Note: The videos from the GBR during our Australia trip are uploaded
In the interest of saving money we spent our last night in Australia in the Sydney airport again. The following day I calculated the budget as I usually do when leaving a country. Australia, in terms of food, is the most expensive country we visited beating out Japan for the no. 1 slot even if we excluded the extravagant steak dinner we had in Sydney.
[Terry: Mark and I are lucky we can sleep through anything. Whatever happened to my Princess and the Pea complex? I paid too much for my pillow-top mattress back home.]
Kudos are in order
Rewinding back to Indonesia when Terry and I took our Nitrox course aboard the N. Sulewasi Aggressor. Terry took leisurely naps and skimmed through the Nitrox manual as I feverishly read every page, and took every self-quiz. There were 2 difficult questions on the final that I missed. Terry. a Nitrox natural, got 100%!
When we stepped outside the full force of the cold hit us. Our 2 weeks in New Zealand is in the dead of winter. But the air is clean and crisp, and there is no competition for the road, attractions, or campervan sites.
We picked up our campervan in Christchurch and started our trip very excited about upgrading from a 2-berth to a 4-berth campervan. Today was all about getting ready for the journey. We went grocery shopping and being out of practice were like two kids in a candy store. We had to buy gloves and hats since we had mailed ours back to NY before leaving Japan. We stocked the cupboards and frig and then, that night, we filled the campervan with the smell of home cooking; Terry made a delicious chicken soup (and I washed the dishes). We enjoyed a glass of New Zealand wine to celebrate the start of our journey.
[Terry: Several months ago when Mark and I first decided to hire an RV, we had a long discussion about what size would suit us. The only important difference between the 2-berth and 4-berth is the extra bunk bed. With the 2-berth, we would have had to convert the dining cusions into a bed (and remove to table) every night. However, once we found out the 4-berth cost twice as much as the 2-berth, the discussion was over; we were going with the cheapest. To our delight Britz, the RV company, had a special “Hop-up” promotion of upgrading from a 2-berth to 4-berth for an additional $9 per day! We were so glad we didn’t pay twice as much for the 4-berth from the beginning.]
We left Christchurch and headed North passing rolling hills and fields of cows and sheep. Continuing past the turn off for Hanmer Springs we left the green pastures behind and drove another 80 km on the winding Route 7 through the snow-covered mountains to Maruia Springs, a traditional Japanese hot springs resort. We soaked for hours -- determined to get our monies worth -- and admired the Southern Cross and the foreign stars of the Southern hemisphere before returning to our campervan. We didn’t want to tackle the now-freezing road back to the town of Hanmer Springs, the closest powered campervan site, so we spent a very cold night in the Maruia Springs parking lot. Both the campervan microwave and, more-importantly, the heater only operate when the campervan is connected at a powered-site. Terry, wearing 8 layers, her hat and gloves to bed, said she was so cold she thought we might die in our sleep. I tried to comfort her by telling her I had much colder nights in Arizona and I was still alive. It was very cold. The irony is that Terry was a little cold the first night and so we bought a cheap 15 NZ$ heater/fan. But it too needs to be plugged in and so it just sat there collecting frost. Facing the dark, icey, winding roads and 2-hour trip back to Hanmer Springs, we both agreed a cold nights sleep was the safer bet. We watched our breaths and while we enjoyed a glass of local wine. Once we fell alseep, we slept well.
[Terry: Not to be too dramatic, but our original plan was to raise our core temperature by soaking in the hot springs (I think we soaked for about 3 hours) and head to a powered-site. But we discovered that the closest powered-site was 2 treacherous hours away. I was only scared when my fingers and toes were tingling even with gloves and 2 pairs of socks on. I saw something on TV where people start freezing, get sleepy, fall asleep, and die in their sleep!]
After barely starting the campervan, de-icing the windows, and making some coffee, we were back on the road to Hanmer Springs. We wanted to peek at the Hanmer Springs thermal pools, a well-known (aka touristy) thermal pool resort. We felt that we had made the right choice by passing it for Maruia Springs the previous day. Route 1 North would bring us through some incredibly beautiful scenery. We stopped at least a dozen times for photos and the views just got more and more beautiful. The sheep we stopped to photograph were shy and would turn and run as soon as I stepped out of the campervan. The scenery changed again, The road shadowing the train tracks, hugged the coast and wound through narrow tunnels; the surf breaking on the rocky shores to our right. Our destination was a powered-site in the town of Kaikura on the North-Eastern shores. From now on, we only camp at powered sites. We used our new heater/fan and the thing works so well that at times it was too hot in the campervan. Terry made another great dinner and we enjoyed a glass of local wine in our heated campervan before retiring for the night.
- Oh no, it’s over ;(
- There be whales here!
- Bad, bad Leroy
- Killing time near Suva
- Handicap Diver Below!