We’re now in Akaroa, a small town on the Banks Peninsula, a two hour drive from Christchurch. It’s a weird place, because it’s a ‘french’ town – there are French flags flying from the church and town hall, and a very French feel to the town. I guess that a while ago it became the place to live if you were a French immigrant to New Zealand. We’re here because of a lovely farm hostel that we stayed at last time we travelled, which we’ve now come back to. It’s called Onuku Farm Hostel, and its set on 1,000 acres of grazing hillside, and we’ve got the company of 2,000 sheep. It’s pretty basic (imagine the words ‘farm’ and ‘hostel’ and you’ve got a good idea of what it is like), but the girls love it. Everybody is very friendly, and the girls have spent the day playing volleyball, feeding the pigs, and repainting the stones that mark out the campsites. We even got to go into town without them, so as well as picking up the bread and milk, we lounged on the shoreline reading a paper (aah, a few moments of adult behaviour in a children-dominated year).
Mind you, it is pretty basic – the cottage, which was once the farmhouse, has four bedrooms with 16 beds, one toilet and two small kitchens. So as a result things have been built outside – like the two showers in corrugated irons shacks, and the toilet up the hill in another shed. Oh, and the kitchen, built into a lean-to on the decking. But it all works – it’s charming rather than basic, and the kind of people attracted to stay at the hostel make it a very special place to stay. There are a couple of children staying here, who are from New Zealand families, so the girls have somebody else to play with, and many of the guests delight in teaching the children to paint, play volleyball or make necklaces.