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Archive for the ‘Oamaru’ Category

BBQ party

Other people were moving into our Oamaru house today, which meant we had to be out before 10am. The majority of our packing was done last night, so all we had to after breakfast was strip the beds and pack the food. We were off well before 9 oo’clock.

The journey to Christchurch was rather monotonous and the weather grey and drizzly. Around 30k after our petrol stop in Timaru we had a mid morning snack at “Mes Amis” cafe. We shared two very fresh blueberry muffins, water for te girls, tea for Tim and a cappucino for me. We all agreed they were extremely tasty muffins …

Shortly after 1pm we arrived at our next property just in time to meet Caroline and Mark, the owners. They very kindly explained what we needed to know about the house and the neighbourhood.

We decided to relax a little before making our way to South Brighton to meet with Christine and Rod. The girls enjoyed the new array of toys and hid themselves away in the third bedroom to do some playing and drawing.

Mid afternoon we set off in search of the Eastgate Shopping Centre in order to find a birthday present for 1-year old Oliver and his big brother Alex. Christine and Rod very kindly invited us to join them and friends in the celebrations. Christine is one of the daughters of my mum’s closest friend. I hadn’t seen her for a long time and never met her husband Rod. It was a weird feeling walking into their garden and not recognising anyone, but once we met Christine and Rod we felt a lot better.

Initially the girls hung around us, but after a little while they warmed up and were happy to run around the garden amongst the other children. Tim and I also mingled with the others and ended up staying a lot longer than planned. We enjoyed the company and the delicious BBQ of sweetcorn, garlic prawns, hare, lamb, rib-eye and sausages. Dessert was a choice of juicy watermelon, freshly grown strawberries and vanilla/strawberry flavoured marshmallows.

Before saying our goodbyes they asked us over for morning coffee next Saturday with the opportunity to Skype my parents. We left with several suggestions of places to visit whilst in Christchurch, now all we have to do is decide when to do what!

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Buzzy Bee

A few examples of how this is such a small country (quite apart from bumping into fellow travelling families totally unexpectedly). Yesterday, Kirsten spotted one of the Dutch girls who had been on our Milford Sound cruise (i.e. one of the two non-Contikians) on the national news being interviewed at Auckland airport. Also yesterday we discovered that our current Oamaru cottage is only a few hundred metres from the Whitestone Cheese factory, the birthplace of the lump of Airedale that we bought on a whim in Motueka market just after Christmas.
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And those spherical Moeraki boulders – a giant’s spilt packet of Maltesers – they just scream ‘stand on top of me!’. Is there some primal urge to clamber atop outsized balls of rock? And the quantity is just right; more than just one or two to show that they mean business, but not such a vast tally that the effect is cheapened. Indeed, roughly the number of Maltesers you’d find in a packet.

Back to today; we had a good lie-in until after 9 o’clock (Kirsten thought it had just turned seven but her watch had stopped…). We walked the block or two into town and got a replacement watch battery fitted before spending nearly two hours in the library until it closed. (It has free WiFi and a good choice of children’s books.) So we’re up to date with blogs and we’ve clawed back a few days of photos.
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How we spend about 10% of our waking hours during this trip.
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We tried a bakery for lunch but it was more of an eat-in cafe so we resorted to Countdown instead (the supermarket, not the TV show). We ate and then the girls caught up with their diaries for yesterday. Just before tea we nipped out again to get a new 1U4 exercise book for Ellen (she has filled her first one entirely with her journal text and drawings). In the stationers I also saw my first Buzzy Bee toy (that iconic piece of Kiwiana); it appears to be a large wooden bee on wheels, and whether the wings flap as it’s pulled along I don’t know (they didn’t have one available for me to play with).

A filling supper of burgers and spaghetti; a bit later my parents dropped by to compare trips and photos – they visited the Portobello aquarium rather than Larnach Castle and this might have been a more memorable option for us, too.

It’s been a nice day today but we haven’t managed to see much of the town or the area – no museum visit, cheese factory tour or penguin spotting – and tomorrow will bring a three-hour drive up to Christchurch.

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As Tim is still recovering from his cold, we each have had a double bed to ourselves for the last couple of nights.  Last night I slept fairly solidly only waking once briefly, but the others (sleeping at the other end of the house) were disturbed in the middle of the night by two cats fighting!

