A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand - Day Seventeen

Tuesday 20th April 2010

sunny 20 °C
View Unnamed Trip on thedeanies's travel map.

Yep, you guessed it, another beautiful day. Forgot to mention that we noticed a strange rash all over Fin that resembled bug bites. None of the rest of us ahd bites and Fin hadn't been anywhere different to us. Today on examination we have an awful feeling that they may be chicken pox........aaaaaaaaaahhhh! The poor boy! Apologies to all we have come in contact with but he probably wasn't infectious apart from in Auckland....sorry Eri!! So we have sworn him to secercy just in case they won't let us on the flight.

We packed up the van whilst the boys played in the adventure park, complete with boat! We then headed into Hanmer to the Thermal Pools. This is an outside collection of hot pools, nicely landscaped and with varying temps. It is a lovely complex in which you pay to get in and then can spend as much time as you want with changing rooms etc.

Two hours later we were all wrinkly and Andy and I were desperately trying to get the boys out of the pools (We put Fin in a wet suit top to hide the spots!!). They both absolutely loved it, even the very hot pools. In one pool it was so warm thatt after a while Oliver started to go pink in the face and we had to drag him out and dunk him in a cold pool to cool him off!

We grabbed a good ole kiwi pie for lunch and then headed off to Akaroa, past Christchurch on the Banks penninsula, slightly later than planned due to our extended stay in the hot pools! We started off full of high spirits and the boys dropped off to sleep after their busy time in the pools. We even sneaked a quick tasting session in at Mud House Winery along the way but little did we know what lay ahead!

We got to Christchurch with no problem but then we began to realise that Akaroa was another hour and a half past there. It started to get dark and we got more and more remote, then we hit the mountains. Driving up and then down the mountain in the half light in a campervan with nothing between me and the sheer drop I clung on to the handle on the door for dear life! It was so windy that Fin even asked why we were going back on ourselves. With lots of nearly there’s to the boys in the back we finally arrived to the campsite in the dark with no food or supplies….bums…we had been doing so well!

After finding our pitch we drove into Akaroa which in true Kiwi style the shops had all shut at six. We proceeded to drive round in the van peering through posh restaurant windows weighing up whether they would tolerate a slightly bedraggled family. Just as we were beginning to panic we came across a fish and chip shop and although they were about to shut they made us some fish and chips and sold us some milk….saviours. Fin was well impressed and slightly distracted from his rumbling tummy by the fact that one of the fish we were having was called elephant fish and was actually a shark!

Finally fed and parked up with no idea where we were, we settled the boys and settled ourselves with a large gin and tonic!

Posted by thedeanies 17:00 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

New Zealand - Day Sixteen

Monday 19th April 2010

sunny 23 °C
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We woke to another glorious day. We have been so lucky with the weather and while all the Kiwis are desperately waiting for some rain we are hoping the weather continues until next week. There was no wind today and it was actually very hot.

Washing up with the view of the mountains through the window was truly spectacular and made washing up not so bad. After packing up the van we had another go on the ‘jumping pillow’, a huge bouncy castle type pillow of air in the children’s playground at the campsite. I don’t know who enjoyed it more, us or the kids.

We then went to find out if we could go on a whale watching tour. Much to our disappointment we found Ollie was too young to go on the trip and they were probably right as he would have jumped in with the whales given half a chance. It was our first disappointment in NZ and as we are family we decided that if two of us couldn’t do it we all wouldn’t do it. We’ll save that for the next time we come!!

After a quick souvenir shopping trip and purchasing another case so we can bring everything home we tucked into some fish and chips. Again not just lovely fish but garlic mussels, scallops and calamari all for cheaper than normal fish and chips back home.

We loaded ourselves into the van and even though I think I have put everything away there is always debris all over the floor ten minutes after we start off, nothing is safe!! We stopped briefly at Kaikoura lookout to admire the view of Kaikoura, stunning.

The boys fell asleep within half and hour of us starting, leaving Andy and I to appreciate the stunning scenery. Autumn is just arriving here so although the weather is amazing the trees are all colours of green, gold and red. Add that to the back drop of enormous mountains and Andy had trouble staying on the road whilst taking in the view. Ollie woke first and as he is now saying Fin or ‘Din’ as he says it Andy and I could hear him shouting Din very loudly in the back to try to wake Fin up!

We arrived at Hamner Springs late afternoon. Hamner Springs is an Alpine Village with thermal pools squirreled away in the mountains. We decided to try a less commercial camp site and were rewarded with a warm welcome, bigger pitches, a great adventure playground for the boys and an empty bar b q. A quick play, a long chat with the residents and another spectacular fillet steak bar b qued by Andy and I am a happy girl! Only three more nights in NZ and although we are missing everyone back home we are still not ready to leave yet. Never mind, Night night.

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New Zealand - Day Fifteen

Sunday 18th April 2010

sunny 18 °C
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After breakfast and a shower it was time to pack up for our journey to Kaikoura. Hazel took the boys off to the park while I had the pleasure of emptying the chemical toilet!! Cheers then.

Must say Dad it’s a lot easier and more hygienic than when we went caravanning!

We had been in a lovely pitch next to some Australians who were also touring NZ. They loved the boys as it reminded them of their Grandchildren. They had told us of a place along the coast of Kaikoura where baby seals could be seen so we headed off full of excitement.

I remembered that part of the road on the way to Kaikoura shared the railway line and over a particular bridge there were no control barriers just a sign telling you to give way to the train and let it pass over first, which was pretty scary. Do you remember Bruce and Liz? Anyway you will be pleased to know they have built a new bridge for cars. Phew!

