Over the past week, the Eastwood family have been in their old home town of Island Bay, visiting friends and touring the city. It was a lovely week, full of kind people and fun times. But now the time has come to begin the 2nd part of the adventure: car camping on the South Island.When we last saw the Eastwood family, they were on the plane to Dunedin…
Sunday 25th – Christmas Day / Day 1 Of Camping
So we were on the plane to Dunedin from Wellington, having said goodbye to all the Kind Kiwis we met on our trip. It was great to be back in Wellington, but at the same time it felt right to be moving on. We saw some beautiful views from the plane, like Marlborough Region and the Southern Alps! It was sooooo cool to see the mountains poking through the clouds! At Dunedin, we got our luggage and our rental car! After filling out some forms, we were off! Papa driving (obviously!), me navigating in the front seat, and Rosie being Rosie in the back row. It was all super smooth, except for the fact that it was Christmas Day and all the shops were closed. We needed methylated spirits (meths) and matches for the camping stove (Trangia). Without them, we were scuppered, and would have to throw out our sausage supper! Luckily, after several tries, Papa found a convenience store that sold both items, and we were on our way. After an hour or so of driving, we stopped in Balclutha, the biggest town between Dunedin and our first campsite, Purakaunui. We had lunch sitting on the banks of the River Clutha: cheese, crackers, apples and crisps. Good times. After that, Rosie and I went and had a play at the playground! It had one of those mouse wheel things, that was really hard and scary, and the most insane zipwire ever! It wasn’t a seat, it was just a hold-onto-the-bar-and-jump-off-the-ledge type. And it would skim so low to the ground… creepy but cooool! And then we were back on the road again. After driving for a while, we turned off onto a gravel road, and drove for a bit, and after a while we arrived at Purakaunui Campsite! It was right on the seashore, and super beautiful. We scouted around for a spot, then found a good one away from the main campsite. We went for a walk on the lovely beach, which was pretty long, and then we started making supper: sausages and onions in a wrap with garlic ketchup: yuuuuuuummy! We washed up in the stream that ran between the campsite and the beach, and it was freezing. And when I say freezing, I don’t mean shivery freezing, I mean if-you-stay-in-too-long-your-feet-will-go-numb freezing. After that, we chucked the frisbee around and went for another wander, but the sun started going doing, and then it began to get pretty cold, so we went back to the tent to make hot chocolate. Since there was just a tap which pumped water from the stream (I think), we had to boil all the water that we used, which made things slower but even more camping-like. After reading, chatting and drinking hot choc for a while, we got changed and went to bed for the first night in the tent!!!
Monday 26th – Day 2 Of Camping
I woke up with really runny eyes: fallout from hay fever. I went and washed them in the stream, which really woke me up! When I returned, Papa was making porridge, which we ate with raisins and jam. After washing up, I sat with my feet in the river and read my book (and it wasn’t actually too bad, once you got used to it). We then went for a walk. We first went along the beach, and saw several seals. One of them, a huge male, came out of the water grunting and waddling, and started making a beeline for us, so we hoofed it! After getting some pictures, we continued up a hill on the other side of the beach. At the top (or where we stopped) we were treated with some fantastic panoramic views of the campsite, sea and surrounding area. We headed back down and returned to the tent. After some chillaxing, some lunch and some more chillaxing, we went out for a scramble around the headland. the rocks were super cool, and there were some massive waves. We sat and chatted for a while, then headed back to the tent. After playing frisbee, we made supper: noodles! We washed up, then had another headlands walk, but shorter. We got to watch the sun start to set, and with the sea and the colours, it was so beautiful. We walked back and had some hot chocolate. After cleaning up, we went to bed.
Tuesday 27th – Day 3 Of Camping
We woke and, after a breakfast of porridge, cleaned up and packed everything up. After brushing teeth and paying, we left. Purakaunui was a great campsite: super beautiful and a great way to start the trip. We drove a while to Purakaunui Falls, where Papa dried out the tent, and Rosie and I went to see the Falls. They were really lovely, and to get there you had to go through a forest that could have been straight out of a fairy tale. After an hour of driving we stopped to gaze upon the Southern Ocean. It was amazing, water as far as the eye could see. It was also the most Southern point of our trip. From there on, Northward bound. We drove to Invercargill and went to New World, where we stocked up on food for the next campsite. We also went to a hardware store to buy more fuel, and then we were on the road again. After stopping at a playground to have some lunch, we arrived at the turnoff to our next campsite. However, we were sceptical. The DoC guide described as having 6 spots, and being some 20 kms down a gravel road. We decided against staying there, so drove on to our second option: Manapouri, a town not far north. After arriving in Manapouri, we went to the Manapouri Holiday Home and signed ourselves up for a pitch. We set the tent up in a nice sunny, sheltered spot, and then went on a walk. We went down to Lake Manapouri, and wandered around there for a while. It was soooo huge and beautiful, and the shores were lined with massive snow-topped peaks. Truly magnificent. We headed back to the campsite and started on supper: sausages. The holiday park had great facilities, so we cooked the sausages and the onions on a barbecue, then took then back to our pitch to eat. Delicious, as always! Afterwards, Papa and I went for a walk back to Lake Manapouri, and chatted while wandering. We were treated with a view of the sun setting over the mountains, and at that moment realised how privileged we were to be on the South Island of New Zealand, in our third day of a week of camping. We walked back to the campsite and had a shower. Yessss! First one in three days, it was so nice! Well… I had a bit of sunburn, and no matter how cold the water was, it would just scald my sunburn… and I had to squat to wash my hair… but I wash clean! Yay, no more smelly boy! I went to bed that night a new person.
