Back to Christchurch … and Home

It was time to start making our way back to Christchurch after the luge, the camper van was due to be returned the following day. We had picked out a place to stop along the way in Timaru and booked a site (lucky we did too, got the last one!), but we still had a few wineries to drive past along the way!

Lunch at the Gibbston Tavern

Lunch at the Gibbston Tavern

We stopped in at Gibbston Tavern for a late lunch – they did make wine but sadly didn’t offer tastings, although the glass of white I drank with my fish and chips was really good. We sat under an umbrella outside in the garden, enjoying the view, and just about staying dry as the rain started to kick in again …

Weather closing in

Weather closing in

There was a small winery called Remarkable Wines in a shed right next door to the tavern, obviously I couldn’t possibly miss this last opportunity! The owner was serving the wine for tasting and was very knowledgeable and passionate about his wine, which made the whole experience really great. We ended up buying three more bottles to take back with us – I wanted to take six bottles home, but Silvio was insisting that we would never fit that many in our cases. I hoped we would, because otherwise we’d have a lot to drink between then and the flight …

Remarkable Wines

Remarkable Wines

In Timaru, we had a nice site under a willow tree – it was fairly cramped but not too bad, we were glad to know we had our hotel room in Christchurch lined up for New Years’ Eve, it was such a busy time.

Camper van

Camper van

The weather had turned colder and it looked like it was going to throw down the rain but it never really did. Despite the cold, there were people swimming in the outdoor pool on the campsite – I wasn’t that brave though! We had a fairly quiet evening and a chilly night, I was glad to be in the van and not a tent that day.

On Monday, after a lazy breakfast cooked in the campsite kitchen, we headed back to Christchurch. The first stop when we arrived was our new home-for-the-night – A PROPER ROOM!!!! I didn’t think I’d be quite so happy to be back in a building, but it was so nice to be able to get out of bed and stand up instead of scrambling out of the van, and not to have to walk across damp grass to the bathrooms!

We unpacked the van and within minutes the room was a disaster zone, after six trips up the stairs with various bags I was getting slightly worried about how we would get it all home …

Before even thinking about that though, we had to find the Ezywash to clean the camper up and return it. My navigation was typically not great: “OK, go right here. Oops, no, I mean your other right … the map was upside down …” but we made it there. It was a big, empty self service car wash – we started out with the vaccuum cleaner, and that thing was so strong, not a speck of dust could have survived, I’m surprised the seats were still in place when we’d finished. Then the fun started: Silvio parked the van in the washing bay, we fed in the tokens, took down giant hoses and pressed the button to spray soapy water on the van. The hose had a mind of its own: the pressure of the water sent it wiggling in all directions and spraying its soap across the van, I’ve never had so much fun in a car wash. Finally it was done: sparkling and clean and ready to go back to its home.

After the barrage of information when we collected the van, the drop off was almost a disappointment: we drove it in and they just took the keys and waved us off. It was strange to be on foot again! We walked back across Christchurch to the motel, it was another gorgeous hot day and quite pretty meandering along by the park. We had decided to stock up on fancy snacks and ice cream and spend New Year’s Eve at the motel before heading out to the park for the fireworks (must be getting old and boring!)

Back at the motel, I performed a miracle and repacked my suitcase, with three bottles of wine safely stowed in the bottom with a thick blanket wrapped around them. Somehow, everything fitted!

By 11pm, all the fancy snacks and cheese from the Gibbston Valley cheesery was gone and so was the last bottle of wine that we weren’t taking with us, we’d gorged on ice cream but even Silvio couldn’t finish the whole tub. We headed out in the direction of the park, but had no real idea where the music and fireworks would be – we were hoping to see something as we got closer!

We followed the small stream of people, occasionally passing randomly drunken ones going the opposite way, until we could hear the music and find the party. It was busy but not crazy, I guess Christchurch isn’t really a huge party town. Just before midnight the band on stage played Living on a Prayer (well, the crowd sang most of it!) before they brought out a bagpipe player in a kilt (why?) to bring in the New Year. There was the usual countdown followed by fireworks – we were almost directly under them, it was pretty magical watching them flower over our heads. The fireworks were short and sweet, the bagpipes were already wailing out Auld Lang Syne, and 2012 was consigned to the past. We went back to our motel to finish the wine :)

January 1, 2013: it was a fairly chilled start, no need to rush for our afternoon flight, a glass of wine in the lounge before boarding, then back home via train and ferry, a sweaty walk up the hill with our heavy cases, and we were HOME!

