If this is Omarama this must be Tuesday morning. Refilling the van’s water supply and emptying the portable toilet isn’t necessarily the ideal way to start the day, but with that small but essential task completed we started the drive back down towards the Pacific coastline. More fabulous scenery interspersed with some pretty impressive dams and massive canals – all part of the country’s irrigation and hydro-electric scheme; very obviously the works of man, but done in such a way that it actually adds to the splendour of the landscape.
According to the Rough Guide, Oamaru is noted for its well -preserved Victorian architecture – I’ll take their word for it. When all is said and done, if I want to see Victorian architecture I can visit just about any town in England; still you can’t blame the locals for wanting to capitalise on their nice buildings, and I’m sure that the slightly ‘theme park’ approach that they’ve taken to the old harbour area will appeal to some of the many visitors from Japan, China and Korea. We had a coffee and moved swiftly on – bah humbug!
The evening was spent at Campbell’s Bay; a tiny seaside community a few km south of Oamaru. Although there are plenty of well-equipped campsites available to the intrepid van-dweller, the New Zealand Department of Conservation has sensibly recognised that there are also plenty of tight-fisted Europeans who prefer not to pay for their overnight stop if they can possibly avoid it. They’ve therefore listed a whole load of sites throughout the country where self-contained vans/caravans (i.e. with their own toilet and washing facilities) can stop overnight without charge.
The site at Campbell’s Bay was virtually empty and perfect for a one night stay. We walked the length of the two mile beach and back without seeing one single item of man-made flotsam or jetsam – not so much as a single plastic bottle or discarded flip-flop. Wonderful!