It looks a long way up, doesn’t it? Well it is, it’s 500 meters high with the Gondola stretching a 945 meters long. I’m not sure if it is the longest one there is, but it was pretty impressive. The views were amazing.
The sign below was also at the bottom of the Gondola ride, I love these!!
After doing the time tunnel (not the old TV series) ride they have – which was very informative – we went to the cafe for a cup of tea. How very English of us.
After our tea, we headed out onto the hill top to enjoy the views.
It was a little blustery and cold, but I was wrapped up ready for it all. The views were even more breathtaking without the reflective glass blocking the scenery.
After the Gondola ride, we headed over to the Banks Peninsula. It was formed by two volcanic eruptions about eight million years ago. It is surrounded by harbours and bays which is why it appears to be round in shape.
The Maori’s refer to Banks Peninsula as Te Pataka o Rakaihautu (The Great Storehouse of Rakaihautu). Rakaihuatu was a noted early explorer who travelled the South Island, settling in the peninsula to take advanage of the abundant supply of mahinga kai (food of the forests, seas, rivers, lakes and skies) especially the eels and shellfish.
Akaroa is the Ngai Tahu word for Long Harbour, its waters provided the main sustenance for the people.
Akaroa’s lighthouse first lit up the harbour on 1st January 1880 and was made from pieces shipped from the UK. It also has an odd hexagonal shape which is unique to New Zealand.
Akaroa has a very French feel to the area because it was the first where the French first settled in New Zealand. Also in 1838 a whaling captain Jean Langlois purchased the Banks Peninsula from the Maori and he returned to France to form a trading company. However on his return, only days before he returned, the British officials sent their own war ship to raise their flag at Akaroa, claiming British sovereignty under the Treaty of Waitangi. Maybe if the French had arrived only a couple of years before then New Zealand would be a lot different from how it is now.
There are some amazing views along the drive and in particular on the Summit road which is on the edge of one of the original craters.
The gardens are very well maintained and as the saying states, pictures are worth a thousand words, just check out the below.
The Archery Lawn offers plenty of space for trees to grow. Trees from the Northern Hemisphere grow exceptionally well in Christchurch’s mild climate and fertile river soils, creating the atmosphere of a long established European park.
It was named the Archery Lawn because people used the area for archery and croquet in the 19th century.
Well the Rose Garden wasn’t as impressive as it probably is in the summer months. You can still see where the roses are and there are still a few in bloom and others with buds on them.
The Cunningham House is home to a sub-tropical rain forest which has been recreated. C A C Cunningham was a great lover of Christchurch and its gardens. This conservatory was built in 1924 thanks to his generous donations.
There is a section within the Cunningham House for cacti.
The cactus is the queen of the desert because they are able to survive in extreme heat during the day and colds during the night. They have little to no water and no shelter, yet they thrive.
This is because they are succulents and retain water in arid places.
Not all succulents are cacti, only the cacti have areoles and spines.
This morning has been a little educational and very good for the legs (lots of walking).
We got up quite early but applied for a few more jobs before actually getting up and getting ready to go out for the day. When we did get up we headed out into the main town. Apparently we forgot that it was Sunday as there was next to no-one was out. Other than maybe a few other travellers.
The wander was really nice, it was a little on the cold side but still sunny out. It is strange to walk around a city that is so flat after all the mountains we have driven through. The devastation of the earthquakes are still very visible throughout the city, look at the church below, half of it is still fully intact and the other half is just gone.
There were a few other quirky things around, like the large grass sofa and chairs. I am not sure what they represent, but they were quite comfy to sit on. I did feel tiny in the chair though.
There is also a shopping arcade where a tram drives straight through it. There were notices around the arcade where they state they continued to build the arcade whilst the tram continued on it’s daily route.
Still trying to get my head around how that would work.