We stopped for an early lunch at The Store in Kekerengu, which is a lovely café set alongside the wild east coast in the middle of nowhere. The weather had clouded over and it did not look too promising so we settled next to the large fireplace to enjoy our lunch. The boys love to eat the froth off our coffees but we had been told about fluffys which are basically frothy milk in a little cup for kids.
We had great delight in watching Oliver drinking his with his little pinky finger sticking out.

After a quick walk to the beach we set off again.

Soon we were driving along with the seal colonies on one side of the road and native bush on the other.

We pulled over where the Aussies had told us and saw the seals lying on the rocks. Just over the road was a track that went into the bush.

The track followed a stream and all along it were baby seals playing in the water. It was amazing. As we got further up the path there were more and more baby seals until we came to the end where there was a waterfall and a pool with baby seals everywhere playing and jumping in the water. Ollie was overwhelmed and Fin slipped and fell in!! Luckily only his foot got wet.

We arrived in Kaikoura and had a little explore trying to find where we had stayed before. Kaikoura had definitely grown in size.

We found the campsite and set up for the evening. We grabbed some fish and chips and with the sun out again, the sunset over the mountains was amazing.

Posted by thedeanies 17:00 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

New Zealand - Day Fourteen

Saturday 17th April 2010

sunny 20 °C
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Wakey Wakey Birthday boy!! Look who’s 40!!

If you’re going to celebrate a landmark birthday what better way than in the middle of nowhere in a campervan with your wife, kids and an idyllic view.

The weather was glorious again.

After a big snuggle it was time for a fry up and open my birthday cards which Hazel had squirreled away throughout our trip so far. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their kind gestures and gifts. Also I would like to say thanks for the ageist comments, and you will be hearing from my lawyer once I have put Fin through School, University, law school etc!

We all went for a walk in the cove and Hazel made an excuse to go back to the campervan.

The boys and me set about making little Igglepiggle boats using natures products. We actually got one to float and before you knew it, it was on its way to the North Pole according to Fin. Bon Voyage.

Now I had this great scene in my head of how I would like my Birthday to pan out. Boy did it go beyond all those expectations.

Hazel finally joined us and when we returned to the campervan I realised why it had taken her so long. The van now had Birthday banners all over it. Thank you darling.

We packed up and headed for Havelock, the Green Lip mussel capital of the world. After a quick play in the park we had lunch at the Mussel Pot. Yummy the freshest mussels you can have. Finlay found he has another great food he loves. “Daddy you have eaten all of them and I only had three” to which Mummy replied “you have to be quick when Daddy has food in front of him!”

After lunch we headed for the Marlborough wine region.

First stop Spy Valley. An award winning Winery in both wine and architecture. Excellent and would highly recommend it.

Second stop Highfield with a great tower to view the whole of Marlborough and set the scene of miles of vineyards surrounded by the mountains.

The boys were stars. Asleep for both!!

Our last stop was Cloudy Bay, a particular favourite of ours.
The boys were awake for this but not to worry as pure Kiwi style a box full of toys and balls were provided and they were off out into the beautiful grounds playing while mummy and daddy tasted wine.

Fin was most put out that he was not allowed to partake!

What a great day.

We headed for the campsite and after a perfect fillet steak on the barbeque (must say we were the only people barbequing) and a beautiful sunset it was time for a blog update and bed.

A special thank you to my wife Hazel for everything she has done and put up with, also my boys who can drive me mad but I wouldn’t have it any other way and to all those who sent cards and gifts and text messages, you have made my 40th very special and one I certainly will not forget.

Love to you all!

Andy aged 40.

Posted by thedeanies 17:00 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

New Zealand - Day Thirteen

Friday 16th April 2010

sunny 18 °C
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Up very early for me and Andy and yes you guessed it…….. The boys decided to have a lie in!! We had to drag them out of bed and bundle them in the car to get to the ferry terminal and drop off the car in time.

The next stage in our journey, a ferry crossing from the North Island to the South Island.

Apparently our ferry used to be the Pride of Cherbourgh!! The ferry was well equipped with toys, tellys and a childrens play area but as soon as we got out of Welly harbour it was rough as. People were puking all around us but were the boys bothered…..no….they both found it hilarious to try and walk round the ship in a straight line!!

When we entered the Charlotte Sounds at the top of the South Island calmness prevailed and we all went out onto the deck to admire the scenery. Beautiful. We had left a wet, windy Welly and gone towards the sun once again. We were met at the ferry terminal by a lovely Scottish bloke who took us to our campervan.

After reems of paperwork the van was ours….our home for the next seven days…help! Andy, the star volunteered to drive and also be poo/wee empting representative….phew! With Ollie and I in the back and Fin as co-pilot for Andy we set off. We chose the wiggliest road as our first journey and learnt the hard way that you cannot leave anything out on the work surfaces. There was stuff everywhere!! Andy and Fin were happy as in the front as the van is similar to Andy’s Dads old vans but I was scrabbling round in the bumpy back trying to catch the debris!!

After a visit to the supermarket we went hardcore straight away and decided to camp at one of the Dept of Conservation campsites, meaning NO FACILITIES!!
It was idyllic and on the edge of the sounds (bays). We unpacked as best we could as we realised we couldn’t possibly live out of the cases and cooked as best we could before putting the boys to bed in the top cabin. Luckily even though it was Ollies first time sleeping in a proper bed they settled very quickly and with Fin blocking the gap we felt they would be safe staying up top together.

Andy and I cracked open a bottle of red and finished the Kapiti cheese I had so cleverly carried all the way over on the ferry. Making plans for the next day we changed the seating area into a giant bed and went to sleep hoping one of the boys wouldn’t fall out of the top cabin!!

Posted by thedeanies 17:00 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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