My new fellow traveller and a new road trip from Christchurch
After a short night I drive to Christchurch in the morning to the airport, because I have to pick someone up. A new arrival and my fellow traveller for the next 8 weeks.
It is hard to believe that I am already 4 weeks in New Zealand and have experienced so much. The workload was high and now it will be different again, because it is already a difference to travelling alone or just in pairs.
Philipp comes fresh from Germany and was, like me, already in New Zealand for a working holiday before. As a student, he is currently taking a semester off. More about why Philipp came to New Zealand you will find out later.
After I picked up Philipp at the airport at 6am we drive back to Brighton to the beach. Since the jetlag from Germany is not completely without with 10 hours, I have thought of a program so that no tiredness can arise. So, we get our first coffee together and then drive to the New Brighton Pier. Fresh sea air and the sunrise will surely not let any tiredness arise.
After sunrise we have breakfast and then drive to the Warehouse to do some errands. Alone I lived quite spartanly in the van the last weeks. And with Philipp we now need some storage boxes, some blankets to keep him warm and of course we need a French press to make some good coffee. Every day a coffee to go in New Zealand is quite expensive and making coffee yourself is not such a strong art.
The first day together in the van
After we have sorted ourselves on the parking lot of Warehouse and Countdown, we advise where we want to go first. In order not to overload Philipp directly with impressions, we decide to dedicate ourselves to the Akaroa Peninsula for a few days. Here I was already on my first New Zealand trip in 2015 for two days, this time the plan is to discover every single bay along the small roads, looking for insiders and hidden beautiful places.
From Christchurch we start our journey along the bay via Lyttelton. Our destination for today is the Diamond Harbour Freedom Camping Spot. There is a parking lot at the pedestrian ferry where we are allowed to stand for one night. We enjoy the dry weather, look at the harbour and discuss the further ideas we have for the trip. Philipp will be with us until the end of the trip.
Who is Philipp
Let us come to Philipp, because actually I did not know him before. But when my relationship ended at the end of July, a place in the van was spontaneously available and I had known Philipp for a few months through the blog. So, I explained to him that there was a spontaneous vacancy and if he wouldn't want to interrupt his studies for a short time for the 12-week trip. Philipp founded the App Backpario with his buddy Pascal. A new kind of social network that works location-based, an exciting alternative to Facebook. And since I notice things about New Zealand quite fast, I noticed the app and the two founders directly. So now it comes to a trip through New Zealand together.
Back to the Diamond Harbour
From Diamond Harbour we drive along the small roads and trust Google Maps. We stop at every little bay and look at different spots. Most of them are already known, but a surf spot market place attracts our attention. Unfortunately, Google forgets to tell us that they only want to bring us as close as possible to the spot. So, in the end we drive with our van on a dirt road that might be suitable for trekkers but not for our van.
So, we get stuck several times and also turning on the small path takes a lot of time and shunting. After one hour we are free again and can continue our trip, but we didn't make it to the surf spot. After checking our hiking map, we discover that there is no road to this spot. Thanks Google Maps, so always check first if and where Google Maps wants to lead you. Not always Google really knows a way to the place you want to go…
Akaroa, a small town with charm
In the afternoon we reach Akaroa and park our van at the official Freedom Camping site. Directly at the harbour there is a clearly marked area where self-contained vehicles are allowed to park. In all other areas it is unfortunately not allowed to do Freedom Camping. We use the remaining time until sunset and stroll along the waterfront through Akaroa. The prominent lighthouse is our final destination and we take some nice pictures. Afterwards we stroll back and have dinner before we go to bed. Even if Philipp says he is not jetlagged, I don't think anyone comes to New Zealand without jetlag.
The next day we visit Akaroa in the morning and then take the van to the library. Here we use the day to sort photos and write articles. Philipp for Backpario, me for Project New Zealand. In the afternoon we drive along the bay to Christchurch and camp at a lonely spot directly at the water. Dozens of black swans are here on the water and I can take some more great photos.
Back to Christchurch
After a quiet night on the water, we set off early in the morning back to Christchurch. We go to the swimming pool for a shower and do some shopping, then we do some freedom camps and finally spend the night in Chamberlains Fjord. A nice Free Camp where Kathi and I have already been in 2017. Unfortunately, a lot of things have changed here and the parking possibilities for overnight stays have become much less. As at many other places also more and more fenced in or reduced. It is a pity that over time such extreme changes occur.
Departure to Kaikoura
From Chamberlains Fjord we drive along the highway towards Kaikoura. The last time I was in the region, there was a strong earthquake shortly before and many parts of the highway were not accessible because of it. Now everything looks much better, but there are still construction sites along the highway and sometimes we have to wait longer. The highway is mostly single-lane at these construction sites and the traffic is interrupted again and again.
In Kaikoura we use one of the few remaining Freedom Camping spots, not really sure if it is legal or not, because Kaikoura has decided to make some changes to restrict Freedom Camping further. But on the local website it is not clear when these restrictions will take effect. Without any problems we wake up the next morning and drive to the parking lot on the Kaikoura Peninsula for breakfast where the seals also wake up relaxed.
Since the weather forecast is rather modest, we decide to check in early at a campground and do some work. So, we are already at the top 10 campsite in Kaikoura around noon. For the evening we have booked the Hot Tube, not knowing what to expect there.
While we explore the campground, we get to know Markus from Cologne. After a short chat we make an appointment for the evening at the Hot Tube.
The Hot Tube is a big wooden barrel with space for 4 people, at a very pleasant warm temperature. So, we spend our booked 30 minutes deeply relaxed and brave the bad weather. It has rained in the meantime and Philipp and I have noticed that our van leaks at the trunk…
The Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway
The weather is a bit better, so we decide to hike the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway and take our rain gear with us as a precaution. Fortunately, the weather is faithful to us and until we are finished in the afternoon it is luckily dry.
The Peninsula Walkway is a great opportunity to see the Seals and Kaikoura. Only our attempt to walk along the coast is literally going on, in a group of Seals who just don't want to make room, but stop any attempt of passing by with a visible attack. So, we turn around and walk back the way we came. The walkway itself is a nice variation and only the ground is quite muddy in places.
Travel period and interesting facts
Our fourth New Zealand trip took place from 15.08.2019 – 13.11.2019. Without much planning but with a lot of knowledge we explored New Zealand in our own van and got many updates to already existing knowledge. So, we can continue to be a relevant and important source of knowledge for you as a New Zealand interested person. If you want to get information about New Zealand, this blog is available for free.
Questions, comments or unclear points about this article
Do you have a question or comment about this article? Then write us a comment and we will answer it comfortably here in our blog. Thanks a lot.