© NZPocketGuide.com
© NZPocketGuide.com

A Classic Kiwi Weekend in the Ashburton Domain

© NZPocketGuide.com

207 Days on the Road

Our time in Geraldine, along with its adventures in white water rafting, horse trekking, hiking and getting a brand new dent in our campervan, has come to an end. We play one last round of swingball in the Rawhiti Backpackers‘ garden before hitting the road to our next destination, Methven!

Road trip struggles

But we’ll be honest… We have been struggling to find something to do between Geraldine and Methven. It’s probably the first time we have hit this wall in New Zealand. Often enough, there is always a fantastic hike to fall back on. But for our activity of day 207 on the road, we’re going to have to think outside the box.

After thinking so far outside of the box we can’t even see the box, we decide to take “the scenic route” i.e. the long way to Methven via Ashburton. Not only is Ashburton a bustling town due to so many people moving over there since the Christchurch earthquakes, but it also has the huge park of the Ashburton Domain. Let’s go check it out!

The road to Ashburton

We hit State Highway 1 towards Ashburton, passing fields and fields of huge irrigation machines that slowly move around the field on wheels. As we drive through Ashburton, we realise it would be more appropriate to call this a city rather than a town. It’s huge! With all great cities in New Zealand, we take advantage of The Warehouse so Robin can get some cheap replacement jandals after losing his in an ordeal yesterday.

Ashburton Domain

Parking up in the conveniently wide streets of Ashburton, we are met with a huge sign for the Ashburton Domain. Another sign points to various sports fields, gardens, walks… How big is this place?! Instead of taking any notice of the sign, we decide to walk and see where it takes us. Walking past a basketball court and another large field lined with huge fir trees, we arrive beside a calm river. The riverside is scattered with fallen pine cones and has areas sheltered by willows. Ducks and their ducklings provide entertainment as we make our way alongside the river until we can cross.

Picnic in the park

Blooming white, pink, yellow and red flowers line the walkways to the next set of ponds. We’ve never seen so many ducks in one pond! Weirdly enough, they don’t seem to be interested in our food when we sit down for a picnic. Ah, picnic in the park: how classic!

As we stay still for a while, we notice heaps of tiny birds waiting for people to walk past, probably to upturn the stones on the pathway, then gathering together to peck whatever has been revealed on the path.

Hitting a flowerbed crossroads

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The complexity of a city park

The Ashburton Domain is reminiscent of the Auckland Domain, a place where we spent a whole lot of time preparing for this trip back when we used to live in Auckland. There is something different happening in each section of the park: a wedding with some live music playing, a cricket match, a game of croquet… As we keep walking around, we discover a cool little bushwalk that splits off from the main trail. In true backpacker style, we are getting off the beaten track!

Finding out how unfit we are

The walk takes us between two streams and is nestled in trees. The trail is also part of some sort of fitness trail. There is apparatus to do pull ups. You’re meant to be able to do 10 pull-ups… Laura can only do two and Robin six… Ok, we’re travel writers, not athletes! Don’t judge us!

Tree and duck pond trail

We walk away from the apparatus slightly ashamed, to arrive at some stepping stones to cross the stream and arrive back on the main trail – a trail now following huge exotic trees back to the duck ponds.

Delightfully quaint footbridges cross the pond with the view of a water feature and, well, more ducks… We do our best to not crash any cricket games on the way back to the campervan. Next stop, Methven!

The straightest road in New Zealand?

Despite us often complaining about hauling our massive campervan around the relentless winding roads of New Zealand, we find ourselves missing them after 30-minutes driving down the straight-as-hell Methven Highway. It’s one of those roads where you feel like you’re never going to see the end of it!

Welcome to Methven!

Alas, we do see the end, our final destination: Methven. Now, if you know anything about Methven, you’ll know that this is a ski resort town… Except, we are here in summer… What? Why?! Well, even in summer, Methven has a whole lot of awesome hikes, mountain biking, high country experiences, the lure of the brilliantly blue Rakaia Gorge, and more! We can’t wait to start exploring. The small town itself has some cool-looking bars, cafes and a quaint cinema that we might just take advantage of if we get some down time.

We check-in at the Mt Hutt Bunkhouse, with our hosts, Wendy and Ian, giving us heaps of ideas of what we could be doing here, complete with maps of the town and the greater area! Looks like we’re going to be busy!

Join us tomorrow where we are going to check out the hikes of the Awa Awa Rata Reserve and end the day with a movie at New Zealand’s smallest cinema. See you then!

Cocooned in Ashburton Domain

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