First, for those who are viewing my blog on a regular basis, you may have noticed frequent changes in the format, forgive me if it’s confusing. I am still making my way slowly through the learning curve of the blogging process trying to find a theme and format that best suits my blog.
We have a few days left to enjoy in Timaru and yes, a few more “to do’s” on the list. I came across information about an art gallery in town, Aigantighe, (pronounced “egg and tie”) and of course wanted to swing by. Though Paul was not quite as enthused about this visit, he came along without complaint. We were treated to an exhibit by John Badcock called “Stations of the Cross,” which we both found rather moving. There was also a pottery exhibit, “Fire and Clay” in addition to numerous other works displayed throughout the gallery. Thanks to my sweetheart for accompanying me, it was enjoyable. As we stepped back onto the street, we were met with heavy cloud cover and a breeze. By the time we reached our hangout at Coffee Culture, we were definitely ready for a couple decadently cozy beverages and some Wi-Fi time. The drizzle drove us home and it was the perfect time to catch up with family via skype.
By the next day I think we were both anxious for some strenuous activity and there was no question that we’d be off for a jog today. Plus, we had yet to try the fitness course down by Caroline Bay. So as soon as Paul wrapped up work, we geared up. It wasn’t terribly cold out and it was actually quite pleasant for a jog. After jogging along the coast and back we then reached the beginning of the fitness track so decided to do that too. We were like two kids on a playground.
That afternoon we hopped in the car, which I just realized doesn’t have a name yet, so I will remedy that shortly.
Note: This sparked a short discussion with the co-owner and designated driver of the vehicle, and there was debate between ToiToi (Deb’s choice since it’s a toyota and ToiToi one of her NZ faves) and Zed, a name inspired by the way kiwi’s pronounce the letter “Z” which was Paul’s choice. Zed it is.
Now driving south to wherever Zed might take us. After a while, not wanting to get too far from our accommodation, we turned around. I was sure I’d seen a sign on Hwy 1 saying “something” beach and I suggested that we find it. As we drove back north, scrutinizing every sign along the way we came to a different one pointing inland that caught our interest. We took this side road. It read “Otaio gorge.”
The name made it sound like it’d be a visual pleasure, and it was, but not quite as dramatic as we’d expected. The road, at least for Zed, being two wheel drive, ended at a large flat grassy camping area next to a river. The clouds still hung low over the mountains, concealing peaks we were certain held a layer of fresh white snow. Convinced I just missed the beach sign, we went back south to look again, changed direction a 2nd time, and as we made the turn back north on Hwy 1, I saw it. The sign I’d been looking for was right there on the road where we’d turned around, not once, but twice. Uh! Hello! One more U turn took us back for a third time to the same road and to our disappointment the “beach” road did not actually lead to a beach but to a “T” indicating a swamp in either direction. What do you do then? Laugh.
Forecast says snow; adventurous minds say there’s still walking tracks to be walked. Today we walked the opposite direction down through several blocks in the industrial area of town then next to the port and onto a long rocky beach toward Patiti point.
The wind was constant and we were walking into it head on. When not moving, it brought the chill on in a hurry. The warehouses and businesses were mostly quiet since it was Saturday but we still got a sense of the size of this port by the seemingly endless stacks of shipping containers. It was rather impressive, especially to a couple who grew up in a landlocked state. As relentless as the wind was during our walk down the beach, we were extremely grateful that it would be at our back for the return trip. Even so, it was cold and gave us a reason on this day to seek pause at, you guessed it, Coffee Culture. I’ve grown rather fond of their “flat white”
By the time we headed back to the motel, the temperature was dropping and so was the drizzle.
The next day, we did not see snow in Timaru, but our hosts asked if we’d seen the news. Dunedin was hit with snow and quite a hard freeze, cars were playing bumper cars. The main highway was closed too. The memories of the cold days we spent there and the steep hills at every turn made this a scary scene to imagine. I am so very thankful we did not have to experience the conditions to that extreme.
I’ve been enjoying the stories of another couple’s adventure in New Zealand on this blog (https://ouramazingnzadventure.wordpress.com/) and this is where I was informed of a spot “off the beaten trail” near here called Elephant Rocks. We found it intriguing enough that we added the destination to our “to do” list.
The next day, being the weekend gave us the entire day to get out and explore. Elephant Rocks was about 1hr and 20 min away. Off we went down Hwy 1 which had become rather familiar territory after the back and forth traveling done on previous days. Today though the blue sky was only dotted with the occasional cloud and the distant peaks that we’d imagined on the previous drive provided a vibrant crisp and beautiful horizon framing the vast landscape of green hills. Along the highway you could see the Toi Toi, cabbage trees and pines surrendering to the strong gusty winds. After crossing the long Waitaki bridge we turned off the main highway and followed the river to a smaller gravel road winding through small communities and farm houses.
Then there we were, at a little sign post indicating “Elephant Rocks” in a small flat gravel area along the road with an irrigation sprinkler pivot just on the other side of the fence around a vibrant green paddock. Across the road you could see over an amazing green valley to the mountains beyond and in closer proximity the tops of the Elephant Rocks. We stepped out of the car and put on our layers to help withstand the biting wind and light rain. Ironically, yes, there were still blue skies and sunshine overhead. This little site was worth the visit, despite the temperature and wind. It was just the two of us enjoying the walk through the rocks. Just as we pulled away another car arrived which was fortunate timing for both parties. We love the lack of crowds and the opportunity to explore at our leisure, thanks to the generous kiwi folk who so often open up their property and homes to strangers. From here we went through Duntroon (I suggest saying the name a few times, it’s soothing to the tongue) and continued up the river to Kurow where we crossed the river again and headed back to Timaru.
This was our last evening to enjoy the ocean before we turn inland for a spell, so off to the shore and to the Dashing Rocks this time. We’d jogged by this area but hadn’t stopped for photos. The wind that had been our companion during the day had subsided and the ocean was as calm as we’d seen it thus far. Even so the small waves were still splashing up on the rocks next to the sea lion who was hanging out posing for pictures.
Tomorrow we proceed further north and inland to Hanmer Springs, which we hear from our hosts is pretty “flash.” This conjures images of a combination of Glenwood Springs, and Vail or Aspen in our imaginations. Soon we shall see and share.