The below was created by an artist called Chris Heaphy, he was one of two artists who were invited to help transform the Christchurch Cathedral Square before its grand opening in 2013. The square was closed for nearly two years after the earthquake on 22 February 2011 which had a magnitude of 7.1.
The structure is constructed of steel scaffolding and covered with plastic bread baskets filled with local and exotic plants.
The below is a garden dedicated to the first peoples. It is meant to show how the area may have looked 700 years ago when Christchurch was a vast tract of wetlands. The first peoples chose to settle here because of the rich resources from the wetland. They built their whare (home) on the high ground along sandy shores above the Otakaro River.
Freshwater Springs on the Northern boundary of the settlement provided clean water even when there were floods.
The site gave access to fibre plants for clothing, baskets, fish traps and cordage. Harakeke raupo and ti kouka grew here in abundance. The waterways provided fish, eels and waterfowl. Towards the west the forest provided timber for the whares and canoes.
After this area, we headed over to the museum, it was free to get in and there were a lot of things going on in there, below are just a few things which I found interesting.
Moa were large, flightless birds which lived in New Zealand until about 600 years ago, but are now extinct. There were even 11 species of moa. Their
There was even a house – which was a little creepy – covered in shells, the walls even had puau’s all over them. I couldn’t bring myself to photograph all of those, but I did photograph a full cabinet of shells which were very pretty.
After that, we heading into the Maori section and there were a few totems and carvings which were all very interesting. Every carving has a different meaning.
The one at the top behind the guy in front are panels from the front of a carved pataka (storehouse). The carvings represent both human figures and manaia (mythical creatures).
Pounamu (greenstone) – although the presence of nephrite was known to the Maori from moa-hunting times, it was not until later that it became important in their culture. This very tough, hard beautiful stone was used for ornaments, wood working tools and fighting weapons.
The largest mere (a jabbing, club-like weapon), Te Paa, is owned by the Te Aika family, of Tuahiwi. It has been passed down through many generations and was used in the defence of Kaiapoi Pa, North of Christchurch.
A more translucent but softer and less durable form of pounamu known as tangiwai (bowenite) was sometimes used.
This was a painting on the ceiling of the penguin area of the museum. It’s pretty cool and really big, you cannot even stand under it to take the photo, you have to stand above it.
Then we got to the dinosaurs!
I am pretty sure this is where I become a kid.
Below is a replica of a Triceratops which is a herbivore and had specialised beaks and teeth for pulping food.
This is a Allosaurus which lived in the late Jurassic period of 150-135 million years ago. It also had about 60 curved dagger-like teeth that were used to kill and tear apart it’s prey.
It is bloody freezing this morning – we slept in Gwendolyn last night for the first time. I actually slept really well, better than I thought I would and honestly do not mind the whole camping thing. Yes I had reservations about it all prior to actually doing it but it wasn’t as bad as I thought.
As I said it was bloody cold when we got out of the van though and I was very eager to go somewhere and get a cup of tea and some hot food to warm up. Yes you probably guessed it – we drove to Blenheim after packing the bed away and found a McDonald’s.
So, not the healthiest start to the day, but it was seriously appreciated, to have a hot hand wash and a proper toilet with no bugs that wanted to eat you. Also – free WiFi and heating!!
Click here to read about the campsite.
It was blue skies though so you cannot really complain and the views were lovely. This was on the way down to Murchison.
We also got to see quite a few of the trees colours turning, I do love Autumn.
So we got to see a rainbow before the weather started to turn.
I say that, but there were points where the sun shined and then it rained – you may have heard the term ‘four seasons in one day’ when reading about New Zealand. Well I think that mostly relates tot he South Island and this is where we are starting to get it.
Anyway, after a couple of hours of driving we decided to stop at Kawatiri for a chance to stretch our legs. Here there was a Historic Railway Walk.
This railway used to connect Nelson to Invercargill and used to only run two trains a week, usually on Mondays and Wednesdays when it opened in 1929.
