Christchurch – Hanmer Springs – Christchurch - Oamaru
20.04.2012 - 23.04.2012
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.
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).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!