Road trip in New Zealand

Suffice it to say, I’ve been amazingly busy the last few weeks and as a result have had little time to write any of it down for this website. So here’s what I’ve been up to, in a nutshell:

Had my last exam on the 11th, then went home and started packing my bags. Went to dinner with Vania at a nice place called Philadelphio’s, had half a pizza and a milkshake which were delicious! Vania gave me a nice goodbye gift too:

On the 12th I continued packing, barely fitting everything into my suitcases. Took my stuff down to Tom’s flat with the help of Prashna and Namiko, then Tom and Egbert loaded up Tom’s car. Vania returned from her last exam in time to say goodbye, then we drove off as rain began to pour down on us.

We arrived at Kalinka’s family’s house in Okain’s Bay out on the peninsula near Christchurch about six hours later, at one in the morning. On the way we saw a bunch of possums, a rabbit, and a stoat. This is one of the possums we saw:

Tom and Egbert set up a tent on the front lawn, and I took their suggestion (they left a note on the door) and slept in Kalinka’s bed (Kalinka was still in Dunedin). In the morning we had tea and cereal and long discussions on a diverse range of topics with Kalinka’s parents, then spent about an hour and a half or so playing cricket with Klaus (Kalinka’s dad) and Dylan (her 9 year old brother).

We then left for Picton around three in the afternoon. On our way, we stopped at the spot where we had stretched our legs the previous night at the side of the road and spent a while looking for Egbert’s passport. We didn’t find it.

We decided to stay in Kaikoura instead of Picton, since there’s nothing in Picton and Kaikoura is beautiful. We spent the night near the spa pool outside the hostel with a couple nice English people and two obnoxious Americans, and then chilled in our room and on our balcony before heading to bed.

The morning of the 14th, we set off for Picton, supposedly a 1.5 hour drive. We saw some seals on the way:

It took us over 2 hours, and when we got there we discovered that the lady with whom Tom had booked our ferry tickets had booked us on the wrong ferry! She thought we were going to the South Island, when we were trying to LEAVE the South Island. So our 1pm boat didn’t exist, and we had our ticket transferred to the 7pm boat. After several hours driving around and feeding birds by the beach, we got the ferry, which was a nice long boring ferry ride of 3.5 hours. Tom was able to sleep, lucky boy.

Once in Wellington, we checked into a hostel where Marcus and Julian were also staying, and had dinner with them in the eating area before heading to bed.

On the morning of the 15th, Egbert went to the police station and the Dutch embassy to arrange for travel documents, as he lost his passport on the first day of our trip. While he did that, Tom and I went to Te Papa, a huge museum about 15 mins walk away from our hostel. We spent $5.50 to see the travelling exhibit called the Genetic Revolution, which was fascinating. After an hour or so spent there, learning all about genetics and current scientific advances as well as ethical issues and whatnot, Egbert joined us and we went to Subway to eat, after coffee. Then we returned to the hostel, got into the car, and left for Taupo.

We arrived in Taupo after about three hours and nearly having run out of petrol in the middle of a random mountain range.

We went to the hostel suggested by the obnoxious Americans we had met in Kaikoura. Nice place. We had spaghetti and then relaxed on a little park bench with a few beers before heading to bed.

We woke up on the 16th, left before 9 for Auckland, and arrived at the Auckland airport just after noon. We dropped Egbert off there, to meet his parents and sister who are travelling with him here for the next three weeks. Tom and I then drove to the car ferry at Halfmoon Bay and after eating, caught the 2pm boat to Waiheke Island where Tom’s dad (Neil) lives. It was about an hour long ride, and a nice break from sitting in the car. We spent the whole trip on the top deck of the ferry in the bright sun.

We then drove to Neil’s place and began unpacking the car. The walk up to the house from the car is a very steep and narrow one, and the previous owner of the house clearly recognised this problem. He therefore installed “The Chariot,” a funicular type cable car for transporting people and luggage up the hill. It goes extremely slowly, but we would fill it with suitcases and whatnot, then press a button on the remote and it would carry the stuff to the top for us. Then one person could walk up the path and unload it right at the front door of the house. It took three or four Chariot loads to get all the stuff up to the house.

Tom and I then drove down to the passenger ferry (ie, no cars) to meet Neil, Egbert, and Egbert’s family. Neil took Egbert’s father, mother, and sister in his car and we grabbed Egbert and the luggage in Tom’s car. Neil treated us to beer and wine on the balcony overlooking the water, and we then went to the house on the beach where Egbert’s family would stay for a few days.

When we got there, we noticed some guys trying to get a boat into the water, with their car stuck in the sand, so we went to help. We first helped them push the car unstuck from the sand, then helped them push the boat trailer with boat into the water, then helped them get the car unstuck again from the sand and onto the road, then get the boat trailer without boat onto the road. After all that, they managed to go fishing :-)

We then drove to a beachside restaurant where Kees (Egbert’s father) treated us to a wonderful meal and some wine.

When we had finished, he gave us cigars from the Dominican Republic (high quality) and we enjoyed them outside with some coffee.

We then drove home, and Tom and Egbert and I enjoyed a small bit of the fine Single Malt Scotch that Kees kindly gave to Neil, before we all went to bed.

Well, that about sums it up so far. Now it’s off to Singapore for a couple days, then Koh Samui, Thailand and a month in Asia.