Week 3 - Napier, Wellington, Kaikoura, Blenheim & Greymouth


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June 17th 2010
Published: June 17th 2010
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Lake Rotoiti
Our third week in New Zealand started with an early start, leaving Taupo we were heading across the country, east to Napier. The drive took a good few hours and we arrived in time for brunch. The Napier of today is the silver lining of the dark cloud that was New Zealand's worst natural disater, the town was rebuilt after a deadly earthquake hit it in 1931, which caused huge city altering fires. We strolled around the town looking at the Art Deco style buildings which are visited by architects from all over the world, wondered through the centinial gardens and took some photo's on the beach. After popping into the information centre we decided to visit the old Napier Prison, which swayed us with the slogan "better than alcatraz.'' A slighty misleading slogan but the prison was an interesting visit all the same; learning about the notorious prison warden aptly name Jack ''The Bastard'' Adams and some of the prisoners who had served time there and also those who got executed there! From here we visited the local McDonald's, not any McDonald's I might add as this particular one was called a McDeco Donalds keeping in with the theme of
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The closest we came to a whale in Kaikoura!
the town! After a quick drink and ice cream (the cheapest things we could purchase in there!) we hit the road again and headed down south to a suburb of Wellington called Lower Hutt.

The following morning we drove a short distance from our overnight stop into the centre of Lower Hutt to take BIG FAT SUE to be mended. First we took her to a local RV man, who thought he'd be able to sort out most of our issues and if he couldn't he would drop SUE round the corner to the local Ford dealership. So leaving SUE in safe hands we ventured into shopping district of Lower Hutt to pass the time, a coffee in Starbucks followed by a wonder round the shopping centre and we recieved a phone call saying most of the bits had been done and SUE was having her de-mister looked at round at the Ford dealership. We went to collect Sue from Ford (... as we were missing her dearly!) but unfortunatley they didn't have the part to fix poor old SUE, even more unlucky for us was that it was a bank holiday weekend and they wouldn't be able to
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Cerri ''The Cannibal'' Dando
get the part until four days time! After a serious caravan club meeting, we all came to the agreement that we didn't want to waste 4 days waiting for the part but we would get it fixed further down the road. The Dealership ordered the part to arive at Blenheim in the South Island later that week for us.

As we wasted the previous the day, we thought we'd make up for it by spending the next couple of days in New Zealand's Capital, Wellington. A short drive from Lower Hutt and we'd arrived, first on the Itinerary was the Te Papa Museum. We spent the next few hours in the museum, wandering around the exhibits with the highlights being a 4.6 metre giant squid, which looked more like an alien from the blockbuster film 'Independence Day!' , an earthquake simulator based around the Napier disaster and a huge interactive wall where you could upload you're photo's and videos to play around with wii remote styled contraptions, alongside exhibits based around how NZ's many Volcanoes and landscapes were formed. At the risk of sounding like geeks, we have to say that the Te Papa Museum has got to be
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Winner of the 2010 ''Best Seal'' Picture
one of the most enjoyable and interactive Museum's we've been to, there you go i've said it! Moving on from the Museum we got the famous cable car upto the Botanical Gardens to see the views of the city from above, we then strolled through the gardens back down to where BIG FAT SUE had been patiently waiting for us. Now you might think parking a 7 metre campervan in the middle of the city for the night might be a tricky task, but not for us! We came up with a great idea based on our parking amoungst the Apollo fleet, we waited till it was dark and parked up streetside right outside a motel, two blocks away from the city centre and making it look like we were staying there for the night! With SUE parked up and it being a Saturday night, we got the glad rags on and headed out for a few beers. We headed for the popular Cuba Street, which had a good number of bars and fun reputation. We picked our watering hole based on how comfy the sofa's looked! We selected the Bristol Hotel (keeping it Westcountry!), which must have been the
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Sunny Bay, Kaikoura
underaged drinking spot of Wellington with many people looking 16 or 17 at a push! A few handles of Speights later we headed back to the caravan of love for the night, we then realised that next door to the motel was a University Halls of Residence which had music blarring out of the windows. Showing our age, we all knew we were in for a long night!

After an on / off nights sleep due to our noisey university neighbours, we put the coats on and grabbed the umbrella's to see what else Windy and Wet Wellington had to offer. We walked down to the Civic Centre to see the various statues and monuments, before making our way to the waterfront to see the culinary delights at the food markets where Cerri headed straight for the German Bratzwurst stand! The rain was not showing any signs of easing up, so we took cover inside the food court for lunch. We all opted for the Malaysian (all you can eat buffet) food and piled our plates with mountains of food! After lunch we decided to stay dry for a bit longer and popped to our second cinema of the
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Kia Ora means Hello!
trip. The girls obviously chose 'Sex and the City 2' whilst the guys chose the more male orientated 'Iron Man 2.' Films were loved by all with the girls filling us in on every detail about what Samatha, Miranda, Charlotte and Carrie had been up to this time round and me and Matt both agreed that Iron man 2 was well "good!" After the movies and several SATC 2 conversations we came to the decision that we needed a decent nights sleep after the noisey students and moved SUE from the city centre to a quieter spot on the waterfront. Where we parked was a sign telling people to be careful of the local penguins so we all kept our eyes peeled but sadly we didn't see any. After a shower at the public toilets which can only be described as 'Baltic' we settled down to an early nights kip.

