Covided-out of a Fiji holiday, Blair Drysdale and family left their Northern Southland farm to glory in the scenes available closer to home.

Like a lot of other people this year our winter holiday got the chop no thanks of course to Covid-19. So, our family trip to Fiji for eight days looked a hell of a lot different to the way it should have.
Our ship now was a six-berth Maui campervan instead of an A320, which I managed to captain faultlessly for the entire journey, while Jody took the role of first officer/navigator in her stride and performed it in an extremely professional manner.
The three minors back in cattle class, however, did not have a hostess to provide any food or drinks whatsoever, let alone tend to the overhead locker that flew open effortlessly every time I banked to the left. It was self-service back there.
After picking up our campervan in Queenstown we headed for the West Coast and one of the first things I noticed was the people in campervans coming towards us waving with extreme excitement.
I took this as some form of acknowledgement to all other Kiwis that were taking the opportunity to get mobile and see New Zealand. I rightly took this on board and waved to every other campervan coming towards us for the entire trip with most people being reciprocal.
To cut a long story short our route took us up the West Coast, over the Lewis Pass and back down the middle to Queenstown enjoying nights in Haast, Greymouth, Hanmer Springs, Rangiora, Tekapo and Twizel with absolutely stunning weather for the entire journey. And by crikey we live in a beautiful country, especially the West Coast with the faultless weather we had over there.
One of my favourite spots which I drove the family down to is a wee place called Neils Beach which lies in Jacksons Bay, a hidden gem 30 minutes’ drive south of Haast. There is a cracker wee eatery down there too called the Cray Pot with the freshest seafood you will find and stunning views to match. It is well worth the drive.
One sight I really wanted the kids to see was the glaciers, Fox and Franz Josef as it was a highlight of a trip just like this that I did with my parents as a kid. But with them both having receded so much over the last 30 years and not being able to walk close to them now because of health and safety, a treat was in store for the kids.
A 20-minute helicopter flight with a landing at the top of Franz Josef for a wander around to enjoy the most stunning and pristine bit of scenery (the pilot shaking his head at the sight of Fletcher in shorts). It is the only way now to really see them in all their beauty and which the kids would now highly recommend but weren’t so keen to pay for!
On reflection now, I think we get a bit of tunnel vision sometimes when it comes to holidays thinking we need to head offshore when there is so much of our own country to see. We have seen most nooks and crannies of the South Island now and our attention will definitely turn to the North Island in the very near future as there’s a lot of that we haven’t seen, most of it in fact.
The farm doesn’t run itself that well when there’s stock to shift and feed daily during winter. This was left in the trusty hands of dad and Sincy, a bloody good mate of mine. So, of course as Murphy does, he turns up the day we left and delivered some 130-odd millimetres of rain, sleet and snow leaving not a paddock that wasn’t inundated with water and making stock management a bit more challenging.
I should add that this is the third year running this has happened causing me to carry a bit of guilt and making it slightly harder to relax, but the place was in good hands and I shouldn’t have worried as everything was hunky dory on our return.
Thankfully the water has all dried up and the stock are enjoying some frosty weather and utilising the feed very well once again, the hoggets here on grazing are bucking and skipping around the paddocks like young lambs in the spring, all of which is just around the corner.
Anyway, get out and see NZ, people, as there’s never been a better time to do it than now.