I was a little sad it was all over, it was such an amazing trip … but now it was time to sort through the ridiculous amount of photos, write the blog, and plan the next one!!

Adventures in Queenstown

From Wanaka to Queenstown was not very far, the Milford Sound flight was booked for early afternoon so we had time to stop in at a winery along the way. The one I picked was, typically, closed! Luckily there was another one close by, Amisfield, where we picked a yummy pinot noir and a surprisingly good rose to take away with us. At the last minute I asked about good places to go for Chardonnay and the sommellier suggested I try one more: an oaky sauvignon blanc … and then we were leaving with three bottles instead of two.

Busy barman at Amisfield

Busy barman at Amisfield

We carried on to Queenstown, with Silvio’s budgie smugglers and my bikini still spread across the dashboard of the van drying out from our swim the previous day.

Excited!

Excited!

We drove around Queenstown airport before we found the little hangar for the Milford Sound flights, and crawled into a tiny aircraft just wide enough for two cramped seats, fitting about nine passengers in all. The bumpy flight across the mountains, Silvio wrote, “made me entertain the thought of displaying my breakfast to the other passengers, only personal pride and gravity saved them”.

Our flight path

Our flight path

Snowy mountains

Snowy mountains

River

River


The views out of the window were really amazing, we could see the Shotover river with the small red jet boats streaming down it, then the snow capped mountains followed by aquamarine lakes opening up below us as we grew closer to Milford Sound. Despite that, I was glad when we touched down, I think my breakfast was still safe but my stomach was also beginning to churn.

Mountains from the wharf

Mountains from the wharf

On the boat, we headed all the way through to the mouth of the Sound, where we met two cruise ships coming in. It was sunny, but with huge, heavy clouds sagging over the mountains that rose right from the sides of the water. There were several waterfalls cascading down the rocks, but with the dry weather there weren’t as many as when it rains. Apparently, Milford Sound is beautiful no matter what the weather.

Waterfalls

Waterfalls

Waterfalls

Waterfalls

Waterfalls

Waterfalls


We were pretty far south and near the coast, so it wasn’t very warm despite the sun, and the wind on the boat was fierce – my hair was soon whipped into a birds nest and I dreaded trying to brush it afterwards. The top deck was fairly packed, but I managed to take a few nice photos of the misty river between the mountains. On the way back, we saw a bunch of young seals sunbathing on some rocks – apparently these were the young male seals that had been thrown out of the pack, and would grow stronger before returning to find a mate.

Seals on the rocks

Seals on the rocks

The flight back was much smoother – whether because we took a slightly different route, or maybe the wind was less, who knows, but we were both glad. I took photos of mountain tops poking through fluffy clouds, and the late afternoon light making the hills look blue.

Low clouds

Low clouds

At the holiday park in Queenstown – the first place we hadn’t phoned ahead to book, not having had any issues so far finding a spot – there was only one spot left for the night, right outside reception. We grabbed it anyway – the most expensive place of all the ones we stayed in, as well – I guess that’s what you get for coming to Queenstown so close to New Years.

View from the campervan

View from the campervan

Camper at the site

Camper at the site

Quackers at the campsite

Quackers at the campsite

Still, it was close to the centre of town, so we headed to a local place for dinner. We must have been early because it was empty, and we easily got a table outside with an awesome view out across the lake. We were messing about with the self timer on the camera, balancing it on the cutlery and trying to line up photos, when the waitress finally took pity on us and took one for us. I had lamb and Silvio went for the fillet steak, it was all delicious … I seized the dessert menu afterwards, I’d already seen the pavlova on it – a New Zealand specialty apparently. Silvio suggested we share it, but I pretended I hadn’t heard … (ok, I’m not that bad, I let him have a spoonful in the end).

Dinner time view

Dinner time view

Cheers!

Cheers!

Yum

Yum


On Saturday morning, we drove out to the Shotover river to have a ride on the jet boat. We were pretty early and had quite a wait – those guys were sending out two full boats every fifteen minutes, we calculated that they must have been making a mint! We finally got kitted up with damp black jackets and bright red life vests, and only just missed out on sitting in the front seats!

