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Published: October 4th 2009
15th September- Colvile Farm to Whitianga
Unfortunately today we had to leave the farm and move on in our trip as there is so much to see and not enough time! We started of by stopping at the little store in Colvile (very little store) to stock up on milk, butter and bread. We then started driving off to the far north of the Coromandel Peninsula; the drive was amazing all pretty much unsealed road untouched coastline of turquoise color! We then drove back through Colville back down to Coromandel town and on towards Whitianga arriving in Whitianga we were shocked at the camp grounds asking us 45 dollars to stay the night, so stubborn as we are we moved on and started driving towards the next major town. It was getting dark and we were getting pretty hungry when we saw a small sign on the road that pointed to a turning for a campsite we turned onto the road and started to drive down after a few minutes we still had not seen the campsite or any more signs the road became and unsealed and we were just about to turn around when we saw another sign!!
We continued on to find the campsite no one was there but when we plugged the electricity it worked! We went to check the bathroom and they were spotless! So we have decided to stay there and if someone comes we will just pay for the night….
16th September- Whitianga to Tauranga
Today we woke up and had one of the best showers we have had since the start of our road trip! No one came to ask for money so we just left and had a free night! Oups =p Becoming more and more conscious of time slipping through our fingers we rushed our way forward to Tauranga.
17th September- Tauranga to Te Araroa
After a lazy morning in the natural hot baths of our motor camp (quite how they were natural is beyond us as it appeared to be just 40'c water in a swimming pool!!) we set off for East Cape which was around a 6hr journey across the north coast. On way we stopped at what the Lonely Planet describe as the 'Tackiest Tourist Attraction' in the Rotorua & Bay of Plenty region - The Kiwi360 - See pictures!
then continued our drive down to Te Araroa=)
18th September- Te Araroa to Gisborne
This morning we started by making our way to the East Cape lighthouse, the road is unsealed for about 20 km so it took us longer to get there then we thought it would! The lighthouse is on a hill, the climb is some 750 steps up. Once up there though, it is well worth the climb as you have a beautiful view of the turquoise Pacific Ocean and the sandy beaches below. We then continued our way down to Gisborne where we are staying for the night.
19th September- Gisborne to Napier
The Gisborne camp site was really nice with tennis courts in it, unfortunately we didn’t get to play as we set off bright and early to make our way down to Napier.
20th September- Napier to Wellington (beautiful snaky road through the mountains)
Today our goal was to get to Wellington. Before leaving Napier we went to the centre to see and take a picture in front of the Pania of the reef statue which is the “tackiest tourist attraction” according to the lonely planet! We then started our journey down to Wellington. We thought that the road would be pretty straightforward a long nice flat stretch, but soon discovered we had assumed too soon as the road then became a long snaky road up and through the mountains. It was one of the best drives we have done so far! The mountains were covered in yellow blossom and seemed endless!
We the drove out of the mountains and the road became normal and straight again, on our way to Wellington we went to Stonehenge, which according to the “Lonely Planet” is the tackiest tourist attraction in this area. We arrived there and then realized that it actually wasn’t a tacky attraction at all. The “Lonely Planet” also says that the Stonehenge is a replica of the one in England, but in reality there are Stonehenge’s all around the world! They were an ancient way of using the stars and sun to keep a calendar follow the seasons etc…
We arrived into Wellington, did some food shopping and then went to the campgrounds. We then called the Jucy office to get them to arrange the ferry over to the South Island!
21st September- Wellington
Today we left the van at the campground and took the bus into the city centre. We spent the day walking around windy Wellington, we looked around the shops and spent quite some time in the camera shops (got some funky filters!). We then had dinner out for the first time since we got the camper, we had two big burgers yum! We came back to the van early as we have to wake up bright and early tomorrow (6 am) to catch the ferry over to the south Island!!!
