New Zealand: from the beach to the foothills – Okains Bay to Geraldine

Our host in Akaroa recommended the Maori & Colonial Museum in Okains Bay so we decided to visit it before we left the Banks Peninsula. As we were down at the bay before it opened we had a walk along the empty beach.

There were a few flowers still in bloom on the path down to the beach.

Oystercatchers in New Zealand are black and there was a pair along with a Red-billed gull and some other waders that flew away before I could identify them. Most of the shells were clams and mussels but there were a few others.

We walked back through the trees. There is a large campground here right behind the beach which would be a great place to camp in summer. The museum is housed in a former cheese factory and staffed by volunteers. It has a large collection and the Maori displays were the most interesting.

As the colonial collection only dates from the second half of the 19th century, many of the items were very familiar e.g. Singer hand sewing machines. For anyone whose ancestors lived here, there is a lot of information on local families and many of the items on display have been donated by their descendents. Across the road from the museum is a shed with the two canoes currently used every year on Waitangi Day.

We then re-joined the summit road which on a clear day would have good views over the peninsula. We were back on Highway 75 at Hilltop which is 476m and then descended to Little River for coffee. As we crossed over to join the Inland Scenic Route on Highway 72, we could see mountains ahead and forests. We were soon in the foothills of Mount Hutt Range and stopped at Rakaia Gorge where there are overlooks and short walking trails.
We met a couple of guys from Yorkshire who were also travelling around before attending some of the Lions matches later on. It was now time for us to descend a little, cross the Rangitata River and find our accommodation in Geraldine.