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Last day at work....

Hello readers,

Today is Tuesday 17th April 2012... and the last day of work before swapping office jobs and a rented room for our ExploreMore 'Queenie" campervan (named after the adventure town of Queenstown, not a description of it's drivers).

After brief stops in Bangkok & Sydney, the last 2 months have been spent at Christchurchian desks living the working life of a Kiwi. Notable observations of working in Christchurch have included the following:

- Many people cycle to work. This is particularly exciting as the roads keep opening and closing due to earthquake repairs and so there are many different routes into work.
- Kiwis are very friendly and like to make small talk wherever they may be. The conversation will often begin 'Hey, how's it going?'. The classic response being 'yeah, sweet as mate'. The toilets are no hiding place to this practice, with a conversation at the urinals seemingly encouraged.
- A standard working week consists of 40 hours (8 hours per day, plus a 30min lunch). The shortened lunch takes some getting used if more familiar with the hour version.
- Friday drinks appear to be compulsory and the last Friday of every month is a wonderful day. The staff cafe unlocks the fridge containing many bottles of free Beer & Wine, with the majority of staff staying behind for a drink or two before heading off for the weekend. It's a lovely moment.

All in all we have thoroughly enjoyed our time working here. It has been amazing to work in such a unique city following last years earthquakes - the aftershocks continue almost daily. We are however very excited about picking up our camper on Friday and heading off for 6 weeks of touring both islands!! The trip is still yet to be planned in full but we shall post our itinerary as and when we know it. We do know that after we pick up Queenie on Friday, the first stop is up to Hanmer Springs (natural hot springs) for the weekend, before making a long drive south towards Dunedin, the Otago Pensinsular and the cold windy southern tip of the country. Let the adventures begin...

Posted by Joe and Sarah 20:58 Comments (1)

First day in Queenie

sunny 16 °C

Hello everyone! :-)

Us and all our stuff!

Us and all our stuff!

We have said goodbye to the luxury of a nice bed and hot showers and are very excited about the next six weeks exploring New Zealand in our campervan! We have packed up all our belongings...and apparently we have acquired quite a lot of stuff, including a tartan rug, two bikes, two helmets, two boxes of food, a bag of tupperware pots....and more...but the exciting thing is that it all fits into Queenie! We have just picked her up; she is very nice and comes with everything we could possibly need! We hope! The fridge is miniature so we shall have to buy miniature things only but other than that it all seems ok! It's quite a squeeze with our bikes but we couldn't leave them behind!

We've had a lovely couple of days in Barry's Bay since finishing work where Joe has been busy strimming and building paths at the Capey Residence! We also had a lovely walk at Okains Bay (thank you Dale for the recommendation!) and picked some fresh mussels for tea! They were delightful - because they were tasty and because they were free!

We have just stopped by our old house to pick up our bikes and the plan now is to get on the road! First stop is Hanmer Forest Park which is about one and a half hours north of Christchurch....here there are natural hot springs and a lovely spa so we have our first hot shower planned out already!

Old home...and new home!

Old home...and new home!

We may spend a day or two in Hanmer and then we plan to head back south again, past Christchurch and along the East Coast down towards Dunedin making a few stops en route at the Moeraki Boulders and Oamaru for some Fish & Chips. We would like to stay mostly at small Freedom camping sites that are very basic (loo only...) but generally very beautiful although we will have to stop at more equipped sites every now and then to plug Queenie in to power our fridge!

The rest of our trip is still in the planning stages but we will update when we can. Keep in touch! Always nice to hear from everyone! :-)

PS. We have uploaded a few photos too - hope you can see them!


Posted by Joe and Sarah 17:20 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Days 1-3

Christchurch – Hanmer Springs – Christchurch - Oamaru


After picking up Queenie from Christchurch airport we headed straight to the tourist hotspot of Countdown Supermarket to stock up on supplies. No sooner had we successfully negotiated our first bit of campervan parking, a young lad of approximately 12 years age decided to drive into the side of us! We genuinely could not believe it, but luckily there was only some minor paint damage. After a successful food shop and telling off for the youngster we headed in the direction of Hanmer Springs. We stopped en route in Balmoral Reserve for lunch and liked it so much we decided to stay there for the evening and night, toasting our trip with a lovely bottle of Pinot.Balmoral - 1st night

Balmoral - 1st night

We awoke Saturday morning to clear skies... which was lovely but also means it is freezing until the sun comes up! After some eggs and coffee we headed to Hanmer Springs forest park. Hanmer is an alpine thermal pools resort famed for its Sulphur springs – the hottest being 42 degrees Celsius and smelling like rotten eggs. During the day we created a very slow motion backwards triathlon (a Nolhtairt if you will) – a hike up a hill is followed by a bike ride over a forest track, which in turn is followed by a soak in the eggy springs. It was great fun but coincided with the last weekend of Easter hols meaning the hot springs were extremely busy and not so relaxing! We drove back to Balmoral for the night as it was much cheaper than the Hanmer sites.

