We leave the camping park at 10:30am.
It’s a weird (but nice) impression to drive without knowing where we go to. We know we are heading South. The plan is indeed to spend 3 nights in Dunedin and 1 night in Invercargill before reaching Queenstown, where we return the camper in 5 days, but we don’t know where to sleep tonight. I had in mind to go to Lake Tekapo but the weather forecast is not great. So I’m assessing the options while Isabelle drives the scenic coastal road (that reopened this morning), to Christchurch.
We want to stop in Christchurch for some shopping, mainly to buy warm clothes for our treks in Chile and Peru (we are in Patagonia in 3 weeks!).
While checking the (impressive) list of activities that I identified for NZ (and my ranking of them), I remember that I had found a great place for a farm experience (with demonstrations of sheep shearing and dogs rounding up sheep): the Paua Bay Hillcountry Farm on Banks Peninsula. I call them and they kindly accept to organize a farm tour on such a short notice for tomorrow morning! I love their flexibility. A few minutes later, I call them back asking whether we could put our camper for the night on their land. They nicely accept and even offer us to use their toilet. I’m so glad I manage to find such a great activity, in a great region, where the weather forecast is good!
We reach Christchurch around 1pm. We first stop at a Subway, at the children’s request. We then go to a mall where there’s a Wapac store where we buy warm (merino) leggings and t-shirts, along with some waterproof (over)pants.
Afterwards we go to Maui, near the airport (where we took our camper 5 days ago), to do a few things: we ask them to fix the water heater (not great to wash the dishes with cold water) and to exchange the linen (the mid-stay exchange was part of the rental agreement). Isabelle also leaves her laptop there; the parents of Sophie (our Belgian friends who also do a world tour and who we spent some time with in Mongolia and in China) will take it back to Belgium after their tour in NZ with Sophie and Mica.
We eventually leave Christchurch around 4:30pm. The road to reach the farm is about 3h30.
On the Banks Peninsula, we take the “absurdly scenic” (as per Lonely Planet) Summit Road, which is indeed superb and offer incredible views, up to the sea. The road goes around the edge of one of the original volcano craters. We reach the farm around 8pm. A bit too late for a walk (we are keen to discover this magnificent area). Murray, the owner of the place, comes and welcomes us. He even shows us a quick demonstration of one of his dogs rounding up the sheep. We are impressed by the speed and the dexterity of this dog.
Kids love their new merino clothes, which they already wear…
We prepare a salad.
Isabelle and I sleep “upstairs” tonight.