ACROSS THE DITCH: Collingwood to Christchurch 29/03/18 to 05/04/18

ACROSS THE DITCH: Collingwood to Christchurch 29/03/18 to 05/04/18

2018-04-08T20:59:42+00:00April 8th, 2018|General, Lee & Paul Update, NZ Ride|

It’s been thirty years since my cousin, Fiona, and I have spent quality time together so we have a lot of catching up to do! She and her partner Doug, have made a huge effort on their lifestyle block high in the hills behind Collingwood, building their own substantial self-sufficient home and bringing in the land. Fiona is now a bio-dynamic farmer, a beekeeper and the land and the sea allow them to live as hunter-gatherers. She only milks her cow when she needs to and a calf maintains a continual supply.

Stunning late afternoon view from my cousin Fiona’s picture window (the peaks are snow-capped in winter)

My cousin Fiona milking her house cow

It’s pretty special for us to have our own personal guide to the Golden Bay area and Fiona is a great ambassador. The “Pupu” Springs (as they are affectionately known to the locals) are home to the clearest spring water in the world and are the largest springs in New Zealand. Contact with the water is forbidden but you can view the spectacular colours and the sand “dancing” around the bottom from the wonderful calming walk through the bush.

The spring discharges 14,000 litres of water a second (about 40 bathtubs full)

The underwater visibility is 63 metres (the only other place with greater clarity is under the Ross ice shelf in Antarctica)

Golden Bay has an endless variety of golden sand beaches, alpine valleys and tranquil fishing rivers, all in close proximity to the sea. It is also unfortunately known for some of New Zealand’s largest whale strandings and Fiona always makes herself available and gets fully involved with helping the whales.

Takaka Hill in the background and Golden Bay

Cape Farewell at the very top of the South Island

The northernmost tip of the South Island, Cape Farewell

From Takaka we head out to the coast and drive through the Abel Tasman National Park, a wilderness reserve known for the 60-kilometre long trail which winds over beaches and across ridges and is New Zealand’s most popular “Great Walk”.

Trees planted by the settlers on the road in to Totaranui

The amazing “golden” sands at Totaranui, Golden Bay

We head into Nelson for Easter and check-in to the Tahuna Beach campground where my huge extended family on my mother’s side is gathering for a family reunion. We share a four-bedroom house with cousins, my niece and my god-daughter and our place soon becomes party central!

The Park House inhabitants at Tahuna

My mother was one of 13 so our family is a large one and we travelled from all over the world for this special gathering, a meeting that may never happen again.

Everyone who came to the Easter Family Reunion

We head off to Christchurch via Kaikoura, curious to see how it all fared after the massive earthquake in November, 2016. You can still see the scars from the violence of that night when a 7.8 earthquake roared through the area. Roads were cracked and crevassed and 80 kilometres of coast was lifted out of the sea up to 4 metres in places. The quake lasted two minutes and was the second largest ever recorded in New Zealand, moving the South Island five metres closer to the North Island!!

Approaching the Kaikoura coast we are yet to see the scars from the earthquake

Google image of some of the devastating earthquake damage

We have a chat to a local in a cafe and she describes being totally thrown out of bed onto the floor and how the town was cut off from the world for five weeks. She talks about how the morning after there were thousands of people on the streets of their little town – with nowhere to go. All the tourists had to park up their campervans, hand in their keys and fly out in helicopters. It has taken over a year to clear the road of the 85 landslides so we feel very lucky to get through and in awe of the transformation. We take a cabin just south of Kaikoura at Peketa Beach and believe it or not, an earthquake shakes the couch we are sitting on! It was later described as “moderate” with a reading of 4.3…you wouldn’t read about it!

Crazy clouds clinging to the sea at Kaikoura

Beautiful Kaikoura, East Coast

Kaikoura is famous for many seal colonies and tourists come to swim amongst them

This seal posing for the tourists!

Favourite of the Week

My cousin Rex lives on his yacht in the Nelson marina and takes us out overnight for a sail. He’s the best storyteller I know and we have a wonderful night making MORE stories with a large fishing boat that aims right at us coming back into the harbour.

Story of the Week

In 1906 my grandfather left the coal mines of Suffolk, England, on a ship bound for Wellington, New Zealand. He was a bachelor for seven years before placing an ad in the personal column of a newspaper and urged on by workmates, my grandmother replied! They started courting and married in 1913. After bearing 13 children within 17 years she died in 1931 – my mother was 4 and there were two under her at the time! In 1989, my cousin Fiona and I instigated and helped organise the first family reunion for my Mum’s family. So this Easter, Fiona and other cousins organised the second family reunion and this time it was about my generation. I am one of 43 first cousins and of that 24 of us were present!

