E noho ra New Zealand..!

E noho ra New Zealand..!

Our last night in New Zealand was spent back where our Kiwi road trip first began – Westhaven Marina in Auckland! We drove there from Waitomo where we had visited the glow worm caves and arrived just as it was getting dark. It was Valentine’s Day so we decided to treat ourselves to an Indian and a few glasses of wine for our last supper – it was the perfect setting and a perfect way to end our journey!

The next day we packed up our backpacks and gave Fred a good old clean and clear out. It was quite a poignant moment when we realised that this would be the last time we woke up in our little camper. Despite his age he had done us proud and really made our road trip memorable! If there is going to be one thing that we miss the most about New Zealand, it could actually be Fred!

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Once we were satisfied that we hadn’t left anything at the back of a cupboard we set off towards the Go Wild depot where we said our final goodbyes to Fred before getting a lift to the airport. Our flight back to Sydney was due in just a couple of hours and we were suddenly conscious that our time in New Zealand was coming to an end, which was a very sad thought!

Our road trip has been a fantastic adventure and more than anything, we have absolutely loved the camper van life! Fred has taken us through so many diverse and intriguing landscapes, across thousands of kilometres and enabled us to see as much of New Zealand’s two islands as we possibly could.

Something that struck us almost immediately upon arriving there is just how similar the scenery is to the UK. There were points on our journey where we had to double-take the views and remind ourselves that we weren’t somewhere in the Peak District. Rolling hills, lush green fields, sheep and cows all added to its quintessentially ‘English’ feel! Whilst this was a surprise for us, it didn’t take long to roam into the type of iconic scenery that New Zealand is famous for – namely the Southern Alps, Fox & Franz Josef Glaciers, Mount Cook National Park, Milford Sound and of course, Queenstown!

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These were indescribably jaw dropping and the whole reason that we were attracted to New Zealand in the first place. At this point we really have to thank the guys at Flying Kiwi – whose itinerary we were following most of the way around the country – if it wasn’t for them we would not have discovered half the places their brochure took us to! Whilst we were determined to do the trip independently in a camper van, we most certainly would have chosen Flying Kiwi if we were going to do it by bus!

Now a slight change in tone I’m afraid – whilst many aspects of New Zealand completely blew us away, there was one thing that consistently surprised us during our road trip and this was the obvious distrust for ‘free campers’. It would appear that a small minority of people have now taken the true sense of freedom away from the majority of campers. The local residents and councils have had enough of this minority leaving rubbish on the ground and defecating in gardens and fields and rightly so! They have decided to clamp down and it is now possible to be handed a fine or moved on if you park up in the wrong place. It’s such a shame that a few people can ruin the experience for everyone else.

Because of this, campervans (particularly those that aren’t ‘self contained’) are frowned upon across the two islands and finding somewhere to park up in peace overnight is certainly a challenge. The most common sign we came across in New Zealand unfortunately wasn’t…

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But was in fact…

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This was without a doubt the biggest drawback of driving around New Zealand. But it’s not all bad news because, luckily, we were able to find lots of people who were willing to help us out. Our best tip for finding a place to sleep for the night is to find one of the following people when you arrive at your final destination and ask them for advice…

The “i-sites” (Tourist Information Centres) – These are situated in most large towns and the staff would often give us a map and directions to suitable places for parking up overnight.

Security Guards – We found that if you ask the guard that is patrolling the area if you can stay for the night, so long as you promise to keep the place tidy they generally let you, but if not will point you in the right direction.

Local Police – The police in Queenstown were particularly helpful and enabled us to experience one of the most memorable nights of our trip at Lake Wakatipu.

The Locals – Local knowledge of the area is always helpful and we found that the locals were very good at pointing us towards unofficial campsites where free camping was ‘over looked’ by the authorities but far enough away from their own door steps.

Despite this slight hassle we most certainly would not want to put anyone off taking their own Kiwi road trip. Travelling independently, whether by car, motor-home or hop on-hop off bus service is the best way to achieve a unique experience and we wouldn’t have changed it for the world!

As I’m sure you’re aware, New Zealand has been in the news recently because of the devastating Christchurch earthquake. It’s ironic that the places we loved the most exist because of the same geological characteristics that caused this disaster. New Zealand’s unique position on the edge of both the Pacific and Indo-Australian tectonic plates is responsible for creating its mountains, volcanoes and mesmerising natural phenomenon, yet it is this very thing that has caused so much devastation and loss.

We are so thankful that we were able to see these amazing islands in all their glory and hope that others will follow in our footsteps and see this awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping county…

For those of you that enjoy adventure, beauty and the ‘great outdoors’ New Zealand is truly un-missable!

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2 Comments

  1. November 22, 10:44 #1 Aisleen Author

    Thanks! I love the glacier pic too – looks even better in real life! 🙂 You should so try the bungy…it was awesome – the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my whole life but A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!

  2. November 21, 23:40 #2 The World of Deej

    Great story, and amazing pics. The one of the glacier in particular is awesome. I buddy of mine recently did the bungee as well….not for me:)


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