Alastair's Blog

Australia & New Zealand trip Dec 2019/Jan 2020

- Thursday, February 13, 2020

We set off to Brisbane and 47 C for a few days in mid-December, and then drove down to Sydney to the fires 🔥 and smoke for Christmas with my two daughters and five grandchildren for the first time. While we were there we rented a house 🏠 in Manly for us all.

We made it to Sydney via Brisbane in our lovely truck and moved into our very nice house with the Stebbings family. It was great to see old friends Jeff and Glenda, (truck owners) and we had lunch with Margaret Ealand on the way South. We met up with Mary and Johnathon Lee, an old rallying mate as well. There was an awful lot of burnt bush and fried roads and signs. Eventually we got to cool, overcast, smoky Manly. Had a big family lunch in the Nelmes restaurant, the Cooks Garden in Turramurra, which was lovely, plus swimming in the ocean pool, great stuff!

We arrived in NZ on the Saturday and were picked up by my nephew Colin and found the shed and cars all in good order. The next day we all celebrated Mother's 102nd birthday at her nursing home. She was looking well, recognised me and was alert and chatty, but very confused. We all went out to lunch afterwards and then spent the night in Hamilton with Pete and Annie. The next day we saw James Caldwell and family who went to see Nana as they call her, they were on their way to Auckland for Jenny, Finn and Jessica to do a showbiz trip to the USA. Saw Mother again, who was still alert and then went back to Devonport. We were setting off on a trip round NZ the next day, passing through Christchurch, where I gave a talk to a paying audience for charity on my F1 career.

When we went to see Mother in Hamilton we stayed at the Huka Lodge one night. It's a beautiful place on the river at Taupo, lovely set dinner with Peter and Annie in the Lodge. Walked to see the magnificent falls as well. We stayed in Havelock North at Porters hotel and ate at Pipi’s Cafe. Lovely part of the world, it was where I lived before going to the UK in 1967 to join McLaren Racing.  

We had a busy few days after that, going to Wellington from Taupo, staying the night, and seeing old friends Peter and Lesley Maxwell. We caught the ferry to Picton, it was super windy but that's par for the course in The Cook Strait.

The racing career talk went very well and raised more than $10,000. It was a relief that anyone came, as it was 100 degrees!

After that we drove south from Christchurch via the famous Fairlie pie shop, heading to Mt Cook and found a plane sightseeing trip. As the weather was perfect, it was a fantastic flight, we we saw Mt Cook close up, with the famous glaciers and the west coast!!!

Our pilot recommended a lovely lodge for us, it had a great situation looking up lake Pukaki to the Alps and Mount Cook, beautiful place and view. Another lovely location where we stopped was at this lavender farm, lavender ice cream and lots of lavender products, once again a lovely place.

We went up to Mount Cook village and walked up to see the Tasman glacier. It was a bit disappointing as it was black and unimpressive but the walk up and down was good. Our next stop was Wanaka, once again a lovely place. Weather, people, scenery all great. 

Me, in full flow!

Pipi's cafe at Havelock North

On the ferry

The flyer for the talk I gave.

Lavendar farm, with lots of lovely lavendar products - got the chance to ride this tractor!

We also enjoyed lavendar ice cream!

It was a beautiful day for a sightseeing flight.

Lake Pukaki and Mount Cook.

A perfect place for some refreshments

The lovely lodge recommended by our pilot.

The it got busy, we went to Queenstown and did lots of tourist things, we went up in a parachute towed by a boat on the lake, we went across the lake in the lovely old steam ship the Earnslaw for dinner on a farm and back. And we flew to Milford Sound by fixed wing, then on to a boat cruise up the Sound and back. Following that there was a helicopter flight to Glenorchy with a stop on a mountain top on the way, a jet boat trip up the Dart river and back to Queenstown for a famous Ferg burger. Went to see my friend Anthony race his Porsche at Cromwell, he did well, two 3D places. After that we headed north through Arrowtown, through the Haas pass and up the beautiful West Coast, and walked to see the Frank Joseph Glacier.

More lavender

Trying to film lots of dolphins patrolling the cove

More pics from our adventures.

An awful lot of eels here!

We did so many marvellous things and saw old friends, but the overriding thing is that NZ is just great We went from one end to the other and it and the people are lovely.

After a lovely few weeks we were finally at the airport about to board for Singapore then on to London in the cold, but not for long. For the next trip I'll be off to Delhi next Saturday for a month long rally. 

Picture of me preparing for the flight with a Coronavirus "injection"!

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