'Family reuninions...'

Trip Start Jul 18, 2010
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Trip End Mar 04, 2011


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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Thursday, August 12, 2010

We begrudgingly set off from Jacksons Retreat towards Christchurch taking the route through Arthurs pass national park.  On the map, it doesn’t look that far.  “Just over the hill”, said the nice man in the campsite. Liar.  It’s not a horrible drive though, quite the contrary.  We’re following the basin of the Waimakariri river, which appears and disappears every other minute.  The opening of the river is quite wide, marked with large rocks left behind.  The peaks of the mountains are holding quite allot of water at the moment in Snow and ice, so I could imagine that the river will be full to the brim when the temperature rises a few degrees.  The road we are winding are way along has large slips either side, some must be a few hundred metres across.  Possibly the result of said melting ice and snow.  Huge areas of the mountain have been carved away, pulling trees and huge rocks down to the valley.  There are so many walks and hostels along here too, seems it could be a fantastic area to revisit and stop over.  We stop for lunch in Castle Hill.  Helen and I are assuming that it’s named thus due to a rock formation on a small hill in the middle of the valley.  The rocks are quite something, appearing as if from nowhere.  I’m desperately trying to recall my GCSE Geography lessons.  After lunch, all three of us set off for a week walk up the hill through the snow for a better view of the snowy peaks.  This would probably have been a better idea if we had had the relevant footwear.  Mum’s trainers and my ugg boots provided the worst grip on this snow covered dried grass! Ooooh, it was slippery.  I decided to take the ‘as the crow flies’ approach to ascending the hill, bad idea, slipping at least 20 times onto my knees. Sort of one step forward, four feet back downhill.  Mum and Helen took the more sensible approach of rounding the hill.  The views from the top weren’t quite as incredible as the actual boulders themselves.  All Limestone, but very ‘Henry Moore-esque’ in shape. Incredible.  Apparently the Moari’s used this as a shelter when using Arthurs pass to cross from East to West coast.  The nooks and crannies were everywhere! When going down the hill, poor Mum slipped so many times she was past caring, so slipped the whole way on her bum! So funny.  The poor thing was covered in mud though!  We set off for an incredible drive through the rest of the valley before reaching what the nice I-site man had described as ‘Flat-as farmland’, he wasn’t kidding.  By this point we were in touch with Jenny.  She’s coming out to meet us for a coffee before we go to the farm.  We met her in … Such a funny place.  It had the place name sign, a coffee shop 10meters after, then the place name sign to the next ‘village’ 20 meters after! Jenny is taking us on a petite ticky-tour over NZ’s longest bridge and through Salmon-county… if you laugh here you are forgiven, I was in stitches for quite a while!  We reached the farm at 4ish, and so all the boys were still working.  Jenny took us to Rhys’ house. He’s managing a crazy-big farm out in Canterbury, so Dewi and Ioan are working for him at the moment to get through the calving season.  It was nice to meet Rhys, first time as his only trip to the UK was when I was 1 and he was a few weeks old!  We took a quick tour around the sheds to see Dewi and Ioan with the farmhand Tom who’s touring from Argentina.  Whoa, I never want to be a dairy farmer. The cows are all on a rotary wheel, basically a lazy susan, facing inwards. So their udders are easy to access I guess, but their bums are also facing in that direction, so whoever’s milking, well, I’ll let you fill in the gaps.  Uncle Dewi had tge pleasure of that job, so hugs were out of the question.  We went back to the unit where Dewi and Jenny are staying for cups of tea. The unit is pretty much the hub of the farm with Jenny keeping the boys fed well 3 times a day.  We spent the evening just catching ip, and it was great.  Funny, these guys over the past 5 years have become so close to us it’s just so easy to slip back into where we were last year as if no time has passed.  We’re all pretty wiped for our own reasons, so early to bed.  Tomorrow Jenny’s taking us on a tour to Christchurch. 

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