy to navigate around as the area is very flat and the roads criss-cross each other at regular intervals. So once you get your bearings (David is still working on that one) it’s only a matter of turn right, right, right & you’re back home.

The historic 40 metre high Invercargill Water Tower dominates the skyline, it was built in 1888/89 to support the city’s first high pressure water supply tank. It is still used as a backup for the city’s water supply and able to provide enough pressure should the electric supply to the modern pumps be interrupted. Sadly public admission to the top of the tower was stopped in early 2012 due to the earthquake risk.

We did have a good laugh during the week when David locked himself out of the van while dressed only in his dressing gown. It’ll take awhile for him to live this one down.  I had gone off to town to get my hair done & locked one of the doors while David was still in bed. When he got up he checked & of course it opened from the inside so he thought it was now unlocked. He went off to the shower locking the other door & it wasn’t until he returned that he realised the door I had locked was still locked, from the outside!

There he was with just his dressing gown on, no phone, no key, no undies, and on a very windy day. He sheepishly went to the office & called Rachel from there to see if she could pick the key up from me in town. Not possible, Cameron was out with the child seats in the car & she had the kids. Lucky for him Doug our campground host offered to drive into town and collect the key. You can imagine my surprise when Doug suddenly appeared beside me in the salon- a very flash salon- where I was sitting with colour in my hair and looking like I’d stuck my finger in a power socket. I thought to myself “hmmm….this is not quite the establishment I’d have thought Doug would get his hair done” Doug has wild hair & an even wilder beard! But the funniest thing was that David had to hold the fort in the office while Doug was out. He was wishing like hell that nobody turned up to check-in (or out) while he sat there in his dressing gown stark naked underneath!! 

We had the kids overnight on Saturday while Rachel & Cameron celebrated an anniversary. The kids were also very keen to stay overnight in the “kamprvan” (Ollie wrote this on the fridge diary) and it was hard to contain their excitement. It nearly didn’t happen, on that day at least, as the weather was shocking; cold, heavy rain & lashing winds overnight but it cleared a little in the morning so that was good. First they wanted to take us to the museum to show us Henry(a famous tuatara) & the other tuataras too. The museum has an active tuatara breeding programme & we managed to spot quite a number in amongst the undergrowth. The rest of the museum displays were very well done too & we all had a great time.

Back at the fifth-wheeler we settled in for the night with plenty of DVDs (thank God for DVDs) and the kids had a ball & were very good. We transferred the sleeping kids from our bed onto the beds in the lounge once we went to bed & I laughed when Ruby was telling her Mum the next day that she got a fright when she woke up in the night & “I was in bed in the kitchen!!”

Budding young birdwatchers
Yesterday we all went out to the farm, about 30 minutes away, to put up the tent for Rach, Cam & the kids ready for Christmas night. The farm, a large dairy farm, is where we are going for Christmas Day and belongs to David’s nephew James & his wife Darnelle with their four children. This is also where David’s sister Jackie & husband Bob (James' parents) are parked up in their motorhome (you’ll remember they surprised us at the Newhaven Holiday Park in the Catlins on their way south). We are taking the fifth-wheeler out there to join in the festivities too.  The only fly in the ointment at the moment is the weather, it was very hot the first couple days after we arrived but since then it’s been raining & windy off & on most of the time, and quite often very cold. The forecast says clearing & sunny so we shall see.

After we left the farm we did a side trip out to the coast to a familiar spot, Fortrose, it’s where we had lunch on the Friday we left the Catlins & just before we arrived in Invercargill. As it’s turned out we drove right past the road to the farm and didn’t know it. We wanted to check the freedom camping spot out to see if it was suitable to visit with the family next month for a few days. It was blowing a gale & bitterly cold totally different to the day we had lunch. We drove up onto the headland where the estuary & river mouth entered the sea & it was wild.

We also got a huge shock when we realised we were right on the cliff edge, an edge that looked like it regularly broke away. It was scary & exhilarating all in one standing there getting buffeted by the wind.

The trees tell the story......

As this’ll be my last post before Christmas I’d like to take the opportunity of thanking you all for reading, following & commenting on my blog & hope that you have enjoyed (and will continue to enjoy) your virtual tiki-tour. David & I would also like to wish you and your families along with all our family & friends a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. Happy & safe travels wherever in the world you may be.

Merry Christmas my friends



  1. I'm having a wonderful time catching up on all your South Island Blogs and thoroughly enjoying them. We stayed in that inner city camp ground also and I've had a giggle thinking of David sitting there in the office in his dressing gown! Great to read of all your adventures and it makes us want to go South again. Have just come back from a couple of weeks in Hawkes Bay where we did lots of cycling. We have sold our house so will be in the bus again from the 11th April though we go to England on the 6th May for a couple of months. Working on our house plans again and hope to start building in Whakatane when we get back. It's all go! Keep enjoying your travels - I will soon be all up to date with what you have been doing! Don't know how I became so remiss! Trish

    1. Sold your house! Wow, you do mean business. Building in Whakatane is a good option though. I know you guys love it down there. Glad you enjoyed catching up on our travels. We're having a ball! Not much golf though. You leave for UK on my birthday, safe travels. Hi to Len xx


Thank you for taking the time to leave a message, I love reading them! All comments are personally moderated by me and I will post and answer them as soon as possible, Shellie