After Dunedin we decided to revert to plan A and camp. We headed up the coast to Omaru and grabbed a pitch in the Top Ten Holiday Site. They provide a McCamping type experience.
Sadly it started to rain around 7pm and didn’t stop until we left at 10am the following morning. The bargain tent remained watertight….just.
From here we drove inland and stopped off at the small Lost World Museum, where we saw some incredible fossils. A shark toothed dolphin, parts of a giant penguin which was nearly 6ft tall and some more fossilised trees. We even got to be archeologists and expose fossils using the various tools.
From the museum we got directions to Elephant Rocks, which was used in the first Narnia film.
Then news of the earthquake broke. It was clear from the radio broadcast that it was serious and when we stopped at a tiny mini market people were crowded around a small TV. We joined them unable to believe what had happened so close to us.
We arrived at our hostel and joined our host Tony and his other guests in front of his TV.
It is clear from the exposure on the BBC website that the earthquake is just part of the news elsewhere in the world, which is understandable considering what is happening in Libya. Here there is nothing else. The death and destruction is immense and the fact that we were due to be there 5 days or so later is quite sobering.
Although our stay at Buscot Station was subdued, we still enjoyed our time there. This was a hostel that stood head and shoulders above most others. Tony is a superb host and guests quite literally share his home. He loves a good chat too and I learned a lot about New Zealand politics.
Our en suite room was fantastic too. Easily the best we have had in New Zealand.
He also gave us a free tour of the farm which is a massive Merino Sheep and Dairy farm. The area in which it is located was pretty much deserted a few years back but some of the local farmers got together to build a 35km canal to bring water to the dry land. By the time this canal reaches Buscot Station it is above ground level in the side of the hills which line the farm. As a result of this and a fair amount of irrigation that land is now lush and highly productive.
As most of you know Claire isn’t keen on dogs, but this didn’t stop her from becoming friends with Josh the Jack Russell. And we also met Annabel the abandoned merino sheep, which Tony has raised.
Our plan as far as Christchurch was concerned was to spend 3 days there after we drop our car off. This is obviously no longer possible so we drove out to the nearest town to find an internet connection. We took the decision to leave the South Island 3 days early on 1st March and spend our final three days in Auckland.