Tuesday, March 18, 2008


The last time we left you just as we were on our way into Hanmer Spring, Well we arrived safe and sound,

Its a really small little town about 80kms north of Christchurch and its known for its natural hot springs and the beautiful surrounding countryside and some cool walks/treks.

We arrived at night so when we got up early in the morning we went for a soak in the thermal hot pools (Its a tough life on the road..) for $12 you got access to a number of pools that ranged in temperature from 28' (Celsius) to 41'. We skipped straight to about 35' which was nice, after a while we moved upto the 39' pool which was is pretty much perfect bath temperature. They also had two hotter pools which we 40' & 41', they were not chlorinated so they smelled of sulphur (rotten eggs) which kinda takes away from the relaxing soak. Also at that temperature your mind starts to slow down and it gets very hard to move..... after though we felt invigorated enough to go for a walk up a hill through a cool forest!!

There was not much wildlife, but there were loads of giant crazy killer mushrooms.

The views from the top were spectacular, it was a little over cast but it was still stunning.

Going down was much easier than going up!!!

After a quick bite to eat, we were back on the road again heading back out towards the coast to a town called Kaikoura.

Half the reason we decided to buy a camper van was to have the total freedom to explore New Zealand, you can go where you want, when you want. If you wanna sleep somewhere, just pull over and kick gugs out to the tent and get some sleep!! Only messing, we are taking turns in sleeping in the tent, its a great arrangement as you get a bit of privacy while sleeping in the tent. (Translates to: myself and gugs can fart away to our hearts content while sleeping in the tent)

With scenery like this driving is a pleasure.

We arrived into our campsite in Kaikoura before dark and set up our little area, the tent is a little 3 man and we have a blow-up mattress so its nice and comfy for who's ever turn it is to sleep in there.

The campsite had a gaggle of ducks which seemed to take a liking to Charlie......

Some of the campsites we have stayed at were quite basic, but this one was pimping, it even had Wifi so I could update the blog!! It also had this jumping pillow which was harder than it looked!!

Thats me doing a front flip nearly taking out an entire family of German kids, and by front flip, I mean I did a handstand and fell forward.

As the miles clocked up on the van (we have not named it yet, ideas are welcome!!) we noticed she was a bit sluggish especially when trying to do more than 75kmph and we noticed a bit of an odd sound to the engine, so we booked her into a garage (notice the corrugated shed...) to get her oil changed and a new oil filter. Well, I'm no mechanic but I've never seen such a change in a car/van with just an oil change. Her top speed was about 95kmph before the oil change, with anything over 80kmph sounding like she was about to explode, But after the oil change she will hit 120kmph, and cruise at over 100kmph. All for $100 (50 Euros) including labour. Like a whole new van!!

We arrived in Kaikoura on the Thursday, so we took Friday "Off" and just did our laundry and had a few beers and booked a little trip for early the next morning!

To do a bit of whale watching!! We were up bright and early and had to be at the pier for 7.15am

They piled us onto a really nice catemeran and we headed a couple of kms off shore to where the sea floor drops from 80m to well over 1000m deep.

It wasn't long before we had our first sighting of a sperm whale, when they breath out they send a big jet of water up and its the easiest way to spot them!

The size of them was crazy, they can get upto 20m long, but most of the ones we saw were over 14m!

A sperm whale stays at the surface to rest and breath, then it dives back down to the depths, so when they surface, if you wait a few mins they go back down and you get to see the famous tale do its thing!!


A close up of the tale.

We were told that we would be lucky to see about 1-2 whales so when they kept spotting new ones we felt very lucky!!

The boat was nice and big and it wasn't that busy which was great

Last tale shot of the day.

After seeing at least 6 whales (4 very close) The very fast cat did a quick blast bringing us closer to shore to see another of kaikoura's famous inhabitants.

The boat came right in, near the shore line to see some of these playful things:

A Dolphin! To be precise a Dusky Dolphin, native to New Zealand.

We were not expecting to see anything apart from the whales, so when they started to play along side the boat we were super stoked.

What we really didn't expect to see was what what we came upon next. They called it a concentrated pod, but not one of us had ever even imagined that we would see this many dolphins at one time, Ive never seen anything like it on TV or anything, there must have been at least 150 dolphins just going crazy at the surface, doing flips and jumps, like some sort of dolphin party. Insane.

How amazing is that?

Seeing them play like that was simply stunning.

Its rare that im lost for words, but it really left me speechless. A definite highlight.

On the way back into port we even stopped off to see a group of seals, this little cub was cool!

Some way to start the day!! Two very happy customers!

But time waits for no man (Or Van!) So it was north again to a place called Blenheim which was only about 120km from Kaikoura.

The road was a mixture of coastal and inland stretches, it was probably the most beautiful drive we have done yet and that's saying something!

We even came upon some seals again in the wild.

This must have been the training pool for the pups!

Time for a quick road side stop for some coffee and soup, we love our van.

After a while the road started drop into a valley and we knew we were getting close to Blenheim.

what's the green areas in amongst the dry land? Vineyards........ We have arrived in wine country!!!

We found a nice spot in a cool campsite beside the river. We sorted dinner out for ourselves and had a nice night by the river!

The next day was a treat! we rented a bike each and headed off for a days wine tasting!

Within a 20km radius of where we were staying there was well over 40 wineries, we picked out a route and got down to tasting some of New Zealand's finest plonk.


Wine Grapes, which tasted really sweet!

Guggles taking in the views and trying to keep his bike upright after a few glasses of vino!

This place was very cool, they only planted there first seeds 3 years ago and they only have 6h of land but their was wine was seriously tasty and the owners were super cool!

Not a bad way to spend a day eh? (I have no idea why there a is a chicken in the shot??)

It wasn't a cheap bottle of Pinor, but god it was good!!!

Gugs cutting out the middle man! It was another really cool day but it did get a little hard to cycle towards the end, so we retired to our campsite with the wine we had bought and got a little drunker!!

After a pretty big lie in it was time to leave Wine country, but not before we paid a visit to the small Chocolate factory...... Charlie nearly had to be restrained.

This is Charlie trying to decide between classic caramel or mint sticks after I told her she should only get one box..... look at the face on her.......

It was St. Patrick's day so we got back in the van and headed towards Nelson for a few beers! This is Gugs talking to Sash by the side of the road!

Every which way you turn the countryside is just amazing, and very different, massive mountains and then huge open plains and prairies.

It may not be as hot as Australia, but we were glad to have Air Con in the van! and of course our fridge for cold drinks on the way!!

Not a bad place to build a house.

A quick roadside stop for photos, Its tough trying to drive along, cus you just wanna stop every 100 yards.

Its becoming apparent that the true star of our travels in our Van, its brilliant and its even better now as myself and Gugs tinted the rest of the windows (for stealth and privacy) and have also installed a 4 point 240v power block so we can get power when ever we are in a campsite!!

Keep an eye on the blog as we will be updating at least once a week as we are doing so much!!
We hope your all well and having a blast where ever you may be.

Lots of love
Sean, Gugs and Charlie!!

Happy St. Patricks day too!! Sorry its a couple days late!!


Sash said...

Chick, i love your blue tshirt in the last picture and i hope to god that you got both the caramel chocolates and the mint sticks!! Boys - they dont know anything!! ALWAYS buy both!! It should be a law or something!!

Brian said...

'supchas? If you get a chance ye should head over the hill to Takaka, then go into the Kahurangi national park and go kiwi hunting. They taste really good.