Frodo, don't wear the ring...
04.07.2010 8 °C
The first thing to note upon landing in Christchurch is the temperature...it is FREEZING!!!! Its snowed a few days before and the view from the plane as we land is completely stunning. We are picked up from the airport by Matt our campervan guy. Matt takes us to his office where we go through the paperwork before being introduced to Wilma, our transport and home for the next month or so. I have never been into the camping thing so am a little bit stunned as Matt goes through everything in the campervan which comes with the essentials - beers, pineapple lumps and some OJ. How cute is a campervan?? Everything has a place and it is all just so. We set off on the road with the first stop at a supermarket to stock up on some provisions.
For the first leg Gav is driver and I am navigator on our New Zealand adventure to find Frodo and his ring... We get some breakkie, do the shopping and head of to Akaroa which was a French settlement on the Banks Pennisula. It takes us a while to get used to both driving and navigating the NZ roads but we are soon on our way and within half an hour into the drive we are stunned by the change in landscape and scenery. We have a leisurely two and a half hour drive into Akaroa which seems to be a sleepy little town. We check into a campsite, crack open the wine and beers and do something we've been longing to do for nearly three months - cook our own meal! It is super delicious and as we head to bed (which is the dining and living area) we are pretty pleased with our first day on the road.
Our second day in Akaroa is spent walking and exploring the little town which is quaint and sleepy and also very friendly.
After a day of chilling we begin the long drive south towards Queenstown. The next stop is Lake Tekapo which is approx 150km away and is beautiful as we pass farmland through scenic highways and onto the national highways. Having Wilma is great, it means we can stop whenever we want to take pictures (of which we do quite freqently), pick a gorgeous spot (and there are so many to choose from) and fix lunch and when the fancy takes us, park her up and stay for the night. A bit like them Ikea gypsies only our resting spots are a lot more scenic than the Ikea car park (of all the places in all the world why would you pick the Ikea in Croydon car park??). Along with the snow there is a noticeable difference in the temperature as we get closer to Lake Tekapo. It looks absolutely beautiful and we can´t wait to explore a bit more. This is very short-lived however, as the snow is pretty bad in the caravan park. It takes us approximately 45mins - 1 hour to get Wilma into a spot. She´s just slipping and sliding all over the place and because of the amount of snow, it is impossible to put the snow chains on. Nonetheless with the help of a neighbour, we persevere and manage to get there in the end. The next day happens to be a beautiful and clear sunny day perfect for seeing the green and blue of Lake Tekapo. It is breath taking especially as you move closer to the lake and see how clear the water is, truly stunning.
All the camper-vanners help each other out of their spots in order to make tracks, it requires quite a bit of patience as it takes all of us ages to get out of the park. We are not in any rush as the road for the route we want to take is closed due to the snow. We finally make tracks after calling the highways people who tell us the road has been re-opened.
Our next stop is a deviation from the planned route. We drive past Lake Pukaki and fall in love instantaneously after stopping off at Peter´s lookout. It is gorgeous especially against the backdrop of Mount Cook and we decide we have to park here tonight to see the view tomorrow morning. We head towards the Mount Cook visitors centre to explore a bit further but the low cloud makes it impossible to see the peak. So it´s back to Peter´s lookout with high hopes of the weather being better the next morning for us to catch a glimpse of the peak.
The following morning we awaken to the beautiful sight of the sun coming up over Lake Pukaki. WOW!!! What a sight! As we watch for a little bit longer we are rewarded by the beautiful backdrop of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman peaks! We could sit and watch this all day long but we have to make tracks while our route is still clear and open. This is the joy of campervanning in Nz, you stop wherever you like and wake up to a view that the best hotels in the world could only dream of.
Shortly after waking we start driving again, today going through Lindis Pass which was closed the day before due to snow. This was special, the snow was at least two feet and it looked like a proper winter wonderland, it was just stunning with the sunlight causing the snow to sparkle like diamonds.
Our next stops are Cromwell heading towards Te Anau and the dreaded Milford Track, stay tuned...