We had a fairly slow start to the day.  We showered, had breakfast and I made our picnic sandwiches.   This was then followed by packing mainly food items and the girls’ rucksacks.  As we were nearly finished, we noticed we were also supposed to strip the beds of sheets and pile them up in the laundry room, together with the towels, and clean the house.  Fortunately, we had only been here for a short time and not much cleaning needed doing.

At around 10.45am we made our way up the windy Highcliff Road towards the only castle in New Zealand.  As the weather was dry and slightly sunny, we decided to only visit the gardens and give Larnach Castle a miss.  As we neared the building, a young lady behind us commented on the rather small size of it.  “Oh, is that it?  It looks more like a big house.  It’s not a castle at all.  It’s rather disappointing!”  Well, I was rather pleased we didn’t pay the extra $44 to visit the castle itself.

We spent a good 30-40 minutes walking around the different gardens (patterned garden, raised lawn, flower area, and the south seas garden), photographed Alice in Wonderland statues and had a peep inside the ballroom (which also doubled as cafe and shop).  Both girls (and grown-ups) were disappointed with the ballroom, which again was pretty small.

Larnach Castle.
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Cheshire Cat.
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Living next door to Alice.
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Queens of Hearts.
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On the way back to the car park we noticed a nice picnic spot and decided to have our sandwiches there.  After one last little wander around and a few more nature photos we were ready to leave the Otago Peninsula behind.
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After a smooth and rather uneventful car journey we arrived at the Moeraki boulders.  The girls were ready to let off some steam on the beach and loved sitting and standing on top of these big rounded stones, but were slightly alarmed when the sea came in and surrounded their boulders!
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Vitruvian Man on holiday.
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This is how busy it really was…
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We went back on ourselves to Moeraki village itself in order to have coffee and cake at Fleur’s Place.  This eating place was mentioned in one of the many guide books on New Zealand and also in an article I read about the journey from Dunedin to Oamaru.  It was not very well signposted and Tim spotted it by chance.  I was disappointed as it was more like an eating place that served mainly hot meals and only an extremely small selection of cakes.  Not even one single muffin… so as far as cakes and coffee this place is overrated in the guide books.

Before the seagulls got there.
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We settled for rhubarb and cream cheese scones for the grown-ups and chocolate cookies for the kiddies.  Fruit juices for H, E & T and a capuccino for me.  Even more shocking was the $26 this came too.  Never mind, the setting was brilliant.   We enjoyed the warmth of the sun and the blue of the sea and simply relaxed.  We wanted to take the left over scone and biscuits with us, but as soon as we left the table to have a closer look at the rocks and sea opposite us, 6 to 8 seagulls attacked our table and were fighting over the food!  Bye bye left overs …

Only another 40 minutes car journey and we arrived in Oamaru.  After a slight detour we arrived at Humber Cottage.  First impressions were positive, I liked the decor (1930s?) and it was spacious enough for the four of us.  It also had a good-sized garden.  But we’re not as close to the blue penguin site as we thought we might be, and there is a railway track running opposite our house and no double glazing!  Yes, we do have a sea view, as long as we’re standing up.

We all felt like eating fish and chips for supper.  So out we went in search of a take-away.  We wandered down Thames Street (one of the main streets) to find everything closed.  It was only 6.30pm on a Friday night.  Where was everybody??  We found three elderly locals sitting on a bench outside the i-site building so we asked them for the nearest Fish & Chips place.  No, there was nothing around here, but we could find a KFC walking back the way we came.  Humm, not quite the same …

We decided to retrace our steps and carry on a little further.  As we crossed one of the side streets we spotted a Chinese take-away that also did fish & chips – and it was only around the corner from our house!

Loaded with two portions of sole and chips we headed to the comfort of our kitchen.  The food tasted really good, if only a little too salty, and we ended up with four empty plates and still had room for apple & rhubarb crumble (more like a cake than proper crumble).

Hannah and Ellen chose books from the vast array provided and had 15 minutes reading time before bed.

Tomorrow might be a quietish day with a possible visit to the library to update our blog and check our emails.  We’re also thinking about visiting the Whitestone cheese factory.

Lets just hope the trains don’t run overnight or early in the morning …

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