Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Do Not Feed the Ducks

Can you guess where we are then?

A virtual chocolate fish for you, if you guessed Lake Rotoiti. We’re back in the Nelson Lakes again where I had all that trouble and distress with the duckling families last time. Now the ones that survived are all grown up and still up to their begging antics. They do the rounds around the camp sites every morning and evening. So far I have resisted.

We had a great time at Ward Beach (and I’ll hopefully post some more photos from there when I get them processed) although on the last day after a brilliantly fine, still and hot afternoon, a wild southerly blew in and gave us all (7 vans) a rough 30 minutes as tables and chairs, awnings and anything not tied down turned itself inside out. This was right on low tide and just after most of the men from the other vans had gone down to the water to retrieve cray pots and go paua (abalone) diving.

Once we were sorted with our awning, I left David to stow everything while I went to help the other women who were wrestling with their awnings and to shut doors & windows of unoccupied vans and to retrieve gear that had blown off into the scrub. Owners of one of the vans bought me a fillet of rig (shark) for my troubles. Amazing how it tasted just like the fish from brought ‘fish ‘n chips’.

Going by the size of the empty paua shells by their van I had my fingers crossed for some tasty paua!
After Ward Beach we headed to Waikawa Bay in Picton to meet up with friends John & Jan who had been away for a few days. We stopped at Parklands Marina Holiday Park in Waikawa Bay for the second time in our travels and were just as impressed as the first time. It’s a really lovely park with huge mature trees and lots of space. You just have to ignore the slightly eccentric owner (he is extremely nice and always has a smile on his face), he has a problem with a couple of Paradise ducks that think his camp is their territory. He thinks that if he chases them every time he spots them they’ll get the message and set up home base somewhere else. The first time I saw him, I thought he was chasing people who had used the showers without staying.

So if you see a white ute racing through the camp ground it’ll be him chasing the ducks. And if he happens to be in his Volvo, he’ll chase them with that too. I don’t think they’re getting the message though as they fly in every morning as regular as clock work. It doesn’t help that some of the camp occupants feed them (no, not me!)

We had such a lovely time with John & Jan; drinks and a catch up with another couple we know on Friday,  out for lunch in Picton on Saturday, watching cricket (NZ v Aussie) and generally relaxing, which is why I didn’t take any photos all weekend!

We left Waikawa on Monday and stayed at the Blenheim Racecourse (again) that night, stocking up on groceries and topping up with water, diesel and solar power (lovely and sunny) before heading towards the West Coast the next morning. This time we pulled into the grassed area beside the grandstand where we’d seen a caravan parked the last time instead of on the hard. There were at least 20 vans in and around the racecourse that night, it’s a very busy place at this time of the year.

The next morning we headed out back along the very long and straight road down the Wairau Valley towards the Nelson Lakes. We decided we'd stop at the DOC camp at Kerr Bay on Lake Rotoiti again, David wanted to get the boat out and do some fishing.

Having driven the road before (twice) I had a couple of places in mind to stop at and take some photos, one being the historic 131 year old Wairau Valley Tavern, a favourite watering hole & restaurant for locals & travelers alike.

I’d seen a sign to Lake Argyle and a large water canal nearby on our way past last time but didn’t stop, this time we pulled in to check it out. It’s actually a dam that feeds the Argyle Power Scheme which opened in 1983. The Branch River, which is a tributary of the Wairau River, feeds the lake. The colour is really unusual for this area, it’s the teal green colour of glacier fed rivers, more like the water around the Mt Cook area. Unfortunately the picnic area and boat ramp at the far end of the lake were closed because of the extreme fire risk in the area (on the way we saw the blackened hillsides where a big fire swept through a few weeks ago). We climbed to the top of the dam wall to check the lake out from top end.

And, since when have we had opossums in New Zealand? Opossums belong in the USA, our possums are Aussie imports!

And this time I took note of how far the vineyards stretched up the Wairau Valley. It's 100kms to St Arnaud & Lake Rotoiti from Blenheim, down a near straight road for about 70kms. The last vineyard finished 52kms from Blenheim! That's a bloody long ride on a bike if you're doing a vineyard tour don't you think?

The DOC camp at Kerr Bay has been under a lot of pressure, it’s that time of the year. Along with the tourist traffic every evening, there is a Classic Boat Regatta this weekend and most of the sites are booked through until Sunday. We decided we’d stay until Monday (the weather forecast for the West Coast didn’t look too hot for the next few days), I managed to sweet talk the DOC lady into booking the one available ‘tent’ site through until then- the available powered site was too small for us. Last night most of the sites were taken up with sleeper-vans and tents, tonight it’s campervans & motorhomes. A few classic boats and their owners have already set up camp nearby.

Lake Rotoiti is looking just as lovely as our last visit but I doubt there’ll be any snow this time. There's a number of school camps in the area and plenty of kids enjoying the lake, swimming and boating.

It’s not only the classic boats that visit the lake, last weekend it was the Powerboat Regatta (now that would have shattered the peace and quiet), I think they left something behind….

I was keen to see if the lone (& lonely) Mandarin Duck was still in residence. Sure enough five months later he is still here although looking a lot less conspicuous than he did last October. He’s lost his mojo big time. Amazing to think that this is the same bird. I wonder if his colours will reappear in spring or if he needs a female to get the dye (juices) running?

One final note- I have to thank my wonderful husband big time tonight. My computer has been playing up these past 3 days and I haven’t been able to connect to the internet- hence no blog posts. At first I thought it was because there was limited internet access in the areas we’ve been but I knew we had access here at the Lakes last time so then it became apparent that I had a bug of some sort. David has the patience of a saint and has slowly worked through every avenue trying to repair the problem and finally cracked it tonight! I am very thankful that I have a knowledgeable IT technician at hand whenever I have a problem, I can’t imagine what would happen if we both didn’t have a clue. It may take time (which I’m no good at) but he gets there in the end.

I know another lady who is very thankful too- we have a jar of home-made jam in our fridge to prove it. David sorted out Gill’s iPad at Ward Beach and she was ever so grateful (hi Gill). And it’s not only computers he looks after; last night a German couple locked their car keys inside their car. We now have a block of chocolate in the fridge too. Add to that my fillet of rig and it’s just like the suburbs where neighbours look out for each other, we have mobile neighbours who appreciate each other too.


  1. Loverly Jubbley & so Kiwi!
    Yes Kerr bay is the camping motorhome suburb of Top of the south.
    I have biked St Arnad to Blenheim along the Wairau valley, with a massive tail wind took no time at all!
    Are you sure that's the same duck???
    Happy travels.

    1. Hi Jimu, we're still here at the motorhome (& caravan & tent) suburb of the top of the South- you are right! We are surrounded! :)

      And yes that is definitely the same duck- hard to believe I know. He is a little cutie and quite friendly and although he hangs out with the mallards he doesn't look like he has too many friends poor fellow.


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