Sunday, November 23, 2008

To the South Island and Back!

Lowell and I just embarked on a whirlwind trip from Christchurch (on the South Island) back to Auckland (on the North Island). Several campervans needed to be transported in time for high season so we got a STEAL of a deal. We flew to Christchurch and were shuttled to the rental place where we eagerly awaited the introduction to our campervan. We were, however, a wee bit deceived in regards to what type of campervan we received. We specifically requested the loaded kind equipped with POWER (of the electric variety). We were promptly introduced to a minivan... with a board and some cushions in the back. We were a tad taken aback at first, but we soon grew to love our powerless little slice of heaven. Plus, it was neon green and purple with a foxy lady on it. And we really couldn’t complain for a buck a day!

After taking our completely conspicuous campervan to pick up groceries, we continued 1.5 hours south east to a secluded beachfront town called Akaroa. As suggested by Trav & Lisa, our good friends who previously toured NZ, we invested in a membership for 'Top 10 Campgrounds’. A sound investment if I do say so myself. There are 40ish Top 10s throughout NZ, and they all include kitchen/lounge/toilet/shower/internet areas. Because of this, the lack of power in our cozy little minivan was no problemo.

Before long we pulled onto a little concrete slab that we would call home for the night. We set up the bed in the back, and had a fantastic sleep. It was perfect... even though it wasn't white and large like every other campervan in existence...

We woke up the next morning to the sun shining and the birds singing. We followed a trail and toured the quaint town of Akaroa.

Coffee in hand, sun in the sky, ocean in the background, cute shops to peruse...freedom reigns in this place!

We discovered a playground, and Lowell released his inner child...

At one point I unintentionally led us completely OFF the beaten track, but the bush whacking turned out to be fun…right Lowell? Especially with coffee in hand...

Our time in Akaroa was over all too soon when we packed up the van and headed north to Hanmer Springs.

I'd just like to note that driving around the South Island is an adventure in itself. The roads are teeny tiny, windy, and hilly. We weren’t limited by the speed limit, but by the ROADS. At one point I felt out of control going 40km/hr…. and the speed limit was 100. My caution soon turned to amusement and the roads were just a challenge to be conquered. I got pretty fearless (but I still stayed safe, Dad!).

Driving is also made a little more interesting for us as I suffer from a disease I call “getting sleepy behind the wheel” (very original, I know). After a couple hours of driving, we pulled into the parking lot of a zoo to have a little (but vital) snooze. It was a DREAM. We had a real nap in a real (well, kind of real) bed while we were stopped in a random parking lot. I'm considering investing in a small mattress for the rear of our Mitsubishi Chariot.

After waking up refreshed from our (my) nap, we completed our drive to Hanmer Springs, checked in to the Top 10 there, and jetted to the main attraction…the hot springs!

There were 12 pools or so- some more rugged than others- and they were soooooo nice. We soaked up the warm (read: HOT) water and the smell of sulfur (which I secretly enjoyed…much like one would surreptitiously enjoy the stench of one's own toots). We were apparently expected to pay $5 each (in addition to the cost of entrance) in order to use the 2 kiddie waterslides, but the lifeguard let it slide (HAHAHAHAHA- no pun intended…FOR REAL!)

We concluded our evening by devouring some large/intense sandwiches at a local café.

I prefer to eat sandwiches cut in quarters much like a 3-year old would, so I requested a knife to cut it. The lady let me go outside with this bad boy…

Pretty brave huh?

After supper we settled in the campground's lounge area until midnight while Lowell pumped out some school work and I read and watched episodes of Reba (LOVE Reba!). When we finally went to bed, the weather had turned a little wet, but it was soothing snuggling in the safe confines of our mini campervan while listening to the gentle pitter patter of the rain on the roof.

The next morning when the sunshine finally broke through, our journey continued.

More to come on the awesome adventures of Lowell and Julie...


Anonymous said...

No trouble finding your mini van in the parking lot!! For our "car camping" we use thermarests (sp?) with a sleeping bag on top of them- (then one on us)- great mattress! Isn't car camping convenient!? Would Lowell fit in your Mitsubishi Chariot or is he way too long?
Enjoyed the pictures!
Love Mum :)

Shelley said...

great post, julie!! If you're still on the south island when you read this, you should swim with the dolphins!