In age order 23 of my 43 first cousins (I was third youngest at the event)

First cousins with our spouses and partners

We had a weekend of camaraderie, hilarity, fun, food, drinking and so many shared stories! I haven’t laughed so much in ages and it left us feeling warm and fuzzy.

Laughs a minute in the “party” house

Cousin Rex busting a tune for the singalong

Some of us attended the Sunday Service at the Nelson Cathedral where the minister introduced us to the congregation. It was a great occasion to remember our parents and family members who have passed.

Part of the Newey clan attending the Easter Sunday Service at the Nelson Cathedral

Easter 2018 will go down in history as a very special occasion with treasured memories for all.


  1. Janelle P. April 13, 2018 at 10:31 am

    You are having such a great time,it may be a while before we see you back here.It all sounds pretty special.Enjoy!

    • Lee April 15, 2018 at 11:27 pm

      All good things come to an end Janelle! Home next month so the time is becoming precious as we head north. Hope you’re both A1…see you soon xxxx

  2. Dave April 9, 2018 at 9:45 pm

    Very impressed Lee great family gathering enjoy 🤗😘

    • Lee April 9, 2018 at 11:23 pm

      Hey Dave, you can so relate to the sheer size of my family! It was a magic Easter and we are still recounting stories and savouring every moment…catch ya soon xxxx

  3. Sharon OConnor April 9, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    What a wonderful journey you are having 🏍🏍

    • Lee April 9, 2018 at 11:21 pm

      Hey Sharon, we’re loving every second of it! The weather is finally catching up with us now so it’s time to head north! Probably see you in a week or so xxx

  4. linda webb April 9, 2018 at 9:05 am

    A great summary of the reunion!
    Love cousin Linda xx

    • Lee April 9, 2018 at 11:19 pm

      Thanks Linda, so enjoyed our stay with you. Bunkered down in Havelock and heading for the ferry tomorrow…time to leave the South Island and so many cool memories xxxx

  5. Susan Hird April 9, 2018 at 6:52 am

    Great memories Lee, thank you. Hope the bikes are ready and you’re back on track.

    • Lee April 9, 2018 at 11:17 pm

      Hey Sue, bikes are purring and we are about to leave the SI…the weather has finally caught up with us! Not missing much and enjoying a day off bunkered down in Havelock. Probably see you in 5-6 days…xxxx

      • Susan Hird April 10, 2018 at 9:07 am

        Safe travels northwards. We have warm beds!

        • Lee April 15, 2018 at 11:25 pm

          And cold beers…??

  6. Annie April 9, 2018 at 5:48 am

    Wow, what a reunion and amazing scenery captured beautifully 👏👏
    I thought it interesting that your grandparents met through an advertisement in the newspaper Lee ….. sounded very similar to our first contact 😘

    • Lee April 9, 2018 at 11:14 pm

      LOL Annie D! It does sound familiar! The reunion was such a cool occasion and I am blessed with a remarkable family. We are still recounting the stories…xxx

  7. Aynsley Beede April 9, 2018 at 5:40 am

    Great reading and enjoyable memories as CT and I enoy foot and leg massages in Phuket.

    • Lee April 9, 2018 at 11:10 pm

      Hi guys, hard to beat those Thai massages hey! Just had another night with Barry and ready to leave the SI…the weather has finally turned! Big hugs and have a few Chang’s for us xxxx

  8. Mary Dann April 9, 2018 at 5:11 am

    Dear Lee
    I have been reading some of your blogs and the Christchurch part was interesting. My son Rodney was missing in the first one for 9 hours. A very worrying time. My life has been a roller coaster and in October Noel finally passed away after a long fight with Parkinson’s. After that I have had a knee replacement and 2 back operations so I am very fed up. Hope to get home soon and to get fit and onto living a good life.
    You have certainly done a great job with your travels blogs and book writing. Well done. Are you ever planning to stop and come home?
    Love feom Mary Dann

    • Lee April 9, 2018 at 11:07 pm

      Hey Mary, lovely to hear from you. There are amazing stories about Christchurch aren’t there and I can imagine your worry for your son. Sorry to hear about Noel. Hope we can catch up on our return. We will be home at the end of next month and ready for a rest! Keep positive and big hugs xxxx

  9. Beryl April 9, 2018 at 3:54 am

    Great pics Lee.

    • Lee April 9, 2018 at 11:04 pm

      Thanks mate, hard to take a bad one! xxx

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