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Wellington to Mokau via Mt Taranaki

North Island

We arrived in Wellington very late so just found anywhere we could to park up for the night. We parked in the city centre which meant we could get up and wander into the city for coffee in the morning.

We walked around the gardens which were a bit underwhelming to be honest but the city had a nice feel to it, lots of cafes and restaurants. We walked near the wharf and had beer watching some rowing.

We then drove to a high point which had a great view over the city.

We went for dinner at Logan brown which is a restaurant that one of the chefs we watched at the Marlborough food festival owns. It was really good!

We then drove out of the city and camped near a bay about 40mins north west of the city.

We only had a few days to get to Auckland to meet our friend so the next few days were bigger drives but we tried to stop in places we wanted to see. We decided to drive via Mt Taranaki which is a big volcano.

On the way we stopped at lake but I can’t remember the name, it close to the main highway but a lovely place to hang out for a few hours.

Mt Taranaki was pretty impressive to see but the weather wasn’t great the so we decided not to do any of the walks. We camped on a cliff that night and had a beautiful sunset.

The next day we drove to Lake Rotokare based on a recommendation from a parking officer, she was going to give us a parking ticket but told us a good place to go instead! It’s a lake that is surrounded with a fence to keep all pests out. Volunteers run it and there are kiwis there but we didn’t see any. We walked all the way round the lake.

We continued up the west coast of the north island and stopped on the coast for the night at a rugby ground near the mouth of a river going into the sea. The sand was black and so fine, I’ve never seen sand like it but I forgot to take a photo!We fished in the river mouth but didn’t catch anything!

Posted by Louisejhcowan 12:33 Archived in New Zealand Tagged fishing volcano lake island sand north black wellington taranaki campervan logan brown kiwis vanlife mokau vypsies rotokare Comments (0)

Blenheim to Nelson via Marlborough Sounds

South Island

On Sunday we had a lazy morning and went for coffee in Blenheim. It seemed like a cute town with lovely gardens and lots of cafes.

From here we drove to Picton. This is where you get the ferry to the North Island and also is the gateway to the Marlborough Sounds.
The weather since we have been in Marlborough has been beautiful, sunshine everyday and not a cloud in the sky.
We drove through Picton as we will visit it on our way back down and started our drive into the sounds along the windy Queen Charlotte road.

We decided went just past Double Bay to a place called Ohingaroa Bay and camped on the side of the sound. It was beautiful. There were only 4 campers allowed and we got one of the spots. We sunbathed and chilled out all afternoon as it was so peaceful. In the evening we went for a walk on the beach and there were clams everywhere so we collected some, we noticed a few rogue mussels too and when we got to the end of the beach we found loads on some rocks which we also foraged!
We cleaned them and prepped them ready for tea the next day.

The Marlborough Sounds is pretty big with lots of no exit winding roads to get to places so we decided to just pick 1 place to get to rather than exploring it all. We drove up to somewhere called Mistletoe Bay which is part of the Queen Charlotte walking track - this is something I would like to do one day as this part of the world is so nice.

We went swimming in the bay - it was gorgeous! And again found more mussels which we picked and prepped for the next days tea - think we might get sick of mussels!

From here we set off towards Nelson, driving through a place called Havelock which is apparently the green lipped mussel capital of the world.

We stopped at Pelorus Bridge which is where the barrel scene in the hobbit was filmed. The river here is perfect for swimming in and as it was such a hot day we went and jumped off the rocks and swam here.

We then continued our drive to Nelson, there wasn’t much to stop for on the way. We stocked up in Nelson and went to Tahunanui Beach for the evening. It’s a shame we couldn’t freedome camp here so had to move to somewhere else for the night. We cooked moules marinere and it was lovely.

The next day we spent it doing some van jobs and exploring Nelson as this could be a potential place for us to live. There is a nice vibe to the city and it’s great to be so close to a lovely beach. We went for cocktails and beer in the evening, the main square was busy for a week night and again it felt like a nice place to be. We camped in the city centre this night.

Posted by Louisejhcowan 22:40 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beach bridge bay swimming nelson campervan marlborough barrels sounds blenheim clams hobbit foraging mussels vanlife mistletoe vypsies tahunanui pelorus Comments (0)

Kaikoura to Blenheim for Marlborough Wine & Food Festival

South Island

We arrived in Kaikoura on 6th for our whale watch boat tour but it was cancelled due to the weather.
We wandered round Kaikoura and bought rummikub from the charity shop and played it in the van.

Chris got a call from a recruitment company asking if he could get to Christchurch on Thursday for a chat with a potential company. As we were only about 2 hours away we decided to go.
We drove to Christchurch and stayed in New Brighton near the beach.
We did jobs and stocked up in Christchurch in the morning and after Chris’ interview headed back up the coast towards Kaikoura. We camped about 45mins south of it.

In the morning we drove back to Kaikoura as we had booked a flight instead of a boat tour to see the whales. It was a beautiful day and as we were driving around the peninsular we spotted some orca off the coast!

