Omaka Airfield, Blenheim New Zealand, why is this now a world centre for aviation?
This writer was first associated with the airfield as a 17 year old student pilot flying north from Christchurch on a cross country excursion. The brown hills and grass strip were much quieter in those days – early 1970’s!
A long time between drinks saw Brent, along with his ‘non aviation’ wife Elaine enjoying the Classic Fighters Airshow. New Zealand has plenty to occupy people with differing interests.
We had hired a campervan from United Rentals and after collection at Christchurch headed north on the busy Easter weekend. Most people think of Christchurch as small city, but on Easter weekend, heading north on the main road, you would have thought you were leaving London via the M4 on a bank holiday weekend! An hour later we finally reached ‘the junction’ where the crush split at roughly 50/50! We had decided to take and inland route to the coastal town of Kaikoura. The road wound its way through farmland, across rivers and over hills. We were able to drive down onto the shingle flats of the Wairau river for one of those, lunch stops with a view, something a campervan does very well!
Kaikoura (‘Food (Kai) Crayfish (Koura)’ in Maori) is a stunningly located township with a dramatic mountain-scape as its background. An ideal stop is the car park on the peninsula – just drive through town until the road stops! Here you can brew up and watch the wildlife on the rocks. There is also a short coastal walk if it is low tide. As you can see (image above left) one seal decided the warm surface of the car park was an ideal spot for a snooze! If you have more time and plan to overnight here you could indulge the world famous Whale Watch cruise. The coastal road northwards offers seascapes galore. There are other spots to stop and gaze upon sea lions. Be on the look out for surfers, who often park in tight spots as the road winds its away along. As you leave the coast heading inland towards Blenheim the whole topography changes and soon wineries surround you – sigh yet more time required! At least with a campervan one can quickly purchase a few bottles and store them on-board for later dining sessions!
NOTE update: United Campervans was taken over by Maui Rentals New Zealand. You can still hire these wonderful campervans under the Maui brand name.