This is the on-line travelogue of Treve Kneebone and Katrina Lomax. The couple, from the small English town of Windsor, were embarking on an epic voyage of discovery to the four corners of the world from June 2005 to January 2006.
Travel with Sandy
Treve Kneebone and Katrina Lomax
Merry Christmas folks from Christchurch on the South Island of New Zealand!
We've just spent a fantastic three weeks touring New Zealand in our trusty campervan, Sandy. We've seen such diverse landscapes on these beautiful islands and can only attempt to give you a brief snapshot of our adventures here.
Our Kiwi adventure began on a chilly evening on the last day of November, where bargaining for a taxi to take us to central Auckland reminded us very much of Bangkok. As we pulled up to the Auckland City Hotel we realised that once again we were staying in the red light district.
Feeling refreshed after a good night's sleep we set out to explore the dizzy heights of central Auckland. This sophisticated waterfront city was in a similar vein to Sydney, but of course much smaller. We explored the coffee shops and boutiques of the side streets and visited the excellent art gallery.
The following day, the rental campervan was delivered and it was time to hit the road. Basically a transit van with mattress, coolbox and gas stove in the back, Sandy ―as the owners had fondly named her ― would be our house on wheels for the next three and a half weeks. After a few cautious laps around the car park we hit Highway 1 south to the town of Rotorua.
It's true what people had warned us ― the whole place stank of the sulphur spewed out by the many geysers that litter Rotorua and the surrounding landscape. It was amazing to see and walk amongst the bubbling mud pools and hot springs― geography teachers would have a field day here!
So with our noses full of the delicious aroma of rotten eggs, we headed south towards the “kingdom of Mordor” near Tarangi, just south of Lake Taupo. There we were overwhelmed by a large group of school kids who would be tackling the famous Tongariro Crossing the following day. This is a challenging full day's trek across the volcanic landscape that towered above us. We plodded up the lower flanks in the van the following day, only to be engulfed by the thick fog shrouding the peaks.
The scenery as we raced southwards towards Wellington looked like a set for Hobbiton, with rounded grassy knolls. These were terraced from top to bottom, created by the constant tramping of grazing sheep.
“Windy Welly” certainly lived up to its nickname, as we blew into the southernmost town of the North Island. Wellington, being the capital city of New Zealand, is a large and bustling place built around an active port.
Whilst waiting for the 3 a.m. ferry across to the South Island, we snatched some sleep in the port-side car park ―our first experience of rough camping in the van and probably not our last. The rough crossing to Picton passed like a dream as we crashed out on the cafeteria seats. At 6 a.m. we awoke to amazing views of fjords set beside glassy water and knew that our true Kiwi adventure had just begun. We had heard so much about the South and knew that we wouldn't be disappointed.
We drove bleary-eyed through remote villages and rolling countryside until we found another kip-spot in a lay-by surrounded by hills and sheep. We were nearly suffocated a few hours later as the remarkably strong Kiwi sun burnt the roof of our tin-shed on wheels and we felt like a couple of roast chickens in an oven.
Treve's cousin Simon had emigrated to New Zealand with his wife Soo and daughter Ella 3 years previously, so we were very keen to pop in and catch up with a few friendly faces.
Pulling into their dusty drive in the rolling hills just outside Nelson, we were greeted by more faces than we had bargained for as their troop of furry alpacas came bounding towards the fence.
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