‘Van’ is generous. More like a large car with a bed in it and a camp stove in the boot; but it gives me so much freedom, and it’s a joy (most of the time).
I struggled to leave Christchurch. In part because it’s played an important role in my life, but it’s more than that; throughout my trip I struggled to leave places that I’d only been in for a short time, like every leaving was a tiny leap into a new unknown. This always dissipated the moment I left that place behind and a new landscape began to unfurl as I drove. There is no joy like being on the road and having total freedom over the destination.
I drove straight out to Akaroa, on the far side of the Banks Peninsula. This area is underrated, and missed by a lot of visitors, but that just keeps it magic for those of us who make it. Imagine driving up winding roads through green mountains, looking out on clear turquoise water, and exploring forests with hidden swings and treehouses. I shared wine with other travellers from across the world.
My plan was to drive through Arthur’s Pass, passing across the centre of the island. The long drive saw the hills of the Peninsula give way to the Canterbury Plains, with the snowy peaks of the Southern Alps approaching slowly on the horizon. I spent one lonely night in their midst, with a freezing wind keeping me confined to my car, and with no mobile service. For the next few days, it rained and rained. I had a soggy few hours in Arthur’s Pass, flattening the battery of my car and having a much needed break from the cold inside a cafe. I was glad to leave, although I enjoyed seeing my first Kea!
My next stop was Hokitika, where I got to see glowworms and the famous gorge. The incessant rain made life in the car unpleasant to say the least! I was lucky that these few days were the only time it affected me.