A travel blog of Ireland, Europe, and New Zealand


A fairly low key start to the trip. We flew direct from Tauranga to Christchurch, a flight of just under two hours, picked up a rental car and drove for about two hours to our first night’s motel in Timaru. We stopped at Ashburton on the way, to have a brief catch up with Heather, an ex-colleague of Pip’s from Wintec days and enjoyed a good meal at Cleaver’s Gastropub.

The next morning we were quite stunned to see a magnificent building on the side of State Highway 1 in Timaru, quite European in design, so we stopped in for a nosey.

This turned out to be, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Roman Catholic Basilica. Completed in 1911, it incorporates a mixture of architectural styles, which are, according to Wikipedia, “elements of Roman and Byzantine architecture with touches of Art Nouveau” (!) But still quite magnificent with a lot of stained glass as well. And also a statue of St Patrick – you know it is Paddy because he is holding a shamrock.

Close-up of a glass window.

From there we stopped briefly at Caroline Bay, supposedly rated by Tripadvisor as the 4th most popular beach in NZ. Hmmm. It is certainly wide and flat but on our visit the clouds were probably more interesting than the beach. Yes, that’s Pip you can see.

We were en route to Twizel, a trip of about 2 hours, so on we went, stopping only briefly before Fairlie to have a morning coffee at a roadside rest area. Our other stop was at an alpaca farm shop where we saw some nice knitwear but most of the labels said, in very small print, Made in Bolivia.

Morning tea.

From tomorrow, we start moving around in some of the amazing scenery that the South Island is famous for. Can’t wait.

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