Today is a bit of a rest day to explore the rest of the city and environs at our leisure. Hmm, what to do first? Doug knows I have a love of aircraft and particularly all things connected with military aviation, so he reckons the RNZAF museum is a bit of orright and that I might enjoy their offerings.
On the way we stop for breakfast, as you do, and again partake of bacon goodness (French toast, banana, maple syrup & bacon). A man could get used to this, my doctor may disagree but he aint here....
After negotiating city traffic we eventually arrive at the museum, Doug reckoned he was having trouble finding the turnoff, I suggested the big aeroplane on a stick by the road was a bit of a giveaway....(he didn't see it, too busy negotiating traffic). This is a museum located on an old airforce base to commemorate the history of the RNZ Airforce, holding exhibits from WW1 to the jet age. Free admission too.
They are big on participation in this museum, there are lots of displays where you can not only touch the exhibits but actually sit in and interract with them. There are plenty of volunteer guides to assist with unobtrusive narrative or answere queries, nice.
Climbed into a Vampire cockpit, I doubt I'd be able to get the canopy closed, very squeezy, funnily enough though the controls fell to hand quite naturally with throttle, stick, rudders, instruments all where any pilot would expect them to be.
Wandering around the exhibits there were two aircraft types I'd actually piloted in the day, a Victa Airtourer (aerobatics were great fun in that) and an Auster J5 (hand swing the prop to start, stick & rudder flying at its most basic). Feels a bit odd seeing these as displays.
A bit of a surprise is a Mosquito bomber simulator set up. Ooh I just gotta have a crack at this. Pay my $5 and slide into the left seat, the mission is to attack German warships in fjords with rockets, cool. My score was two destroyed and I crashed into the sea twice, about evens, though I did manage a couple of passable victory rolls after each "kill". There was a German tourist standing behind me of about the same vintage as myself, shouting encouragement, "left, left, down, shoot now, ja good shooting". He'd been flying the sim before me (no kills,a couple of crashes), and was certainly wrapt up in the whole thing. I felt all tingly afterwards, what a cracking buzz that was.
Afterwards as I donned my Japanese helmet and swung my leg over the German motorcycle, it occurred to me that things have moved on a bit since WW2, we are all friends now.
Doug suggested that we could head off to a little village on the coast called Akaroa, a small French settlement that served a nice lunch, okey dokey let's go.
The road is initially through open farmland, nice sweeping bends, a good pace that is relaxing but covers the kilometers. The road starts to narrow into a "B" road and climb upwards, ever upwards, the sweepers turn into hairpins and I start scraping boots and pegs on the surface. Nothing scary just a hoot to tip the bike into the corners and power out the other side to set up for the next one. There is a photo attached showing the curves disappearing into the hills, this sort of captures what puts a silly grin on a motorcyclists' face.
Doug has a couple of moments as the rear wheel steps out on some corners, once again the road maintenance crews have been here and there are odd patches of gravel right on your cornering line. I had a look at some of this stuff up close whilst we stopped for photos, very fine about the size (and roughly the shape) of BB shot. No wonder it is treacherous.
What happens when the road stops going uphill, why it starts going downhill as it winds it's way down into the village, heaps of fun.
Rolling into Akaroa the place is jam-packed with people, there are two big cruise ships anchored in the harbour and their passengers are all over the place. Nice little village that would bear further leisurely exploration (some quality hotel accommodation here too, would make for a great quiet break away), but due to the crowds we find a little cafe on the beach for a refreshment and snack. Tossing chips at the loony seagulls.
Suitably refreshed we head off to do it all over again on the way back to Christchurch, tough gig. Our route takes us through Lyttleon, a port suburb that was particularly hard hit during the 2011 earthquake. The damage is still evident but they are getting on with reconstruction, lots of roadworks, scaffolding and detours/diversions.
Back at the motel by late afternoon, time for a beer & a feed before turning in in preparation for tomorrow's run over Arthurs Pass to Franz Joseph Glacier as we continue our Southward journey.
The SPOT Tracker seems to be working OK now, just taking a while to update. For some reason I can't fathom it is not reporting our track until the next day, instead of "live", no idea.
Thanks too to those that have contacted my about the blog, glad you are enjoying the yarn.