Wednesday, February 25, 2009


We arrived to the South Island by car ferry and enjoyed a fabulous wine tour compliments of Kash and Jodi. The wine tour company, Bubbly Grape, uses the slogan “We’ll Drive You To Drink!” Kash and Jodi thought it was fitting for our drunk van and we agree! We had a great time!

Kaikoura was our next stop via a road side stand selling fresh Cray Fish aka LOBSTER! We ate fresh lobster (only out of the ocean 4 hours before it hit our bellies)! The first one was so good that we had to have a second. Oh, and we had a side of green lipped mussels steamed in a garlic white wine sauce to go with it, too. Kaikoura proved to be outstanding with its gorgeous coastline and tall mountains. We saw three sperm whales, orcas and a blue shark on our whale watching tour. Later the same day when we hiked along the coast line we spotted a ray in the crystal clear water, sea lions galore and more orcas frolicking about.

After such a tough day, we headed to Hanmer Springs to soak in the natural hot springs. Ahhhhhhhhhh…….it was lovely! From Hanmer we drove through Christchurch and onto a winding little road (with a stretch of gravel road that caused a flash back to Peru) along the coast to the Banks Peninsula. We snuggled in for the rainy night in a remote little place called Okains Bay (remote except for the few other campers and sheep). The van did not float away or get washed into the ocean and the next day we drove to Akaroa. From Akaroa we drove back to Christchurch via Little River (with a great cafĂ© and art gallery) and Birdlings Flat (a stretch of powerful crashing ocean surf).

In Christchurch we were greeted by Jodi’s friends Jacinda, Rich and their beautiful children. They were gracious hosts and even shared the Day of Love with us complete with a special pancake breakfast and chocolate cake! We saw the Coast to Coast Race finish in Christchurch which involves running, kayaking and cycling from the west to east coast of the South Island. The top competitors complete the 243 km race in 10 hours 45 minutes. Here is the link if you want to learn more about the race:

A lovely hike at Mount Cook was next followed by a trip to Stewart Island. We were blessed with a beautiful day to hike on Stewart Island, but then the rain set in for the remainder of our time. The ferry ride back to the South Island was quite an adventure and instead of beer lined up on the bar the crew actually had vomit bags. Luckily neither of us filled one, but you had to keep a steady eye gazing outside or else images of retching souls would fill your head.
The rain continued and has followed us for four days now. Our time in Milford Sound was drizzly and cold. We were sad that we did not get to see the spectacular sunny views, but we did get to see a mysterious misty version of the Sound and were graced with hundreds of waterfalls cascading down the mountain sides.

Tonight we arrived at the glaciers (Franz Josef and Fox) and got a glimpse of a starry sky. We are looking forward to the Sun and a dry van!

More photos:

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Our first two weeks were spent traveling around the lovely North Island. We were greeted in the wee hours of the morning by Jodi’s Dad (Colin) and Step-Mum (Elizabeth). They played tour guides and chauffeurs for several days. Together we enjoyed picnics on the beach, yummy meals, and seeing the Auckland Regatta to name a few! Colin taught Ryan how to drive on the other side of the road and provided moral support when we picked up our “Drunk” van. We trotted off into the wild blue yonder north of Auckland to the Bay of Islands (Tutukaka, Russell, Pahia). Kaitaia was our next stop and we traveled to Cape Reinga the northern most point in New Zealand. The Cape was incredible with a beautiful lighthouse and turbulent waters where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet. On our way to Matakohe we walked through the ancient Kauri Forests. The oldest living Kauri Trees are 1200-2000 years old. We held court with the mighty Tane Mahuta (the largest living Kauri tree at 51 meters tall) and Te Matua Ngahere (the widest living Kauri at 16.4 meters wide). We made a return visit to Waitomo to walk through the forest at night and view the glow worms lit up the mountain side (blue twinkling lights…..beautiful!). New Plymouth brought more beautiful coast and a hike up part of Mount Taranaki. A driving adventure across the Forgotten Highway took us through Whangamomona the only republic in New Zealand. We spent the night in Ohakune and drove into Wellington the next day. We were greeted in Wellington by Jodi’s Mum (Annette) and Noel who helped us make a great itinerary for touring the South Island. We enjoyed a great night out with them, a walk on the beach, learning the rules of a cricket match, shopping and strawberries from the garden! Did I mention a real comfy bed and indoor toilet, too!

Ryan and Jen

South Island update to come soon!.......

Thursday, February 12, 2009


1. 100 km/h signs are there to taunt you on the winding roads.
2. Trees can be 13 meters in diameter.
3. Kash is a saint for driving us the entire time we were in New Zealand a year ago.
4. Bugs are like missiles on the windshield, they thump but don’t splatter.
5. Monkey Business is banana and chocolate chip ice cream.
6. Well equipped buses use the beach as a highway.
7. Glow worms are glowing larvae poop.
8. A road in NZ only needs two lanes to be called a highway.
9. The forest looks like Jurassic Park. There could be a dinosaur charging through any minute.
10. A chilly bin is a cooler.
11. Togs are men’s swim shorts.
12. Jangles are flip-flops.
13. Up hill max speed 50 km/h. Down hill max speed 80 km/h. Any faster than that and the van wants to fly!
14. People treat you differently if you are a woman wearing a hippie bandana over your hair.
15. Kiwi hospitality is great! We love our Sister-In-Law’s Family!
To see our photos: