Mr Cake and I took a bit of a mid winter break to visit Sister Cake and her family in Dunedin, and chose to fly into Christchurch and drive down so we could visit some of the foodie delights en route. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view!) there was a fair bit of fluffy white stuff on the ground when we woke up yesterday morning in Christchurch - with the optimistic aim to drive south in the afternoon.
We're stubborn, so after borrowing chains for our rental car (an unassuming Hyundai Getz, very much in the around-town category) and having a bit of a play with snowboards on the lawn we set off, in the hope that allowing extra time would enable us to get there before dark, despite the motorway between Oamaru and Dunedin being closed.
It's the most snow I've seen in Christchurch since 1992, when I was 9 and was mostly upset about having left my library books at school and not being able to retrieve them before the holidays, since school was cancelled on the last day of term (not completely true; I was initially worried about that, but stopped caring once I realised that the snow was actually more fun than reading). The roads out of town were pretty treacherous, and it was very slow going to Templeton, where we stopped to visit the Cookie Time Factory.
Cookie Time used to do factory tours, which most Cantabrians who are around my age will probably remember going on at some stage of their childhood. There was a yellow brick road which led through the factory, with big windows in front of the various pieces of equipment, so you could see the cookies being made, as well as the chocolate covered marshmallow fish and frogs Candy Time made at the same factory - riveting stuff! More riveting, though, were the free samples - there were boxes around the factory full of seconds which you could help yourself to as you wandered about. The power of free sugary food is so great that it's the only part of the tour Mr Cake remembers! Sadly the last tour was in 1996 so these days kids have to get their parents to buy the treats directly, instead of pretending the tour will be educational when it's all about the samples. ;-)
When I was a kid and we went on holiday, any south-bound travel always commenced with a stop at the factory - these holiday stops were more about stocking up on bags of broken cookies for the road, which is what we did on Monday. We were welcomed in (there wasn't too much traffic on the road, given the conditions) and as well as the cookies and bumper bars the factory shop also now offers hot drinks - great for drivers who need to concentrate extra hard on the conditions (and indeed for warming the belly in exceptionally cold weather).
The shop isn't huge but you can get a 1kg bag of cookies for $8 so if you need some high-energy snack food or have a cookie monster in your family it's worth a visit. I managed to restrain myself to a pack of bumper bars and a bag of cookies, which will last for quite some time! Mr Cake also had a coffee, which did help him keep his eyes on the road. The driving got a lot easier soon after Templeton, though - in fact, not long after we passed through Dunsandel this was the view in front of us:
Worlds away from Christchurch! We knew the snow was still falling in Dunedin and though we didn't really see any further signs of snow until Oamaru we knew the motorway still wasn't open.
This meant our relief was very great when, after a day of passing very little traffic coming the other way, and very shortly before we reached the questionable section of road, a long line of cars appeared. Sure enough, the road had been opened - in fact, the Kilmog wasn't anywhere near as bad as the road at the Christchurch end. We did see a large number of abandoned cars by the roadside, as reminders to drive carefully, and reached our destination in good time - early enough to have a birthday dinner with Sister Cake.
Did you get snow? Did it play havoc with your schedule? And who else remembers the Cookie Time factory tours?