Rather than explore Christchurch now, we decided to head south. After a stop at the grocery store to fill our tiny frig and cupboards, we headed south on Hwy 1. We turned on our tourist radio supplied by the rental company. You plug the GPS into the cigarette lighter and turn the radio on 102.9. Music plays but it signals when a town or attraction comes up. It tells you lots of interesting facts as well. We found a lovely picnic area in Ashburton. It was at a Holiday RV park that adjoined or included a public area with pretty pond.
Big Tree Walk
Since we planned to go inland on a loop to Lake Tekapo and Mt Cook, we decided to go to Peel Forest and do the Big Tree walk. This short walk takes you through the native podocarp or conifer forest with huge trees. The "big tree" is a tatora and 9 meters across.
Back to Geraldine, we freedom camped at Pioneer Park, about half-way between Geraldine and Fairlie. Way back off the highway, partially down a gravel road, it was a beautiful setting. More campers and tenters arrived for a total of 8 of us. One man was trapping possums- an introduced pest nothing like our North American possums. He showed us a rusty red one he trapped. He sells the pelts for $10. When combined with marino wool, the clothes - sweaters, shirts, vests, scarves-sell for more than plain marino wool. George is looking for a sweater vest!
I drove the campervan back to Fairlie. It takes a bit of getting used to to position the van in the lane- not too close to the edge yet out of range of oncoming vehicles! Actually it's nicer being able to look around! Our freedom camping in a Dept of Conservation park was $6, much less expensive than a RV park. We had stinky porta potties plus water and incredible views!
On to Lake Tekapo! Jaimie Hall Bruzenak