Driving Christchurch to Dunedin

A personal journey - 2009


Picnic at Tinwald

My wife and I left Christchurch around 9.30am in a tolerant unhurried mood negotiating the city traffic. Departing from the city north, we drove out toward the airport onto the city circuit. Approaching Hornby the traffic became slower so we turned down Waterloo Rd to avoid the congested Hornby junction.

This took us to Templeton where state highway one traffic was thick and fast. There was also a queue to turn right to head south, so a quick left turn and a right into the next street where we turned had us heading south leaving the queued cars we had just bypassed still waiting.

Aside from the heavy traffic, the dive south over the plains was uneventful, even boring, but after a loo stop in Ashburton (on the city main street) and joining some friends picnicking at Tinwald), we rejoined the continuous line of traffic which thinned out a little after Tinwald.

Traffic flow was not to bad but slowed by the many lorries restricted to 90kph. Thankfully the reasonably well spaced passing lane sections helped prevent the frustration that can develop when stuck in the queue for ages.

We struck a few red lights in on the highway that bypases the main street of Timaru but continued on to the now gently rolling hills of South Canterbury where the traffic thinned appreciably and a feeling of relief to be off the flat straights and into gentle curves.

Approaching Oamaru, the condition of the highway becomes a little more lumpy where the road has sunk and been repeatedly patched, and the pleasantness of the day helped tolerance when sitting behind a lorry for the last 20 kms where the road once more becomes a little monotonous.

In the old warehouses now restored and converted to arts and craft stores, we had a nice sandwich, coffee and cake that cost $21.00 each made me think back to when I got my first full time job where I was paid $12.00 per week and felt rich..


Oamaru main street

A stroll around the shops and in particular I have added the excellent 2nd hand book store to my list of places to revisit. Continuing our stroll down to the waterfront to nhelp the cake settle, I realised that Oamaru could be a nice place to spend a few days.

Continuing south, the hills and curves become even more enjoyable and it takes some discipline to hold the car in check, like any good thoroughbred, it has a tendancy to want to test its limits... South of Oamaru, there are few passing lanes but the traffic is generally lighter.

The highway comes close to the coast at Moeraki where there are some peculiar round boulders, (Moeraki Boulders) so we pulled in to take another look. I had been here several times and turned in crossing thce rail track and left agian to point the car north and follow around to the tea rooms and souvineer store, purpose built to cater for visitors to the site. They provide a well made footpath to the beach and a 10 meter walk takes one to the boulders.

The tide was in so we decided not to go down but also the $2.00 per person fee for using the foot path was off putting.. Instead we went back to the highway junction and turned left down to the free public car park and walkway to the boulders and took this snap.


Gulls at Shag Point

Just a little down the highway, the road hugged the coast for a few kms and a detour to Shag Point made a pleasant diversion to have a cup of tea and to see hundreds of nesting gulls and terns. There is a walkway here and sometimes penguins and seals can be seen. The birds seem rather unperturbed by our presence and made good subjects to film.

Continuing, the road into Palmerston is is very good order and discipline is required to keep off the gas, but we stopped in for gas - which cost 5 cents a liter more than Christchurch. This small town serves the local farming community and a large gold mining operation.

From here the hills become more substantial with the last two hills, the Kilmog known for its steepness on the southern end and the unexpected hollows in the road surface. A few minutes more takes us along the shore of Blueskin Bay to Watati before ascending the northern motorway which is relatively steep and winding, traversing part of the Silverpeaks range of hills this is a ridge that runs off Mt Cargil.

The fields were resplendent in yellow as the gorse was in full flower (early October) and note the motorway is occasionally closed by snow in winter and can be closed anytime of year due to strong winds.

We coasted down into Dunedin at 5.00pm.

Another description of this drive.


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