Loading Map...

Hello Again Jean and Mike

Written on: Thursday February 15th, 2007

A journal entry from: The Winter of 2006/2007

  • The flight to Auckland was a bit late in getting off the ground and although we picked up a bit of time in the air, there was a hold up in immigration and then of course we had to have the Department of Agriculture look at our golf stuff to make sure we weren?t bringing in any offending soils.By the time we?d got through all this we were too late to check our bags straight through for the flight to Christchurch and had a mad dash from the International Terminal to the Domestic Terminal with our bags on trolleys, getting there with just 10 minutes to spare before our flight.Needless to say the departure lounge was still filled with people ? no-one had boarded yet.This was a short flight ? 1 hour 20 minutes ? so we had very little time to enjoy the fact that we?d been put in business class.It was rather roomy though.
  • Jean and Mike were waiting for us at Christchurch so it was good to see their smiling faces and they soon had our stuff loaded into the rented station wagon and it was a short drive to the motel.They?d even got a bottle of white wine cooling for us and we sat in the room, sipping our wine and catching up on the past few weeks while they?d been exploring Oz and New Zealand and we?d been touring Oz.We drove into Christchurch for dinner at a pub called Chloe?s Bar, I knew she?d spend enough money in the bars to have her name on one some day. A quick dinner and back to the motel to watch a bit of TV before going to bed.TV what?s that?Haven?t watched much of it this year, and no golf at all!!Getting a few Freddie Couples withdrawal symptoms.
  • Mike and Jean had already taken out memberships for us at Greenacres, the golf course where we?ll play most of our games in the Nelson area.The reason they?d done this was because membership at Greenacres gave us a free game at Harewood Golf Course in Christchurch and also reduced rates at other golf courses in the area.So on our first full day in New Zealand we played our first game of golf in four weeks, didn?t do too badly really.
  • After golf we drove up to a beautiful town called Kaikoura , we got there in time to take a walk along the cliffs, then took a path down to the ocean side and walked along the beach/rocks where seals were lounging, they let us get up surprisingly close.The walk took about an hour and a half, Mike had told us it would be about a half an hour walk but we all knew he was just saying that so we wouldn?t be put off.We weren?t put off by the energy we would have to expend but by the threatening clouds and the echoes of thunder coming from the nearby mountains.However we did manage the walk without getting wet but did get some splashes when we walked to the restaurant that night, fortunately it was only a 100 metres away.
  • The next morning wasn?t looking too much better, after breakfast we sized up the situation and thought there was no point in playing golf at the course in Kaikoura as we?d planned but we may as well drive on to see if we could put the rain behind us.We got as far as the place where we?d intended to stay that night and the sky was beautifully blue, great golfing weather in Blenheim.Mike and Jean had played a course there when they were in New Zealand two years ago but friends had told them about another course in the area which they?d said was better, we decided to give that a go.The price was right - $15 with our reciprocal membership, but the course was really bad.It was hard to tell the fairway from the rough and in some spots there was just no grass at all.The greens were well grassed, probably too much as they were running really slow.Anyway we made the most of it and it really wasn?t a bad layout, just in bad condition.After the game Mike said we could either stay in Blenheim as originally planned and drive to Mapua the next day, or we could just drive to Mapua right then.We opted for the second choice and arrived in Mapua around 5:30 pm.Mapua is on the north end of the south island between Richmond and Motueka and is where we?ll stay until the end of March, I doubt that you?d find it if you looked on the map. It?s a tiny fishing town on an inlet.There?s a few restaurants/bars a harbour and a grocery store, oh yes and a coffee shop but it?s very small and quiet.There are several wineries close by and lots of vineyards and orchards growing apples ? very reminiscent of the Okanagan.
  • Mike and Jean have rented a house (Blue Chianti) here, it?s quite roomy with three bedrooms, a bathroom with separate toilet, kitchen dining area, lounge, computer nook and laundry room, so we don?t feel on top of one another at all.There?s also a small garden with a sitting area. Greenacres is about 20 minutes away by car and there?s good shopping in Richmond about half an hour away and Nelson is the big centre with lots of shopping and an airport ? that?s about 45 minutes away. Mapua has a beach but it?s a bit rocky as it?s on the inlet but Rabbit Island is a 15 minute drive away and there long sandy beaches there and the ocean?s beautiful.
