Carol & Gary's NZ adventure travel blog

Akaroa Bay, Christchurch

Akaroa Pier

Akaroa with snow on mountains in background

Anton and Hayley, Christchurch

Canterbury Museum, Christchurch

Christchurch Cathedral

Ice on windscreen, hire car, Christchurch

Sheep and snow, Whitecliffs

Stream where we had lunch, Whitecliffs

Us with Nate, Christchurch

Monday is spent finishing off tidying up the last of our lives in Australia (for now). We set about doing the last of our washing and packing our suitcases. The day is horrible, raining and cold. 21mm falls at Wayne’s place and puts a bit of water in the tank. They really do need the rain and unlike Mackay, the rainfall comes during winter. We pass the afternoon watching a DVD and getting Logan and Poppy sorted out. We take Wayne out to the Kings Creek Hotel for our last meal together. We take a table near the log fire and really enjoy our meals and a few bets. Of course, we never win on the dishlickers, but Wayne picks up a good prize on the Keno. Back home for our last night with Wayne.

We awake at 5.30am after a restless night sleep. Wayne is driving us up to the City and we are on the way at 6.30am. We have a great run through on the freeway, traffic really starts to build the closer you get to the City (considering it is only 7.30am)! We arrive at Jet Pets, where we are leaving the dogs. Jet Pets are the carrier who is organizing the transport for the dogs. The dogs are required to have their final health check done and then the AQIS certificate can be completed. They are boarding with them overnight and Jet Pets will get them on the same flight as us on Wednesday. We take the dogs out to a cage/holding area in the building. All the other dogs are waiting in the area that is marked “Transit Lounge”. Of course, they bark the house down when we leave, we don’t know if they are barking at us or all the other dogs waiting in the “Lounge”. Wayne takes us to Rent A Bomb and we say our goodbyes here. We have really enjoyed our time with Wayne, it is the most time in one hit that I have spent with my brother in 17 years. Gary and I are renting a car for the day, our Rent A Bomb is an early 90’s Toyota Corolla with 309,000 hard kilometres on the clock. But for $40 for the day, you can’t complain! After stalling at the first set of traffic lights, we head off to DFO (Direct Factory Outlet) at Essendon, it is enormous, complete with Spotlight, The Good Guys etc. I have spotted a handbag (that I MUST have), but it is damaged. Off we go on a “find another handbag” hunt. We go via Footscray to the Bank of Queensland. Footscray is the little Vietnam of Melbourne, however, we found out that the Sudanise community is taking it over. I have never felt so uncomfortable on a street in the middle of the day. We hoof it back to the safety of the “bomb”, we hope it starts! Into the City to DFO Spencer Street, no luck here for the bag either. We decide to do the Queen Victoria Markets and enjoy our last canole for a while. It starts to pour rain while we are at the markets. We decide to head back to DFO Essendon….to cut a long story short, I compromised on the colour and walked out with my MUST have bag. I am happy to report that Gary’s “shopping knee” did not give us any problems today. We return “our bomb” and head off for a rest in the motel room. We have an early tea and an early night. We have said our goodbyes to our families today. Email and texting will be our way of keeping in touch now.

