Buskers, Forests and a Guinness World Record…

After leaving our mountain side camp near Kaikoura (run by the Department of Conservation) we headed back into town to grab a shower at the local BP Garage before driving down the East Coast towards Christchurch.

Parking in the city was a bit of a nightmare – particularly because we were driving a high-top vehicle that couldn’t fit into any of the multi-story car parks – but we eventually found somewhere to put Fred and walked into the city centre. Cathedral Square is the main hub of Christchurch and we were pleased to discover that we had timed our visit to coincide with the annual Busker’s Festival.

An eccentric artist was right in the middle of his ‘act’ – painting a huge canvas in time to music by Michael Jackson. At first we couldn’t quite work out what he was painting, but it soon became clear (helped a bit by the carefully chosen music) that he was painting the King of Pop himself! The painting was excellent and we stayed to watch him complete an upside down portrait of Elvis Presley, which was equally impressive!

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We then took some time to explore the rest of the city – taking a stroll past the river to watch the punts, walking through Hagley Park and the pretty Botanical Gardens before following the tourist tramlines back into the city centre.

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Later that afternoon we took advantage of the fact that we were in a big city and got on with some errands such as laundry and shopping before turning our attention to where we were going to sleep for the evening. We knew that we wouldn’t be able to free camp anywhere within the city boundaries so decided to drive down to the Banks Peninsula and see if we could spot any hideaways.

It took quite a while to drive there and was almost pitch black by the time we arrived at Lyttleton Harbour in the Peninsula. From there we took the cliff top road towards Governor’s Bay and spotted a big lay-by at the side of the road. Despite the strong winds that had started blowing and that fact that we could hardly see a thing in the dark, we decided to stop there and go to sleep. It was a pretty windy night and I felt like we were going to get blown over the edge on more than one occasion, but when we woke up the next morning we were amazed to see the fantastic view that greeted us.

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Once we were washed and dressed we set off for the inland town of Geraldine where we visited a fantastic ‘i-site’. Here we got loads of information about walks in nearby Peel Forest and free campsites around the region. The town of Geraldine itself is pretty unremarkable – it’s mainly a base for visiting the nearby forests and the Mount Cook National Park, but we did stumble across the town’s very own Guinness World Record! Two local residents are responsible for creating the world’s largest jumper (aka the Giant Jersey) which is pinned up on the wall inside their shop.

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Once we’d finished looking at the Giant Jersey we got back into our camper van and set off towards Peel Forest. Here, we took a walk to Ackland Falls, a pretty waterfall hidden amongst the forest. We even had to wade through a stream to reach it!

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After driving up and down the length of the Forest, we drove back towards Geraldine, stopping for the night in a free campsite just outside the village of Arundel.

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