Aaaaaaaannd we're off! In an earlier than expected turn of events, we are leaving Nelson and beginning our blitzkrieg tour of the South Island tomorrow morning! We hadn't anticipated leaving until Monday or Tuesday, but we sat down last night and had a look at the bus timetables and realized that if we wanted to actually spend time in the places we are most interested in, we need to leave tomorrow. We had this realization at about 9 PM last night, knowing that we were scheduled for our last two shifts at Kathmandu today and tomorrow and that we had two potential buyers for the van, we looked at each other and said, "Let's do it!" We called our manager, who was totally cool with us bailing early, as we have covered loads of shifts for him in the past, booked the various legs of our journey on the Magic Bus website, and set about packing up.
Today, Matt is off to sell the van, which is a bit sad, as Lucy was such a trusty and reliable steed. She carried us faithfully all over the top half of New Zealand and on all kinds of roads, beaches, and, once, through a river. I've never been so attached to a vehicle before, but she was definitely more than just a car. She was actually our home for several months of our trip, and was the one constant through our wanderings of the past seven and a half months. All the same, it will be a relief to have her sold, as in the last couple of weeks she has become a bit of an albatross. It turns out to be next to impossible to sell a campervan in Nelson this time of year, for a variety of reasons. Still, we got a huge amount of use out of her and found a friend of a friend who will buy her, although we're losing a lot of money.
So now, we head off on our final sightseeing adventure in New Zealand. Having spent five months making a slow and detailed loop of the North Island, we will now spend 16 days making a quick but exciting loop of the South, and we're happy to be riding for free with Magic. Both Matt and I will be linking our blog posts up to Magic's Facebook page, and our posts may be used on the blog on Magic's website. We'll also be taking photographs that may end up going into the Magic archives and being used on the website, fliers, and marketing campaigns! Due to the nature of our travel over the next few weeks, here's a little disclaimer that you'll be hearing quite a bit about Magic, but that's just the trade for our free passes. Magic Bus operates as a hop-on, hop-off bus, and with our passes, we can book the various legs of our journey whenever we want and however far apart we want, according to their timetables. As long as we book at least 24 hours ahead of time, we are guaranteed seats on the bus, and the other cool thing is that the drivers also act as guides, and often stop at cool places along the way so we get to see the sights en route to our next hop-off. I'm really looking forward to seeing how it all goes, and to seeing some new and amazing country, as New Zealand heads into the early stages of winter.
Because we are on such a tight schedule, we have booked our entire route ahead of time, and our accommodation as well, so that we know we will make it back to Nelson in time to our flight up to Auckland on the 22nd. Here's a general outline of our route: We leave Nelson tomorrow, and head down the west coast, spending a night in Greymouth and then a couple nights in Hokatika. Then it's south to Franz Joseph Glacier, then down to Haast and inland to Wanaka for a few nights, and on to Queenstown. Then from Queenstown to Dunedin, a destination we've both been looking forward to for awhile (the most Scottish city in New Zealand, known as "the Edinburgh of the South"). From Dunedin, we cut back inland to Lake Tekapo, at the foot of the Southern Alps, for a night. Then it's a stopover in Christchurch and then on to Kaikoura for the night, then up the coast to Picton the next day, and back to Nelson the next. It will be a complete whirlwind, but we do have a few places where we'll stay for a few days, so we won't have the totally rushed feeling of being in a different place every single night. We're both kind of giddy and excited about it; after a few weeks of the strange limbo of not knowing our plans, it's really exciting to know where we'll be going and when. It looks like we're headed for a few rainy days at the start (Nelson is taking the brunt of a windy, rainy gale at the moment and it's the same down the West Coast), but hopefully once we get further south things will clear up.
So, it's time for me to get packing, but first here's a few photos from our last week in Nelson.
(Click on Photos to Enlarge)
Taking advantage of a sunny day.
A glimpse of some of the work we've done for Nickola in exchange for utility costs. This was me pulling grass from the strawberry bed and side garden last week.
There are praying mantises EVERYWHERE here. This big guy was hanging out on the laundry room door a few days ago. It was stick insects in Taranaki, and mantises here.
Sunday was unseasonably warm, and Matt and I treated ourselves to brunch down on Nelson's waterfront. Afterwards, we walked along the waterfront drive for a bit, in shorts and jandals! In this photo you can see Tahunanui beach on the right.
Gorgeous waterfront house.
Another waterfront view.
With that, we're headed south, and next time you hear from us we'll be somewhere on the legendary West Coast. With so many places to see on this quick trip, it's really hard to believe we'll be home to the states three weeks from today. So here's to our last hurrah, and may we get a few last good adventures in!