We then headed over to Murchison Motorhome Park as that is where we had planned to stay the night. It was to be our second night in Gwendolyn and I was really looking forward to it. We had read that the site had access to a kitchen and hot showers so it seemed a little more promising than the last place.
It cost us $34 (approx. £17) for the both of us for one night. Yes a little more than what we would like to have spent, however it was a lovely site and I personally thought the money was worth it for the site we had. The owner was a lovely lady who had mentioned she had built the site herself (I’m assuming she paid for people to build it as she seemed a little old).
The site itself was really good, very clean and the kitchen had a fire which I immediately sat in front of to warm up. The bathrooms were very clean and the showers were hot. Maybe a little too hot, they only lasted seven minutes – Seven minutes in heaven – if you ask me. If you wanted to wash your hair here, I would give it a miss as you really don’t have much time. You don’t want to end up having shampoo in your hair for the night. When the showers stop, you cannot turn them on again for a while which seems a pain, but I guess she does have to pay the bill, not you.
We arrived around lunch time and after lunch we decided we were going to pay for internet and do a little job searching as we are getting a little worried about funding the rest of our trip. Plus it had started to rain so we didn’t really want to explore until it had calmed down a little.
When the weather had calmed down a little we popped down to the river (Buller River) to do a little exploring. I really liked the views of the mountains behind the river and the stones.
We walked along the stones and it wasn’t as slippery as I thought it might have been. We also went paddling in the freezing water with our new wellies!
There is also a sandy side of the river where you can swim. They advise you not to swim where the rocks are as there is a strong current which can take you down the river quicker than you think it would.
Below you can see it is a little calmer.
This morning was a little on the wet side, it wasn’t a great way to wake up in the van knowing you will get soaked before you have even started your four to five hour journey – not good. It did improve so bear with me and keep reading.
After we packed the bed away in Gwendolyn – our second night sleeping in her – we had some breakfast and set off on our journey. To be honest I am not sure I was expecting too much, more roads maybe a few mountains and streams but nothing spectacular. Boy was I wrong.
Below is the view as you drive from the Murchison camper van park along highway six. You can see there are a few hills that have a little bit of frost on them.
The views were prettier as we went along. It looks as though Autumn is just hitting some of the South Island.
I am not sure what the above mountain is, but you can see that it is covered in snow and this is where I think I have made the right decision to stay in New Zealand.
Yes – there was a point, maybe a few, where I wanted to come home. I had viewed some of the North Island and have a few bad days, trouble finding work etc. and wanted to come home. At this point I am glad I stayed (OK – so when Tom joined me, I was glad but even more so than at that point).
Below is the start of Lewis Pass which is higher than Haast Pass but slighly lower than Arthur’s Pass here in the South. It is also the most Northern of the three and sits at 864 metres high.
This specific point is 810 meters above sea level and is 98 km from the Tasman Sea and 105 km from the Pacific Ocean.
The Lewis Pass is named after Henry Lewis, an 1860’s European surveyor. The Pass connects historic routes from the West Coast to the North of the South Island. Long ago the Pass was a trading route for the Moari and later became a main highway.
Even thought the above mountains don’t have snow on, I still think they are beautiful. Also the road just seems to head towards them and sometimes you never actually reach them.
Yuk – it is soaking wet this morning and I am not looking forward to the 10 minute walk to the van as she is parked on Oriental Place and we are on Wakefield Street. Also we had to carry our stuff, not all of it as we were a little clever and put some of it in the car the night before. But still enough that it was quite heavy to carry. The joys of travelling.
Anyway, when we got to the port waiting to be loaded on the ferry to get over to Picton, we were watching the sea and it looked a little rough. OK, it looked scary.
I actually enjoyed the ride over, it made it quite entertaining, watching some people go a little green in the face, other sitting there trying to act brave when they were clearly not enjoying it.
When we reached the Marlborough Sounds it had calmed down and made the journey a little boring to be honest.