Wednesday 28th – 4th Day Of Camping
We woke and had some porridge, then packed up my backpack for the day, for today was the day that we would walk a section of the Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s 9 Great Walks. The Great Walks are the nine most beautiful walks in the whole of New Zealand, and people come from all over the world to tramp them. I was so excited, as I thought that the Great Walks were something you only read about, not actually walk part of one of them! We drove to the start of the track, and started walking. It was so beautiful, walking through this stunning forest with these magnificent views of a meandering river… absolutely amazing. We walked for 1½ hours, until we reached a different shore of Lake Manapouri. We wandered into the forest and found a sheltered spot, where we ate Cup-a-Soup and bread. Rosie and I played around for a while, and we checked out the hut there (and almost got lost!). We then walked the 1½ hours back, and what a 1½ hours. Truly, that forest was so beautiful, with the only sign of humans being the track. It was so special to walk the Kepler, and we were so glad we did! We drove back to Manapouri, and, after some chillaxing, made supper: couscous with vegetables. We had shower and then went to bed.
Thursday 29th – Day 5 Of Camping
We woke and had porridge, the started packing up. By then, Rosie and I could get the tent down and the sleeping bags and air mats sorted in a heartbeat, so that was no problem. The last job: fetch the leftover couscous from the fridge. Guess who dropped it? Me! However, it was soon forgotten (and the unofficial motto of the trip became “don’t cry over spilled couscous”). The drive was beautiful, with these stunning mountains, and picturesque Lake Wakatipu. We drove up to Queenstown (the Adventure Capital of the South Island) and it was busy! There were queues just to get into town! We went to a shopping centre just outside of town, and went to the New World, where we did the shopping for the next few days. We payed and scarpered: Queenstown was not the place for us. We stopped for lunch at Lake Hayes, just outside Quenstown, which was lovely. We ate Cup-a-Soup, bread and cinnamon doughnuts right on the riverbank. We had decided to take the “alternative route” to Wanaka, so we went off the highway and drove up and mountain, stopping at a viewpoint on the way. From there, it was a drive through a mountain pass, which was super beautiful. We drove into Wanaka, which was just as packed as Queenstown. Lake Wanaka, however, was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. Crystal clear water, sunlight bouncing off the surface, tiny islands scattered around… amazing. We stopped at the DoC centre, and Papa chatted with one of the rangers about campsites. After that, we started our drive up the gorgeous Lake Hawea. It was suuuuuper long and beautiful, and we stopped to take pictures. After ½ hour of driving, we took a turn-off onto a unsignposted gravel road. We drove for 6 kms to Kidds Bush Campsite, which was PACKED!!! There were so many people who had been there since Christmas, all with their boats and jet-skis and massive campervans. We struggled to find a spot, but eventually found a pitch in the least crowded area of the campsite. We made supper: sausages and onions. We played Uno after eating, but there were so many sandflies that we abandoned ship and sat in the car. Papa thought we should stay up late to watch the stars come out, but we got too tired, so we went to bed.
Friday 30th – Day 6 Of Camping
I woke up feeling quite drowsy, so I went and stood in Lake Hawea to wake up. It did the job. I ate my porridge down by the lake, and then we packed my backpack for the day and started the Sawyer Burn Track. It was quite steep, but the views were fabulous, especially once we got above the treeline. It did start getting dodgy though, with ridges and scrambly bits, and we got to a REALLY dodgy bit, the decision was made to turn back. We walked back down a tiny bit to get back into the trees and some shade. We stopped and made some lunch sitting on the track: Cup-a-Soup with bread and apples. We took some photos and then started to head back down. We were passed by several people on the way up (including a couple with a baby) who we assume all bailed out at the same place that we did. They all overtook us on the way down, even the baby couple! We then returned to the campsite via the Nature Walk: it was super lovely with loads of birds and flowers. I was quite hot from carrying the pack up and down the mountain, so I decided to take a dip in Lake Hawea. Papa didn’t come in, Rosie did but reluctantly, and I sprinted in. And it was FREEEEEZING!!!!!! It was about 7°C (I checked online) but felt colder. Truly, if the temperature was any lower, people would be ice skating rather that jet-skiing! But I did go under several times. Rosie only went waist-deep and wimped out. We sat in the shallows and warmed up, and then sat on the beach and watched the activity. I read in the shade for a few hours, and then went and had supper: noodles followed by hot chocolate. I went to bed with aching calves and a happy heart.
Saturday 31st – Day 7 Of Camping
We got up and packed, and then drove out of Kidds Bush. We drove for a while along backroads, and then got to Twizel. We couldn’t find a New World, so we went to 4 Square (a smaller store), and it was packed! The waiting time for the line was about 10 minutes, and the store was overflowing with people. We got out as soon as possible, and drove off after checking out the town and filling up water bottles. We stopped a couple of times at picnic spots, but there were just too many sandflies, so we moved on. We drove for a few minutes, and it wasn’t long before we turned onto Highway 80, the road to Mt. Cook…
Stay tuned for the third and final installment in this series of posts, in which the Eastwood family continues their journey around the South Island, meeting awesome people and seeing some amazing things…