Ready to go on the boat

Ready to go on the boat

The boat driver warmed us all up for the trip by speeding up the river and spinning around before coming back for the obligatory photos, then we were off downstream. The river wasn’t very wide, and he swung the boat close to the rocks until we all screamed – even knowing he did this dozens of times a day without hitting them, it was hard to believe as we sped within a whisker!

Shotover jet

Shotover jet

Every so often, he spun the boat in a full 360 degree turn, sending a big splash across all of us and raising noisy shrieks, it was great fun. On the return journey he described the river in the winter with blocks of ice, apparently there are only a few weeks a year when the boats don’t operate although I’m pretty sure it must be freezing when it’s icy … glad we came in the summer!

Lunch at Wild Earth

Lunch at Wild Earth

After our wild river trip, it was back in the van and off towards Cromwell for lunch at Wild Earth, a winery and restaurant that we’d been recommended to try. All of the food is smoked in barrels and matched to the wines they produce, so we opted for the taster menu with six small dishes. Obviously, I also decided to go for the matching wine selection! It all arrived beautifully presented on a long wooden plate – it was all delicious, although the lamb with a 2008 pinot noir really stood out. The setting was really pretty as well, we sat outside in the garden where we could look across the hills.

Lunch platter at Wild Earth

Lunch platter at Wild Earth

Selfie!

Selfie!

Being silly

Being silly


Although it was good, the food left us wanting dessert but as it had already taken a long time to arrive we decided to stop somewhere else along the way home. We’d passed loads of wineries and one cheesery, so that seemed like a good place to make a stop! We tasted some really good cheeses, and ended up buying a lovely sweet cheddar (the thought of which is making my mouth water still while I’m writing this!) and a tasty blue cheese, with the intent of saving them for New Year’s Eve back in Christchurch. We also tasted some chardonnay and pinot noir in the winery and bought another bottle to add to the growing collection in the van!

Later that afternoon, back at the campsite but in a new site that was a bit quieter, we had decided to head out to go up in the gondola to the luge but it wasn’t meant to be: the heavens opened just as we were making our way out of the campsite!

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Luckily the weather cleared up overnight and on Sunday we made it over to the gondola. The luge was like a toboggan with small wheels underneath and a track nearly 1km long; we bought five rides but it was so busy that we kept getting stuck behind slower riders! We amused ourselves on the chairlift up to the top by making stupid poses for the camera halfway up, didn’t get to see any of them apart from the last one which was actually quite nice, so we bought it :)

On the very last ride, we finally lost the slow riders and sped down, taking the corners on two wheels, it was all over far too quickly and we came out giggling.

West Coast to Wanaka

From Greymouth on Boxing Day, our next stop was Franz Josef. We wanted to go quad biking, so set off reasonably early to get there for just after lunch. It was a little over four hours away, through more beautiful mountainous roads and valleys – easily the most amazing driving I’ve ever experienced.

Rivers along the drive

Rivers along the drive

We arrived at the quad biking and headed out to a dusty car park, where we kitted up under blazing sunshine in rubber trousers and jackets, with big wellies and red helmets. The bikes were all two seaters and Silvio and I were sharing, this could be dangerous in more ways than one!

Splashing through the water!

Splashing through the water!

The first part of the tour was great – after practicing a figure of eight, we drove across some dusty tracks and big rocks, through grass and then across a couple of shallow streams – that was the most fun. For the second one as our guide Kim took photos I tried to hold bunny ears behind Silvio’s head but it was too bumpy in the end and he missed them in the photo!

Off we go!

Off we go!

First drive through the river

First drive through the river

Lady biker

Lady biker


We drove up and over a small, steep bump then turned sharply along a river, coming to stop in a group behind Kim, who suddenly jumped off his quad bike in a panic. One of our group, Paul, had accidentally driven over the side into the river!

After Paul drove his quad bike into the river

After Paul drove his quad bike into the river

A few minutes later they reappeared, Paul looking very shellshocked and cradling a swollen wrist. The bike was turned over in the river, a good six foot drop, so despite his injuries it was something of a lucky escape. One of the other members of the group was a paramedic, so he was well looked after until help arrived to take him back to Franz Josef and hospital with his wife.

