Thursday (September 30) it was off on the final leg to Christchurch. The next 18 days the caravan was parked up at Amber Park Holiday Park.
This is an inner city park, which has all the amenities and the most gorgeous rose gardens.
John, Sharron, Braden and Sharon keep this park in tip top condition with sparkling clean amenities in art deco style in the main block.
The new unisex ablution block situated at the opposite end of the park, is great with one shower to cater for the disabled and another that is big and roomy as well as a separate toilet. This park has all the accommodation options from cabins through to modern motel units. www.amberpark.co.nz
The next 2 weeks were spent attending the National Motorhome and Caravan Expo and then having a look around the area at leisure.
It is amazing how the September earthquake has affected this beautiful city. Mother Nature is selective, one house or shop is completely demolished and the one right next door is still open and trading.
The train leaves Christchurch and travels right across the South Island to Greymouth; unfortunately we chose a day when the Otira Tunnel was closed for maintenance.
Amber Park Kitchen
As a result we were transferred to coaches at Arthurs Pass to finish the trip to Greymouth and the same on the way back. There is not a lot of time to see any of Greymouth when you arrive at lunchtime, just enough to grab a bite to eat.
My advice is allow two days for this trip, stay in Greymouth the night which would give time to have a look around the town before the train departs at 1.35pm the next day. The scenery on this trip is breathtaking, most of it would not be seen from a car driving through the Arthurs Pass.
Another day trip south to Te Muka through the towns of Rakaia and Ashburton was completely different scenery with the flatness of the Canterbury Plains all the way down. Already in October irrigations systems were working this dry arable area.
When staying in Christchurch a drive out to Akaroa on Banks Peninsula is a must. This little village was originally settled by the French and still has some of the old French charm about it, including some of the street names.
On the way back to Christchurch take the detour through Lyttleton. Although a hilly drive the views are fantastic. Once there take the short cut through the Lyttleton tunnel which was originally built to deliver supplies from the port into Christchurch.
The first leg of the drive home was to get to Picton to catch the ferry the next morning. With the addition of the Load Leveler fitted to the caravan tow bar driving was a lot less bumpy.
Low fog along the Kaikoura coast gave the coastline an aerie feel as rocky outcrops would appear out of the mist as you rounded a corner like ghosts guarding their territory and then disappear as we drove past.
We stopped once the fog had lifted for lunch and were lucky to spy a couple of seals playing in the waves.
We stopped off at Parklands Marina Holiday Park in Picton for our last night in the South Island.
Situated only a five minute drive from the centre of Picton and off the main road with no traffic noise this would have to be the prettiest park we have seen on our travels. The quietest as well.
With a really large area for caravans and tents there is no worry about being too close to your neighbours.
The park is bordered by native bush and the bird life is abundant. We enjoyed watching a family of pukeko out looking for their evening meal.
All the sites are level, not something you find everywhere, and they are a good size. I would imagine even in the summer when this park would be really busy there is still room for a bit of privacy, also not something every park has.
This park has all the expected amenities which are spotlessly clean and the grounds are really tidy and well cared for including the kids playground. Even at this time of year when the pool wasnt being used it still looked clean and tidy.
A well equipped shop is at the entrance of the park alongside the office and a short 5 minute stroll down the road is the choice of a pub/bar or restaurant for dinner.
This park has a good range of accommodation as well and is the perfect place to stay the night before crossing on the ferry whether in a car or a campervan.
The wind was up and it was raining as we drove onto the Aratika ferry on Sunday morning.
But thankfully the wind was blowing in the right direction for reasonably smooth sailing, although a lot of it was with the ship at a steep angle and it was too windy to be able to stand outside for long.
Arrival in Wellington was on schedule and it didnt take long to disembark and it was on the road heading north and back into the wind. Biggest lesson we learnt on this trip, dont tow a caravan in the Spring when there are equinox winds blowing.
After what felt like a long day we pulled into Taihape River View Holiday Park for the night.
This park is just off the main highway on the northern side of Taihape and on the banks of the Hautapu River. The wind kept up most of the night and was still blowing the next morning as we drove out on the last leg of our journey.
Six hours later we arrived home, the caravan still in one piece, the truck still running smoothly and us a little wiser for our first big trip caravanning around New Zealand. Now time to plan the next holiday
GoSee Leisure Line Elite Special Edition 2010 6.5 metre caravan specifications:
Berths 4, Towing length 7.7m, External body length 65m, Exterior width 2400. Total height 2550.
Standard features: External outside awning locker, electric step, stone guard with optional window guard, double dipped galvanised chassis, outside light and power point.
The new GoSeeNewZealand Leisure Line Elite Special Edition 2010 6.5 metre is about 1700kg tare and 2000kg loaded according to the New Zealand builders.
GoSee is proud to say that the Leisure Line caravan is a traditional Kiwi designed for NZ conditions with contemporary styling.
Comfy TV lounge at Hanmer River HP
Family bathroom at Amber Park
Giant Salmon welcome visitors to Rakaia
Greymouth River bridge
Kitchen at Hanmer River HP
Lookout above Akaroa
Scenery from the road near Hanmer
Scenery near Hanmer
Snow Covered Peaks from Hanmer River HP