We even managed to get out on the desk to watch the sounds go by.
When we arrived in Picton, the sun was shining which was a bit of a relief. We were due to camp somewhere in the North of the South Island and I was starting to be a little worried. We didn’t stop in Picton, but we hope to before we head back to the North Island later in our travels.
Tom had found a camp site for us called Whites Bay, which is where we were headed. The road there was very windy and even had a few rocks which had fallen from the tops of the hills but we made it. Also the views of the vines – wine country – were great. It looked like they vineyards had a good season so there should be some great wine being made soon.
When we got to Whites Bay, we were pretty impressed, look at our view.
The bay was named after a man called Black Jack White, who in 1828 deserted his whaling ship and took up residence with the local Maori.
There are a few little walks around the area too and we did a couple but there were a some points which were cut off due to the amount of rainfall they had before we arrived.
This was also our first night camping in Gwendolyn, even cooking was a new experience for the both of us.
It was quite comfortable sleeping the the van, however because it is autumn we had to cook quite early as it was pitch black due to the lack of lights. I didn’t mind though, the stars were amazing.
So, we left New Plymouth and headed down to Wellington. However on the map I saw a town called Shannon so we really did have to stop there. It was pretty murky for the whole journey down, but I didn’t mind too much as we were in the car.
Shannon is a very small town but they had a post office, a library, railway, a school and a few other shops which very cleverly used the name Shannon.
The Shannon Railway was built in 1893 by the Wellington Manawatu Railway Company to a Government Railways design. In fact, this station is the last surviving Manawatu Railway Company Building.
Shannon used to be a busy railway passenger and freight centre for the district until the 1970’s. There is only a limited passenger service which runs through her now.
Shannon was named after Mayor G.V. Shannon, a director of the Wellington Manawatu Railway Company, and began as a camp for railway construction workers in 1885. Materials for the work were bought up the Manawatu River, unloaded at Buckleys Clearing and transported on a spur line to the end of Buckley Road.
The settlement grew rapidly on land sold at auction by the Railway Co., and in 1889 the Shannon school was opened.
We arrived in Wellington after 4pm which was good as that meant we got free parking for the afternoon / evening. We checked into the YHA there which I really recommend as YHA’s are usually very clean and mostly tidy. If it is not, it is usually because of the other guests not cleaning up after themselves.
We didn’t do much that evening as we were pretty tired from the long journey and decided to chill out and watch a movie on the laptop.
The next morning, I woke up feeling pretty ill. I did however arrange to get my hair done at Michael Kane’s Hairdressers. It was going to be a free cut because they advertised ‘Models Wanted’ on backpackerboard. If you are travelling I definitely recommend things like this, it means you can get your hair cut or even coloured whilst you are travelling around and it is either free or very little of the original cost you could have to pay. I did end up paying 50 NZD which was only £25 because I had my hair coloured. I even got an undercut – what do you think?
We also had a bit of a wander through the main town area and did a little of the Te Papa Museum but I was quite shattered to we really didn’t do much – we didn’t even finish the museum so we will have to get back to that.
The following day we managed to go up in the cable car for a wander. It was 28 NZD each which wasn’t too bad the views we pretty good, plus there are some botanical gardens up there.
They also had a different type of sundial at the top, you had to stand on the month you were in on the infinity part with your back to the sun and the shadow would tell you the time, we tried it and it was right.
We did have to wait a little bit for the sun to pop out.
Today we headed out to Red Rock, it was a bit of a drive out but totally worth it and one thing I would recommend today anyone – plus it is free – not including the fuel.
This morning was pretty murky to start with, it looked like it was going to rain but it ended up brightening up but stayed quite cold.
Tom wanted to go and see the War Memorial this morning so we headed over there.
Later in the day we headed over to the Parliament Buildings and the Bee-Hive building. I personally wasn’t too impressed with the beehive building but the Parliament Buildings look fantastic. The Architecture that went into them – AMAZING!