Pebbles, mountains and clouds

Pebbles, mountains and clouds

The rest of the group decided to continue on the tour, where we had a second long break by a beautiful, milky grey and icy cold river. I nearly lost my sunglasses after leaving them on the back of the bike as we drove off, luckily with the dust blowing into my face I realised very quickly something was missing! Silvio ran back awkwardly in his rubber boots while I just watched from the bike :)

Glacial river

Glacial river

Taking a rest

Taking a rest

Dramatic skies

Dramatic skies


He drove the last part of the tour, at the back of the group, intermittently slowing down to create a big gap so that he could rev up the bike for a bit to catch up.

Getting a speed up!

Getting a speed up!

Back at the camper van by late afternoon, we headed to the Rainforest holiday park that we’d picked for the night. It was really pretty inside, we were parked up in front of a wall of trees with the glacier and mountains rising up from both sides of us. We had a little table and chairs, plenty of time to chill in the forest and get going on some of the wine we had bought on the way to Kaikoura! There were loads of tiny biting flies though, we both ended up getting eaten alive.

Our home for the night in Franz Josef

Our home for the night in Franz Josef

Chilling with wine

Chilling with wine

Sunset at the Rainforest holiday park

Sunset at the Rainforest holiday park


We wanted to barbecue that night, but couldn’t find anywhere close to buy the meat, so we ate out instead. I tried two more New Zealand Chardonnays and we underestimated the size of the portions, ending up with a massive “side dish” of wedges to go with our already-pretty-large platter.

Selfie in the restaurant

Selfie in the restaurant

The next morning was sunny and hot again, the van was steaming by the time we finally decided to get up. We were headed towards Queenstown now, with a planned stop in Wanaka to break up the drive. With no real rush to leave, we had breakfast in a local cafe: pancakes with fruit, eggs with hollandaise sauce, mmmm … didn’t last long.

Ten minutes up the road, I had a panic: where was my phone? I tried calling it but we couldn’t hear it anywhere in the van, we had to stop, but luckily after a few scary minutes I found it buried in a bag in the back. Silvio teased me for always putting things down and forgetting where they are … well 34 now, must be my age catching up with me :(

Along the drive to Wanaka

Along the drive to Wanaka

We were trying to decide what to do in Queenstown – originally we had wanted to go canyoning, but the warm weather wasn’t set to continue for much longer and jumping into cold waterfalls when it’s grey and cloudy didn’t appeal that much. The alternative was to go and see Milford Sound, but that meant either driving several more hours to get there and back … or taking a beautiful scenic (but pretty expensive!) flight over the mountains to get there.

Bruce Bay

Bruce Bay

Meanwhile, the weather was gorgeous and along the way to Wanaka we passed Bruce Bay, a beautiful beach with irresistible sparkling turquoise water and sparkling pebbles full of crystals. We couldn’t not go for a dip! The water was cold but refreshing.

Enjoying the sea at Bruce Bay

Enjoying the sea at Bruce Bay

View across the bay

View across the bay

Enjoying the beach

Enjoying the beach


Silvio underestimated the force of the waves when he tried to go in wearing his sandals; luckily he managed to rescue them both but they were nearly headed back to Australia as unaccompanied baggage …

Back in the van, I managed to start writing notes for the blog (thank god, because otherwise I’d have forgotten a lot of things by now) and then practiced some Italian verb conjugation … quando arriviamo?

View from the lookout point

View from the lookout point

The roads began to climb and we stopped again at a beautiful lookout point before we finally reached Wanaka. We arrived before 5pm, the cut off time because that’s when the wineries close :) We made it with time to spare to the Rippon winery, which had the most incredible views across the lake out of all of its windows and from a small picnic garden. I sipped a cool glass of sauv blanc and we both took (and posed for) photos until it closed, and we headed to the next campsite.

Enjoying the sun outside the winery

Enjoying the sun outside the winery

Gardens at Rippon Winery

Gardens at Rippon Winery

Rippon Winery

Rippon Winery

Panorama of the winery view

Panorama of the winery view


It was still early evening and the sun was high and hot, so we headed down to the lake for the second cold dip of the day. I took my time getting all the way in but Silvio ducked under and tried to pull me in quicker …

Just taking the dog out for a jet ski

Just taking the dog out for a jet ski

Swimming under the mountains

Swimming under the mountains

Splash!

Splash!


Back on the gravelly beach, we finally decided on the Milford Sound flight over canyoning and I called to book. Silvio went to find his wallet but disaster struck … as he later wrote in my blog notes:

“the loss-phobia proves contagious: I can’t remember where I put my wallet: frantic moments followed by relief when my memory saves us from drama …”

It was in the glove compartment. Phew … flights booked!

