We made a quick exit out of the NZMCA Park at Weedons, Christchurch late Monday afternoon due to an inconsiderate neighbour who decided to light a large pile of green hedge trimmings while there was a reasonably strong wind blowing in the park's direction.
The smoke, at first, was blowing down the other side of the camp but then the wind turned and sent it across to our side, the acrid smelling smoke forcing it's way inside the van through the vents and making it impossible to do anything outside. I don't usually react to irritants but this had my eyes smarting, nose running and it left a bitter taste in my mouth.
David was away doing last minute errands as we were due to leave Christchurch Tuesday morning anyway, but as soon as he arrived back we made the decision to hitch up and get out of there as fast as possible, I'm sure the green pile would have smoldered on for the next few days. It was approaching 4pm and we had to dump first and then make our way through the busy city heading north.
We didn't want to be on the road after dark which is just after 5pm at the moment, so we headed to the Amberley Beach Campground in North Canterbury which is about an hour's drive away. It's run by the Hurunui District Council and is an informal campground with minimal facilities. This suits many campers as it's cheap and cheerful, and a safe place place to stay. The cost is $5 per person, per night on a non-powered site and $15 per van for a powered site.
We haven't had power for a number of weeks so we decided to give the batteries a boost and park at the end of the camp where there are a few powered poles. We slotted ourselves into a suitable spot, making sure there was a connection available first, and that our lead reached the pole.
It looks like it's hedge trimming time right around the district; there are piles of green cuttings, tractors and trimmers parked around the edge of the camp. Let's hope they don't light any fires here!
There are three parts to the camp; the powered area at the far end, the non-powered sites (bottom left) by the entrance gate and across the road an area for campers with dogs(top right) which is great for those with pets as there are not too many camps that cater for them.
It's just a short walk across the road and through a pine plantation reserve to Amberley Beach. The beach reminds me of Marine Parade in Napier and Rarangi in Blenheim, and in fact many others along the east coast of New Zealand. Stony, wild and windswept and not very inviting on a cold overcast day. This 'bach' on the corner with a commanding view of the ocean has seen better days. I'm sure it was someone's pride and joy in the past but I'm not so sure I'd be giving the designer a job any day soon.
We left Amberley Beach the next morning heading for Hanmer Springs. We had unfinished business in Hanmer and decided a short detour from our intended route was in order. You'll remember we came to Hanmer two years ago to a celebrate a significant birthday for David; hot thermal pool soak, massage treatment and a nice meal out. Unfortunately we forgot to check school holiday dates and the place was overrun with families, kids, bikes and cars. We took one look inside the hot pool complex and backed out of there quick, we did manage to have a meal out though and David had his massage treatment.
With school holidays still 2 weeks away we're back to have that soak and David is keen to have a massage again as he's been having major problems with his back. We'll only be here for a couple of nights so instead of parking at the NZMCA Park which is 8kms out of town, we decided to stop at a CAP (costs apply parking) which is just a short walk from the village. This way we can stay hitched as we don't need the ute.
Hot Springs Motor Lodge has a large grassed area beside their motel complex on the main road into Hanmer Springs. It's been raining in Hanmer a fair bit lately and the ground is soft and muddy in places. We were offered the option of parking in the large hotel restaurant carpark but decided it was firm enough around the edge of the grass to park up, although the only issue might be the traffic noise early in the morning as the delivery trucks from Christchurch start arriving.
Payment is in the form of purchasing a $30 voucher for the Lodge's restaurant, which was fine by us as we were going to go out for a meal anyway. Of course I would prefer to choose my own restaurant, but as we'd already tried a couple in town on our last visit and '5 Stags' looked fine (and was), it worked out well.
We walked into the village yesterday afternoon and as you can see it was deserted. Well not quite, any visitor's vehicles were gathered around the Hot Pools.
There were nowhere near the number of people we saw on our last visit, when the pool queue reached out the door. Nor the amount of people in the various pools...
...which didn't matter anyway, as we booked ourselves a private thermal pool!
Which didn't quite have the same view as we had from our deck overlooking Tauranga harbour, but was lovely to relax in all the same.
And in case you are wondering, yes, I still have a few posts from the West Coast to do....I'm working on them but life keeps getting in the way!