Sunday, 10 December 2017

Molesworth to Marfells


After six nights and a fabulous time at Molesworth's Cob Cottage Camp it was time to head up the Awatere Valley and back out to civilization.

I'd highly recommend a visit to Molesworth Station. If you can see past the gravel road and the continuous clouds of dust, the DOC camps at either end of the Molesworth/Acheron Road make a great base from which to explore the area. And especially if you are over-length (7 metres) and have a separate vehicle to travel in.

We left Molesworth on another stunning blue sky day; finally we seem to have hit the jackpot and managed to have a perfect week of fine sunny weather. 

How is this for love (and a full quota of brownie points earnt)? Not far up the road, David stopped the rig to clean the windscreen for me. Just so I don't get dust spots and splattered bugs in my photos.

It's just a pity he does it BEFORE we round a corner and have to follow this guy for a distance. It takes the grader driver at least a mile before he sees us in the mirror and pulls off the road to let us pass. 

Meanwhile we lament the fact that he is grading the road as we leave and not as we came in over all the corrugations and potholes! Now David has to decide where to drive the rig, the grader has done one side only and pushed great clogs of dirt and debris into a ridge on our side of the road- although along in this photo it's quite smooth.

And now, with all loose gravel and exposed dirt, comes great billowing clouds of dust ten times worse than anything else we've seen on the road. All the dust David washed off in camp is now settling back into every nook and cranny. Thankfully the grader is doing the road in sections and after about ten kilometres we pass his parked ute and can see where he's started. We're then back to corrugations and potholes.

We travel a little faster back up the valley; there's no need to stop as often to take photos. Along the way we pass a local farmer and his mate who obviously likes to see where he's heading...

 ...and several groups of kamikaze sheep, who leap out from the bushes just as we're passing.

We head over Upcot Saddle and wind our way down into the valley below and then up the other side... 

...before pulling over onto a small gravel patch high above the river for lunch. Which is just as well as two vehicles round the corner ahead of us, the only two vehicles that pass us on our way out (click photo to enlarge). 

Far below we spot the farmer spraying weeds- can you see him?

After lunch we carried on through the gorge...

...back across the rock slide that came down in the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake and blocked the road for several days...

...then we make a quick photo stop at the historic Taylor's Pass Cemetery, which is tucked into a small clearing surrounded by vineyards.

Before we're back onto the main highway and heading south towards the DOC camp at Marfells Beach,  a regular stop of ours before the Kaikoura earthquake, but one we'd not been back to since. It was a strange sight to see these signs along the way (and very little traffic on the road). It's not often that a closed sign appears on New Zealand's main state highway but come next Friday, 13 months later and for the very first time since the 'quake the signs will say 'open' once again as SH1 reopens after major repairs and much hard work by contractors.

Marfells Beach was quite busy and a couple of our regular sites were taken so we found a gap between the scrub and backed 'Out There' in on a slight angle to give us a bit of protection from the prevailing wind...

...and a little bit of privacy from the road. 

We'd heard that there had been a lot of changes to the seabed and beach after the 'quake but from our vantage point and first sightings- except for the wild flowers and seeding spinach, we must have come a lot earlier on other visits- it all looked the same. 

Some had mentioned that the beach was a lot sandier than before and I actually do think it was, on the surface anyway, but it still looked much the same as it did before the 'quake. 

This photo was taken 5 months before the 'quake-

And this one is 12 months after. The high tide line look similar or within cooey but there definitely was a lot of surface sand blowing in the strong westerly that arrived the day after us. The dust of Molesworth was soon replaced with sand from Marfells!

Marfells (and Marlborough in general) always puts on a few spectacular sunrises...

...and fiery sunsets for us, and they didn't disappoint on this visit either.

We also had a visit from this small plane one evenings, he flew in low right along the beach before turning and coming into land, taxiing up to where we were standing outside the van, giving us a wave, then turning and roaring off down the beach before taking off again. Not the usual sight we see on the Marfells Beach.

Dramatic photos of Mussel Point before and after the 'quake.


  1. Must do Molesworth before to long....I think sawtooth gorge is a not possible these days? So I missed out on that one,
    Quick trip to Blenheim today checking out a better bus for our travels.

    1. A new bus sounds good! And yes, I think Sawcut is still closed or under extreme care required up the river bed. A pity because it was one of our highlights.

  2. We found the changes on the way to the lighthouse, even the first bluff with the rocks you get to, we didn't have a problem getting around there on high tide. And around near the lighthouse, there seemed to be a lot more rocks than before.

    1. Arrr....yes, but you haven't seen the next blog yet have you? :)

  3. I wanted to be the first to leave a comment last night but failed to do so via my Galaxy hand phone, I tried with hubby's to no avail too. I experienced the same problem recently in Bangkok. At first I thought it's got something to do with the hotel's WiFi. But now the conclusion is that I can leave a comment using computer but not with hand phone. Can't figure out why.

    Glad to see the closed section of SH1 reopens. It's one of our favourites. Can't wait to see the changes caused by the quake.

    1. Hmm...I have no idea why not either. I'll check it out, see if I can find out why.
      Yes, I'll look forward to driving over the road again too, unfortunately it won't be for awhile though.

  4. Ha.. "great clogs of dirt and debris into a ridge"

    It's a windrow.

    Used to maintenance-grade Southland roads (centred around Wrey's Bush), with a Cat 112. Useless grading in the dry......just rattles the stones around.

    Really appreciate your photos. Keep up the good work.

    1. You learn something everyday! Thanks for that :) Now let's see if I can remember it for next time.
      Glad you enjoyed the blog and photos, thanks for commenting.


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