8 December – So long, Christchurch

Farewell Christchurch

We didn’t do much of note on Friday – we had weather that reminded us of the Isle of Mull – eight hours solid rain. We ventured out late in the afternoon to shop – the car park outside the shopping centre was doing a passable imitation of a paddling pool.

Saturday morning involved the usual clean-up, then we wait for the taxi to take us to pick up our hire car from Chch airport. The weather is brighter, though the paving stones are still damp.
The taxi driver tells us of the problems he’s had since he lost a house in the earthquake. Insurers insist on the use of certain builders etc etc.

We collect the car from a very helpful woman who suggests we could take the Inland Scenic Route to Geraldine. We look at the map and ask a few questions – we were bitten by a scenic route on the way to Stratford. This one looks much more driver-friendly, so we take her advice. The route proves scenic, and a good road.

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Huge windbreak hedges, wide shies and mountains in the distance.

First stop Darfield for a coffee and a salmon scone. These NZ savoury scones are excellent.

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Next stop is at Rakaia Gorge. NZ does a good line in public toilets – there’s almost always a good one when you need one!. The Rakaia river is one of those wide ones with a stony bed, and just beyond the car park a couple of bridges cross the water. We decide not to take a jet boat trip.
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As we drive on the mountains make their presence known in the west. Long snow capped ridges rise up from flat valleys. These peaks are high and rugged. We reach Geraldine, and grab more drinks. I take a short walk by the river, through the rhododendron dell, which is well past it’s best.

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Christmas decorations

Westward and upward now until we reach the Farm Barn Cafe, a few kilometres short of Fairlie. It’s at the top of a pass, and has almost a 360 degree view of mountains. Tea and a date scone here. It’s a fine building, and must do a reasonable amount of trade with tourists, though no one else was there when we were.

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Down again, and up over Burke Pass. The roads are edged with lupins of all shades, pinks, purples, oranges, and in the background the snow of the southern Alps.

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We carry on, and suddenly it’s Lake Tekapo on the sign, and round a bend, there is the lake.
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