22nd September- Wellington to Kaikura
This morning we woke up at 6 am and were upset to hear rain falling on the roof of the van, walking out to the bathrooms to have a shower was not tempting! We got dressed and had breakfast and then tidied up the van and made the drive down to the ferry. We arrived at the port and found loads of campervans all lined up waiting to go on the ferry!
We got our ticket and then got in the line and waited to go on the ferry. Once in the ferry (which is huge!) we went up to the 7th floor where the café and seats were, we got coffees and walked around to look for comfortable seats, just as we found them my coffee decided to spill all over me and the floor! I was not impressed, Steve couldn’t stop laughing and I could feel my face becoming hot and red! After having cleaned up the mess that I had made, getting changed into non coffee smelling clothes and ordering a new coffee, we sat down and played cards while the big ferry made its progress to the South Island. Before arriving to the Picton on the South Island, the ferry goes through part of the Marlborough sounds, which on a clear day like it was today, is very beautiful. We went out on deck to enjoy the sunshine & view for about 40 mins until the ferry arrived in Picton and we had to go back to our little Jucy Lucy!
Woohoo we made it to the South Island! From Picton we headed down the South East coast for Kaikura (racing to get ahead of all the campers getting off the ferry and heading in the same direction). The east coast of the South Island doesn’t get much rain so the grass is not as green, but the scenery is still breathtaking! As we got closer to Kaikura, the scenery seemed to be getting more beautiful, we turned a corner and were just in shock at what we saw - On one side was the beautiful turquoise water of the Pacific Ocean and on the other were the snow capped mountains! At that moment we were both gob smacked and I think both instantly fell in love with New Zealand all over again!
Kaikura is a quiet little coastal town famous for its marine wildlife, fur seals, dolphins, whales and it is one of the best places in the world to watch the albatross birds. We plan to stay here for two nights before heading down to Christchurch.
23rd September- Kaikura
Today we woke up at 7 am had a quick breakfast and then set off down the road to the dolphin encounter office. We arrived there around 8 20 am and were sent to the back to try on our wet suits and get all the right gear. We then went on the bus which took us to the boat. We were going for about 45 mins enjoying the sea birds all following the boat with the view of the snow capped mountain peaks in the background (jaw dropping sight!) when we found the Dusky dolphins! Group 1 went in and swam with the dolphins for a while and then it was our turn to jump in with them! The initial contact with the water was a massive shock, freezing! After swimming for a few minutes, the cold felt a little more bearable and of course the playful dolphins made it amazing! We played with them, swimming in circles and following them around. There was one dolphin that kept coming back to play with me! I recognized him by a white mark he had on his side and he kept coming back to test me and see if I would play with him more. We would go in circles keeping eye contact until he would swim off and then a few minutes later he would swim back and start the game all over again! At times there were maybe 5 or 6 dolphins around either one of us, just swimming around, coming really close, just checking us out and waiting for us to initiate a game of swirl. Swimming with them in their natural habitat and knowing that nothing except our presence made them stay there was amazing, as no food or anything is used to entice them, just us swimming around and singing through our snorkel, which was pretty funny for those on the boat! They really are just adorable, friendly, playful, curious and of course just so beautiful!
Once out of the water though it was hot hose down our wet suits and then getting out of the suits and into warm clothes as soon as possible! We were given hot chocolate and cookies and then started heading back to shore. We didn’t do much else today other than making friends around the camping ground and talking about our different experiences with other travelers. Late afternoon we went to the shop to get some food for dinner, walking out of the supermarket we were welcomed by incredibly strong wind and grey clouds that seemed to have appeared out of no where! The walk back to the van was quite an adventure! We then got in our van and had some coffee and cookies while the van was softly rocking from one side to the other, scary!
