Friday 13 March 2015

Around Camp- Kerr Bay, Lake Rotoiti

We, once again, had a lovely time at the Nelson Lakes although it was extremely busy with all the comings and goings of  tourists, campers and people attending the Classic Boat Show which was held over the weekend while we were there.

I wonder how many people travel with a huge garden umbrella and deck chair in the back? He made a great subject for me though.

I don’t think this little Bush Robin can read, "Hey mister, the ‘Robin’ section is next door" (Kaka is a native parrot- and a noisy one at that).

Once all the overnighter campers had left the site in the morning, the birds came out to check over the campsite. The robin (toutouwai) to see if David had any spare bacon fat, a Silvereye (tauhou) feeding on the hebe next to our van and a weka that skulked through camp checking for leftovers and disappearing quick as a wink if he sighted anyone. Which is very unlike a weka indeed, they are usually cadging food.

And down on the waterfront was my little mate, the Mandarin Duck who was keeping company with another rare & endangered visitor to the Lakes, the Black Billed Gull. DOC has had to erect signs asking people to stop feeding the gulls bread (not good for their health) and also to stop throwing stones at them. A small flock took up residence at the lake in December and people seem to think they are just your regular old gull (not that people should throw stones at them either!)

The Kaka section of DOC’s Kerr Bay campground has 12 unpowered sites & is usually for sleeper vans and tents but with the Boat Show on over the weekend it filled up with caravans & motorhomes instead. With no larger sites available for the length of our stay (8 nights) we tucked up into a corner with plenty of room for tents & vans later in the week. That was after convincing the DOC lady that our footprint wasn’t any bigger than a caravan, awning & car…..

….or even a large tent, sailing boat & car!

Unfortunately for the boat show, the weekend was a disaster. The rain started on Friday evening and was torrential overnight and for most of Saturday. It dawned fine on Sunday but it wasn’t long before the rain set in again. It was such a shame for them as most of the activities were either cancelled or were shortened versions. I did manage to get quite a few great photos of the some of the boats and I’ll post a blog when I have them uploaded.

There are definitely some different & unusual mobile homes about and plenty with heaps of character. I love this little caravan; given it’s size I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s not a toilet roll in the front window!

David went fishing a number of times but failed to catch one single trout which was a bit frustrating for him, although he said he enjoyed the trying. If he hadn’t have seen a trout rise and grab a bumblebee off the surface he would have convinced himself there were no fish in the lake!

On one of his trips I got him to drop me off halfway up the lake so I could walk the Lakehead track back to camp. I didn’t want to walk the whole length (8kms) and thought the half way mark would be about right. As it turned out it was 6kms back home which was fine although it was a pretty boring track. It did have lots of birdsong but the birds were all up high and other than a couple of rock slides to cross it was just a well worn mossy track through lovely bush with the odd ‘lakehead peep’ and gravel beach to visit.

Once the boat show was over the Kaka campsite returned to it’s usual purpose; an overnight camp site for the passing parade of people on the move. The Kaka site is on a large grassed area on a slight slope. We had one of the flatter sites and still had to double our leveling blocks on one side. Campers in tents or sleeper vans didn’t have that luxury and often had to re-position their tents or cars trying to find a level position.

I know people choose how to travel but I’m not so sure they know exactly what travelling in a sleeper van or with a small tent involves, especially at this time of the year when the mornings are damp & chilly. It may sound romantic and it may save money but it's not my idea of fun.

Most are only staying overnight as they move through the country trying to see as much as possible. Mornings involve wet tents and damp gear and if they've set up in the shade then the mornings are extra bleak. Laundry (when they can do it) does not dry in the hour before sunset- unless it’s your really small, smalls (oh how I wish). And three people, one car, one small tent and all their gear needs plenty of juggling to fit, although I see they have their priorities in order- beer, front of the row. And then again some people must do it just for the love of it- the older couple on their bikes, with just a small tent & a roll up squab to sleep on.

Monday after the boat show was a brilliantly fine and hot day, David went fishing once again but the lake was quite dirty after the rain. I met him over at West Bay for lunch and then he headed off again. West Bay was where we stayed for the unexpected rally last year, the camps were open now but there weren’t too many people in them. Most preferring to stay at Kerr Bay I suspect.

I drove down the road to check the bridge over the Buller River outlet, David had mentioned it was being replaced. I wonder if they’ll close the old one off completely, maybe it’ll be two one way bridges. What a shame if they do close the old bridge, another piece of history gone.

Nelson Lakes & in particular Kerr Bay is fast becoming one of our favourite spots. Hopefully the next time we’re passing through David manages to catch himself a trout.

We've now moved on to Murchison where there is a large NZMCA Park. Murchison is a small township with many cafes, it’s a half way point between the West Coast and the Nelson/Blenheim region and popular stop off point for travellers passing through, either for lunch, a rest or overnight. It’s also very close to the Lewis Pass junction and the route back to Christchurch. There have been at least 20+ NZMCA vans staying here the last 3 nights and I’m pretty sure we are contributing to the local economy extremely well.

The last two days have been extremely hot and each evening a violent thunderstorm has formed above the surrounding mountains. Luckily we've only heard the thunder & seen the lightening, the rain has kept to the hills.

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