I used to be a huge fan of travel, in fact I would almost say my life revolved around booking tickets somewhere and counting down the days until I flew off. It was a great time in my life, however now I much happier staying put, working my ass off and watching what comes from it. Tell that to me 3 years ago and I’d call you crazy. I grew out of the travel bug I had caught somewhere in Europe 4 or so years ago, but who could say that a little getaway every now and then isn’t healthy. Besides, I’d never gone overseas with the lads, so it was an experience to say the least.
It began with a Facebook status. I asked if anyone was keen to hire an RV and go to New Zealand, and within a few days, I had a crew. A guy who I used to work with, and two of his mates who I’d never met before. Tickets were booked and we were on our way – spontaneity was an understatement. The next 10 days were filled with some of the most fun, adrenaline packed days I’ve lived, and luckily I am still here and in one piece to tell the tale.
We hopped in our RV and headed out of Christchurch on our first morning. With no plans, we drove south with a map in one hand, beer in the other and steering wheel between the knees (not really). Our only requirement was that we had to get to Queenstown. The how, when or why wasn’t important.
Only an hour into the drive, we came over a corner which found us descending down a windy road with a huge drop off the side, looking onto a valley with Mount Cook in the distance. We pulled over on the side of the road for a good glimpse of what was ahead – I hopped on the roof of the RV and watched the the sun set over the mountains – a much needed sight after endless city days.
The roads were bearable, and we were told not to take the RV over 90km/h, but soon enough without noticing, the empty long sweeping roads found us looking at the speedo clocking 140. Needless to say, it wasn’t long before we got a speeding fine. The first time we saw water was at Rakaia Gorge. It had a unique tone of fake aqua blue to it. It was far from crystal clear and looked more like someone had chucked a bucket of blue paint in. My first thought took me back to primary school when you had to wash the blue paint out of the paint brushes and the water in the sink would be electric blue, you all know what I’m talking about. I considered having a swim but hyperthermia wasn’t an option just yet.
Lake Tekapo was next. It was so flat and picturesque that once the water had settled, the reflection was almost seamless. We spent that night lying in the middle of the road looking up at the stars – I wish I could show what we saw through a camera, but it’s one of those things you just have to do for yourself. Tekapo is named one of the best places for star gazing in the Southern Hemisphere and once you see it, you’ll know why.
This next photo was taken as we marched over towards the lake – the real view was on the other side.
4 days down and we still hadn’t got to Queenstown. There were too many places to stop along the way.. such as this next spot – A mountain between Lake Wanaka and Queenstown. It was getting bloody cold and the roads were covered in snow, driving an RV was almost impossible, but we had to get through. We took our time and I soon found out the boys had never seen snow before, so we stopped at the summit while I loaded up our makeshift esky with fresh snow to cool the beers while they ran around and made snow angels. Priorities…
Finally, that night we made it to Queenstown – where the real fun began. No more nice scenery, but that’s okay – Queenstown was packed full of things to do and people to meet.. even the Harlem Globetrotters were there. It was a place where you’d do all the adrenaline packed activities during the day, and discuss what you’ve done so far with the hoards of other travellers over a beer or ten. It was a town where you couldn’t have a quiet night even if you tried. All the bars were packed, and the bouncers would try to get you into every bar you passed, regardless of how unattractively drunk you may have looked stumbling around the street trying to remember where you parked the RV…
We spent 3 days doing just about every activity there, and by the time we left, we left no stone unturned. We jumped off the highest bungee on this side of the equator, flew in helicopters to the tops of mountains and rafted down (heres where the hyperthermia comes in), strapped ourselves in to the shotover jetboat, swung the world’s largest swing but last but certainly not least, I thought I’d splurge and go on a scenic flight over Milford Sound. The views were pure gold..That photo above captures water, ice, dirt, trees and snow all in one shot looking directly down. Super cool.
Leaving Queenstown on a very high note, we had only 2 days left before we were due to fly out from Christchurch. So off we went, taking the west coast route north. The scenery was nothing like what we saw before and it was hard to believe that these scenes were only a couple hours drive apart from the ones above. The roads got worse, as did the weather, but the views just kept on coming.Only a few hours from Christchurch, homeward bound, but still so much more to see.Finally, we made it back. Safe and sound and feeling more refreshed than ever. For once, I didn’t miss Sydney.. too much.
The trip was a great success. To those who are looking to do the same, here is where we went.