Archives for the month of: December, 2011

The morning after the night before. No no no. It wasn’t all that bad. Fortunately our ferry back to Picton was only leaving at lunch time, leaving us with time to sleep to a respectable hour and explore (read: go into various curio shops, touristy spots and people watch) Wellington CBD. I finally managed to get a micro-sim for my iPhone and at last I was in contact with the outside world. You can’t have #themostepicroadtripofalifetime without letting people know what you’re up to.

Graffiti, roaming the streets of Wellington, Ferry, windfarm and Picton

Carolyn, view of the Queen Charlotte Sound, Gav reading RWC updates on iPad, me reading, Shaun skyping

One sunny, uneventful ferry trip later we berthed in the beautiful Picton. Four very tired campers headed for the campsite, ate, showered and went to bed.


It was a cold, rainy morning we woke up to in Picton, but being tough South Africans we donned our warm clothes, rain gear and headed down to the port to catch the Interislander Ferry, the Arahura, across to Wellington, with many other South African supporters. Major excitement for our first rugby match, SA vs Wales. The ferry trip took approximately 3,5 hrs and despite the miserable weather, the crossing was fairly smooth. I do not have sea legs, but I had drops for motions sickness. Win.

Arriving at the port in Wellington, you have a clear view of the Wellington Stadium (the tin can). Walking from the port into the city, we spotted amazing graffiti …

With much to squeeze in before the game, we headed off to find our accommodation -> Clean rooms at reasonable prices.

Here we are sleeping with the enemy.

One lone SA flag amongst the Wales flags

Walking the streets of Wellington back to the stadium was fantastic. So many South African supporters on the streets and with them came the “gees”, much flag waving, shouting “Bokke!” and general happiness.

Great spirit in the stadium, despite the rain and cold. And let me tell you something … the Wales supporters are quite a force to be reckoned with. It was awesome to experience their singing and chants of “Wales! Wales!” It was a tough game and a VERY close win for SA (17) over Wales (16) … too close for comfort.  Many happy SA supporters headed off to celebrate their win on the streets of Wellington.

Before ... and a slightly messy After

There is something to be said for waking up, stepping outside and being surrounded by mountains covered in snow.

Snow all around

A recce of the campsite produced a field of cows behind us, a mad camper sleeping in a 2 man tent, cool cabins and gorgeous daffodils.

A field, cabins, a sleeping campervan mate and daffodils

After breakfast prepared by the boys (Worsie & CP1) we set off for Picton. Stops along the way included a stretch of coast where there were so many seals lying among the rocks, we at first thought they were rocks; a beautiful stretch of black beach with so many washed up trees it was a bit creepy and a pit stop at Kekerengu for coffee and snacks (read cake, pies or anything we felt like at that point in time).

Seals everywhere

Gav & Carolyn going to dip their toes in the South Pacific Ocean

Worn piece of driftwood

Making sand angels

Picton – such a pretty little port town, sandwiched between the hills and deep waters of the Queen Charlotte Sound. Besides being the place to catch ferries between the south and north islands, it is also a great town to stay in for a few days and explore the surrounding wine region. This time around, our visit to Picton was all business. Shop for food, find internet access, book ferry tickets for all our crossings between the islands, book a campsite and get settled in for the night. The more mundane laundry and cooking was followed by watching rugby in the campsite lounge with ever so dull fellow campers who could barely clap in support. Major excitement for the first South Africa game the next day.

Sleeping in a strange bed. Waking up in a strange country. The adventure begins.

Starting the day by trying to squeeze all 22.3 kg of luggage back into your bag does build up a bit of a sweat. And a good thing too, because stepping outside our accommodation made me very happy to be warm. Clear skies do not necessarily mean warmth. Freezing cold!

We were collected and transferred to Pacific Horizon, where we picked up our home for the next 44 days. A very spacious 6 berth motorhome.

The Motorhome ... home for 44 days

The campervan ... our home for 44 days

A particularly nutty woman, Elizabeth, showed us the ropes and explained all the rules and with a crazy cackle sent us on our way.

Our destination for the day, Kaikoura, halfway to Picton which is in the north of the South Island.

Our first stop along the way was for breakfast. And what a find. Loeff’s Bakery on the outskirts of Christchurch make the most amazing pies. Bacon and egg pies. We were sold. Suitably fed the campervan mates hit the road. Tempted by the promise of natural springs, our next stop Hanmer Springs, against the Southern Alps foothills.

We stopped to let the sick one ... me ... have a breath of fresh air to help with the motion sickness

We stopped to let the sick one ... me ... have a breath of fresh air to help with the motion sickness

Beautiful green landscapes with plenty of sheep later, we arrived in the town of Hanmer Springs. The Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa is on the main road in the town and clearly a popular tourist destination. The temptation being so great and knowing that we would never be able to drag ourselves away, we decided to move on to Kaikoura. We had a rugby match to get to in Wellington on 11 September.

Hanmer Springs
Hanmer Springs

We arrived in Kaikoura after the sun had set. A beautiful coastal town with a spectacular setting, on the Kaikoura Peninsula. Kaikoura got its name from an ancient Maori explorer who stopped there to eat crayfish and on finding it so good, he called the place kai (food) koura (crayfish). We stopped off at Goochs Beach and enjoyed the view, skipped stones and even managed to lure a seal over who clearly thought the stones splashing was fish.

The view from Gooch’s Beach

Our mission was to find a pub, to watch the opening match of the RWC and the next was to find a campsite. After much searching in a very small town, we found one pub open, The Whaler.  While the girls secured a table, the boys raced off to secure a campsite. One supper, one rugby match (NZL 41 – TGA 10) and a few beers and ciders later, the very tired campervan mates headed for bed.