Day 143: It’s The Wrong Van Gromit

Thurs. 3rd January 2013

Little beastEveryone is very helpful as Dave mentioned yesterday. We chat to the motel owner as we check out and when he hears we are on our way to collect our camper van about 30 minutes walk away, he offers us a lift as it only takes about 5 mins to drive.

We arrive at the address shown on our invoice only to find a completely locked and shut up warehouse. Rather than just leave us there he drives us up and down the road and spots some vans tucked away in an industrial unit. So we go and investigate to ask if they know where to find our van. Luckily it turns out to be the correct place but no van.

It seems that there was a mix up in communication – we had agreed that we wouldn’t need to pay a deposit (and had the email to prove it), they thought we hadn’t paid the deposit and hadn’t responded to a chase up email. So, our reservation had been cancelled. This would have been alright as they had a spare van. But due to the West coast of the South Island getting 50cm of rain in the last 48 hours, the spare van in was not returned until midnight last night. As a result of all the rain, the carpets were wet through and needed drying out. We are given a much smaller and older van for a day and hopefully ours will be ready tomorrow.

Stunning views on the drive to AkaroaThe fuel tank in our temporary Toyata was completely empty (and we find out later no water either). After buying diesel and some groceries we head off to Akaroa which is 77 km east of Christchurch, which we have been told is very pretty. It is a very old extinct volcano protruding off the mainland so most of it is surrounded by sea and the land on one side of the ex crater has eroded away to form a bay where Akaroa is. The French landed in Akaroa on 26th August 1840, a few days after the British and instead of fighting they agreed to live beside each other and so half the town is French and half British! We chose to go to Akaroa as we will need to return through Christchurch to explore the rest of South Island and so can return to the depot to exchange vans as we go through.

LighthouseThe road over the hills to Akaroa (ex crater rim, I suppose) is very windy and steep in parts so our 1996 diesel van makes heavy weather of it with black smoke bellowing out. Dave comments “I am the sort of person I hate following” and “what would Jeremy Clarkson say”. The views are well worth the black looks and struggle especially as we cross over the top and view Akaroa Harbour.

Parking for our beast is very straightforward with a huge car park just as you enter town. We stroll along the sea front admiring the blue sky and sea with many little boats pottering around. The main item on our agenda is to visit the information centre to suss out a campsite for the night. This is very straightforward as there is a site 10 minutes walk from town up the hill.

Path through the treesOnce settled in we pull out the leaflet we bought at the information centre, on a walk to Akaroa Heritage Park and on reading the small print realise it is 2 to 3 hours – these things never show distance only the time a random person would take to walk it! Still it looks like there may be a few possible short cuts as we really want to be back before 6pm to do some homework.

No he is holding the camera!It is a very picturesque walk up to a summit of somewhere – easy after Dead Woman’s Pass (Inka trail in case you are not following our plot!). Again the views are well worth the effort and we have a little time as we are not braving cooking in our little van tonight. The Heritage Park deserved more time than we had, as we rushed through a narrow path between the trees and shrubs.

View from the summitIt is just a ten minute walk into town (15 minutes back due to the incline not the wine). I am pleased to have found mussels on the menu even if it did come with garlic bread and not “frites”, maybe if we had gone to a restaurant in the French part of town I would have had better luck. The mussels were huge and tasty. Dave enjoyed his pumpkin soup, as he has been pining for soup for a while now.

View of AkaroaWe are very glad we only have the little van for one night as the bed is not long enough for Dave and we were missing the extension required to fill the gap between the two bench seats.We therefore had to sleep on the bench seats and stretch the duvet over us, each of us frequently stole the covers from the other get cold. It does gets quite cold in this part of the world at night, but probably still not as bad as the UK. I have now joined the rest of my family who are quite used to campervan/caravan, and this reminded me of the many nights I spent in a caravan as a girl. It is, however, a whole new experience for Dave. Not the same as scout camp or the few camping trips we had to wet Wales and sunny France when we were first married. Will we be converted? Watch this space…………

This entry was posted in New Zealand, RTW Trip and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *