Friday, 29 April 2016

Arrowtown Autumn Festival- 2016

After being dropped off by our rally shuttle bus at the top of the hill we wandered down into Arrowtown village...

...and along Buckingham Street catching the tail end of the vintage cars leaving on their own rally after being parked up along the street on display. They'd be back for the Festival Parade later in the afternoon.

I laughed out loud when I uploaded this particular photo. It would have been a exclamation of surprise had I not met the two people in black puffer jackets later in the day. Judy and Frank are from Tauranga (our old home town), and I've played golf with Judy on many occasions. They appear in half a dozen shots and I hadn't even seen them through my camera lens. It just goes to show what I miss when I'm focused on a particular subject. Luckily, Judy spotted me later (in amongst a large crowd I might add) and we were able to catch up.

We made our way down to the village green, where underneath the colourful autumn trees, a large and very busy arts and craft market was taking place.

We stopped to watch one of the street entertainers who had a large crowd totally enthralled and involved with his antics. His mullet and tiger tights with the strategically placed tiger head (which he wore, legs rolled up, under his shorts before the great reveal) were popular props.

There were many interesting stalls manned by some very clever and enterprising people. I love a good market (I have it in my blood- my mother still has a stall at a Napier market most weekends) but unfortunately when you live on the road there's not much room for knick-knacks, heavy ceramics, tall wire sculptures or large wooden furniture and there's only so many smellies one can purchase... we tend to gravitate towards the food stalls. Although it wasn't the $12 price tag that stopped us from buying a whitebait fritter, it was the mile long queue!

I love people-watching and I have the feeling that this guy, in his steam punk get-up, likes being watched as I saw him half a dozen times as he wandered around and around and around the market again. I love the look on the little girl's face. Try explaining that, Mum.

What a beautiful backdrop to the festival. The Autumn Festival runs for 5 days, with various entertainment, tours and shows happening around the town, Saturday is the big day with the market and parade.

By the time we emerged from the market another performer was fully engaged in entertaining the crowd.

It takes an awful lot of trust and skill, juggling- a knife included- while standing on a bike, mounted on a pole, that's being held taut by four very obliging guys from the crowd. Especially when you've just spent the last 10 minutes taking the mickey out of them. One very brave man.

After a rather bleak start to the day, the sun and blue skies brought the main street alive, as crowds of people descended on the village.

Although it was rather difficult getting past another entertainer when we wandered back up the street. He was quick to pick off anybody who tried to move away or past as he performed. 

I've found that if you have a camera stuck to your face, they're less likely to want to include you in their act; they prefer to play to the camera than make a fool of you. Consummate showmen.

The crowd thought he was pretty clever, especially the children, cheering and laughing at his every joke and move. Although they took a moment to adsorb one joke which I thought was quite witty- he told us he has enjoyed New Zealand the most in his travels (he's from the States), because Kiwis support the All Blacks.

He ignored the old adage of 'never working with children...', asking a young boy in the crowd, who had a unicycle, to do a few laps while he set up some of his gear and giving him $5 in return. Then having this little girl hold a spinning basketball on her finger. She was handed $10 after she spent a little time chasing him around the circle for it.

He was very good though, with amazing skill, flexibility and co-ordination, manhandling three large basketballs in front of, around, through and behind himself.

Half an hour before the Festival Parade was due to start we found ourselves a good possie sitting in the gutter and leaning on a pole, on the sunny side of the street. Poles are good nobody can crowd you from behind. We knew from experience there would be a bit of jostling going on closer to the start time.  

Nothing bugs me more than getting yourself in a good position, sitting or standing there for half an hour or more while others continue to enjoy the entertainment, to then have someone maneuver and push their way through to take a place right in front of you. I'm afraid they get a short-shift from me. 

Why anyone expects to arrive late and get the best seat in the house is beyond me. As it was the guy beside me harrumphed and mumbled his way through the parade when a couple with a toddler plonked themselves down in the gutter in front of him just as the parade started and after promising him they would stay seated, stood up often blocking his video view of the parade.

The early birds entertained themselves while waiting for the parade to begin.

And it wasn't too long before a Yak 52 came roaring into sight and performed some death-defying aerobatics above us...

Before zipping back and forward along the slope behind as if highlighting and framing the beautiful autumn colours Arrowtown is famous for. A waving hand appeared out the cockpit window on the last fly-past and he disappeared back over the range behind.

The sound of bagpipes off in the distance heralded the start of the parade...

...which was soon followed by a few of the vintage cars...

...the Town Cryers...

...a few more shiny automobiles...

...Farmer Brown, chewing a barley stalk (if you look closely), and his vintage tractor...

...dancing girls...

...various entertainment groups, and the local vet with a menagerie of animals ...

...Chinese Lion Dancers, who scared the bejesus out of small children sitting in the gutters...

...a 'flower basket' vehicle that looked the most like the parade floats of yesteryear...

...a selection of classic cars, many from my era...

And one of our good old 'shuttle buses', carrying children from a local school.

A deep rumbling and road vibration, along with a huge plume of coal smoke signified the approach of the heavy machinery...

...aptly followed by fire brigade and other emergency service vehicles and personnel...

  ..bringing up the rear, and the end of a fantastic and interesting parade.

If you'd like to see many more photos from the parade and especially of the vintage vehicles, click on this link, it'll take you to my Flickr Album.

While we waited for the parade to disperse and our bus to arrive I found this lady entertaining children with her bubbles. She was unaware that 'Superman' was trying to touch her bottom! I'm not sure what he was trying to reach, but she was moving about quite fast and he was following along behind. She didn't have a 'tail', perhaps he wanted to touch her wings. Try doing that in a few years time little fellow and you'll get more than your hand slapped!

What better way to finish off a fabulous day of fun and entertainment than to treat yourself to a double coned, chocolate flaked snow-freeze icecream. Caught you, Paul! You'll have to work that off running up the side of a steep hill returning a wayward wallet.

And one last shot of that beautiful slope- taken from the open air bus window, while waiting in a three vehicle traffic jam.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Clutha Valley Autumn Festival Rally


We had an awesome time at the Clutha Valley Autumn Festival Rally in Arrowtown last weekend; our second time at both this particular rally and the Autumn Festival. We don't usually 'do' rallies, mostly because we're always on the move but when they coincide with an event it's great because usually the rally is held close to the event and it's so much easier for transport and parking. And it gives us a chance to meet new people and catch up with others we've met on the road previously.

This year, the rally parking had shifted directly across the road and was located up a narrow track on top of a large plateau. The previous site had been purchased by Millbrook Resort and was in the process of being developed- last time I was asked if I'd like to take a helicopter ride over the site to take photos of the rally (like I'd say no). If you click on that link above you'll see more of the helicopter photos- this one shows the old site and the plateau with the track up the side.

Our friends, Amanda & Paul arrived with their 5th-wheeler ahead of us but were a little unsure of the track. It looked quite narrow and steep, although that wasn't so much of a problem as what was happening at the top- whether it opened out or had a tight bend in it. So we went ahead of them to check. Once we gave them the ok, they proceeded through the gate.

They then had to wait while a couple of vans left the site; Genny giving me a big wave on her way down (you'll see her pets further down). 

A small traffic jam formed as vans arrived and departed.

I took a few photos of Paul & Amandas' rig for them, as they came up the track.

As you can see their rig is just a little bit bigger than ours! With our doors facing each other we had a great little communal area between the two vans.

The site parking was great- flat, level and firm with lush grass but with a good dose of dried sheep poo (unlike the last time though, when I reckon the sheep were the size of cows going by the large and wet poo piles!) We managed to shovel most of it under the van so we didn't inadvertently walk it over the mat or inside when 'someone who shall remain nameless' forgets to remove their shoes.

There was plenty of space as we formed a big U shape- 59 vans at the last count but I know a few more arrived later in the evening and early on Saturday morning. 

The plateau overlooked Millsbrook Resort and part of the golf course, and across the Arrowtown Basin to the Remarkable Mountains behind which formed a beautiful backdrop to a stunning location. Behind us Coronet Peak rose above the pine forest; paragliders, having launched of the peak, drifted down on the thermals to land close by.  And all for $15- who needs one of those $3-4 million homes below!

There was no mucking about after 'Happy Hour' on the first night, once the sun dropped below the range a cold chill set in. Most retired to their vans for the night, with just a hardy few trying to keep warm below the gas heaters.

Heavy rain was forecast for Saturday but the weather Gods looked down on us. It rained hard for a few hours in the early hours and the morning dawned overcast, cold and wet underfoot, but rain free. And it stayed that way all day, brightening up by lunch time.

Our 'shuttle buses' were the same ones that transported us to the festival two years ago. They have quite a bit of local history attached to them; they were brought to New Zealand in 1942 and were part of a fleet of 6 that belonged to Routeburn Valley Motors, one of the first tourist operators in the region. They were taken to Kinloch at the head of Lake Wakatipu by the steamer SS Earnslaw where they transported trampers and visitors to the Routeburn Track (now a Great Walk).

The buses pulled out on their first round trip just after 9am, with just a short 3km trip into Arrowtown village.  

Two buses, three trips each and we were all delivered and ready to explore by the time the festival started at 10am. 

We were off-loaded in the dead centre of town. And promised a special surprise if we walked up the short path ahead of us- having been before I knew what to expect.

This was the view that awaited us at the top of the hill and beside the cenotaph (which must be the most scenic site in all NZ for the ANZAC service in 2 days time). Overlooking the tiny, historic village of Arrowtown in all its autumnal beauty. (The next blog will be on the the festival)

Many of the NZMCA members attending the rally had their pets (fur babies) with them. Alot of them live full time on the road with their masters too.

Here are photos of a few pets that were near our van- all well behaved and adorable to boot! The first two are cabin mates as are the last two...along with two cats!

I take my hat off to you Robyn & Ross, travelling with four pets takes dedication and a special kind of person. 

After the festival and the buses had delivered us all safety back to the site, we gathered for 'happy hour'...

...and the Clutha Valley guys cooked us BBQ sausages and chops. It was a pity the sun had gone down by the time everything was cooked, it was only a hardy few that stayed and ate their dinner outdoors. The rest scurried back to their toasty warm vans.

Many of the vans left on Sunday with just a few staying on until Monday, us included. We had a great evening with Amanda & Paul on Sunday night; polishing off another Pedros House of Lamb takeaway (we'd both already had one during the week prior, while waiting to shift to the Arrowtown site) It was just as delicious, if not a little more so, because we were sharing it with friends. No leftovers this time though!

By the time we had decided 'where to next' on Monday morning, there were just a couple of buses, a caravan and us left up on the plateau. 

We were both in two minds about where to head to after we left the rally. We had tentative plans to finish exploring down Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy before heading west to the lower West Coast.

It's a first for us, because even though David always says "Ask me tomorrow" when anyone asks where we're heading, we usually have a sketchy plan or place we have to be within a certain time which can dictate in which direction we need to head. After a bit of debating, and too-ing and fro-ing, we headed off down the track...

And south across the rickety one way bridge over the Kawarau River, with the Remarkables behind...

...stopping for lunch on the shores of Lake Wakatipu just south of the Devils Staircase...

...before pulling into a windy and bleak Lumsden NZMCA Park for the night.

We pulled out the next morning...

...stopping briefly to collect doughnuts and pies for lunch (from Lumsden's award winning bakery), and continued on heading south...

And that is how we found ourselves parked in our Winton family's driveway once again! Well, it is school holidays, and we were only a couple hours away, and once we leave this time, we might not see them for quite some time. 

Camera-phone shot- blurry! 
So much for heading north for winter!