Kia ora! We haven’t been online for a while, that’s because we were too busy rocking New Zealand 🙂 We’ve been here for a week now and oh boy was it beautiful, adventurous and great. I’ll run you a bit through the highlights since not everything we do each day is THAT interesting to blabber about. We’re in NZ for a bit more than five weeks. We rented a Happy Campervan which will be our home for the next weeks. We start our trip in Christchurch on the South Island, to end five weeks later in Auckland on the North Island.
We picked up the van and with our big oldschool road map we were good to go. In NZ people drive on the left. Driving on the left is actually not that big of a deal. Maybe the first hour your brain needs to adapt a bit, the window wipers are left and the direction markers right, but as long as the pedals stay in the same place we’ll be alright.
The first day we visited Christchurch. Christchurch is still fully re-emerging from some very bad earthquakes in 2010-2011. Because of this the city has a nice, somehow Berlin feel with alternative shops and bars in containers with nice graffiti art on it. Apart from the nice vibe and some walking around in the botanical gardens, there’s not much someone would miss by not going there. But a nice first stop anyway. The next day we stopped at Akaroa to continue our trip the next day by heading to Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki.
It’s only here that we discovered the real NZ: big, bold and out of this world beautiful. All colours are so intense here. The grass is really greener on this side of the world. And I think we need a new expression for the water and flowers as well.
Living the Happy Camper life we try to do as much wild camping as possible. We have this offline App Campermate which shows where you can and where you definitely can’t camp outside the official, paying campgrounds. Every third to fourth day we need to go to a paid campground to charge our batteries (fridge, lights,…) and to take a very much needed shower of course. We do wash in between. So mum, no worries. 😉 Around Lake Pukaki we found a beautiful spot right next to the lake, far from civilized world. Just us two, the camper and nature. The area is known to be one out of five places in the world which is a Dark Sky Reserve, so thé spot to see starry skies without light polution. After having cooked a delicious meal we waited for the night to fall and the stars to come out. We jumped out of the van totally excited to take picture perfect and to experiment with our GoPro. Unfortunately the moon was too bright. So we decided to wait a few more hours. It was supercold outside, really windy, so just a quick pee and then off to bed. Or at least that’s what we hoped for. Our van had his own will and decided to lock us out for the night. So there were we in our own untouched piece of nature beneath the starry sky. With everything within reach distance -read IN the car- but nothing to be reached. First there was disbelief. OMG. This is not happening to us. There must be a way in. But there wasn’t. We paid a lot to have a good insurance for the van, with 24/24 road assistance. But we knew we could only reach them during work hours -very handy indeed- plus our phones were also inside the van. Walking to the nearest town would have taken us probably until dawn. So that wasn’t really a option. There were -luckily- two more campers around so we decided to wake them up in search for help. The first one just screamed through his van that we should smash a window. Imagining the amount of dollars that would cost us. Rather not. But at least it was an option. There was one more van. I saw this man walking around during daytime, he seemed a bit older -sorry Monty 🙂 or at least older than both of us- so at first we didn’t want to disturb him in his sleep. But really… no other options. We knocked the door and almost immediatly the most kind man opened the door in his pj’s. His name was Monty. He invited us in and called road assistance for us. We talked for almost two hours while waiting. Monty’s a fisherman who lives in Invercargill (south on the southern island). He woke up every morning at 3 am to go fishing in the canal. In a few days he was going home with a fridge full of fresh salmon and rainbow trout. This was such a weird, but such a nice experience. Sitting with a complete stranger in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere just small talking about eachothers lives. We were so lucky that Monty was around. Else we would definitely be eaten by a bear or would have frozen to dead. Nobody died of a little drama, right 😉
Since Monty was heading home the day after and we were heading south, we stopped by Monty’s house to thank him for his heroic daad. First we stopped in the best bakery in town and asked to make a personalised cake. We’ll definitely come back to our NZ home. And to meet our other brand new family members. Monty: thank you once more to be so kind, warm and welcoming to us.
After the two lakes we headed towards Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula. Funny thing. We try several times a day to imitate Kiwi English. IT IS SO DIFFICULT! The way you think they would pronounce it, well it’s never like that. A is aaaa, I is u, fish and chips is for ex. more something like fush and chups and the town Dunedin (we would say djoendin) is pronounced deniedin. Anyway. Dunedin is a nice student town with a Scottish feel. It’s in Dunedin we decided to not longer only shoot pictures with our iPhones, but go a bit more ‘professional’. It’s really hard to capture the scenery with a simple iPhone. So we bought us a Canon EOS 1200 D. We’re curious if it’ll be noticable in the pictures. At the Otago Peninsula we saw several huge albatross (like we al know from ‘de Reddertjes in Kangoeroeland) and some other beautiful wildlife birds. We also waited here for more than two hours in the dunes to spot the endangered yellow eyed penguins, but without luck that day.
It was only a day later when we where in The Catlins that we were lucky to see 3 of them. We went to Curio Bay -where 8 Yellow Eyed Penguin couples have their nest atm- we brought some chips, beers and just waited for sunset and for the penguins to return to their nests. It was almost a spiritual happening. People waiting in complete silence for the penguins to turn up. Once the first arrived on shore the waiting and sitting turned into controlled running around like chickens without a head. Trying to find the perfect spot, not too close to scare the penguin away. But definitely not too far either. Because you don’t want your neighbour to have a better picture than you. And all of this not to forget in complete silence. Controlled panic excitement. Or how an alien landing must look like.
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