We’ve just said good bye to our campervan. After 22 days it was a sad moment, for me at least.
So many people we spoke to said we would love New Zealand and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
It took a while to adjust to the difference in wildlife, coming from Australia where nearly everything is poisonous or predatory to a place with barely any predatory mammals and wildlife that consisted majorly of the flying or swimming variety.
We landed in Auckland and were collected by the Bower-Gillson’s. We spent a fun-filled 24 hours with them both, catching up as they have recently relocated to NZ. We had a brief tour of Auckland as well as a trip across to Waiheke Island, a great introduction to the sprawling beauty on offer in NZ.
We picked up our campervan the next day and hit the road. We’d only given ourselves 4 days in the North Island as we didn’t realise how hard it would be to get a ferry booking to the South Island. I feel we missed out a glorious chunk by not exploring the beaches on the top of the North Island but it’s a good reason to come back.
We quickly adapted to campervan life, each morning we would make coffee and porridge on our gas stoves, take a refreshing swim in a nearby lake then back on the road to the next town.
I don’t know where to begin with our adventure in NZ or how to set out a top list of favourites. It’s a beautiful country with such a varied landscape and incredibly friendly people that I don’t think I can have favourites. I honestly don’t want to leave.
Before we arrived we downloaded the campervan nz app which details a lot of places to stay in the North and South island. Without a doubt the standout favourite are the DOC (department of conservation) sites, you pay $6 per person for a site that gives you access to a toilet and sometimes water and sheltered cooking area, these places are generally in picturesque settings and enhance your appreciation of the beautiful country you are in. Whilst bathing in a lake is a novel way to wake yourself up we still appreciated a hot shower whenever we could get one.
Being in a confined space with another person for three weeks can get testing but we soon learnt when to give each other space and certainly which arguments were worth pursuing, I think this was more a learning that I needed to take away 🙂
Our evenings consisted of a delicious dinner courtesy of a Maggi sachet and then chilling out with a tv series. I highly recommend The Man in the High Castle and House of Cards. We entertained ourselves whilst driving with podcasts – Serial and Radiolab are the favourites.
I could reel off the places we visited but that won’t do them any justice, even being on the road is visually captivating as you take in lush green fields edged by misty mountain ranges. My mind spins in a giddy dance at how we went from swimming with dolphins in the sun to donning a raincoat and being hypnotised with the clustered abundance of the flattened ‘pancake’ rocks to climbing a 1300 meter peak to get a better view of a 7000 year old glacier … this is only a snippet of the variety we encountered.
My sister asked me ‘have I found myself’ and what do I find myself thinking about whilst travelling. I do have an abundance of time that now isn’t consumed by a job and busy social life however I don’t know if I ever will truly find myself. I find I keep evolving, maybe it’s more about accepting the flow of changes than trying to find a reason in them and letting the effects play out.
Having this luxury of exploring other cultures has given me a new appreciation for the city where I have lived all of my life- London. Before we left I was thinking I wouldn’t go back. However the diversity present, in the people and the multiple of historical experiences are, currently making me excited to experience it through a different lens.
I feel I should write more frequently to be able to share every experience I am having but deep down I know this is something just for me and if you really want to know what a country is like and the effect it will have on you, then you can only immerse yourself in it. Someone else’s word can only tip your scales off balance. The choice is yours whether you want to effect that balance.