The Journey with Dad - in memory of Mum

The Journey with Dad - in memory of Mum


I invited myself on a Tour that my Sister had promised to Dad recently...And it was very good indeed.  


My sister Kiri sells New Zealand to the World. She travels the world and experiences many things, wineries, beer houses, Cultural excellence, helicopter trips, jet boating, and local tours. Good local food and great accommodation comes with her job, and in her personal time she has huge adventures in unusual destinations. The last one was riding a motorbike through the hills in India...with a group of guys.


Since Covid has happened she has spent some time on ‘pivoting’ her business. Having to look closer at some of our little towns that get forgotten on the Tourist Route. I happily showed her some of my fav places and local eateries I knew of. Dad is usually her guinea pig, to see if he can do the activities of interest to her clients. 

And we’re off...

Eight days together, in a car, on a boat, in a unit in the same room. Together we were. Like it or not, it was our chance to hear and make stories. Together. 

Family all together

I started off the trip by leaving my phone in the Cab that dropped us at Jetstar. Got it back just in time. Got a telling off too. The 1st of many forgetting things, Jack Oliver in particular would forget his walking stick, his bag, his mobility sticker and address book.

We arrived in Queenstown to visit key players in the tourist industry, then to lunch with Whanau; Dad's older brother, 87 years young, his wife, and their daughter. Was so good to sit and look into the eyes of my family. Next Te Anau to stay in the Distinction Luxmore Hotel near the Lake and with a Spa bath. Dad and I enjoyed that. 


Next morning we were going on the Lake to see the Glowworms … it was awesome. It was the 1st time I had experienced anything like that. Then we had the drive into Milford, it has been 47 years since Dad has been back… the last time he was there was the day he lost his beautiful fishing boat ‘The Weatherly’ built of Kauri in 1969. 

Jacks boat all those years ago

Built in Picton by Roger Kerry. She was built to go to the Auckland Islands, but Dad bought her. My Mum launched it. She wore a pinkish rabbit coat, says Dad… lol.

She only had 3 years on the sea, and succumbed to a fire on board...laying to rest 35 fathoms below on the reef in Poison Bay, according to Dad.  It must have been a sad time for my parents, their investment and livelihood was gone. 

The drive in bought many memories for us, as Mum used to drive us in when we were children. Now as an adult I really appreciate it all. The Mirror Lakes were so so beautiful.

Anyways we had a gorjis 4 berth bunk room on the Milford Mariner for a night. It was going to be close as we had a friend tagging along to fill the 4th bunk and he wasn't a small person either lol.. Fun n games that evening.. Ear plugs were worn by myself. I had a great sleep and won the flatulation 

Dad and Kiri in the wheelhouse

Early morning rise to see the stars disappear and the sunrise, feel the coldness of the mornings amongst the Fiords. Majestic sights and scenery. 

Dad is in the wheelhouse with the Captain, they are surrounded by others trying to hear another story that Dad has going on. My grandfather was an avid fisherman here, he could see through the fog, Little Caesar was his nickname…because he was a bit of counsellor giving advice on living, fishing and controlling oneself.. Caesar of the old world, he was wise and very well respected. 

Off the boat before 10am… The crew need to set up for the day cruise. We are heading to Bluff to catch the afternoon Ferry to Stewart island, we all have never been there before. Driving through the beautiful countryside stopping in Winton to experience our first Cheese Roll of the tour. 

We went visiting Dad's cousin who farmed on Stewart Island for many years. Then another friend who fed us cakes and biccies… only to lose them on the trip to Stewart Island. Yes I got sick on the crossing over, Dad and Kiri are staunch seamen lol.

 We arrived at The South Sea Hotel to a Quiz Night happening at the Pub, we didn't join in as we needed sustenance and down time. Blue Cod and local mussels were on the menu needless to say that is what we ordered. 


Next morning I woke up and was excited to be so far South. We popped Dad on a Tour around the Island and we got E bikes for ourselves, a brilliant way to see the Island. We loved the expedition and stopped many times to take photos of ourselves… I highly recommend the Island.

Bluff with dad

3pm we were off on the Ferry back to Bluff to pick up Dad's belongings that he had left the day before then off to Gore for the night. This time we stayed at Heartland Hotel Croydon, there was another Quiz night, so we joined this one. We didn't win and we didn't come last either, that’s a win in my book.


Dad thought he could have a chance to marry me off to a farmer who was in need of a good woman ...yeah right Dad. 


Up and away to Dunedin the next day.