Tom also did a jump today, we think it was roughly 15 feet from the top into the sea at the Taranaki Wharf. I wasn’t going to do it – I’m not that mad!! Ha.
We even finished the last floor of the Te Papa Museum – this one was a lot more interesting to me. It was more about the world and the animals of New Zealand and some of the rest of the world.
The tectonic plates and the Gondwandaland were really interesting – I suppose because it is not something we really learnt much about in school – did you learn about it?
We even did the Gallipoli section for the war. It was very interesting. Parts of it made me wonder how I would have survived back then. I’m too much of a neat / clean freak, not that I have OCD or anything (well probably a little) but I do like to feel clean and have a tidy room to live in – come to think of it, I am surprised I can even to the travelling thing sometimes.
We read about a place called Castle Point yesterday so we decided that is where we were going today. It was a little cold, even had to wear proper coats today!! Yeah I know, the first time since I have been here.
This rock is known as Te Tokatumoana (the rock before the sea). Traditionally this whole area is known as Rangiwhakaoma (the skies that race), this is in reference to how fast the clouds move when it is windy.
Tom and I went for a drive today. I had heard from quite a few people (whilst I was working at the Sunflower Lodge YHA) the Surf Highway 45 was a great drive and a must do whilst here in Taranaki.
I did enjoy it, however it wasn’t as great as I thought it would have been. You don’t actually get to see the beach too much, there are a few points where you can drive on different roads to see the sea, but not really as you go along.
The plan started off by heading into New Plymouth centre to pick up some sandwich stuff for lunch and then go on our way. However, we ended up stopping at Andre’s Pies and Patisserie for a pie as well for elevenses, is that still a thing?
Anyway, we headed out of New Plymouth on Highway three.
We were meant to stop at Inglewood as Tom wanted a picture of the sign for his mate, however we drove straight past so we will have to stop there on our way down to Wellington.
We also missed Norfolk which is also on the same road. I hope we don’t miss that on the way down.
There were some lovely views of Mount Taranaki though.
Our first stop was at Eltham as we had read there was a really good Cheese Shop there, however we couldn’t find it so had to keep going.
We then stopped off at Pihama which was a random turn off the road as we were a little disappointed that we couldn’t see the sea. We got some lovely views though.
We continued on the drive and stopped off at Opunake near the lake and found a freedom camping spot. They are not always easily spotted, but it is definitely a place I would recommend stopping. Tom and I have said that we will be stopping there on the way back through.
There is a strange thing though, I didn’t actually take a picture of the lake, I don’t know why but trust that it is lovely.
We did walk to the beach though so there is an image of that.
At the top of the Opunake view point for this beach there is a mosaic sofa. It was made by Robyn Chard and Deborah Campbell and took them a couple of weeks.
After relaxing a little we carried on with our journey and the next stop was at the end of Pungarehu Road near the Cape Egmont Lighthouse.
We did mean to get right next to the lighthouse, however you may also know that sometimes you accidentally take the wrong road (like the next one over because the map reader wasn’t paying attention – sorry Tom).
We still got a photo of it, just a little further away than planned.
It worked out well though as we managed to pull over and enjoy a great view with our lunch.
We pulled over and put the table up in Gwendolyn and enjoyed our picnic.
Monday I’m heading back to Auckland, yes not something I really want to do, however I will be meeting with Tom tomorrow. I am super excited to see him, it has been 102 days since I last saw him, 103 tomorrow, do you count tomorrow??
The bus ride wasn’t too bad, the scenery has been lovely, I just wish I could have stopped at a few places to take a photo or admire the view. It took about six and a half hours to get to Auckland central and I arrived just after 2pm. When I got there I had to make my way over to the City Lodge Accommodation as that is where I had booked a room for a week for the both of us. I definitely recommend this place as it is clean and the staff are friendly.