We are up and waiting for our Airport shuttle at 7.30am. The Airport is only 4km away and we are there right on time. The queue is pretty long. While waiting the Federal Police come through with the sniffer dog to go over our luggage, no one is hauled off. We get to the check in counter, slightly worried about the weight of our bags. Baggage allowance is 20kg each and we are pretty confident that they are close to that. The guy checking us in has to allocate our seats, then tells us that there aren’t any seats together. I said, how about bumping us up to first class, well he ended up putting us in Row 1 (which normally you pay more for!). My bag weighs in at 21kg and Gary’s at 26kg. We think here we go, but the check in guy puts them through, thankfully without weighing our carryon luggage. What a cool guy. We get some brekky and head into the Customs clearance area and through to duty free and money exchange. Two bottles of grog later and they are more or less calling the flight for boarding. We have to get on a bus and be driven to the plane. As the air hostess is giving her welcoming speech we can hear Logan and Poppy barking. I don’t know if hearing them is a good thing or not for us, at least we know they are on the flight! After the hosty finishes her speech she said, did you hear those dogs barking…we had to own up. Then all the questions start about transporting dogs. We didn’t bother launching into the logistics of transporting a 4WD and Van! The Captain announces that is 4 degrees in Christchurch. The hosty has checked with the Captain and tells us there are 6 dogs on board. We don’t feel like the only crazies taking our dogs with us. Finally we are on the way for the start of our next adventure. It has been a long time coming. Goodbye Australia. Hello New Zealand choice aye bro. We arrive and clear the airport quickly, phone the hire car company who come and pick us up to take us to the car. It isn’t too far from the airport. We head back to the freight company at the airport to collect Logan and Poppy. We arrive there at 4.25pm and the woman tells us we have to go to Customs before 4.30 to get the papers to clear the dogs, she points at a building that says Customs, so we get in the car and fly for it. The guy there doesn’t know anything about dogs, doesn’t have the dogs and after discussing the matter he says, there’s another Customs building around the corner, so we fly around there. Gary drops me off on the roadway and I run in through the door at 4.30pm. The guy rolls his eyes when I told him what we where there for, but gets the documents completed. Thank god, I felt sick and was shaking. We head back to the freight company and wait for MAF (Ministry Agriculture and Forestry) to inspect the dogs. We can hear them barking. After a long wait we are allowed out there to see them as they are being inspected. Poppy has knocked over her water and is almost like a dog I don’t know, she is almost mental, clawing at the cage. Terribly distressed. It is tough to see, and MAF are warning me not to open the cage. I told him she needs water…now. So he gets some and we take her into the inspection room where she downs a tonne of water. I am so so cranky that nobody has bothered to water the dogs. They are more than happy to take our money and tell us they will be looked after. Very soon we are on the way to our motel for the next two nights. It is a really lovely place in Riccarton.

We are awake at 4.50am (which is 2.50am Aussie). We have to sort out heaps of stuff with the car and van today, as the ship is expected in Port Lyttleton today. We head off to join the AA (our RACQ equal) and arrange insurance for the van and car. We then head to see Ray (our import guy, the NZ equal of Barry in Australia) to sort out the Customs and MAF requirements for the vehicles. We go over to Customs and get the carnet de passages and paperwork sorted quickly. Then we have to head back to meet Richie the Migrant banker for Westpac so we can access our money. Both Ray and Richie are really top guys, so helpful. We had back to Ray to go to MAF to sort that out. The MAF people need the keys for the van to inspect it, so we drive out to Lyttleton port to hand them over. We see our car and van on the dock from a viewing area. Another stop is the NZ registration centre, where we need to pay the third party component only of the NZ rego. Diesel powered vehicles here also pay a road user levy, however for people with overseas visitors registration the choice to pay the levy is optional. We opt not to pay it! We eventually get back to the motel and the day is gone. We talk to Julie and Lucy via the webcam, which is so great. It is lovely to see and hear them. Lucy is so excited to see her Aunty Carol and Uncle Gary. She wants to see her mate Logan (Big Mannie), so we hold him up to the camera and she screams with happiness. We go to bed tired, but we have achieved some things, but not all yet.

