We were planning to take the east coast road down the South Island for our final campervan road trip to Christchurch, where we leave the van. Those plans were scuppered by an earthquake last November that has made the route impassable half way down. So we took the Queen Charlotte coast road west to Havelock and on to Nelson (as recommended by my lovely friend Jane) and the route was stunning.
Nelson didn't disappoint either and although extremely windy, we spent a great night at a kiwi campsite where we had dinner in a lovely kitchen / lounge communal area and chatted to some really interesting people. A couple from the area who had spent 4 months there waiting to complete on a house and a lady in charge of a UK caravan club trip to New Zealand - they were trying to avoid kids! Whoops. Ours were feral somewhere on the campsite on the playground or bouncy cushion so I denied all knowledge of them.
The beach there was stunning and we had an exhilarating evening walk along it.
The next morning we asked where to stop between Nelson and Hamner Springs (which would be our final stop before christchurch and we were recommended a kiwi farm camp in Murchison which was a great tip. Arriving there in the afternoon, we found ourselves on a small holding where the children hand fed sheep, a deer, a wallaby (called Wally) and bottle fed two baby lambs (called Lamby - you get the drift), 3 Emus, a wild pig, a merino sheep, ducks and chickens. They were in heaven!! We spent a lovely afternoon and evening just enjoying the peace and quiet and the animals, cooking on an outdoor BBQ.
The village was so quaint - like stepping back in time and I enjoyed a gentle jog along to the village centre. It was also the epicentre of an earthquake back in the 1920's. There is an earthquake every week in NZ apparently. Fortunately we've had yet to experience one.
The children fed the animals again in the morning and after an hours english we were (again reluctantly) off to the next stop.
The drive to Hamner springs was just spectacular. A turquoise river meandered through rocky ground with a backdrop of the still sno-capped mountains and ski hills.
We stopped at a waterfall and natural hot spring - you end up getting so complacent as there are so many beautiful stops and you can't stop at them all!
Hamner Springs when we arrived 2 1/2 hours later was well worth the central Island detour. A naturally fed spring feeds the many mineral pools, we did some laps in the main pool AND there was water slides!
This kept us all happy for a good couple of hours and after a hot shower we find ourselves in Monkieths, an Irish 'alpine' pub in what feels like a ski village, catching up on our admin while the kids watch a movie in a corner. Tonight we are freedom camping before our final run into Christchurch to hand back the keys. This is with mixed feelings! I love the versatility of a campervan and the benefit of not packing and unpacking every day but we are all looking forward to space and proper beds!
We managed to overtake 4 vehicles this whole 15 days;
1. A mobility scooter. We think he may have been asleep though.
2. A tractor.
3. A lorry with a trailor carrying 2 tractors.
4. The same lorry an hour later, us having stopped at a waterfall.
Top tips for life in a campervan;
1. The toilet is for emergency number 1's only.
2. Don't use the shower on board if you can help it. Way too small and way too much water not to go everywhere.
3. Take the grill pan out or shove a tea towel in it (as long as it's off obv!) - it makes way too much noise on the road.
4. Make sure the fridge is clicked shut before you leave. Otherwise expensive wine bought after tastings will fall out 😱
5. A place for everything and everything in its place or its chaos!
6. Wear ear plugs. You hear everything at night. Children blow off A LOT.
7. It's great fun and a very bonding experience - everyone should try it!