Hi all, Well I’m off travelling again – its been a while coming but has finally occurred again! About time too! (I dont count all my trips to Sydney and QLD as really travelling, those weekends/weeks have become quite commonplace now! – Not that I dont love them and seeing all you guys up there, but I count on them as being regular events!) Anyway, I have finally gotten myself over to NZ. It came about quite from a throw away comment to my friend Lynsey from Scotland. Back in June last year she mentioned that she was going to come over but had broken up with her bf so decided not to come. After a little convincing she agreed to meet me over here as I’d insisted that it was practically in my back yard – it kinda is, the flight is only 3 hours – not unlike a flight to Cairns or such!! So I’m here. And having a ball! As usual I got a bit “I dont know if I want to go” ish on Sunday before my flight on Monday. This happens every time before I travel somewhere new by myself. So I organised “farewell drinks” on Sunday to take my mind off it. Thanks to Darren, Paul, Nathan, Renee and Kristin for making the afternoon quite enjoyable and making the trek out to Footscray 🙂 Much appreciated. And a huge thanks to Lisa for taking me to the airport on Monday morning after someone stayed up all night and was “unwakeable/ not sober” to drive me to the airport.. Not to worry, I woke Lisa up and she got me there in time!
Mind you, I didn’t get much sleep myself on Sunday night so I slept the whole plane trip – I fell asleep before the safety speech on the plane, and woke up as we were coming in to land in Christchurch – fantastic. I was in the middle seat too, so I have no idea if I was falling all over the place or snoring, but no one said anything to me so I wasn’t too fussed!! Now its been a good 13 years since I was out of the country, so I’d forgotten about things like the declaration card – in fact I nearly forgot to take my passport with me! Luckily I grabbed it at the last minute before I left for the airport, phew! Anyway, I saw everyone else with their declaration cards, and scrabbled around in the seat pocket looking for one. Found one, then realised that because I was in the 1st row (first time ever I think) it meant that all my hand luggage was in the overhead compartment and that included my pen. Uggh. I hate being unprepared like that! So I waited until I got off the plane and found my pen to fill out the card. In the meantime my hung-over/ lack of sleep brain wasn’t thinking clearly and I hurridly scoffed down my perfectly fine apple before I would have had to throw it out in the quarrantine bin ages down the walkway. Oh well. So, I cleared customs without incident – other than being questioned about travelling alone then pounced on when I said “we” were going to be travelling around in a campervan, and having to explain that yes, I was travelling alone at the moment, however I was meeting a friend who was already in the country and we would be subsequently travelling together. Far out! Talk about being treated like a crook – I could never do it, I was jibberish enough with what I got asked and I was legit! Man!
I exited the airport to find Lynsey in our campervan – litterally once an 8 seater van with the middle and rear seats gutted to make room for a double bed and small sink/ storage area at the rear. On the side of the van were two kittens – relatively harmless I thought. It wasn’t until we went to the supermarket to stock up on goods and put them in the back of the van that I saw the slogan on the rear – “Every time you masterbate a kitten dies”. Woah! No wonder we were getting strange looks and lots of toots from people overtaking us!! Woo hoo! Love it. Hilarious! Well we made a trip to the supermarket and thankfully both Lynsey and I eat pretty much everything – no repeats of the QLD trip with a full fat and a low fat trolley – no, this time we both wanted full fat cheese, milk and plenty of chocolate – I was rapped that she also eats chocolate for breakfast – YES, another one in the world! In fact, I might go so far as to say that she NEARLY eats more chocolate than me – but not quite! But for those who are worried about what I eat, we did buy some fruit and some things to make for dinner. It has actually worked out quite well, as she likes to cook (and I dont, for those who haven’t yet worked that out) and she hates tidying up and fixing things (which I love to do) – therefore, so far, we’re getting along quite well. She does the girly jobs, while I get to sit around, looking up the map and planning where to drive next, until I get the call that dinner is ready! Perfect! Suits me fine! 🙂
The first night we drove to Akaroa, a very pretty area with gorgeous blue water in the harbour and a town that is reminiscent of a little French town. We parked the van at the wharf and set up for the night. We’re both loath to pay money at a campervan site when we dont need to – we can make do without a shower for a day or two, and when we need a shower we can sneak into a caravan park and make use of theirs – as Lynsey did today! Funny! The second day we drove to Orari Gorge, and parked in the middle of no where for the night. We were up at 8.30am, in out bathers enjoying the sun (yes, there is sun here and I’m soaking up as much as I can!!) eating cheese, olives and crackers for breakfast! Yum. Its quite refreshing to travel with someone else who will eat as crazy as I do, means I dont have to explain myself all the time.
