I woke early and quietly packed up my tent in the Murchison camping ground. The hills were a bit misty for Christmas morning.
It was to be a relatively diversion-free trip to Christchurch for Christmas. I left SH6 to take the road past Maruia Falls, and the mist became a whole lot thicker.
It seemed like I wasn't going to see much of the mountains. I passed Pea Soup Rd, and felt sorry for those living there if it was always this misty... However, I hadn't been driving too far before suddenly I came to a valley in full sunlight.
I found the drive up to Lewis Pass quite simple - a real doddle compared to the Takaha Hill!
Just to remind me I was really in the mountains though, the air temperature dropped, and it looked like there was some frost.
This trip has really opened my eyes to how many wide braided river valleys there are in the South Island. I lost track of exactly which river I was near- the Waiau, Hurunui, Hope- they were all beautiful. And some of the raised terraces had me wondering about past geological events in this area as well.
There was no snow at this time of year though: I only caught glimpses of that on higher, more distant peaks.
In many places there was marked erosion, though this was one of the most dramatic.
At one point I saw where rock groynes were being created, and I presumed these were to protect the road against floodwaters taking it out. (Hard to believe on such a calm, gentle, harmless kind of morning in the mountains!)
The last part of my journey was across some very dry parts of Canterbury.
And finally I arrived at my friends' place for Christmas, in the middle of the grand present-opening, where I was made very welcome. Great to share the time with long-time friends, where I had known the adult children as toddlers and babies.
My contribution to the feast was very modest- some Riwaka cherries in a bowl by a Golden Bay potter- and I think I was the greatest lover of the cherries. There was wonderful feasting all day.