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New Zealand GoSee Spring North-South Island caravan towing tour challenges and instructs

October 17, 2011
New Zealand GoSee Spring North-South Island caravan towing tour challenges and instructs

Angela and Ken Bryan of GoSeeNewZealand complete their comprehensive North and South Island towing tour with a new Leisure Line Elite Special Edition 6.5 metre caravan. They find caravan touring in a gale driven New Zealand Spring challenging and instructive. They learn GPS is an aid not a guru. Peace is found at Hanmer Springs. Unisex works at Amber Park. Akaroa on Banks Peninsula is a must see. Parklands Marina Holiday Park in Picton presents as prettiest park. Aratika ferry rolled them back to Wellington and the North island. Now it is time to plan the next tour.

By Angela and Ken Bryan

Wednesday morning (September 29) we were heading south to Christchurch planning to stop somewhere around the half way mark for the night.

A quick lesson in the form of follow the road signs not the directions of locals when you are towing 2 tonne of caravan. The directions of locals took us in the right direction but the Navman decided that the most economical route setting would take us through the hills, literally.

GPS systems are great but need to be used in conjunction with a fair amount of commonsense. It was fairly obvious to us that the directions given into a one way gravel drive way looking route were not going to get us far. A bit of back tracking to get back onto the main road and 15 minutes later we were on our way following the road signs, and re-setting the Navman to easiest route.

The drive over the Lewis Pass had some stunning scenery with only small amounts of snow still remaining on the road side from the big dump the week before.

We stopped off at Murchison for lunch at Rivers Caf which served the best lunch we had had in a long time. This caf was really busy, which is always a good sign when you are in a strange town, and the food was fantastic We indulged in their gourmet pies, lamb shank and lamb with kumara. DELICIOUS!

We highly recommend a stop off here for a bite to eat when passing through Murchison.

We arrived at the Hanmer Springs turn off just before 5pm and decided to park up at the Hanmer River Holiday Park for the night.

This is a small family run park, 10 mins from Hanmer Springs which suits those who dont want to be in amongst all the tourists at the parks in the village.

Carol and Brydon are welcoming hosts and they keep immaculately clean facilities. The camp cat makes his way around the guests units each day and a wander down the road is a friendly goat, alpaca and a pet sheep all looking for a scratch.

Sitting in the van with a chilled glass of wine, listening to the river with a view of the snow covered mountain peaks, what better way to wind down after a long day driving.

www.hanmerriverholidaypark.co.nz

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.

A day trip on the Tranz Alpine Train was well worth the effort.

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 Art Deco style bathrooms complete with flower arrangements
Amber Park Art Deco style bathrooms complete with flower arrangements

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.

www.parktostay.co.nz

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.

www.jasons.co.nz/taihape/accommodation

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.

http://www.leisureline.co.nz

Amber Park Kitchen
Amber Park Kitchen
Akaroa
Akaroa
Comfy TV lounge at Hanmer River HP
Comfy TV lounge at Hanmer River HP
Family bathroom at Amber Park
Family bathroom at Amber Park
Giant Salmon welcome visitors to Rakaia
Giant Salmon welcome visitors to Rakaia
Greymouth River bridge
Greymouth River bridge
Kitchen at Hanmer River HP
Kitchen at Hanmer River HP
Lookout above Akaroa
Lookout above Akaroa
Scenery from the road near Hanmer
Scenery from the road near Hanmer
Scenery near Hanmer
Scenery near Hanmer
Snow Covered Peaks from Hanmer River HP
Snow Covered Peaks from Hanmer River HP
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