It was pouring in rain and we arranged to meet our helpx hosts in the afternoon at their house near Rolleston. We had a five hour drive ahead of us from Blenheim, we stopped at Kaikoura for some lunch and headed off again, Kam was nodding off in the passenger seat. I kept noticing that the windscreen wipers were not going as fast as they usually do. Then some lights started to flash on the dashboard. I woke up Kam and said I thought there was something wrong. We carried on driving for a while but then the windscreen wipers completely stopped and soon after that Cyrill completely lost power, we managed to get him to the side of the road and then he just wouldn't start. Luckily we had joined the AA so we called them up and then waited for three hours for them to turn up. We were about an hour and a half out of Christchurch and it was dark when they came. We thought it would be like the AA at home where they try and fix your car roadside, they don't here. A man with no teeth just loaded Cyril onto a tow truck and we were ferried to a Christchurch suburb where we had to wait another hour for a mechanic to turn up. As soon as he heard what had happened to Cyril he said it was the alternator that had gone. Luckily with our AA cover we got a courtesy car so we left poor Cyril behind and finally made it to Rolleston.
We didn't really know what to expect with Helpx and we were a little apprehensive as we approached the walnut farm. Our hosts Graeme and Barbara were really nice and welcoming and gave us a lovely stew when we arrived. There were some other helpxers already there, an English couple called Adam and Alison and a german girl called Katerina. We instantly felt relaxed and everyone was really friendly. It felt really good to have a proper bed that night as Cyril was getting a bit damp in all the rain we had.
So then for the next few weeks we were harvesting walnuts. Instead of picking them up by hand they had these sticks with rollers on the bottom so you almost just swept them up, they were then taken back to the barn, washed, dried, sorted and bagged. We got to work on all the stages and it was really satisfying to see how many nuts were coming in. We got to ride the quad bike ferrying boxes of walnuts between the field and the barn. After the work was done everyday Barbara and Graeme would cook really great food and their living room was really cosy with their log fire. We played lots of card games with the other helpxers and drank so much tea. We also ate so many walnuts, so many in fact that me and Kam started to notice our skin and hair was getting really greasy from the high intake!
We got Cyril back from the mechanics with his brand new alternator. It was time to sell him though as we didn't have much time left in NZ. We advertised him on gumtree and got no response so after a week we reduced the price slightly and put some posters up around the hostels in Christchurch on our day off. We were getting a bit disheartened when early one morning we had a phonecall from a guy in Wellington who was just flying down to Christchurch and needed to get to Queenstown the same day, apparantly he was due to buy someone elses van but they let him down at the last moment. We said we would not reduce the price anymore and he still said he wanted to buy it. We met him at Christchurch airport and he had a test drive and said he was still interested and had the cash ready to buy. So Cryil was sold on the spot. We changed owners online while they buyer was still with us and then we saw him drive off into the distance. Was a bit sad :-( Barbara came and picked us up which was nice.
So we ended up spending three weeks with Barbara and Graeme, it was definitely a God thing that we went there instead of Nelson. We had so much fun and it was such a great experience to see a bit of rural NZ life. They had three hens so we had fresh eggs daily, Kam took on the job of being the daily egg collector. They also grew a fruit called feijoa which we got hooked on and will be trying to source at home! Its a green fruit with a very sharp flavour. They had so many feijoas we felt it was our duty to eat at many as possible. We also experienced our first earthquake in our time in Rolleston, since the 2010 quake there have been thousands of aftershocks. We were lying in bed one morning when the whole building jolted. It was like someone slamming a door really hard. It was a 3.2 quake with the epicenter only about 3kms away! We had another one one evening too! I don't think we would like to experience anything higher than that on the richter scale!
So we were really sad to leave Barbara and Graeme, they took us all out for a curry in our last week which was so nice. We all ate so much! I'm sure we must have gained a few pounds since we got there!!