We took a trek to the Gorge, the water was crystal clear and refreshingly cold. I only went in up to my knees (we hadn’t planned on going in the water and hence were still clothed and not wanting to get too wet for it was freezing!) and I could still see my feet perfectly through the water. It was amazing. The water tasted a bit like crushed rock, but it was still pretty amazing! After having a beer (the supermarket only sold beer and wine so I thought I’d should finally educate my tastes to like the damn stuff) and going to bed quite early, I needed a pee at about 6.30am. I crept out of the van, wearing my pink pjs, and thinking that no-one would be nearby, squatted down. In the middle of what seemed like the longest pee in the world, I look up to see a guy on a horse on the hill, looking down at me and laughing – oh god, nothing I could do then and I couldn’t stop it either. So embarrassing!!!!!!! Not like I could hide either, my pjs would have stood out against the green surrounds like a sore thumb. I was so hoping he wasn’t going to come knocking on the van later and enquire as to the owner of the pink pjs – I couldn’t exactly say it was Lynsey when she’d been asleep the whole time hey?? Ah well.
Now the van mind you, is a tight fit. The bed is snug against the walls and up against the back of the front seats. It extends to the end of the van where there is a wooden assembly of two shelves, a small sink, and room for an esky and a gas bottle with a burner on top. Squeeze a fold up table and two chairs in and you basically have two feet of head room and not much else. There is storage space under the bed and the ability to erect a pop up table in the middle, but it is too much of a pain moving the bed each day so we’re forgoing the bed and just sitting on top of it if we need. Funny. We’ve peeked in some other campers and you really do get what you pay for. We opted for the cheapskate option. We’re only sleeping in it anyway.
Day three we went white water rafting on the Rangitata Gorge. Awesome! Love it. Last time I went white water rafting was on the Tully River in Mission Beach QLD – four years ago. It was good to get the adrenaline going again. Grade five rapids and I made sure the guide put me in the “best place” in the raft – up the front. Fantastic! Nearly came out a few times, but held on – mind you, my back and shoulders are paying for it today. However it was all worth it when he said I was the best paddler and had an awesome stroke going. Gotta be the best. Or try hard for it anyway! Met some cool people, some more Aussies (I wore my Aussie flag bathers so the other Aussies made themselves known quite quickly), and we had drinks to finish off the day. One of the guides was an Aussie too, and he even knew where Bairnsdale was, shock horror! It is definately a small world when you talk to enough people! A great night was had by all, I recall climbing along the ceiling rafters, copying the boys and to prove that a girl could do it. My arms were already buggered from rafting, but I did it. Kinda slid down the wooden beam I had to get down after shimmying along, upside down, across the ceiling, and ended up with a nice graze on my right arm, but I did it! And shut the boys up for a bit too. Fun, fun, fun.
It was my turn to drive today, and we are currently in Oamara (close to Dunedin). It is raining today, but hopefully its the first and last day it rains – I will come back with my tan intact, damn it! We’re heading to the chocolate factory tomorrow, then off through the centre of the island for some more scenery driving. It is amazing countryside, the hills literally go right to the sea and you will be driving along a road with the water on your left and a mountain on your right. We are making our way over to Doubtful Sound (the less commercial version of Milford Sound) which is apparently an amazing, gorgeous natural wonder. I’ll let you know what I think when we get there.
Hope you are all well, will write again in a few days.