The flight was amazing, it was only 40mins but we saw a sperm whale, orca and dolphins. The place is tiny, there was only 4 of us and the pilot flys down to 150m above the ocean so you get a great birds eye view! Would definitely recommend this rather than a boat trip.

After the flight we continued driving north towards Blenheim. We camped out in a field near the malborough wine and food festival, there was a bbq and we had an early night ready for a day of drinking and eating on Saturday.

The festival was great, another beautiful day. Lots of wine and good food and music too, our favourite band was the Vanuatan string band. It finished at 6.30pm and we spent the evening chilling out in the van.

Posted by Louisejhcowan 22:19 Archived in New Zealand Tagged food whales festival wine flights kaikoura campervan malborough Comments (0)

Wanaka to Kaikora via The West Coast

South Island

We drove over the Haast pass to get to the west coast, we stopped in Haast to look at the beach and the sea and continued driving up into glacier country.
The tree and plants change over on the west coast and look more tropical and bush like.

We also replenished our stash of local honey!

We stopped at Fox glacier as I wanted to see what it looked like 9 years on from when I last saw it and it has definitely got smaller but we couldn’t get a great view of it.
We decided to stay the night in Franz Jospeh which also has a glacier. Last time I was here I did a guided walk across it, now you can only access it by helicopter (making it expensive) due to how far it was retreated with warmer weather. Franz Jospeh was a cute village with some nice bars and restaurants.

We continued up the west coast towards Greymouth and stopped in Hokitika for an ice cream and leg stretch. The drives yesterday and today have been quite long as we haven’t seen anywhere we wanted to stop and stay for long so have just kept moving.

We then found a place called Lake Brunner about 30km from Greymouth which was perfect was swimming and relaxing and as the weather was so nice we stayed here for 2 nights. We fished, swam and did yoga and not much else!! We met a few people from the nzmca who invited us for drinks which was nice.

Our plan was to keep following the west coast and reach Abel Tasman which is at the north west of the South Island and then work our way around the north of the South Island and finish in kaikora (north east of the South Island), however we read about the Marlborough wine and food festival which is on 9th Feb and thought it was too good to miss so have changed our route to now go cross country to kaikora and then work our west to hopefully still get to Abel Tasman.

So, we went back to greymouth to refuel, not much else here, and then stared our route cross country. There wasn’t much to see here compared to the rest of the South Island so again we continued driving to get the miles in. We stopped at Hamner Springs which is a small alpine town, looks very man made but again is quite cute. We stayed here for the night and set off towards Kaikora the next day as we had booked a whale watch.

Posted by Louisejhcowan 18:59 Archived in New Zealand Tagged sunset swimming campervan roadtrip honey west_coast vypsies lake_brunner Comments (0)

Alexandra to Wanaka

South Island

We worked from Monday to Friday on a vineyard called 3 miners in Alexandra. Our job was to leaf pluck the leaves around the grapes so sunlight could get to them. It was the most boring job ever and we only lasted 1 week rather than the 2 we were supposed to because of this!

We stayed around Alexandra on Saturday and Sunday, we camped just out of town at a lake where we fished. We went to a lovely cafe for brunch and played tennis, and went to the local cinema. The cinema is run by volunteers and only held about 30 people, a great facility in a small town!

On Sunday evening we drove back to Cromwell and camped out next to the lake there.

In the morning we got our rod fixed (it had broken) set off to Wanaka.
We decided on the way that we would do a big walk in the Mt aspiring national park, based on recommendations from Marion our old next door neighbour, so we stopped at the DOC info centre in Wanaka to pick up our overnight passes for the huts we would stay in and to check the weather etc.
In Wanaka we parked at ruby island and sunbathed and fished.
I have also started doing yoga so try to do half an hour every day in the nice places we stop.
Rosanne came to meet us in the afternoon and took us to her favourite burrito van and local brewery. It was really nice to meet her and see Wanaka from a locals perspective.

The next day we got everything ready for our 3 day tramp and then went horse riding with Rosie after lunch. It was great fun! She took us into the Cardrona valley (which is just outside Wanaka and is where you can ski in the winter) and the scenery of beautiful. It’s beautiful all around Wanaka too.
We walked, trotted and even cantered on the horses! It was a great way to see the countryside.
Rosie then took us to the local distillery which is new in Cardrona. We did a tasting of their vodka, gin and fruit liqueurs. We couldn’t taste any whisky as it isn’t ready yet! Everything was so nice but very expensive but we were tempted to treat ourselves to a bottle, but had a cocktail instead. We then went to the Cardrona hotel which is the 2nd oldest pub in NZ. It was the best and nicest pub we have been in so far. Very ‘oldy worldy’ with a lovely outdoor courtyard, we ate and the food was good too - Cardrona basically only has a few houses, the distillery and the pub but I now want to live here!

Posted by Louisejhcowan 21:08 Archived in New Zealand Tagged trek vineyard horse wine leaf wanaka campervan alexandra plucking Comments (0)

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