Another early start for the Caravan Club, we said our goodbyes to Wellington and the North Island and boarded the Interislander Ferry and headed for Picton top of the South Island. The Ferry took just over 3 hours, during which Matt spent most of his time sleeping to combat
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We thougt the statue looked cold!
the motion sickness whilst the rest of us popped up on deck to soak up the sea air and see the sights as the vessel sailed thorugh the Cook Strait. Once docked, we began our South Island adventure and headed south 160km to Kaikoura. Our route took us along the east coast, on some particulary bendy and extremely windy roads. This town is one of the few places in the world where the beaches are backdropped by snow capped mountains. It is also known as a great spot for whale watching, so with this in mind we visited the Info Centre and booked ourselves on a trip for the next day, apart from Matt who decided that the sea was looking a bit choppy for his liking! From the town centre we drove round the corner to the next cove called Sunny Bay, where here you can literally stand a couple of centimetres away from a seal colony. We had a competition to see who could take the best photo's of the sleeping seals, seeing as both couples had the same camera! Its the Panasonic TZ7 for those of you that don't know . . . Bloody good camera and
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Pancake Rocks
just to let you know that me and Cerri won! That evening we decided to treat ourselves to a local fish and chips, apart from non-fish eating Cerri who had Lasagne, which was deep fried in batter (might have originated from Scotland!). After warming up by the fire in in the local pub 'The Whaler', we retired to SUE for a crazy games night including Scrabble, where I managed to use up all of my 7 letters on my second go, 50 points = Happy Days!

We awoke the next morning, after a turbulant nights sleep due to the gust of winds rocking BIG FAT SUE back and forth! Arriving at the Information centre we were broken the bad news that the whale watching had been called off due to bad conditions out at sea, we all had the hump!!! Deciding to 'carpe diem', we headed for our second Museum of the week, when I say Museum it was more like a shed! We looked through the old whaling artifacts and local historic stories, checked out the local jail cell before making our way back to SUE. As we left the Museum we could hear the sound of an
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Caravan Club at the Pancake Rocks
air raid siren, we didn't think too much of it and carried on our way. As we tried to cross the road a pickup truck, turned at speed round a corner and the wheelbarrow on the back got launched across the road and into the on coming car! The driver of the pickup screeched on his brakes, got out of his vehicle and chased after his beloved wheelbarrow. As he was running up the road, he'd obviously forgot to put his hand brake on, and the pickup started rolling down the road! Now it is one of those ''you had to be there moments'' but picture a Desperate Dan lookalike carrying a solid metal wheelbarrow, running after a moving pickup down the road! He threw the wheelbarrow back in whilst running and chased after his picked like Forest Gump running down the street! We later found out that the siren was for the fire serivce and that Desperate Dan was on his way to help out bless him! We then drove back up towards the ferry to a town called Blenhem where BIG FAT SUE was booked in the next day to be fixed.

The Following morning we were
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Te Papa, Wellington
greeted by the chill of a minus 3 degree temperature, we dropped SUE off at our second Ford Garage of the trip and headed into the Blenheim's town centre. We warmed up in a cafe with coffee and breakfast scones, before popping to the internet cafe to see what friends and family had been upto back in good old blitey! This killed a couple of hours, before we headed back to the Ford Garage only to find out that the first Ford Garage we'd visited had gone and ordered the wrong part! The Blenheim garage ordered the correct part to be delivered to the Ford Garage in Greymouth. With this we set off travelling from one side of the South Island to the other. We stopped halfway at the beautiful Lake Rotoiti, just outside St. Arnaud where we had a picnic lunch amoungst the ducks who stole a bit of Cerri's ham and pickle sandwich right out of her hands, fiesty ones! From here we continued on our way visiting the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks, which we just managed to get to before sunset thanks to some rally driving by myself in BIG FAT SUE. That night we randomly slept in
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Te Papa, Wellington
a carpark of a leisure centre in the town of Greymouth.
Ben & Cerri's Tip of the week: - When exiting your vehicle, please ensure that the handbrake is on!


Additional photos below
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Caravan Club turned Cable Car Club!
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All Aboard!
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Cook Straits
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Cook Straits
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One for the Welshies!
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Cerri Seal watching
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Alcoholics Cerri & Kate!
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Napier Promenade
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Lake Rotoiti
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BIG FAT SUE taking a breather at Lake Rotoiti


18th June 2010

Jealous
OMG I'm so jealous. I spent hours in Te Papa, and I loved Kaikoura. Try and get up Fox Glacier for a hike, it's breathtaking - and just before Queenstown, is the world's first commercial bungee jump. Terrifying but amazing. Hope you're behaving yourself Banj. Have a great time x
18th June 2010

Amusing
Hi there. Just read your blog and has made me chuckle!! Poor old BIG FAT SUE and you guys.. I couldn't think of anything worse than a campervan or caravan... I used to take the piss out of poor old Alan (bless him) and still do so with Chris (one of our drivers) who both were/are caravan club members!! Fair play to you all and pleased to see/hear you are all enjoying yourselves, I think..what an experience!! Your sense of humour is great Ben, your comment 'Happy Days' is so you! Keep safe and warm by the sound of things. Bye for now. Ruth

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