Sun 15th April 2012
We picked the campervan up and stopped off for some supplies before meeting up with Tokkie and Oli who live in Auckland. We went to a couple of bars in Mission Bay and grabbed some food before heading back to the campervan for some more drinks.
Mon 16th April
We started the day with a hangover so we slept in late. We packed the camper up and then headed into Mission Bay to park up and have some food. When we parked up we could not get the electric sockets to work so we headed back to the campervan hire places. When we got there we were told that for the to work we had to be plugged into a power supply at a campsite, so feeling like a pair of wallies we set of for our first destination - Waitomo caves.
Tue 17th April 2012
The night before we had stayed at a holiday park near Waitomo Caves and we had booked to go black water rafting, which is like white water rafting but in caves. We had an early start so got to the tour operators for 10:15am. Lizz and I changed into our wet suites complete with wetsuit boots and hard hat with a tourch.
We were taken to the caves in a mini bus with 6 other people and when we arrived we collected a rubber ring each and headed down in to the cave. The guide told us there were ells, spiders and rats down there just to scare us but it wasn’t true. Inside the cave we saw the glow worms glowing like stars in the sky, only blue. It was incredible and these glow worm caves only exist in NZ and in some parts of Australia. In the cave we did some walking then we got in to our tubes and held on to each others feet in a long line and the guide pulled us through. At one point he told us we were about to go down a waterfall backwards as we could hear gushing water and everyone was on edge. Turns out he was only joking and instead one at a time we had to jump of a ledge in to our rings backwards. Further on there was an actual water slide in the cave we went down. Great fun! We thought we would be freezing cold but actually the wet suits kept us really warm. We climbed some stairs and came up into daylight and were driven back to the tiny town.
We had some lunch in the camper, booked our ferry ticket for Friday from Wellington to Picton on the south island and set off for Rotarua. It took about 2.5 hours to get there and the scenery was beautiful – big rolling rocky hills all the way. Beautiful!
Once in Rotarua we went to the Polanesian spa where there are loads of pools of hot volcanic water which is meant to have healing properties. It was soooo lovely but too hot after a while!
Tonight we have driven down the road about 15 mins to a conservation campsite by a lake. We haven’t actually seen the lack because it was dark when we arrived. These camp sites only have very basic facilities but you don’t have to pay as much as for a proper campsite and some are free. On the way here I accidentally ran over a hedgehog. Bumping over it in the van was horrible. Poor thing! Paul made a great steak dinner, we watched a film on the laptop and went to bed.
Wednesday 18th April
This morning we woke up with an amazing view of the lake.We 2012thought it would be fun to get in the lake so we put on our bathers and got in, only very quickly though as it was freezing! We set off for Lake Taupo and had lunch there overlooking the lake and then carried on all the way to Wellington.
Thursday 19th April 2012
We drove to the nearest tourist info and asked about getting the ferry in to the city then we drove back to the holiday park, left the van there and got on a bus to the ferry port. Unfortunately the ferry wasn’t running for a few hours so we had to get back on the bus and go for about an hour in to the city. We’d wasted so much time by now! We tried to sort out Paul’s phone as he was charged by Vodafone for credit which he’d been told had twice been declined and he still didn’t get the credit on his phone but we had no luck. It was so hard to find somewhere to call Ryan from but in the end a guy in Telecom let us use the shop phone. I called Ryan and we arranged to meet at 5pm. He’s a Kiwi guy who I worked with at Probation in Bedford. In the meantime both Paul and I bought warm coats from Katmandu as it was so cold. That evening we had a fair few drinks with Ryan and some food and he drove us back to our holiday park.
Friday 20th April 2012
We woke up early and got the ferry from Wellington to Picton at 8am and arrived around 11.30am. We had a short drive to Blenheim which has the Marlborough wine region. We went wine tasting and had lunch at a winery restaurant and drove to Reefton.
Saturday 21st April 2012
We drove from Reefton to Franz Josef and went to the Glacier Pools when we arrived. We had dinner at the Alice May pub.
Sunday 22nd April 2012
This morning we walked to the Franz Josef Glacier, drove up the road and also walked to the Fox Glacier. We got 500m away from the first but had a much better view at the second as we were only 200m away. It was an amazing sight. Then we drove to Haast, went to the beach and stayed the night in a holiday park.
Monday 23rd April 2012
Today we drove from Haast to Wanaka, stopped for lunch and to use the internet then carried on to Queesntown which was a last minute decision. Queenstown was beautiful, like a town in the French Alps and we both loved it. It is on a huge lake surrounded by mountains and has a lovely town centre with lots of cosy bars and restaurants and a harbour. We found a campsite near the gondola that we wanted to do the next morning. Paul sent Gemma a message and we arranged to meet for brunch the following day.
Tuesday 24th April 2012
We went up the gondala to the viewing platform at the top which gives amazing views of Queenstown. Then we went for 3 rides on the luge which was great fun. Paul won 2 races and I won 1! At 11.30am we met Abbey, Sarah and Gemma who we first met on Frasier Island and had some food and caught up. Afterwards Paul and I set off in the camper towards Christchurch. We drove for about 4 hours and got to Ashburton, found a holiday park and that was that.
Wednesday 25th April 2012
Today we got the van sorted at the holiday park ready to take it back to the depot and we packed our bags once again. We drove to Christchurch and found a McDonalds to get free wifi to get things done like our USA visas. We drove in to the city centre to have a look. The centre was completely devastated by the earthquake in Feb 2011 and so much of it is still cordoned off and you can see so many damaged buildings in the ‘red zone’. As it was ANZAC day also not many people were about so it felt quite eerie. We headed to Sophie’s house around 3pm and it was so fantastic to see her. She lives with her kiwi bf Justin and is 8 months pregnant. We sat outside on their porch in the garden, drinking (not Soph though) and catching up and having a laugh. In the evening they ordered pizza and sat in their lounge. Their poor house had so many cracks from the quake and they were still waiting to see if would be knocked down and rebuilt or just repaired. That night we slept in their room out the back in the garden.
Thursday 26th April 2012
Sophie and Justin went to work early today and Paul and I had a chilled day getting things done like internet stuff and our washing. They came back around 2.30pm and we left for Elishka’s house at 3pm. Elishka is a mate that I haven’t seen since uni. She emigrated to NZ with her bf Steve. Their house is AMAZING. It’s huge and looks like a show home. Steve followed Paul and I in his car to the campervan depot and drove us back to their house. We had dinner by the log fire in the garden then chilled in the lounge and caught up on so much. We had our own lovely room and a snazzy bathroom to use. It was quite luxurious!! Steve copied a load of films on to our hard drive too which is great for travelling.
Friday 27th April 2012
When Elishka and Steve left the house to go to work and Paul and I got a taxi to the airport at the same time and we flew to Auckland. Paul’s South African friend Tokkie picked us up from the airport and we bought alcohol and meat on the way back to his. When we got there I had a few beers with the boys but then had to catch up on some sleep. Meanwhile Paul and Tokkie got in the hot tub and did a bbq. The meat was lovely. In the evening we went to watch a rugby match at Eden Park – the Auckland Blues vs the Queensland reds. The reds won. Back at the house I went to bed but Tokkie and Paul got back in the hot tub and were there until about 2am!
Saturday 28th April 2012
We got up, packed and Tokkie took us to the airport at 10am as we are flying to Los Angeles at 1.05pm. We land at 6.05am today due to the time difference! All we did today after we landed was check into a hotel and sleep till 4pm. Then we went across the road to a Mexican food and went back to the hotel.