Life in Laos through the lens of a diplomatic wife raising twin toddlers.

Campervan Trip on South Island, NZ – Day 1

Before we get to how gorgeous South Island is, I thought I’d give you a little background into how this amazing adventure got started…

The original plan for our 3-week R&R was to tour around Victoria, Australia, in a campervan but as my husband and I were planning out our itinerary, he said to me, “Why don’t we go to New Zealand, too, since it’s only a three our flight from Melbourne?” Well you don’t have to ask me twice, and he knew that.

And so ensued a flurry of research into where to go and what to see and do in New Zealand. A few friends emphatically advised that if our time was short that we should definitely go to South Island. From there I couldn’t settle on merely going to one or two locations because everything I looked up seemed too wonderful to pass up and so we decided that our first campervan adventure as a family would be to tour as much of the South Island as we could.

As I threw myself into booking our long haul flights to Melbourne via Bangkok, our connecting flights to Christchurch, arranging the farm-stay, booking the campervan, a couple of B&B’s, rental cars and overnight airport hotels for early flights, it didn’t really sink in until much much closer to our departure date that it all might just be a little too much to try and do with two 3.5-year olds who have been fighting sinus colds and going through the terrible 3’s, especially after our horrible trip to Bangkok just two weeks prior to our departure.

Setting off on the trip, I was feeling foolishly ambitious but with no way out since we were locked into non-refundable everything. Barring a severe health emergency, this family was forging full steam ahead into an adventure of a lifetime with me nervously at the helm.

Our final itinerary looked like this:
– 12+hrs travel including a midnight flight Vientiane-Bangkok-Melbourne, AU
– 3 days Farm Stay
– Sorrento Ferry crossing to drive the Great Ocean Road, AU
– 3 days B&B in Apollo Bay, AU
– Overnight Melbourne for 9am flight to Christchurch, NZ
– 6 days Campervan tour of South Island, NZ
– 5hr drive from Christchurch to Nelson, NZ
– 4 days B&B in Nelson, NZ
– – 5hr drive back to Christchurch from Nelson, NZ
– Overnight Christchurch for 6am flight to Melbourne, AU
– 4 days Melbourne City stay
– 15+hrs travel including a midnight flight Melbourne-Bangkok-Vientiane

I know! I can’t believe that we did it either! Even more unbelievable was how awesome it was for all of us and how much fun we had together as a family.

Sure it was tough. Did my husband do too much driving? Yes. Did we start off our trip super tired? Yes. Did one particular child not adjust well to all the frequent changes? Yes. Did we all get frustrated and annoyed with each other? Yes. And yes and yes and yes and yes and yes…there were lots of really difficult moments. But we also had an amazing time together as you may have already seen in my previous three posts of our time in Australia. And you’ll see more amazing moments in this and a few more upcoming post about our trip (yes, there’s so much more to show you!). Those special moments definitely outweighed all the tough stuff in between.

We came away from this trip with a greater sense of how to be together. We learned how different we are from each other and how to deal with and accept it and adjust to it, more than ever before. More importantly, we learned how to have fun with each other despite all of it and to really enjoy our time together.

There are not enough accolades to ascribe to the natural beauty found on South Island, New Zealand. At every turn, around each bend, behind lifting clouds, or against setting suns, IT IS JUST BEAUTIFUL.

After picking up our campervan from Wilderness Motorhomes at 6pm in Christchurch, we rushed to a grocery store and headed straight to the mountains. We made camp after dark, froze our buns off because we didn’t set the heat right for sleeping, but we were glad to be the only ones freedom camping at such a gorgeous site at Lake Pearson. Then we headed out in the rain the following day in search of a glacier (see my next post), stopping at Devil’s Punchbowl Falls along the way…

Waking up to our first morning in New Zealand. - Lake Pearson

Waking up to our first morning in New Zealand.

Nice and cozy.

Nice and cozy.


We loved the solitude of freedom camping.


M exploring the lake shore in the cold rain with mom. That’s my girl!

M & G hiking up to Devil’s Punchbowl Falls. – Arthur’s Pass

Happy adventurous girl with her proud daddy.

Happy adventurous girl with her proud daddy.

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3 comments on “Campervan Trip on South Island, NZ – Day 1

  1. eomollo
    May 22, 2013

    Yes, I know it’s a nice place to see I cannot wait to go visit them someday.

  2. travelerlynne
    May 16, 2013

    Congratulations for planning and executing a monumental trip. Sounds like you had a wonderful time despite all the “togetherness” a family can take. Wish the weather was better.

  3. TheSuitcaseTraveller
    May 15, 2013

    Looks like the planning and effort paid off! It’s always the way 🙂

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