Our time on the South Island was evaporating. Not only that but the 25th VW Nationals were calling and we had date in Kaikoura with a small convey that had started in Dunedin that morning.
Imagine the joy when our fellow VDub nuts explained that they had just been watching an awesome dolphin display. They had pulled over to take photos and video on the coast road just south of Kaikoura, nice. So much for heading out to sea on the Whale Watch trip (see previous post).
When the convoy hit the outskirts of Blenheim we veered off in search of refreshment. Being pushed along at a faster than normal speed was starting to take its toll. Not only on us but the Tardis as well, as we would find out later.
We stuck our noses in at Wither Hill Winery. This is a great spot to get a sample of the glorious wines the Marlborough region has to offer. We joined some young, heavily tattooed Scandinavians and their boyfriends for an excellent tasting.
Refreshed and rested we headed to Picton, gateway to the Sounds. Given that we had to be at the ferry at 5.30am we decided to spend our last night on the South Island at a backpackers. Not wanting to scare the other guests, Julie ventured in to scout it out. Some might say we are a little too old for a backpackers. But when travelling on a budget... Given the fact that they had run out of double rooms we ended up in a 2 bedroom flat, with no roommates, result! Advertised as being a little quirky, this an understatement. The padded loo seat just one of the quirks of this little gem.
The ferry ride was nice and smooth, so much so that Julie decided to chance it and join Steve rather than jumping on a plane.
Wildlife made an appearance as we left the Marlborough Sound in the form of half a dozen dolphins. Blink and you missed them as the darted in front of the ferry. Better late than never I guess.
As soon as we docked in Wellington we headed north to try and catch up with the convoy that had left close to an hour before us. It was only when we got half way to Taupo that we met up with the now much larger group of VDubbers.
We had the edge on most of the other Kombi's on the hills. That investment in a little extra horsepower and the Weber carburettor was doing its stuff. For a few fleeting km's we were actually headed the convoy!
Since Steve's girls were small they have played a game in the car to pass the time. This involved collecting points for spotting Beetle's/Kombi's and Mini's. Being the first to call out Kombi at the top of your voice earned you 5 points. We have continued this tradition hurtling around the South Island. Anybody playing the same game as the convoy went passed would have had a field day.
Arriving in Taupo just over 6 hours since we left Wellington left us both a bit stressed and niggily. That only got worse when we hit the local supermarket to find it busier than a middle eastern bazaar. There were almost fist fights over the hot cross buns and Easter eggs.
The campground was straight from a 1970's Volkswagen brochure. Beetle's and Kombi's of all colours as far as the eye could see. We hit it off straight away with our two Kombi owning neighbours, sharing a few beers and wines over the long weekend.
Taupo has some great walks and mountain bikes trails. We found one not far from the campground that took us down to the mighty Huka Falls. It was a pretty hard core track due to trail erosion and bikes going both ways. Only the quick reaction of somebody far younger than Steve avoided a nasty collision.
Saturday was the big day of the weekend. Almost four hundred cars on display. Most primped and polished within an inch of their lives. There are some stunning examples that get wheeled out for special occasions and this was a big one. We were pleased as punch when our neighbour from the campsite picked up second place in our category.
After 2,500 km's of smooth running around the South Island the Tardis decided to pack a sad. We had been at a BBQ with a group of friends including Jamie (Dr. Kombi) from Motorworks. We backed out of the drive only to grind to a halt not more than 10 metres away. Well if you are going to break down there's no better place. Jamie and the rest of the party descended, torches and sonic screwdrivers in hand. Forty minutes later and a quick lesson in hot wiring, we were on our way. Won't bore you with technical details, suffice to say a 40 year old van on low profile tyres on New Zealand roads is asking for trouble.
We headed back to Auckland to complete the circle, hot wiring along the way. A huge thank you to friends, Karen & Dave, Tania & Shane for letting us crash. Their spare rooms resembled the aftermath of a jumble sale as we culled our last few bits and pieces.
We spent our last weekend in Auckland catching up with family and friends. A huge thanks to all those who made it to our leaving bash, we had a wonderful evening, there was even birthday cake for one lucky girl.
We had a wonderful time touring round the South Island. It's a must for all Kiwi's and vistors from distant lands. We will do a quick wrap up including our personal highlights and how much we spent on the next post.
Next Stop Santiago, Chile.