We are awake at 4.00am today (what is going on)! We take the dogs for a walk in Hagley Park at 8.30am. The windscreen on the car is ice and there is a slight frost still on the grass. We hear on the news that the PM (Helen Clarkes) tramping guide has died while guiding their tour group from a heart attack and they are stuck in snow at Tekapo. Heaps of roads are closed further south due to the snow fall overnight. We head off to apply for an IRD number (our tax file equal). Here any interest earned at the bank, is taxed each month, not after the end of the financial year like in Australia. We do a bit of essential shopping as we wait to hear if the car and van have cleared the MAF inspection. Customs has already cleared them. Then we get the phone call that MAF have found dirt way up under the 4WD and it requires steam cleaning, also the inside of the van requires vacuuming. The stevedores have organized someone to do the cleaning, sometime. We catch up with Ray to get our original documents back. All we can do is wait now to see if the cleaning will be done today and the vehicle cleared. We are driving around in the hire car with the back seat and the boot full with our possessions. The dogs have to sit on my lap or on the floor at my feet. At 3.15pm we get the Ok to go to the port and take possession of our vehicles. We have to go straight the VTNZ which is the vehicle testing station to have our warrant of fitness done on the vehicles. They pass OK and we now have legally registered and safety certified vehicles. By now it is 5.15pm and we are heading to the North South Holiday Park for the next three nights. It is starting to really get cold and dark. We get the van set up quickly. Gary goes to plug in the power and finds the point is not compatible with our 15 amp lead. I think oh my god, we will freeze to death tonight without power. So Gary heads off to the office and is gone forever, I am unpacking gear by torchlight. Gary adapts our lead and puts the NZ type outlet on it and it works. Gary has started to diversify into electrical work….if we come home alive, it will be a miracle! Finally we get the heat going and get some tea (takeaway tonight).

We finally have a good nights sleep and wake up around 8am. Today the priority is getting some washing done and sorting out the electrical issues. The park owner has organized an electrician to come and see us this morning. The van also needs an electrical warrant of fitness and we are not sure if it will need re-wiring also. Thankfully all is well with the van and the electrician tidies up the modification that Gary did to the extension lead. We are issued with our warrant of fitness for the van. The van has more stickers on it now that Lucy’s favourite sticker book. We drive into the City to meet Hayley, Anton and Nathan. Hayley is Garys sister and Nathan is 8 months old and the first time we have met him. We spend a few hours wandering around the Art Centre Markets. Nathan is very cute and it is fantastic to catch up with them. They head off as they are heading to Fairlie for the night and back home to Queenstown on Sunday. We will see them again very soon. Gary and I do some grocery shopping and the day is over. The heat in the van goes on around 5pm. The weather forecast is for 0 degrees overnight. Apparently this is unseasonal snow and weather. The ski fields have heaps of snow on them. The closest one to Christchurch is Mt Hutt. It is very busy and very expensive. We are going to ski at Mt Dobson which is the ski field closest to Fairlie. We are looking forward to it.

We have a pretty good night sleep and wake warm and toasty. We have a wool doona cover, flannelette sheets and leave the heater running all night, so we are very cosy. It is freezing outside this morning. The dogs are out and back in pretty quickly. I decide to use the park showers to wash my hair. I thought this will be great I can have a hot shower for as long as I want. That couldn’t have been further from the truth, it was just warm, so I quickly shampooed, then got the conditioner in just as the water started to cool. Boy was I out of there quick smart. I have decided in future to just run out the hot water in our van. We drive out to Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula. It is about 90km from Christchurch situated around a bay. What a drive out there, mountainous and very windy in parts, but the view, the country side and Akaroa are stunning. It is a very French village. All of the street names are French, as are a lot of the buildings. We can see small patches of snow on top of the mountains nearby. We go back via Christchurch to take a drive towards Mt Hutt. We want to take a closer look at the Southern Alps. We grab some lunch and take the Inland Scenic Route No. 72 drive. It is a pretty drive. We love the countryside and all the sheep, it must be lambing season as there are plenty of newborns hanging close to mum. We stop for lunch beside a stream at Whitecliffs and put down the blanket and enjoy the view. The dogs have a good run around. I really get a kick out of just driving somewhere without any plans and seeing what you can discover on the way. There are patches of snow on the sides of the road in this area. The road sort of bypasses the mountains, so we couldn’t see all that much. We didn’t want to get too far into the drive as chains are required to be carried and we don’t have any yet. It was a great day. We are packing up to head to Timaru on Monday.

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