We were having two nights in our hometown to catch up with friends and our God mother who still lives in Port Chalmers in the same house she has always lived in. More stories of Mum and the goings on way back in the day. Mum worked for the Post Office, she cleaned houses, she sang in the Choir, she sewed all our clothes, she was well known and respected in Port. So nice to know. 


We drove down to Aramoana gathering the banana passionfruit that held such wonderful memories for us all. The flavour and the smell that sustained us kids when we had no water or food with us when we wandered all day away from home.


Click on Kiri here to see us gathering the goods 


Careys Bay Hotel delivers the best seafood meals and the location on a sunny day is so beautiful looking down the harbour towards Aramoana. We had an impromptu lunch there with some of Dad's old friends. They arrived to keep us company thanks to a school friend who put out on the “bush telephone” that the Grennells were in town. 

While in Dunedin you have to visit Speights Brewery. We ate there and stayed at the Scenic Hotel which was next door to the Casino. Experiencing good accommodation while on Tour 


Up early...we were heading North and visiting Aunty Phyllis in Timaru, stopping along the way to get a mutton pie, a quick visit into Oamaru then onto Riverstone to show Kiri the vegetable gardens. This is one of my favourite places to stop. I wander through the gardens getting inspired by what is growing, the herbs and variety of veggies. I just love the Castle over the way. I never eat there but I am sure it is amazing. Aunty was pleased to see our faces. Dad and her have a very special relationship. I left her a banana passionfruit as she too remembers them from her childhood days in Port Chalmers too. 

Into Darfield for the next two nights, a real country town that is vibrant with destination cafes and bakeries, not too mention the biggest ice creams from the dairy at the end of the street heading West… before you turn off to Glen Tunnel. Balloons up in the sky greeted us in the soft glow of the afternoon, and again early next morning. There was a festival happening in town with all the balloons, it was sold out. So good to hear about a sell out event. 

We stayed at a American car enthusiasts Motel and he showed us around and told us his story. He was very interesting and his cars were amazing. He collected American paraphernalia. He even had a Statue of Liberty replica in his man tall as me...Totally amazing. 

Last day for Kiri as she had to fly home in the afternoon back to Gold Cost. One last big family thing was to cook lunch at Aunt Millie's house… she is 94 and a total hostess, entertainer and piano player. 

I use to stay with her on her farm in Ohoka when I was a little girl, Uncle Frank let me drive the Tractor. I loved gathering the hen eggs and going eeling with old swan eggs. Showers under the tree from the garden hose was the fun way to keep clean. 

So off we go, through the back way to Rangiora, through Oxford past Cust. I take over the kitchen, and cook up all the fish that was gifted to us in Port Chalmers from my oldest dearest friend of 53 years. We met at Kindergarten. I cooked Brill, Sole, Gurnard, Whitebait and Scampi tails.. He was sorry he didn't have any crayfish for us this time. 


As a family we sing, my cousin John Hore Grenell was there, his daughter Amiria, Dad's other cousins and even his best man from 60 years ago. 13 all up for lunch. Always a fun time and the voices and the songs bring many memories of good days gone by. 


We had to farewell Kiri off early… she was going back to Australia that afternoon. All in all it was a fantastic trip… I could easily go on tour a lot more. 

I really appreciated the time making memories. Hope you enjoyed some insight into The Tour with Dad. 

I’d love another excuse to get out around the country...where should I come visit you TCD girls?


Karen Bloor
Karen Bloor

What an amazing adventure team, love this. Highlighting areas I don’t know about but keen to visit. Thank you for sharing Much Aroha

Francine Fairhurst
Francine Fairhurst

Great read. When I heard the surname Grenell, I did wonder about the Tie in to John Hore as he used to be known as. I did a blog like this when we did Europe in 2009 . Being a Hamilton Girl it was a great way to stay connected to Family, friends and clients. Calder and Lawson Travel peeked at the blog at their staff meetings. Maybe one day a travel writer.


What an awesome tour!! Loved reading about your childhood and where you grew up. I love that part of the country and hope to explore it more. Thank you!


Just sounds like the best trip. Great to see Kiri,(NOT the forgotten sister to Kelly and I haha), yourself and Dad Jack Oliver. It was an important family tour for you all to have that time together after your mum passing away. Next time the bro will be along and that again will be special. Would love to see you Mark. x
Keep well whanau and inspired. Much love XXX

Christine Johnson
Christine Johnson

Thanks for sharing your holiday stories, i enjoyed reading this. It is lovely going back to places with childhood memories and family and friends you have not seen for too long a time.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.