Monthly Archives: December 2015

Day 29: Christchurch to Cairns

After 28 days in our camper van, it was time to return it and move on to the next part of our trip. We spent most of the morning packing and cleaning! Fortunately the holiday park was well set up for people who had just collected or were about to return their campver vans, with plenty of cleaning and rubbish facilities, as well as a place to leave uneaten food for those who have just arrived in New Zealand.

The Apollo depot was just a short drive from our campsite and, having completed the necessary paperwork and paid petrol taxes for the 5,500 kilometres we travelled, we took a shuttle bus to the airport.

Our flight to Cairns went via Sydney and took around 6 hours in total, including a very long transfer between the international and domestic terminals in Sydney. We arrived in Cairns around midnight, collected our hire car, and drove to the Dreamtime Travellers Rest hostel where we’d booked a room for the night.

Day 28: Lindis Pass to Christchurch

Our final full day in New Zealand consisted mostly of driving, as we had to cover nearly 400 kilometres to get to Christchurch. We were treated to some of the best scenery New Zealand has to offer on the way, as we drove past Lake Pukaki, Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo. The lakes were particularly stunning, with the glacial water giving them a unique blue colour. We stopped frequently to take photos, finally reaching Christchurch by early evening.

We spent our last night in the camper van at the Amber Kiwi Holiday Park in West Christchurch.

Day 27: Wanaka to Lindis Pass

In the morning we jumped out of a plane at 12,000 feet above Lake Wanaka! Naturally we were both a little nervous about it, but it was definitely a highlight of our travels so far. On arrival at Wanaka Airport we filled in the necessary disclaimers, as well as music preferences for our souvenir DVD and then watched a brief video about the skydive. The waiting area had plenty of distractions including a pool table, table football, and a line of staff packing parachutes!

Once suited up, we met our tandem instructors and our camera flyers – there were a couple of options for getting photos and video, but we chose to have another skydiver jump with us to film everything. The propellor plane was tiny, with just enough room for 7 or 8 tandem pairs and the cameramen. As the plane climbed in a zigzag pattern above the airport, we had our first glimpse of the view we would have falling through the air at around 200 km/h. The view above Lake Wanaka is arguably one of the best in New Zealand, and the weather was perfect for the jump. After 10-15 minutes we reached 12,000 feet and just a few seconds later the door at the back of the plane was open, one of the cameramen had climbed onto the roof to get a good view, and Howard was hanging out of the side, firmly attached to one of the tandem instructors. Fortunately the instructor makes the decision to jump, so there isn’t much time to have second thoughts. Kate followed shortly afterwards, and before we knew it we were both flying through the air!

From 12,000 feet the freefall lasted for 45 seconds and, other than the initial (and very brief) falling sensation, was mostly windy and a little cold. Our parachutes opened at 5,000 feet and we glided safely back to the airport. We were both quite relieved to be back on the ground, but also enjoyed it enough to want to try it again one day!

We had lunch in Wanaka town centre, before wandering around the shops for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Wanaka also has a very nice cinema, Cinema Paradiso, known for its homemade ice cream, cookies and cakes. Having spent a second consecutive evening watching a film, this time Everest, we made a start on the long journey towards Christchurch. After an hour or so on the main roads, we followed a long and dark dirt track to find the free Lindis Pass Historic Hotel campsite, where we stayed for our penultimate night in New Zealand.

Day 26: Queenstown to Wanaka

Unsurprisingly we needed a slightly longer lie in before checking out of our Queenstown campsite and heading to Arrowtown, a small picturesque town just a short drive away. We had originally planned to do a bike ride, but with rain forecast for most of the day we decided to not stray too far from the sheltered campervan! Instead, we walked through the town and then through the nearby forest.

Although the rain persisted into the evening, Arrowtown is fortunately home to the Dorothy Browns Cinema, a unique cinema with sofas, beanbags, and cheese and wine during the interval. We watched The Martian and then got back on the road, driving through the mountains past Cardrona and arriving in Wanaka late at night. We stayed at the Luggate Cricket Club camping ground, just down the road from Wanaka airport, which is a clue to our next big activity!