Well hellooooooo lovely people I know you have been all hanging out waiting for the latest update so here it is. We are now officially on the North Island and on the final stretch before flying home at the weekend. On Friday we said good riddance to Queenstown (one of our least favourite places so far) and headed for Dunedin and the prospect of some live rugby.
Arriving in Dunedin we were greeted by a campsite looking like a St. Georges flag bomb had gone off and was almost at bursting point. They were that full they had even filled the rugby pitch next door. Which essentially meant very strained facilities and a big change from the peaceful quiet sites we’d become accustomed to. It was also, grey, wet and cold so felt even less inviting.
Friday afternoon also saw us fail spectacularly in our attempts to see penguins in the wild. There are a few beaches where they land here, but you can only see them at dusk, we arrived at 2pm and saw diddly squat. When they were arriving we were probably giving the wee girl a bath. Wild penguins is something I’ve always wanted to see and this could be my biggest regret of the trip.
The next day was saturday which meant that there was a farmers market on at the station during the morning so we go out early and walked into town (it was a 45 min walk but so nice to be out of the van for a change). The market was pretty cool, it wa in the car park of a very grand victorian train station that was in immaculate condition.
The market also gave me an opportunity to try a whitebait fritter, something we’d heard about and at this time of year is in season. A slightly odd thing eating very small fish that have been mixed whole with cream and then fried, 9am was also perhaps a little early for it. But I’ve been on a few rugby tours so my stomach is made of sterner stuff, the lady of the manor’s on the other hand….
The original plan was for the lady of the manor and Matilda to join me at the rugby in the evening but given the weather they stayed put in the warm (ish) van and I went alone. The stadium in Dunedin is quite unique in that it’s fully enclosed with a see through plastic roof and plastic grass. Impressive place and a nice environment to watch a match which we won convincingly of course. I also have to give a mention to the New Zealand army band who were the pre match entertainment. They were AWESOME, rather than the usual stuffy performance there was ballet dancing, the YMCA, a haka and even a maul all performed by smart musicians in red uniforms. A breath of fresh air.
I may also have headed for a bar after the game in the hope of cheering on the frogs as they beat the all blacks. For the first 10 minutes it was looking good and the potential to be the perfect night. But alas it was not to be.
The next morning was one we had been dreading, we had to drive virtually the full length of the South Island to catch our ferry to the North Island. Conveniently this was also the night that the clocks changed so we lost an hours sleep as well. We left Dunedin at 6am and headed north for Picton a journey of 714km that took us 10 hours in total with 2 hours + of stopping. A mighty trip but one that was actually pretty easy. The roads are so quiet and you never get traffic so apart from when you go through towns you are just cruising along. (some of the cruising ‘may’ have been a little too fast, a fact confirmed by the polite, apologetic policeman who gave me a speeding ticket and hoped it wouldn’t ruin our holiday).
Some amazing scenery along the way helps, plus having done the trip north of Christchurch once already we had earmarked a couple of places for stops. A cafe in Cheviot was particularly good, great food and a log burner going! Matilda was her usual cool self and amazingly remained happy for the whole trip, it can’t have been fun for her sitting in a car seat for so long.
Despite the vast majority of the journey being in sunshine we arrived into Picton at 5pm in a hail storm that turned into torrential rain. Always fun getting camper van set up for sleeping in that sort of weather. As often happens with the weather here within an hour it was clear sky and the night was absolutely freezing.
Finally on Monday morning we caught the ferry from Picton to Wellington which is a great journey in itself winding through the various islands AND we saw a dolphin which caused much excitement on the boat. We spent most of the trip up on deck getting some fresh air as the lady of the manor isn’t the biggest fan of boats.With Matilda wrapped up in her one piece snow suit it was a very pleasant trip.
We are now getting very excited because on Tuesday we are meeting up with my little bro who lives in Auckland. He’s driving down to meet us in Napier and we haven’t seen him for 18 months so will be awesome catching up.
Stay tuned for the next update in a couple of days. Napier, vineyards, hot pools and some sunshine on the menu we hope.