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Published: October 2nd 2008
Thursday 25th September
We were picked up by our airport transfer, Luxury Airport Shuttle, just after 1130 and by
1400 we were at the Auckland International Airport. It was a smooth flight to Christchurch
and we were picked up and taken to the nearby Sudima Hotel a few minutes after advising
them of our arrival.
We were quite impressed with our room, large, modern, well worth what we paid.
Hotel.com does give you a good bargain.
We caught the bus into Christchurch, walking one stop further than the one outside the
hotel on the advice of a local, saving us $5 each. We have noticed on several occasions
now that the tourist is certainly made to pay here!
Cathedral Square was our destination, this considered the centre of the city. Very pretty,
nice cathedral and buildings surrounding it, but very dead after 1800. We did manage to
find a food hall and here we had a tasty Indian meal.
Friday 26th September
We were picked up and taken to Freedom Campers at 0900 (pushing Judy a bit!!!) and 1.5
hours later, after being shown every little bit of the van, filling out forms etc,
we were on
our way. Judy was a little disappointed by the van, as even though it had everything it was
showing its age. We were expecting a unit about 3 years old, this one was nearer 10 and
had done over 400 000km! It ran well though and after 24 hours we thought it was pretty
First stop, New World, where we started stocking up for the first few days. With the help of
our ever reliable TomTom (donʼt think weʼll ever travel without one now) we set off. First
stop was at Rakaia, about 150km away where we stopped for lunch. This is a salmon
fishing area as shown by the big salmon statue where we ate lunch.
We continued to Lake Tekapo, a lake known for its turquoise colour which comes from the
ground up rock dust made by glaciers. Beautiful scenery. As it was our first night out we
booked into the caravan park overlooking the lake.
Saturday 27th September
We had an eventful night, firstly Rags couldnʼt sleep in the alcove over the cabin as it was
claustrophobic, so he moved onto the bed made from the dining
Our first night
The view from the camper.
table. At about 0300 the
wind increased to the stage where the van was rocked violently from strong gusts. Even so
it was after 0800 before we got up and prepared for the day.
As we headed for Mount Cook, our first destination, the weather turned and we found
ourselves driving in heavy rain. By the time we reached the Mt Cook lookout just before
lunch little could be seen of Lake Pukaki, let alone Mt Cook 65kms on the other side. After
exploring the Visitorsʼ Centre, we altered our plans and decided to continue towards the
The weather was so bad we by-passed the cutely named town of Twizel and the the snow
began. At first it seemed like half rain and snow - is this sleet? We stopped at a salmon
farm and Rags went to see what they had to for sale (while Judy stayed in the warmth of
the vehicle) but prices were much the same as at home and were sold in too large
quantities for us so he left empty handed.
Then the snow began in earnest with the snow blowing into the car almost horizontally. We
slowed down gobsmacked
as we had never driven in anything like this! We pulled over to
photograph the white world we had entered but didnʼt stay too long as the wheels spun on
the snow as we parked the van. It was still heavy as we continued but after tagging in
behind a convoy led by a snowplow (not operating) the snow became lighter and by the
time we reached our turn-off to the coastal town of Oamaru just outside of Omarama, it
After viewing a couple dams where hydro electric power stations were situated we
reached Oamaru with a sigh of relief from Rags as the low fuel indicator had been showing
for the last 50km or so. More supplies were purchased after which we drove to a penguin
sanctuary at the edge of the harbour. The penguins have their nests here, which we could
see from behind a fence. The penguins donʼt return from fishing until after 1630 so we
didnʼt wait for them.
Instead we drove to Bushy Beach, about 10kms out of town, where there is a hide from
which you may see the rarer yellow-eyed penguin come ashore. After waiting for about 40
in very cold conditions, until this time only seeing a fur seal in the distance, we were
lucky enough to see 4 or 5 penguins come ashore. They were all quite distant (the public
is kept away as they are very shy) but we did take a few photos using the telephoto lens.
Continuing down the coast we found a protected layby, aptly named “All Day Park”, just
before dark where we set up camp for the night. It was right on the beach near a river
mouth where masses of ducks could be seen.
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