24th September- Kaikura to Christchurch
This morning we woke up to terrible weather, once again it was raining, grey and very cold! We left Kaikura around 10 am and started heading down to Christchurch arriving around 2:30 pm. After stocking up on supplies we then went to the camping grounds. We parked up our van and then took the bus into the city centre to have a little walk around the city. We stopped at starbucks for a hot chocolate as it is was a lot colder than we thought it out be! After our little walk we took the bus back to the grounds to have dinner and lock ourselves up in the warmth of our little Jucy Lucy. =)
25th September- Christchurch
Today we woke up to terrible rainy and grey weather, so we decided to have a relaxed day. We took the bus into the city centre and then a short stroll to find the I-Centre to check if there was anything we could do indoors! We checked out the library as we’d heard they offered free internet, much to our delight! After uploading a few pictures & catching up with emails/Facebook etc., we headed to Starbucks for some more hot chocolate & cake. We came back to the camping grounds pretty early and had an early night.
26th September - Christchurch to Akaroa back to Chirstchurch
Today the weather was a little bit better, so we decided to get out a little bit & we drove out to Akaroa, which is a beautiful coastal town with a strong French influence as it was the first place for the French to colonize in the 18th Century. We spent the day/afternoon walking around the town and taking pictures of the pretty lighthouse and harbor. We then decided to spend one more night in Christchurch, so we drove back tomorrow we plan to head out to Lake Tekapo. (Weather permitting)
27th September - Christchurch to Lake Tekapo
Today we left gloomy, grey Christchurch and made our way into the snow capped mountains to Lake Tekapo. Lake Tekapo is famous for its exquisite turquoise color, the color comes from “rock flour” in the water which was created when a rock-bottomed glacier moved across the land grinding these fine particles. This makes the water look opaque like a turquoise paint, it’s amazing!!! We plan to spend at least two nights at this magical place. =)
28th September - Lake Tekapo
Today I mostly woke up feeling sick! I promptly threw up in out on-board toilet much to the disgust of Steve who was eating his breakfast at the time (sorry baby!)!! After becoming Sleeping Beauty for 4hrs I felt right as rain - Yippie! So the afternoon was spent hiking up to (oh my god!) the summit of Mount John which gave us panoramic views of Lake Tekapo & the McKenzie countryside. After what seemed like an age trying to get a decent photograph, we stopped in the café for a quick refreshment before making our way back to Jucy-Lucy for the evening.
29th September - Lake Tekapo to Omaru via Lake Pukaki & Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.
Last night I woke up and looked out of the window and saw an amazing night sky, we had been told that this region had beautiful skies and they were right!!!
We were up bright & early this morning to make our way to Aoraki/Mt Cook - New Zealand’s highest mountain! Plenty of photo stops en route as we drove through the early morning mist over Lake Pukaki. The mist was so thick that we could only see a metre or so into the lake, on a clear day you can see Mount Cook in the background! Lake Pukaki has the same kind of color as Lake Tekapo. We then went over to Mt Cook village where wqe got information about the different walks we could do. We did two walks which gave us beautiful views of Mt Cook and then got back in the van. We then pushed on matchsticks in our eyes down to Omaru. Pizza was on the menu for dinner! Woo!
30th September - Omaru to Dunedin
After waking a little later then usual (Steve turned off the alarm & we both fell back to sleep for a cheeky extra hour!) we set off South for Dunedin, stopping on route at the Moeraki Boulders, which are a collection of spherical boulders sitting on a nice stretch of beach & scattered about like a giant kid’s discarded marbles! Upon arriving we were informed that we may get our feet a little wet due to a tsunami warning!! With a wave thought to be around 40cm high we decided to chance it, so picked up our camera’s and made our way onto the beach. We’d only got about 10metres along the beach when a helicopter flew around the corner just above head height forcing us to stop in our tracks! It promptly landed on the beach in front of us & a police officer jumped out to tell us to get off the beach! Felt like a scene straight out of a movie! We followed orders & made our way over to the café some 20metres up the beach in the hope of witnessing a natural phenomenon. Suffice to say, no super wave hit and we were left in slight disappoint.
We made our way onto the beach to check out the huge boulders & get the customary pictures before continuing our journey South to Dunedin, where we settled for the rest of the day/night.
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