More landlegs… touring the South Island (Jan 2019)

Lake Pukaki with Mount Cook

After two days in Auckland we flew to Christchurch. We had booked a beautiful Airbnb in New Brighton. It was the perfect choice to relax a little bit after the eventful weeks in Switzerland and the long flight back to New Zealand. It was a tiny little house with a small garden (with BBQ). Within short walking distance there was the beach and a huge playground with waterplays. Amina and Jaël of course loved it!

Then our two weeks campervan trip began… Amina and Jaël had been longing for this already for a long time. Especially because we would meet our friends (and former neighbours) Barbara and Michi with her two girls Flurina and Seraina, both best friends of Jaël and Amina. They were on a sabbatical and had already spent three months touring Australia. In January they were now flying to New Zealand, to explore the South and North Island for the following three months. The plan was to meet them near Akaroa a few days later and then cruise together for about a week until we would have to head back to Christchchurch.

But the first few days we were on our own. We wanted to visit Hanmer Springs. On the way we passed the vinery Waiau River Estate and we could not resist… we enjoyed a glass of Sauvignon blanc and stayed there over night between the grapevines.

Next day we drove to Hanmer Springs. We stopped at a fantastic camping ground with beautiful walks through the woods just nearby. The Hanmer Springs Thermal bath is beautifully set in a park. There are different rock pools with different water temperatures, a kids pool with waterslides and also a kids area with watergames. You can even picnic on the green. This thermal bath was very different from the ones we knew in Switzerland, where it is usually more an “adult’s only” thing.

We continued to Kaikoura where we were hoping to see some seals. Just when we were having a sundowner at the wharf, enjoying the spectacular view over the bay a guy pulled in with his motor boat. André took the lines and helped him and we started talking. Gary had worked for many years as a ski teacher in Verbier. He offered to take us out with his boat the next morning to see the seals. We arranged to meet at nine o’clock the next day and helped him to get the motorboat out of the water on his trailer. Just before he left, he asked if we had had dinner already. We said “no” and he grabbed a fish out of his cooler and gave it to us. How generous! We had a delicious dinner and saw the seals from very close the next day. We were even invited for coffee at Gary’s place after the boat trip. Thank you Gary and Lynn! You completely made our day!

Beautiful Kaikoura

On our way back to Christchurch we wanted to do a short lunch stop in the middle of nowhere. Shortly after we had stopped two cars pulled in: in the first car there was future crew Camilla, who will join us for the passage to Sydney. She had just seen us, as she was driving by in the opposite direction. The second car was a guy in a pickup. He got out of his car, laid under it and started some serious looking repair works. After a while he threw the drive shaft in his pickup. Apparently his four wheel drive car had now turned into a two wheel drive car only. Before the guy left again he asked us, if we like crayfish… grabbed in a big cool box and gave us a big crayfish. We fried it in the pan right away, there in the middle of nowhere.

We waited for Barbara, Michi and the girls on an idyllic camping ground on the peninsula of Akaroa. Amina and Jaël were completely excited… they had last seen their friends end of August 2017 a few days before we left Switzerland and now we where together in New Zealand. We had a wonderful evening all together.

We drove on a narrow small street to Akaroa the next day. There was a sign “Not suitable for campervans” at the beginning of the road. The road was quite curvy and steep. But the views on the peninsula were breathtaking! We just really hoped that no car would come from the other side as there was no room to cross. Luckily there was no other car and we made it to the bigger road without any problems. But after all we agreed with the sign: “definitely not suitable for campervans”.

Akaroa is a tidy little town with French colonial background. Today many street names and a bakery with delicious baguette remind of that historical background. As the forecast for the next day promised a lot of rain we decided to make some miles and head to Lake Tekapo.

View on lake Tekapo from the Mt John University Observatory

The scenery around Lake Tekapo is simply BEAUTIFUL! The turquoise color of the lake is spectacular. André and I walked up to the observatory and enjoyed the view while Jaël and Amina stayed with our friends on the campingground. We had a great time and would have loved to stay longer, but we had booked the campervan for two weeks only, so we continued to Lake Pukaki after two days. There we had to say goodbye to Barbara, Michi, Flurina and Seraina. As we wanted to see a little bit of the West Coast as well, we had to start heading back. Barbara and Michi had a much wider time frame as they booked the motor home for three months.

Two manpower watertaxi on Lake Pukaki

It was sad to go seperate ways again, but we were very thankful that it worked out so well and we were able to cruise together almost a week. On the way up the West coast we did a beautiful hike to the Fox Glacier and then continued to Hokitika and spectacular Arthur’s pass ( unfortunately with quite a bit of rain) back to Christchurch.

Fox Glacier

In Christchurch we gave back the motorhome and moved into an Airbnb and BAJKA was already waiting for us. Amina and Jaël were so happy to see their friends Nael and Iillian again. As BAJKA was already sold they were on a road trip now. The kids enjoyed the huge Margaret Mahy Playground together. Pretty much the best and biggest playground they had ever seen so far. And we enjoyed catching up with Ela and Lukas.

We all enjoyed our land trip in New Zealand. On each and every place we had stopped we could have stayed much longer. We have seen just a few places of this beautiful country – we had to make some choices. But the good thing about New Zealand is: whatever you choose, you will most likely meet friendly and open minded people and enjoy stunning sceneries. New Zealand… we will be back some day!

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