Sunday morning was very dewy and even colder – we had carefully parked in a spot to catch the early sunrise but of course it was overcast! Already we were beginning to excel in the daily tasks of drying the bikes until suitable for campervan entry (Joe), packing away the bed (both) and making the campervan look absolutely lovely (Sarah). Sunday consisted of a long drive down south to Oamaru, but only after a brief call back in to the hire place in Christchurch to replace a faulty mug which had thrown coffee over Sarah just hours earlier. The drive itself was around 400km – the scenery was pleasant little fields with mountains in the distance but was nothing to write home about compared to a lot of things we shall see and do so we shall do no such thing. We arrived in Oamaru in time to sample some local award winning cheese, courtesy of Whitestone Cheese Factory, and then watch some Yellow-eyed penguins hilariously waddle their way awkwardly onto shore before finding a lovely little camping spot overlooking a beach (us – not hippy penguins).Campbells Bay - 3rd night

Campbells Bay - 3rd night

Morning view, Campbells Bay

Morning view, Campbells Bay

The only other occupants when we arrived were a semi-retired Kiwi couple who invited us into their amazing renovated motor home to sit on their sofa (a sofa!!!!) whilst they told us all the secret cheap and wonderful camping spots in the south island... and warn us of Sandflies the size of helicopters further south!

Posted by Joe and Sarah 20:27 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 4 - Oamaru - Otago Peninsula


So we woke to a lovely view of the beach out of the back of our campervan – it was a great spot and seemed much warmer than the previous couple of nights which was a relief! We enjoyed a little stroll along the beach at Campbells Bay and then headed back into Oamaru to have a small explore – it was very small indeed as very little seemed to be open! Oamaru is famed for being one of the oldest towns in NZ – the oldest buildings being over 150 years old! It’s very strange as the old buildings actually look almost new. It’s easy to forget how new the country is compared with the UK.

We headed south down to Moeraki boulders (I must just mention that on this journey we were met by a 4x4 vehicle flashing lots of lights and holding a STOP sign...we panicked and stopped as we were told...soon after another flashy vehicle with the sign HOUSE TO FOLLOW...then, no joke a whole house appeared, travelling down the road on a lorry. It was so wide it took up the whole road and more – wish we had got a photo but Sarah was too stunned by the randomness!) anyway....back to the boulders... a random collection of very round boulders scattered along the beach – something to do with the type of rock and erosion....they were very nice to look at and the beach itself was stunning!Moeraki S Capey

Moeraki S Capey

Joe Hatching in Moeraki

Joe Hatching in Moeraki

Whilst having a little walk we spotted a couple of dolphins leaping around in the waves – they were so close to shore it was amazing! Further down the coast at Shag point we saw lots of seals too which was also exciting.

We arrived in Dunedin early afternoon and headed in a hunt for nice cheap / free campsites....of which there appeared to be none. We were recommended a small secret spot by the nice couple last night but on just about every leaflet we picked up we were told no freedom camping was allowed and slightly put off by a $20000 fine we decided we had better stick to the law. From Dunedin we headed onto the Otago peninsula down to Sandfly Bay where ran super fast down an enormous sand dune! Main purpose of visit was to look for more penguins but they didn’t show up...but we were still pleased with the sea lions on the beach for us – they are so big!! From here we drove to the end of Otago Peninsula with some amazing views en route to Pilot Beach to see more penguins coming in shore to feed their chicks. We waited for over an hour and no penguins showed but then by chance Sarah spotted a movement in the bushes behind the viewing area...low and behold there were two tiny Blue Penguins there chirping away waiting for their mothers to return with food! All in all a wonderful day of wildlife!Pilot Beach, Otago 2

Pilot Beach, Otago 2

Posted by Joe and Sarah 20:48 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Day 5: Otago - Dunedin - Waihola Lake


We got away early to head to Allans Beach on the Otago Peninsula. After a long dusty track and a short walk over a field we wandered onto a huge expanse of sand with no one else in sight. It was an amazingly large isolated beach and was lovely.
Jumping Joe, Allan's Beach

Jumping Joe, Allan's Beach

We strolled along the entire length of the beach, passing a couple of sea lions and a couple of stray humans who appeared from nowhere. On the way back we very randomly passed a naked couple on the beach and felt a little uncomfortable as they were grinning at us! Walking pace quickened, we headed back to Queenie and drove on to Dunedin. We drove to Baldwin Street – the world’s steepest street (unbelievably steep!) – before having a lovely cycle around Dunedin.
Stood on steepest street in the world!

Stood on steepest street in the world!

It would have been great to stay in Dunedin for longer but time constraints and lack of cheap camping sites meant we had to settle to for a half pint of a local brew called Emersons at a local bar (which we can thoroughly recommend) before heading out of Dunedin to camp at picturesque Lake Waihola.

Posted by Joe and Sarah 17:30 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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