A Travellerspoint blog

# Never been this far away from home#

Auckland to Queenstown via everywhere in-between Day 175 - 194

rain 10 °C

Number of degrees below freezing at night in our camper = 5
Number of nights spent camping in NZ = 16
Number of other people camping in NZ at this time of year = 0
Number of cm snow in ski resort NZ = 0

We started our New Zealand tour in Auckland. Found a great hostel and we didn't exactly exert ourselves on arrival, we just took the opportunity to recharge our batteries. We took the ferry over to Devonport and strolled around some extinct volcanoes and enjoyed yet another coastal walk. A well established feature of this trip, we are map geeks at heart and like walking around the edge of countries. We soon learned how fast the weather can change over here and rain nearly put a stop to out tomato soup lunch break, just as Richard had a genius flask design idea, can't tell about that yet. Pauline found the perfect rain shelter in the form of a kid's puzzle shop. We nearly missed the ferry back!

From Auckland then we headed south in our oh so cool camper van. The Toyota 'Bongo' as it was named was far from luxurious but gave us licence to roam the beautiful countryside and stop wherever we liked. We paddled in thermal (eggy) pools and marveled and giggled at bubbling mud geezers in Rotorua, found amazing waterfalls and chatted to really friendly locals. Most of whom seemed to have visited the North East of England at least once and one who'd even played a bit of Rugby professionally in Newcastle. We have been bowled over by the Kiwi hospitality, not to mention the 'sweet iz' accent too. Most of all we just enjoyed driving on at our own pace, which in the bongo was usually about 50kph, if we were lucky, there are a lot of hills here!

To keep costs down, The Department of Conservation have been kind enough to provide us with basic but very very picturesque campsites. I say 'us' because we are yet to share a site with anyone else crazy enough to be sleeping in a camper/people carrier in winter! Honestly though, you couldn't ask for more beautiful surroundings. Although the picture perfect sunrises over mountains in remote spots still aren't enough to get Pauline out of bed before one hundred 'snoozes'. Richard is permanently on brekkie duty. We carried on down SH1, unfortunately it stands for State Highway and not Super highway like Pauline thought. Super would be a better word for it. We toured the national parks there stopping in both Kaimanawa and Tongariro. I'd like to say that those nights spent at one with nature have developed my adventurous side but to be honest I was mostly petrified after dark. Sheep look so innocent in daylight, but menacing in the moonlight!

We crossed the Cook Straight on a beautifully clear day and as we were slightly tied to getting the Bongo back to Christchurch on time wasted no time heading south. We did however find the time for a spot of wine tasting in the Marlborough Region, be rude not to. The campsites got even better and we enjoyed views of Cloudy Bay and the stunning East Coast from our beach front camp. This time we had company from real people as well as a nosy hedgehog. We spent the last day or so driving the 'Top Gear' esq coastal roads in Kaikoura and then arrived in Christchurch.

We weren't prepared for the extent of the damage there, it felt very strange. The whole of the CBD is still entirely inaccessible and the destruction caused to buildings and roads is all too visible. There is a very real sense of the loss and it seems it will be a very long time before the city and its inhabitants are ok. After a very small aftershock during our second night there, we didn't hang around.

Camper van number 2! We took our time heading South West across the South Island, following the old Gold trail. Didn't find any unfortunately! Highlights included spotting Yellow eyed penguins in Oamaru, cycling a section of the Otago Central Rail Trail around Omakau and stopping to meet the locals in the many tiny towns. Mostly drunk farmers.


Now we are in Queenstown, tearing up the runs? I hear you ask, Nope. More snow in The Sahara we think. Disappointing but it's hard to be mad at such an amazingly beautiful part of the world. Crystal clear lakes and Mountains galore, and there are benefits to unseasonably fair weather. We have tramped (hiked in Kiwi lingo) the Routeburn Track and walked along the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Although we still have 10 days left, it's possible our New Zealand adventure reached it's peak today with a trip to Milford Sound. Wrong time of year for the full on 5-day trek so had to settle for a pretty long day trip. So much information en-route from 'Wayno' our guide. Right through the dramatic mountains and waterfalls to the famous sound. Breathtaking scenery to be seen on the boat-trip but the photo ops were almost forgotten when a pod of dolphins took the opportunity to play around in the slip stream of the catamaran for well over 30mins in the freezing rain. They must have thought we were all crazy for watching for so long but it was hard to turn away, especially since they had their youngest member in tow. Definitely one of the best days yet!

More pics soon... we forgot to bring the hard drive!

Posted by Po Gallon 02:05 Archived in New Zealand

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Fantastic update - love the dolphins - just wondering if I could borrow Richard's new backpack to get the booze in for Laura this weekend!!!

by Ma baker

.....and oh my god I can't believe it .....Laura has not made a lyric comment yet!!!xx

by Ma baker

Hi guys,got a little dizzy watching you abseil,looks fun but not for me!Richards full set looks scary.NZ looks stunning..continue to enjoy,love you lots Dad andVal xxAdd your comments here!

by bob and val

Sounds like you're having a dolphin to a time! hehe - crap joke i know!

NZ sounds great thought - you should think about becoming travel writers.

Enjoy the rest of NZ and keep up with the updates x

by Paula and Shaun

Amazing! Very jealous! Great update.

by Andrew

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