The next segment of the adventure of a lifetime….Camper Van Tour around the South Island of New Zealand! We flew from Napier, near Craggy Range, to Queenstown and joined our friends Morgan Drew and Toni Vettoretti who have their own converted van they call The Beast!!! Their van is a very typical conversion…everything you need, comfy and cozy!!!
We had to rent a camper van so called a local company in Queenstown. Apparently, should have booked a little earlier!!! We were told the only camper available was 7.3 meters long…gargantuan and just a bunch of unnecessary bells and whistles to fret over. I felt like a National Lampoon vacation movie, but it was what it was!
We hooked up with Morgan and Toni at a pub in Queenstown, made a quick stop for provisions, and headed to the northern end of Lake Wakatipu to a small settlement called Glenorchy. Pulled in and within minutes, Toni and Morgan were enjoying a cold beverage in their camp chairs. We, however, were trying to get the water to work, the TamTam WiFi up and running and a myriad of other things we could have done without. We literally rented ourselves a job!!! LOL….lesson learned….Less is more in some cases! Toni was the Chef on Duty and the Pasta was delicious! Good food, good friends and the great outdoors are a perfect recipe for a great meal.
Beautiful morning to wake up by the lake and we tucked into town for a coffee at an absolutely stunning little cafe.
After a walk around town, we drove to the Shotover River, home of the famous Jet Boat rides. Toni and Morgs had done the deal the day before and loved it. We were just there to see a bit of the spectacle because…basically…we had no desire to die on a river in New Zealand. Big fat babies we were!!!
Next up, our adventurous friends were scheduled to visit Kawarau Bungee Center to…JUMP! How lucky were we to be able to live vicariously through them. We videoed the event and it was totally cool watching everyone jump…some with a cheeky little push from the instructor!!
Arrow Town was the next stop and we just had a little meander through the historic gold mining town. In the day, the Arrow River and environs were ground zero for the area’s gold boom. Today it’s a beauty of a historic town with cute on every corner!
Afterwards we had a celebratory beverage or two, picked up a little barbecue grill, some steak and salmon, and headed to Lake Hayes and a picturesque little lakeside campsite! A fine days work!
After exploring around the Lake Hayes area we continued on to “Bright Lights, Big City”!!!
Queenstown, on the shore of Lake Wakatipu with a glorious view of the Southern Alps. The Holiday Park is a mecca for camper vans, tents, tents on top of cars and other assorted fun ways to sleep over.
It was pretty sweet to have a hot shower and do a load of laundry but we were all eager to see the city.
So many little cheap and cheerful cafes, fine dining restaurants, bars and just general fun to be had. The whole vibe feels like everyone is on holiday…probably because most of them are. As you listen to fellow travelers you can count 5 or 6 languages being spoken at any time so, the town feels very international.
A must do in town is a visit to the famous Ferg Burger. Voted by many to be the best burger ever….Folks are waiting for up to an hour to enjoy the juicy goodness! Vegetarians aren’t left out either…the Falafel burger is a little slice of heaven!!
The time in Queenstown was highlighted by my first attempt at Paragliding with the cool guys at G-Force Paragliding. What an amazing experience and literally felt like flying…quiet and peaceful but…you can for sure kick it up a bit with a few tugs on the cords! Then you’re dipping and diving and can certainly feel the g-force!
The Skyline Gondola takes you up the mountain and delivers you to lots of opportunities for fun! The area is a destination for hard core downhill mountain bikers and the gondola is equipped to strap the bikes on and get you to the top…so you can careen down…and wash…rinse…repeat! Some of these guys and girls literally looked like they’d been through the war by the end of the day. At the Holiday Park this was also apparent as many of them were nursing their injuries with ice, beers, tequila…or a combination remedy!!
After Queenstown, we hit the road again and headed on to Lake Wanaka for a couple more nights of more secluded camping and exploring. Our final night was at a pretty Holiday Park in Tekapo.
We had a big plan to rub elbows with the stars….or at least see lots of stars! Visiting the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve was a great finale and another one of those travel moments where you become aware of how very small we humans are in the big scheme of things!!
Saying goodbye to Morgan and Toni and New Zealand was sad but, we know we’ll be back one day and, we’ll take away so many memories of beautiful people, places and great times!
Ehera koe i a ia!!!!