Once away from the mountains the scenery was unremarkable, even boring. Large expanses of moraine materials with little vegetation and that was brown and dry and very few trees. We drove on through Burkes Pass, a fairly low pass by recent standards but the weather deteriorated rapidly and we were in the tclouds and rain for some time. We arrived at Fairlie, a small town at the edge of the Canterbury Plains and getting out of the camper found that is was cold, a complete contrast to yesterday. We found a little bakery and bought some lunch and just around the corner was the library for email catchup.
We cleared Fairlie and headed along highway 79 through the Opihi Valley with villages named Middle Valley, Beautiful Valley and Cattle Valley! Then up through Kaikahu Hills before dropping down into the very wide and flat Rangitata valley into Geraldine where we joined highway 72 - the so-called Inland Scenic Route. We will never know as the clouds were very low and it was still raining. The only thing of note was a 22km stretch of road, dead straight, lined with pine trees, but not overly scenic!
The Rangitata river is one of the so-called 'braid' rivers, given that categorisation as the river flows through the very wide and flat valley left by glaciation, and has several channels, sometimes they meet up and then split away again looking just like a loose braid from the air.
The road took us past Methven, but we planned to return tomorrow to take a look as this is where Jack had been based for the past two winter seasons. We finally arrived at the campsite, the Rakaia Gorge campsite; run by the Rakaia Gorge Society! Very friendly people at the site and a great location on the moraine cliffs above the river which was running fast below us. A glacier-fed river it was beautifully blue despite the low light conditions.
The river was a good place to catch salmon as it was a sort of pinch point where several rivers diverged upstream and we did see people fishing but didn't see any catches. In fact the next camper up from us were fishing people but the chap seemed to return empty-handed every time we saw him.
It had stopped raining but still with very heavy cloud cover; we were promised a great day tomorrow by the site people. Having settled in we breached the cold smoked salmon we bought yesterday and it was soooooo good, probably the best we can recall tasting but maybe the excellent Sauvignon Blanc helped!