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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Friday 30 December 2022

Thrills and swing bridges, and we end up in Berlin!

 December 30th

God, we got eaten alive yesterday evening, as soon as the door was opened the swarm came in. It was those bloody awful sandflies, the bane of the New Zealanders and tourists life! Quite a few recommendations on eating marmite, for some reason this keeps them at bay. Shame I hate Marmite!

There were good reasons to keep going outside, not just the loo breaks, but we had very nearly run out of water. We did use the dump point at Murchison, fresh water was on tap there, but at the time we still had 3/4 full container. Quite why we have used so much is a mystery! Anyway with the river within walking distance, Ian was sent down with a collapsable bucket to bring back water to boil for washing up and having the last wash in the evening. He was very puffed out by the time he returned. "Buckets got a small pinhole in it, so it was a race to get back" he gasped. I did laugh...the tiniest, thinnest jet of water was spouting from that hole. In fact this morning there was still enough water left for another wash! 

 It was just a 20-minute drive to Buller Gorge swing bridge from Maruia Falls, we were to meet the jet boat captain there. What none of us realised, to get to where we joined it, a walk across the bridge was required. For Ian and me not a problem but those others that were on the trip this was a real issue. 


Consequently we left late, although for one American lady this was a bonus. A call came through to Mark the driver just before we set off asking if there was room for one other. I think he regretted saying yes judging what might have happened later! In the meantime his lovely Labrador was allowed in for a swim. He couldn't come with us, his paws wouldn't be able to hang onto the bar on those 360s!


As jet boating goes this was up there with the best. Rapids, dodging rocks, 360s we had it all. Mark was very thorough in his briefing, do not under any circumstances let go of the bars when the 360s were happening. There is always one that takes no notice. It was the American lady too busy with her hands on the phone taking photos. If Mark hadn't looked over his shoulder to check we were all okay, she would have been flung out of the boat, possibly onto those rocks, and he would have got it in the neck and lost his licence.  As it was, he stopped the boat immediately, gave her a bit of a telling off, and we lost out on one of those spins!

The American lady was right at the back and didn't show her face.

Apart from that this was a thrill seeker's dream. 40 minutes went all too quickly and back on land it was a 10-minute walk back to the swing bridge. We decided to wait for the next jet boat trip, wanted to see the 360 turns from above. Best place to see that was the swing bridge.


That job done the next job was to find water. A food shop would have been nice too. We had run out of bread, milk, eggs and almost of booze! We failed miserably in both these quests! There was nothing for it but to go to Berlin.

Ha...did you think we were in Germany? This is a very small place, can't call it a town, village or hamlet. There is a café and camp site, that's it!

It is also sandfly capital of New Zealand! (so the locals say) In fact on the camp site grounds is this!

It's that knife and fork that gets me. Oh, how true that is!
 Speaks for itself!

Apart from those nasty biting things, we could have a shower, there was a camp kitchen and a meal in the café if we wanted. The girl serving was ever so obliging when mentioned we had no bread or milk. Away to the kitchen and returned with the said items. Cost us $7...$5 (£2.63p) for the bread and $2 (£1.05p) for the milk. Still we were ever so grateful. Meant we could have our hot dogs for dinner after all oh, and more importantly, my cup of tea in the morning.

Before our showers we walked down to the river. Still smothered in sandfly repellent it would have been silly to wash it off and then reapply just for that walk. Well, the track down had seen better days, almost non existent.  Ian nearly came a cropper down a hole. Grass obscured the hazard. Glad it was him in front and not me!

Not sure if it was worth the trek and those sandflies were relentless in pursuit of a tasty meal. Not from us though. We must have smelt horrible to them. On the return I discovered the step I managed to get down from was much too high for me to get up. My man that can to the rescue by making a wooden step from driftwood.


The loos here are clean, a bit run down and not a door lock on any of them. They are also unisex, as are the showers. I came out of my cubicle, luckily half decent and was confronted by a fellow!

This same fellow later knocked on the Toy's window. I think I've met your misses was his opening words. Blimey what was coming out of his mouth next? T'was okay though. He asked if we could run him into Westport tomorrow morning, so he could collect his car. We agreed although did warn him that there were no seatbelts on the seat at the back!

Tomorrow we meet Jenny and Robin at Cape Foulwind, bloggers I have followed for some time now. ( Romany Rambler) We hope (if a table can be arranged) to go out for New Year's Eve dinner. Fingers crossed.

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