Thursday, March 13, 2008

Where to start?, where to start? A lot has happened since we arrived in New Zealand a week ago, So I better start from the beginning.

This the view from where we were sitting in Melbourne Airport waiting for our flight very early on Thursday morning.

Flying over the centre of the south island, such great views!!

Charlie adjusting back into Hostel life, we booked into a 6 bed dorm on the Thursday for 4 nights, hoping that would be enough time to find and buy a camper van to travel around New Zealand. Gugs would be flying in on Friday night after spending an extra night in Sydney.

This is Cathedral sq in the city centre of Christchurch. They call in a city, but its more like a large town. We pretty much loved it straight away!

That's the Cathedral that gives the Sq its name and the other thing is a big metal inverted cone. Obviously.

On Friday morning myself and Charlie were up pretty early to have a look around the city and find the backpackers car market to see what kinda vans were available. The best way of finding out what a city is like is just to walk it, you always find cool things and places.

Like a giant yellow chair.

Or an oddly named Church.

Or cool streets & lanes to go and get drunk in!! Wait a second, I skipped a bit there, before we got drunk, we looked at a few vans ranging in price from nz$2000 to nz$4500. A couple were contenders but they were very old (1985/86) and were a bit ropey on the inside. We will get to what we bought in a bit, but after we finally got a van on Saturday evening we went and got drunk to celebrate!!

A Great friend of mine, Joanne, lives in Christchurch so we met up with her on Saturday night for a few beers in a few local bars in Christchurch. We found out that there was a local music festival the next day just outside the city, So we decided to take a day off from buying vans and general backpacker stuff and go and enjoy some kiwi music!

It was only $20 dollars but Joanne knew someone who knew someone so we got in for half price!! Funnily enough it was called "Cheap as Chips." The music was great and it was a family concert so it was a strictly no alcohol event, it was a great day out!

This is Charlie waiting patiently for her coffee, the sun was shining but there was a very nippy wind! I don't know what happened when I took this photo but it looks like Charlie is whiter than one of my mammys sheets? She is actually much browner.

Gugs, Charlie, Joanne and Melanie (our cool German room mate!)

And introducing AYL 648!! This is our mode of transport and home for the next while!! Quite a few vans we saw were pimped out inside with folding beds, fridges, 240v power but the engines were very old (1985) and had upwards of 350,000 kilometres on them, so when we found this 1995 Nissan 2.0l diesel with 186,000kms on it we bought it for nz$3300!! (around 1700 euros) The only problem with the one we bought was the inside:

It looked like shit! It had a double bed wedged in the back and for some reason we cant understand a chest of drawers?? Our logic was that as long as the vehicle was running fine the inside could be fixed with a bit of love and care.

We bought it off 3 Israeli guys who had just done 2 months in her. They were cool guys but they obviously didn't mind sleeping in a filthy van, but what was done was done. We had bought a van and all we had to do was make it liveable in. At least it was mechanically sound.........

Or so with though. On Sunday night we went for a drive after the concert out to Joanne's gaff out by the beach. When we tried to start her up later on she was dead. The battery was totally dead, so we had to pop-start her to get her going. Not a good start. We got her into town and parked her up for the night. Strangely enough she started the next morning 1st time? Very odd. We decided to bring her to a garage to get her looked at, the battery was as good as dead. So we bought a new one, but the guy at the garage said it could be the alternator. (Its the thing that charges the battery while you drive and distributes the electricity to the lights and radio etc.)

To cut a very long story (and day) short we travelled to about 4 garages getting quotes from $1100 for a new one to $325 for a 2nd hand one.

Every garage that knew what we were talking about all said they are very hard to get a hold of, but one very cool guy found us one about 50min outside of Christchurch, so we hopped in the van and headed straight there. We arrived in a very small town to a garage that seemingly had the only 1995 Nissan diesel alternator in existence.

30mins later and $375 lighter ($50 labour) we were back on the road. One very important thing I will take from this experience is never ever trust or use one of those poxy name brand garages like quick-fit that you see in every city. Find an independent guy with a corrugated shed and grease all over him, preferably with tattoos. He will always be better. Tattoos & Grease.

So now all we had to do was gut her and make her our home!

We went on a shopping spree in a shop called "The Warehouse" (Thanks Joanne!!) and also used their car park to put it all inside!!!

Never seen someone fitting carpet into a van before.....

We gutted everything out, but the floor was disgusting so we found a cheap carpet!

We didn't just throw it in, we cut it to size so it was nice and snug.

Voilá!! How good is that!!

The double bed went back in with the brand new sheets. Nice.

Charlie even bought a rug to make it more homely!! Like a whole new van!!!

After our first night sleeping in the van (3 in the bed!!! Lucky Charlie!!) we went and bought more stuff before we were on our way! We had managed to leave Christchurch on Tuesday with a very full van!

We spent the next day in our camp site sorting out all the stuff we had bought and putting into our own boxes so we had loads of room in the van:

Notice all the boxes under the bed? Thats all that crap that was in the main area, but is now all sorted out.

I had to have one indulgence though, a decent stereo. Whats a road trip with out tunes?

Our first meal on the road!! Pasta with bacon.

1st morning waking up in our really cool campsite. Check out the cat!

About 20 meters away from our van was this beach........

And not a single person on it. What a way to wake up!


Breakfast. Sean, Gugs and Charlie style. Bacon, Pancakes and syrup.

We headed north towards Hanmer Springs. To say it was a stunning drive would not do it justice.

Check that out. We arrived just before sunset and set up our camp for the night!

Well that's enough for now, I'm gonna have to get used to updating the blog more often now as we are doing loads of stuff. Tomorrow we are off to do a bit of Whale watching, Not bad for a saturday morning!!

Lots of love
Sean, Charlie and Gugs.


Sash said...

That photo of you, Fizzy, in the yellow chair is gas!! You look teeny, tiny!! Tee, hee, hee!!

allan said...

love the yellow chair...!! and the van Boss !!