Ever Eastward – Farewell Spit to Blenheim

We woke up on Wednesday near Farewell Spit to mist and rain and time to go back. Back from Golden Bay to the real world. We stopped off in Takaka to do a few things. And Takaka looked even further from the real world than usual. There was a big festival starting up on Takaka Hill and Takaka had become the waiting room for all the young hippies – the Koru Lounge for the festival trip. Yeah man. We made a trip back to nearby Waikopupu Springs – the big freshwater springs. They are scared about didymo so it is all hands-off. They even have a human stationed there to keep an eye on visitors. Imagine that. DOC actually has a ranger in the field at a tourist attraction.  Wyn and I both thought the springs looked less wonderful than we remembered. There seems to be more weed and stuff growing. Apparently it is not didymo and it is natural. But it is still clogging the gravels and rocks. The springs have a significant spiritual value to local Maori. It is ironic that it seems to only be fear of didymo that got DOC to ban divers and swimmers from the springs.

Back through Takaka the Koru Lounge had emptied. The festival express must have left. Over Takaka Hill it was all misty. Coming down the Riwaka side we passed the tide of hippy vans and vehicles heading up for the festival.  Through Motueka we turned off the bypass and detoured through Ruby Bay and Mapua. The Mapua wharf fish and chip shop was calling us in. It wasn’t quite tea time so we loitered around in the sun. Watching the kids and adults swimming and wharf-jumping-off – traditional Mapua wharf activities. Before we got burnt by the sun we got our fish and chips – it was near enough to tea time. Fish and chips on a picnic table beside the estuary in the sun beating off the sea gulls …. what’s not to like.

Finally we headed on to Richmond and the race course where we parked up again – as we’re allowed to do. There was time for a couple of loads of washing before sun-down. And a man came by touting LED lights to replace halogen lights. So we now have two SMD LEDs for our rangehood, cutting our power consumption from 20W to 3W. We tried a SMD LED for our halogen spotlights but didn’t like the sideways glare. Darn.

Friday we moved off to Nelson where the sun tried to come out.  And then on east – or north-east to be precise. Over the Whangamoas to the Rai Valley and then through Havelock. Wyn took over driving from there to Blenheim where we made for the racecourse to park up. Earlier in the day a pharmacist in Richmond had wanted a “proper” address when I was picking up a prescription. My PO Box address was not sufficient. I tried to explain that I don’t have a “proper” address; that we are itinerants; that our home has a motor and moves around. He seemed to understood but persisted. As a sort-of test he asked where I’d be sleeping that night. I replied “Blenheim Racecourse” and he gave up. I think he imagined trying to put “Blenheim Racecourse” into the system and it wasn’t going to work.

Earlier in the day in Nelson I got pulled over by a Police man – flashing lights! We were in the car going to a doctor’s appointment to get an injection for my shoulder, and had the bikes on the back. He said he couldn’t read our number plate and I said “I know” which mightn’t have been the best start. I then went on at length about being stopped about 5 years ago by a rabid officer in Oamaru who said I’d need to get a copy of our number plate to hang off the bikes. Only it turned out it was illegal to have copies of number plates so rabid policemen had to turn blind eyes. The nice Nelson policeman stopped me before I got in full flight so I didn’t get to the glossy 8 by10s or the seeing eye dog or try the three-part harmony. He said they were on an education campaign to explain that there was now a law allowing and requiring supplementary number plates and he gave me a handout to help me get one ordered. My opportunity to star in Alice’s Restaurant 2 fizzled out right then.

He was very helpful and thorough and on checking my licence he noted my PO Box address. He acknowledged that it was OK to have a PO Box on a driver’s licence but couldn’t help asking “You’re not drug dealers are you?” It’s not easy being free.

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