Back to the campsite via the supermarket and we were all set for dinner – finally a place where we could buy some good meat! Over to Silvio again for a description of what happened when we got back …

“Back to the camping for a glass of wine and a bbq: rumbling in the air means it’s all but certain that there will be thunders in the night, dark clouds are forming in Jo’s tummy …”

Cleaning the barbie

Cleaning the barbie

And that’s enough of that, suffice to say I was feeling better by bed time, and we slept well under the shade of a tree until the van got too warm again the next morning.

New Zealand Christmas

New Zealand has always been a place I thought I would go one day, but after seeing Claudia’s amazing photos of her trip early last year, it moved pretty high up on my list!

Beautiful views

Beautiful views

We had booked the flights and organised a camper van while Silvio was away in Bangalore, thinking we’d have loads of time once he got back to research where we wanted to go … well, it didn’t quite turn out that way. With less than a week to go, we ended up spending more time arguing over whether I really needed three pairs of jeans than we did planning places to visit. We ended up with a rough plan to start by heading north, with a few places to stay in mind; to hit a few wineries and spend a couple of days in Queenstown.

After a pretty awesome (and fairly large) meal at Ribs and Rumps on Saturday it was an early start on Sunday, we had to catch the first ferry to make our flight.

Pebbles at sunset in Greymouth

Pebbles at sunset in Greymouth

We got to Christchurch, bought a NZ sim card since we can’t possibly live without the interwebz for a week, and jumped in a shuttle to our motel. The weather was gorgeous – glorious sunshine and almost as hot as Sydney – and it seemed like every other building was a small motel, this place is certainly set up for driving holidays.

We had a moment of panic as the shuttle drove off when I suddenly wondered if we’d remembered the name of the motel right, having booked a different one for the final night of our stay. We hovered outside reception waiting for Silvio’s laptop to start up, where the owner eventually found us and reassured us that yes, we were booked in – thank god!

Driving through the mountains

Driving through the mountains

Armed with leaflets and maps, we meandered down to the local Countdown supermarket for snacks (the logo looked suspiciously like Woolworths) They sell salt and vinegar Pringles here – wow!! Good thing junk food is allowed on holiday :)

Later in the evening we headed out to eat and then watch The Hobbit in 3D – although we could have seen it at home, it was pretty special to watch the scenery knowing that we were in the country it was filmed in, with a week of driving around that same scenery ahead of us. Compared to Australia, the evening stayed light really late, even by 8pm it still felt like 5 or 6.

Monday morning, yawning because with the time difference 9am felt like 7am, we headed off to the Wicked depot to collect our camper van. On the way, our taxi driver told us not to bother with the far south of the island, which knocked a few hundred kilometres off the journey very quickly.

Our camper van at the first campsite

Our camper van at the first campsite

At Wicked, we were bombarded with information. Firstly, I discovered that insurance works differently in New Zealand: although we had paid to avoid any liability for damage to the camper van itself, they didn’t cover us for damage to any third parties. Oh well, better drive carefully then.

She asked where we were heading, and was very concerned when we told her we hadn’t booked a campsite.

Kaikoura in the sunshine

Kaikoura in the sunshine

Brains buzzing and feeling a bit worried already, we trailed after her as she showed us where to check the oil and water, pointed out our small gas canister for cooking and how the sink worked, and informed us where to take it to clean it before returning it. This wasn’t like anything I’ve ever rented before! It was kind of cute though – smaller than we’d thought, just a converted people carrier with enough space for a bed and small shelves at the back, with curtains strung up across the windows for privacy, well almost, since they didn’t quite stretch all the way!

Our van was called Alien Life Forms, painted black and blue with various weird creatures on it. Across the back, it read “Artificial intelligence usually beats real stupidity” … at least it wasn’t rude!

Food store in the van

Food store in the van

At last we were off! We headed north towards Kaikoura, but it wasn’t long before we were feeling a bit hungry and seeing signs for wineries … mmmm! I wanted to stop at one that the taxi driver had mentioned but after taking a wrong turn and ending up in the middle of a vineyard, we finally arrived to find it was closed :( We headed back to the Mud House instead, which turned out to be an amazing place with beautifully cooked food. I tasted most of their wines afterwards, Silvio stuck to the pinot noir, and we left with three bottles including a lovely oaky chardonnay (mmm my favourite) and feeling pretty full and a bit sleepy.

