After what seems like a lifetime of planning we finally hit the road on Saturday 28th February. During our first two weeks we have travelled through the North Island and caught up with several friends and one daughter. We have seen some breathtaking scenery and burnt more calories that we would have in month back in normal mode.
We will cover the whole packing up and leaving home in a later posting. But now we know that we should have started this dramatic downsizing at least a couple of months earlier. Steve ended up leaving several things to the last minute (no surprise). This included the shipping of items sold on TradeMe (NZ's much better version of eBay). We ended up with a van full of parcels to post along the way.
NZ roads have the smoothness of a lunar landscape. Our not so trusty 1975 Kombi hitting each bump with a bone shaking thud. The result being our bike rack ended looking like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Mark of ROAM Industries came to our rescue with a new bike rack.
First stop was Rotorua, the thermal capital of New Zealand. This was Julie's first visit and for some reason she tried to blame the pungent boyhood aroma of Rotorua (sulphur) on Steve. This first stop was our chance to chill down after our hectic exit and chill we did. The Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is a must. Great walks through pre-historic looking thermal landscapes, including the Lady Jane Geyser. We hit the quad busting (and free) mountain bike park just a short drive from the town centre. Each day ended with a quick swim and a refreshing soak in the natural hot pools. Dinner the first night was a gourmet mixture of baked beans on toast and a bottle of bubbles.
The drive down to Wellington was going to take at least 6 hours so we broke the journey up by staying overnight at Mangaweka. This cute little campground on the Rangitikei river surrounded by imposing white cliffs. We stopped for a coffee and a gigantic custard slice in Bulls. Here the locals have made an 'incredi-bull' effort to play on the town's name.
We rolled into Wellington on the 5th March, staying in luxury at a friend's apartment on Oriental Parade. A huge thank you to Paul for being such a generous host. As we have both been to Wellington on many occasions this wasn't a sight seeing trip but a chance to catch up with family and friends. Steve's daughter has just started at Victoria University, we stopped by to see how she was settling in. Friends, Lloyd and Anthea invited us for BBQ on the Friday evening. It was quite a gathering with three out of four of their children, their partners, two grandkids and three large dogs. We felt so welcome.
We left for the South Island on Saturday. The weather was shocking with gale force winds and a 2-metre swell. Being a fair-weather sailor, Julie opted to cash in some Airpoints and fly. While Steve took the Kombi onto the ferry for a roller coaster crossing of the Cook Strait.
All in all, a great start to our travel adventure. Can't wait to see what the South Island has to offer.