Well it is early morning and I am up already, I am so excited to see him. Just a couple more hours and he will be here. It’s 8am so he will still be in the air until 10.45 ish.
What to do to keep myself entertained?? Well I went for a wonder down to the Harbour and looked at the ocean as the weather was nice. I also looked in a couple of shops to waste some time too. It was a lovely day so I didn’t rush.
When Tom messaged that he had landed, I was so happy. I immediately went to wait for him at the bus stop, but when I got there I realised he had about an hour or more until he got to the stop I was waiting at.
I was waiting there for a long time (about two hours) and got really worried that this was part of some horrid prank he was playing on me. I really didn’t like it, but I eventually got a message from him to tell me he got off the bus. Confused; I looked around me and couldn’t see him and I kept ringing him to see if he could tell me where he got off. It turns out he got off a few stops early and was outside the Town Hall, I think that was two stops early. I told him to walk down the hill and I would walk up to meet him but he went the wrong way.
We did eventually meet up.
I took him back to the room so he could dump his stuff and then we headed to the Harbour.
We stopped at a bar called Degrees, so he could get a pint and some food. It was great sitting out in the sun and enjoying random conversations again.
Tom went to the IEP Office to get orientated as part of his Bunac package. It is a great office, where we will have support for the whole of our trip through New Zealand. We can call them, use their office or email them with any queries we may have.
As he was the only one who needed orientation in the office he got the really quick and easy version. I wish I got that one as I was there all day getting orientated and they also tried to sell me some things such as the Stray package.
Whilst in the office we contacted a few people about possibly buying their car. We saw one which was called Gwendolyn which we arranged to see later – watch this space.
We also went to Danny Doolan’s for lunch, I really like it there. Yes we travelled all around the world and still end up in an Irish pub eating bangers and mash and a burger. I had the bangers and mash and he had the burger. Ha.
Tom took me out for breakfast this morning at Esquires which is a cafe down the road from our hostel. We both got bacon and eggs with toast and a cuppa tea. How very English of us.
After that, we headed to Auckland Zoo below are some images from the zoo.
Today is the day that Tom decides he wants to kill me and they way he wants to do that is to make me jump off the Sky Tower. Yep, you read that correctly, I am going to jump off the Sky Tower. A 192 meter fall with a speed of 85 kms per hour.
I was scared, nope I was petrified and all he did was laugh at my comments. Yes some of the comments may have been irrational as all logic seemed to disappear. The whole time I was getting ready I kept saying “I’m going home” even when I put the harness on.
I was really scared, can you tell by my face??
I do not know how I managed to make myself walk into the lift to get up there. In the end, I couldn’t jump off so I went off backwards and they pushed me. Yes, you read that correctly too, I was pushed off the tower.
I also screamed the whole way down and was told I had a pair of lungs on me!!
Tom looks a lot happier about the whole silly idea of jumping off a building. I was so glad I did it though, I would have kicked myself if I didn’t do it.
Afterwards we went back up the tower to have a look at the viewing deck and then to the cafe for tea and cake.
I did make Tom take me out for beer and pizza later in the evening though.
This morning was a lot more chilled than yesterday, no more jumping off buildings.
We planned the rest of our journey from Wellington (as we had that planned before Tom arrived) through to Dunedin. I’m looking forward to the trip. I’m not going to tell you yet, you’ll just have to keep reading.
We also went and picked up our Gwendolyn car.
Yep, we agreed a price and went to pick her up in the afternoon and we drove around a little so Tom could get used to it.
We asked where she got her name from and apparently she came with it from the previous owners so we have decided to keep it.
There is lots of room as I am really looking forward to travelling around this lovely country in her with Tom.
It’s another chilled morning, a lazy walk over to Le-Chef which is a little cafe on Vulcan Lane in Auckland CBD.
When we finished breakfast we went back to the Hostel to pick up Gwendolyn and go for a drive down to Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium. It is a small aquarium but really well laid out.