Happy Valentine's day.
Our last day in New Zealand and leaving with mixed feelings. Part of us would love to have stayed longer. So many activities tried, some I thought would be beyond us but all have been attempted and found to be achievable, the only thing we drew a line at was bungee jumping! Goes to show that there is 'life in the old dogs yet'. We have not stopped even to spend a day on the beach, instead, we did as many excursions as possible, with lots of walks and plenty of sightseeing around these beautiful Islands. We have met with boating friends (Marilyn and David, and Roger and Pat) and with a long lost cousin on my mother's side Tony Van Schooten. But the other part of us wants to get back to continue with the Australian adventure. We have about 8 weeks left before returning to the Uk and in that time we have another wedding to attend our second niece Jenny is getting hitched to Eddie on the 25th March and is the reason for our prolonged stay) the flight to Alice Springs, Uluru (Ayres rock) and the trip in another camper hired from Cairns, down the Queensland coast and back to Sydney. Oh and not forgetting 5 days in Hong Kong on the way back.
We did venture out and about again this morning. Forgetting that our luggage had been damaged when we arrived in Aukland (blooming great tear along the corner of the soft bag which needed repair) we drove to New Brighton to look for a hardware store to purchase some gaffer tape which Ian assured me would do the job. But then, found lying on the ground by the pier, three cable ties which Ian reckoned would stitch the two edges together nicely. It was along the pier that we first noticed the huge plume of smoke.
It looked to be near the Gondola station, which funnily enough was where we were heading next as on our visit there yesterday the shop had a couple of Kiwi mugs which we loved but didn't purchase. We wanted a little bit of New Zealand to remind us of our visit, so we decided to drive part of the Summit Road (not all the road was open) and walk the 1km up to the Gondola station.
|Quite a climb|
It was here that we found the cause of the smoke. Last night a bush fire in the Port Hills area was started near to the Kennedy-Bush Nature reserve. Whether it was deliberate or accidental has yet to be determined but with the wind gusting and a worrying possible change in direction this afternoon, all firefighting has had to be done from the air. Unfortunately, one of the helicopter pilots crashed near Sugarloaf and was killed outright.
|Much clearer view than yesterday in spite of the smoke.|
|The white dot in the smoke is a plane|
|And a helicopter. 15 were used to try and douse the flames|
Leaving the Gondola station and with purchase complete, it was a stroll back to the van and drive to a place called Summer. Along the pass the views overlooking the Pegasus Bay were impressive
|And along the beach front,|
|Lots of great rock pools to look at.|
|Shadow of what appears to be a small jellyfish.|
Tomorrow we return the van but not before 3 pm. We have to leave this tourist park by 10am. Quite what we will do for 5 hours before the van is returned we haven't a clue. Our flight from Christchurch is at 6 pm and the owner of the van will take us to the airport. Think it may well be a long day.