After Fleurs, I drove north to Omaru, Timaru and then inland to visit an old school friend of Jasper's (Geoff). Stan was as happy to see me as I was to see him. We started talking and it never stopped till we went to bed. Stan was a surveyor and knows boundaries and edges well. Also a Quaker and renovating the cottage he is living in for his daughter who lives in Washington DC. The cottage has lots of light streaming in, a very low ceiling in one spot, but a very long bath.
Watched Rowan Atkinson make a fool of himself and then called Scotland. Geofsper was also happy to hear from us, under the threat of evacuation due to mudslides, he expressed some concern for his health. I hope to visit, Stan wants HIM to come visit New Zealand.
In the morning conversation continues as we walk the dog around the reserve and Golf Course. I suggest a road trip to Lake Pukaki to view Mt Cook. Stan is up for it so off we go. We sit by Lake Tekapo eating takeaway lunch beside a stone church regarding tourists form all over visiting the site. The water is a remarkable blue, silty from glacier. More birds flapping feathers at the side of the road.
The view of Mt Cook was worth the drive. Stan hasn't seen it years, it is so often shrouded in cloud. We both take more pictures than necessary, then cruise along beside the canal. We drive up to the Mt John Observatory. The wind is howling, the view magnificent and Stan buys me a Chai while he talks up the star expert from the university. I write a postcard, and wonder if I will arrive first. Unlikely I have three more weeks.
Knowing now a little about me Stan takes the map and we drive through Beautiful Valley, past hanging Rock Bridge arriving at some overhanging limestone rock formations and Maori Rock Painting. They are well protected with a substantial fence. Eroded and faint they are, nevertheless there to be seen.
Another great dinner and we go for a dog walk up through the pines to the cemetery. Later we explore some word meanings and I deal with my dead bird, discovering the difference between Boric acid and borax. Another late night of deep conversation and when morning comes I am antsy to move on.
Raining hard, I cannot wait to get off the main highway away from the transports and the speed pressure. I take a road to the left inland to head up toward Rakaia Gorge and see another, Waihi Gorge! I follow the camper ahead of me to a very attractive spot, take a few pictures and continue on my way to Geraldine where I find another sweet bell, some chocolate and a place to mail my postcard.
Continuing on from there I eventually arrive at the major crossing of the Waikariri River Rakaia Gorge, Stan had recommended this road as being more interesting, with less traffic. I pull off to take some pictures and a huge tractor arrives to cross the bridge.
Then straight on to Christchurch. I ask some fellows in the car next to me at a light "where's the nearest library?" not far at all. However their wi fi is down and within minutes the power fails on the computers. They send me to another library with good parking. It is clear across town, I find it and get some writing done. No one answers my calls or emails so I look at the map and locate a likely spot. I manage to get there before they lock the gate (as do some folks in a pickup or UT as they call them here, who as they drive by fire off a gun...) Other than that, a quiet night by the river.