Outside The Mud House winery

Outside The Mud House winery

Despite the warnings, we found a spot at a campsite in Kaikoura fairly easily. They were busy and everybody was fairly packed in – our closest neighbours had a large caravan and seemed to have already consumed rather a lot of wine, they were enjoying a good old sing song most of the evening.

Low cloud across the hills

Low cloud across the hills

More low hanging clouds

More low hanging clouds

Clouds hanging low over the beach

Clouds hanging low over the beach


The clouds were low over the hills, and it was pretty cool out, but we headed out for a walk along the rocky beach. I saw a single seal on the rocks, but it slithered away before I could get Silvio’s attention … meanwhile he found a rock that he could climb and headed up. Despite the grey sky the views were pretty cool, huge hills rising almost out of the sea and draped in clouds.

I'm the king of the castle

I’m the king of the castle

Hmmm how do I get down now?

Hmmm how do I get down now?

Me at the beach

Me at the beach

On Christmas Day, we woke up in a hot tin can! The campsite had a pretty good kitchen – in fact, one family were using it to roast a large hunk of meat for their Christmas dinner. As we sat eating breakfast, they carted bags and bags of presents out to their table and started handing them around.

Christmas Quackers!

Christmas Quackers!

This is as Christmassy as I get!

This is as Christmassy as I get!

Quackers, and our site marker

Quackers, and our site marker


We left the campsite and headed into the town of Kaikoura. The sky was still grey and the town was pretty dead, with only one small cafe and a tiny supermarket open. We wandered along the pebbly beaches watching the seagulls and the scenery, debating where to spend the day and night. The original plan was to explore Kaikoura then head to the wineries in the north, but it didn’t seem likely that they’d be open and there wasn’t much to do in Kaikoura on Christmas Day.

Mine Mine Mine Mine Mine

Mine Mine Mine Mine Mine

Where'd the beach go?

Where’d the beach go?

I'm ready, where to?

I’m ready, where to?


In the end we decided to skip the north and head straight across to the West Coast, in the hope that we could get to Greymouth that day (an estimated 7 hour drive, although we later found out that was very conservative). By the time we left, the weather was brightening up, and even as we drove out of the town everything was looking very pretty in the sunshine.

Lord of the Rings country!

Lord of the Rings country!

The road was empty. Occasionally we would pass another camper van, but for most of the journey the world was ours alone. We followed a mix of winding mountain roads and single lane highways through the middle of the country, luckily the GPS on the iPhone worked so we could see where we were on the map, but there was no phone signal for most of the way.

We stopped in Waiau to get petrol from an unmanned roadside pump. The town was completely deserted, we didn’t see another soul – it was as though the Mayan predictions had really come true! In contrast to the heavy morning mists in Kaikoura, the sun was beating down by that time and it was lovely and warm.

Quackers in Waiau

Quackers in Waiau

We continued along to Hanmer Springs, where there is a fantastic looking indoor water park with slides and spa pools, unfortunately the one day of the year that they close is Christmas Day :( We stretched our legs and wandered around, but there wasn’t much to see – at least here though, there were a few people milling around so we weren’t totally alone!

Throughout the journey, there were loads of single lane bridges, some fairly long, luckily we seemed to have priority on our side most of the time. One in particular did scare me though: around 200m or more driving along a railway track. In fact, there were a lot of railway tracks, but we never did see a single train :)

Lookout point near Hanmer Springs

Lookout point near Hanmer Springs

Along the way, I tried to listen to some of my Italian recordings, but I struggled with too many words I couldn’t fathom and eventually got too cross with it, deciding to dig out one of the books for another day instead.

We eventually made it to Greymouth and headed to the Top 10 Holiday Park there, it was absolutely lovely, the best place out of all the campsites we stayed at. They were busy but not full, and our camper van site was pretty spacious with walls each side and nobody directly overlooking us.

Campsite in Greymouth

Campsite in Greymouth

The holiday park had a jacuzzi that we could book for a half hour, which was exactly what we needed after the long drive – a huge, hot bath!

The weather was threatening rain, but we were just over the back of the beach and the sun was starting to set so it would have been a waste not to go and watch it for a little while. Afterwards, we made use of the kitchen to cook a Christmas dinner of pasta :) eating outside under a shelter while the rain spattered a bit.

So that was Christmas over for another year!