NZ road trip 2019 part four.Christchurch- Picton

We had made arrangements with Diana and her dad Rudi in Christchurch that we would stop and stay with them from Sunday. We met them on our 2017 world cruise and caught up with Diana and partner Frank when they were in Auckland earlier in our NZ stay. We were looking forward to spending some relaxed time with them even though Diana was working long hours at this time of the year.

Anyway we started making our way towards Christchurch on the Saturday and at Ashburton a campervan show had us pulling over and paying the $5 admission to see what was on offer.

This was quite a cool concept, there were new camper and caravans on display but also people were able to display and sell their own second hand ones.

This gave way to a huge array of all styles, tastes and vintages and was a very entertaining wander.

Stayed the night in a not so glamorous side of town but was brand new and quite well appointed.

Sunday morning saw us off to visit Roz and Russ from our 2010 Cosmos tour, unfortunately Russ suffered a stroke late December and although looking great still getting tired after an hour or so.

We didn’t, we hope over stay our welcome but it was fantastic to see them both and look through their new home. Great taste and after building something new decided to sell all their old furnishings and buy new. They could get a job styling show homes. Just lovely to see them.

Onto Diana’s and Rudi’s to settle in for a few days. But we did go into the city gardens to watch the last of the summer free Sunday concerts. We met Frank there and with such a lovely venue and sunny afternoon no one went home disappointed.

After a rest it was time to venture out to dinner at one of the best Thai restaurants I’d been to.

We met Rudi’s other daughter Leonie, her husband Graeme and one of their sons Scott there to share the delicious meal.

Thanks Rudi for shouting us all it was very kind.

Monday bought more good weather and James and I headed into the cbd which from Diana’s is very close.

After visiting the information centre we took the tram tour brochure and just walked it’s route. It’s an easy city to walk in as it’s all flat and I don’t mean that as a funny since it’s still recovering after been knocked ‘flat’ by several earthquakes.

A lot of rebuilding has happened and lots taking place. Hopefully they will use this opportunity to build some significantly interesting places as a few looked awfully like dark boxes.

We had a few good stops, one for coffee one for a lie down under a tree in the botanical gardens and one for lunch at the RSA.

There are some great places to see and the Avon river running through adds something tranquil that lots of cities don’t have and still offering punt rides on the river quite charming.

There are surprisingly a lot of very old structures that stood up to the earthquakes so still lots of historical buildings surrounding the new.

Definitely worth taking the time to walk the city centre or take the tram tour if times an issue.

Tuesday Rudi came with us as James drove Rudi’s flash motor to Akaroa.

A place early family of mine had settled at when they first came from Denmark.

The drive was scenic as it’s all volcanic and lots of beautiful bays as well as grazing hills.

Akaroa was delightful and I’d like to go stay a few nights to fully enjoy its charms.

It’s a Mecca for the tourist crowd and coincidentally the port of the day for the ship Columbus on its 2019 world cruise. The ship we sailed on last year for ten weeks of its 2018 world cruise. Of course we did run into two couples who had been on it last year and they thought about 60 repeat world cruisers from the year before.

Young Leigh whom was part of the entertainment crew last year came past and he’s now the entertainment director. He didn’t look quite as fresh as he did last year.

Another lovely drive home through lyttelton and it’s tunnel and it was rest time before sharing the evening with Diana.

Wednesday saw us have a relaxing day at Diana’s catching up on our housekeeping administration and James had the car booked in to have the brakes checked to make sure all good for our journey back to Auckland.

A lovely evening again with Frank joining us for a few hours and Rudi also coming in for dinner.

It was a treat to relax for so many days in one spot and just as well as the next day we headed off thinking we’d probably take three days to get up to Picton.

As it turned out we headed to Hanmer springs had a little lunch break there and not interested in doing the adventure thing or soaking in the hot pools on a warm summer day moved on back towards the coast and headed into Kaikoura where we were keen to stop and stay. Unfortunately no accommodation available so we drove on to Blenheim but not before enjoying watching a huge pod of dolphins having fun just off the beach. They were the most playful either of us have ever seen dolphins before. Literally doing 360deg flips and huge leaps. Was absolutely spellbinding and such a treat.

We also stopped on the way further north to watch the seals. Sooo sooo many of them and lots of babies as well. They were vocal and entertaining as they waddled along, some having little fights, some swimming some just relaxing but really great.

We got an upgrade from the hotel we booked in Blenheim to a really large studio apartment which meant we were also able to cook there as well.

So we decided to book the ferry back to the North Island and call it time on our trip around the South Island.

Headed into Picton early so stopped for coffee outside a cafe when who’s voice should we hear, none other than Duncan from our 2017 world cruise and consequent catch ups in Hong Kong, Auckland and their home in Opua in the bay of Islands. Soon Angela his lovely wife joined in the reunion and none of us could believe we had run into each other so randomly.

What a great surprise and laugh.

Wonder where we’ll next meet up?

Finally snaring some accommodation in Wellington we were able to board the Interislander ferry with confidence that we wouldn’t have to drive for hours after disembarking to find a bed for the night.

So long South Island it’s been another fabulous part of our road trip.

HIGHLIGHTS WERE, obviously catching up with friends and making new ones makes the experience greater, but also the diverse scenery and wildlife feature big on our memories. The gorgeous towns we drove through that have retained their old heritage buildings and charm.

Our flight over the glaciers and Lake Tekapo a big highlight.

Milford and Doubtful sound we’re lovely day trips. The pancake rocks at Punakaiki, and the fact there are so many wonderful places just off the road to see and enjoy.

The dolphins at both Riverton and Kaikoura plus all the seals we stumbled upon.

The amazing forests and native bushwalks, and apart from the occasional rain we had a very good run with the weather.

Let’s see what our trip up the West Coast of North Island, through the forgotten highway and up through Taupo etc brings.

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