Our next stop after Lake Ruataniwha was just 30km down the road at the Ahuriri River DOC camp which is just before Omarama and slotted in between SH8 on one side and the river on the other. The entrance is just before the road bridge over the Ahuriri River. The tiny village of Omarama is just across the other side at the junction of SH8 and 83, it's also at the southern end of the MacKenzie Basin. Omarama is world famous in gliding circles due to the excellent gliding conditions and spectacular scenery. We're stopping for the scenery; there's a special place we want to visit.
The main camping area is close to the entrance and the bridge, which makes it a little noisy as there's a constant stream of traffic on the main road; this is the main inland route through to Queenstown from Christchurch and thousands of vehicles a day travel it. We drove down the track a little way and found a spot around the bend where we were a little further away.
Although that helped a little with the noise it was still a busy spot! Haymaking in the paddock between us and the road went on until after 11pm one night and then a couple of days later I was woken at 5am by tractors maneuvering the bales about and trucks carting the bales past.
Another evening I thought I heard a siren and when I looked out a fire engine went roaring past. Not on the road as I suspected but on the track right beside our van......followed by the fire chief a few minutes later. They went off down the river for quite some time, I didn't see any smoke so don't know if it was a false alarm or not. I captured them on their way back past. You never know what the day is going to throw at you when you live on the road. It's always full of surprises.
Behind the van, through the willows and a couple of muddy back washes was the Ahuriri River, a well regarded fly fishing river, especially in the upper reaches. After spying a few lupins near the bridge (and I bet you thought you'd seen the last of them) I went exploring. I couldn't believe my eyes when I finally made it out onto the shingle banks. Lupins for as far as the eye can see- on the islands formed by the river braids downstream...
and across stream....
and upstream! There weren't the variety of colours that I'd seen around Tekapo but the mass covering was still impressive enough. The Ahuriri River has the lupin problem real bad.
All the same, I still took a fair few photos, just in case I hadn't quite got the right photo in the last 1000! I did add a briar flower just to break the monotony though.
I wanted to take a photo of the bridge so I crossed over a couple of the shallow braids to an island in the middle of the river, when I was suddenly attacked by two dive bombing black-fronted terns (our new favourite tern). Back and forward they swept, diving very low and aiming straight for me, pulling up just as they got near and diving again. Oh-aw, they must have chicks nearby for such a strong reaction. I backed off, sat down and waited.
They flew off up the river and one soon returned with a tiny fish in it's bill. I watched carefully to see where it landed and then out of a lupin bush ran a good sized chick, it kept running from bush to bush, crouching and hiding each time it reached safety, only to reappear when a parent flew in with another fish. I only saw the one chick but it's possible there were more as I couldn't get close enough to see down the bank near the water. I left them to it and skirted around the outside keeping a weary eye out in case they thought I was getting too close again.
...until I reached a spot where I had a good clear view of the Ahuriri River Road Bridge.
Photos taken, I left the island and crossed back to the lupins patch close to the top end of the camp. A large number of motorhomes, both private and rental, had been crossing the bridge while I was exploring. Sometimes there'd be seven or eight in a row then a couple of cars and then another string of motorhomes. They've all got to find somewhere to stay tonight, it has been so busy on the roads and this is only the beginning of December. I wonder what's it going to be like in the New Year.
We had one more surprise in store for us; David's sister Jackie and her husband Bob called in to say hello as they headed to their family in Southland for Christmas. They had been tracking us down the island, often being just one stop behind us. We see more of them on the road than we did when we lived in the same city! It was lovely to catch up again, have a good chat and send them on their way until the next time our travelling paths crossed. (They actually called in to see us at Te Anau in February, when they were on their way home).
Just a short blog to pique your interest- I wonder if you've guessed what the natural attraction is that we've come to see.