After our early morning air raid alarm practice, we were delighted to have a bit of a long lie before setting off on our journey to Wanaka. We had a quick coffee pitstop midway in Haast (Craig kept singing Du Hast while driving for ages...) and we arrived in Wanaka for lunchtime. With neither of us hungry we wandered around the lake to #thatwanakatree - New Zealand's most photographed tree which grows near the shore. It is such a popular Instagram spot that it is now named with a hashtag!
With some R&R behind us, we hit the road again on a cloudy Sunday morning after a stop in Westport for some shopping and a coffee. Stocked up, we arrived into the town of Punakaiki, home of the pancake rocks and blowholes, and stopped at the visitor centre to explore. The Paparoa National Park was beautiful in itself and thus a lovely spot to wander around and take in the beautiful rock formations and be taken quite by surprise when the ocean eventually exploded into the air. A quick trip to Punakaiki cavern yielded no glow worms as the cave didn't quite go deep enough to escape the sunlight that kept the nocturnal creatures in hiding.
After an early alarm, we got the van packed up and made our way to the Wellington Interislander Ferry for the 9am sailing across the Cook Strait and down to the South Island. We were looking forward to the views on the 3.5 hour journey as it is billed as one of the Great Journeys of New Zealand however the mist and rain stopped us from seeing very much on our crossing! So instead we bought a coffee and snuck into the business lounge and got comfy for the next few hours.
On Friday morning we woke to the sound of rain pounding the van and discovered, for the first time, the pain of walking to the shower block while the real shower is ongoing outside! We headed east with pretty poor driving conditions over the mountains, back to the much drier east coast. Docking in Napier around lunchtime we wandered around this fantastic town, that was rebuilt in the Art Deco style after a 1931 earthquake. We felt like we had been transported back to 1930's Hollywood, or maybe, more accurately for us, Hollywood Studios in Disneyworld! We both loved the style of signs and reckon they would look awesome at home!
After a leisurely start to our morning, we jumped back in the campervan and headed for Matamata - otherwise known as Hobbiton! This was the place on the trip that Craig was most excited to visit and he was like a kid at Christmas on the drive over!
On Thursday morning, we picked up the campervan from Mighty, near Auckland airport and set off in our home for the next 5 weeks. With a short drive planned for today, we headed for Thames at the bottom of the Coromandel Peninsula and checked into Dickson's holiday park.