We woke with joy in our hearts as the skies were clear and sunny. The convoy formed up on SH1. In a carpark that Haigh had found there was a covered, elevated deck that was a great stage to use for the anthems. It was a powerful moment.
We headed off through town into the sunny Wairau Valley. Vineyards for Africa. If its not in grapes it soon will be!
The convoy hummed along the flat valley floor for ages. Then we pulled into a Dept. of Conservation (DOC) reserve carpark for a coffee-less pit stop. Still the sun shone. Our new Austin Champ team had earlier done a pit stop of their own at a lone coffee cart.
As we continued up into the hills, the sun lost its early enthusiasm and bugged out. We pushed on without it and entered the sleepy metropolis of St Arnaud’s. The convoy pulled up lakefront. It really was stunning. The short jetty attracted people, ducks and about 100 eels. Lunch right there if you like eel, but fishing is illegal.
The team gathered in a DOC shelter where foreign tourists were trying to have a quiet meal. Then the rain descended around us. The overnight stop was a basic DOC campground but in the face of dirty weather there was a mass exodus to the Alpine Lodge which became the new HQ.
Many visited the boating museum before settling down for the evening. We gathered at the excellent community hall for a catered dinner sponsored by Mike and Judy Edridge. It was good socialising and the local ladies had catered the dinner to raise funds for Hospice. Tom Grace passed the hat around and raised another $400+
We retreated to the lodge and many came to watch outdoors our movie for the night, “Patton”. We rigged the screen on the side of Bedford. Unfortunately, as the temperature dropped so did the enthusiasm. We would have to reconvene another night for the end of the movie. In the meantime, a Herc flying low in the night was pretty cool.