  • The house sits on a large lot, so the owner?s, Sue and Bill have built another small house at the back and this is where they live when Blue Chianti is rented out.We had been introduced to Snuggles their cat and Bella the dog.Jean and Mike told us that the first night they were here they?d been sleeping when Snuggles jumped through the window into their bedroom.They?d quickly put him outside again.On our first night about 2 am, there were some funny noises coming from behind the blind which was pulled down over the window.When Roger raised the blind, Snuggles jumped down, I guess he?s the official Blue Chianti welcoming committee.
  • Membership at Greenacres is $180 per person for three months (the minimum you can take a membership for).So even before we played at Greenacres we had the price down to $170 a game and have continued to reduce the price per game since.Should be down to $5 a game by the time we leave.The course is really good, very interesting and in reasonable shape.It borders on the inlet for a few holes, so far the tide has been out each time we?ve played but we?re looking forward to seeing it with the water in as it must look really pretty.Unfortunately this will also give us some water hazards though.
  • On Sunday we met up with Don and Linda Avison who are members of Penticton, also wintering in the area and David McCurry who plays out of Fairview, his wife Aleda who plays in Penticton is on the injured list so wasn?t able to play.
  • There was a tournament on at Greenacres this week which we weren?t eligible to enter as we don?t have handicaps, however it gave us a chance to explore the area and Mike and Jean took us up to Marahu in Abel Tasman National Park, about a 35 minutes drive from here where we picked up a water taxi.As the coast at Marahu is tidal, we actually got in the boat at the water taxi office and a tractor pulled the boat down to the water and out to the furthest sandbank, then backed the boat into the water. It was the happiest time I?ve ever had on a boat as we were on it for about 10/15 minutes before it hit the water. The water taxi took us half an hour up the coast, dropped us off and we walked back along well managed trails ? it took us about four hours and was a beautiful, easy hike.There were magnificent views over the Tasman Sea and the trail was well treed, almost tropical forest. Didn?t like the taxi ride much though, I thought it would be like the taxis that go across the Burrard Inlet, nice and smooth and slow, this one was fast and bumpy, good job the walk was so good!!
  • We played golf at Motueka one day, this is the ?other? course in this area that some Snowbirds play, another two Penticton members Lou and Doug Johnstone are staying there, haven?t caught up to them yet.Reciprocal green fees at Motueka are $15.
  • On another non golfing day we took a drive to Nelson Lakes, about an hour and a quarter drive away, we checked in at the visitor?s centre to figure out which walks we were going to take and then drove down to the lake.Where we parked the view was very similar to Lake Louise.We had a walk around a peninsular which took about and hour and a half and then back to the lake, Along the trail we?d seen numerous traps which Mike told us were for mice, rats, stoats and weasels.These pests are not native to New Zealand and were introduced many years ago, with the consequence that they have been interfering with the native animal population.So they?re endeavouring to get rid of the pests to increase the natural animal and birdlife. Kiwis in particular have been affected as they are flightless birds who lay their eggs in burrows making it very easy for the stoats etc., to eat them.
  • We sat on the dock by the lake to eat lunch and there were huge eels swimming around looking for crumbs.Apparently they don?t reach maturity until 90 years old ? just a bit earlier than we do I guess. After lunch we drove up to a parking lot and embarked on another walk which started with a steep climb but then levelled out and gave us some gorgeous views of the lake, after half an hour we had a choice of going back the way we?d come or going on another trail and eventually walking back along the road.We took the second choice but immediately began to doubt our sanity as the trail went severely downhill so we realised at some point we?d have to come back up again. It was heavily treed too so we didn?t get the view we?d been expecting.When we?d finished the trail we began the long walk up to the parking lot but after about kma passenger van stopped and asked if we would like a free ride up to the parking lot ? how nice of him and we jumped at the idea.We would have had another km to walk, all uphill.
  • Weather has steadily improved since we got here and we?re promised that it doesn?t get too hot, so it looks like a very pleasant relaxing time in New Zealand.