To drive down the east side of South Island the main road (State Highway 1) follows to coast to Kaikoura then on to Christchurch. There is a far less travelled road, a gravel track which takes you 200km from Blenheim up into the mountains to NZ's largest working station (farm) , Molesworth station, over passes and then down to Hanmer Springs and the east coast. Our next stop is to visit Nicki and Richard (who live near Cheviot halfway down the South Island near the east coast), who sailed with us last year. So having checked the camper van insurance covered us for the remote Molesworth Road (no AA rescue or mobile coverage up there) we set off into the hills.
We passed only a few other vehicles over the 2 days on the very dusty gravel track. It is dry up in the hills on the east side. There has been little significant rainfall since October and farmers are struggling to feed their stock due to the drought. We loved the grand and remote scenery. Halfway we stopped to camp near Molesworth Station homestead at 900m. Trees in a gully gave us shade and a water hole in a stream was perfect for a dip after a dusty hot day.
The second day took us through the high plain of the station and then down the greener valleys to Hanmer Springs, a spa town with thermal baths.