Trip Start Aug 16, 2007
61Trip End Apr 07, 2008
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We (except Liz...) started the day by picking up our camper van from Escape Rentals. Of all the camper van rental companies we researched this one had the best vehicles for the best price. Plus, they all came with an individual paint job that made it easy to know which one was ours! (Other companies do unique paint jobs as well, but some of them were very offensive and vulgar.) Our van was painted with the works of Picasso. It was bright and cheery, and a perfect fit for our trip! (To make our van feel a part of the group we decided to name him Pablo.) Pablo had a great set-up with a large seat in the front, that fit 3, and 2 bench seats in the back. The bench seats had large storage compartments in them and converted into a queen size bed (bedding included.) In the back we had a sink, gas grill, cooler (chilly bin in Kiwi), chairs, portable fan, extension cord, pots/dishes, and storage for food. (To get a visual of the set up click on this link: http://www.escaperentals.co.nz/Cutaways.asp)
After signing our life away, and adding extra insurance just to be safe, we jumped into Pablo and hit the road! We agreed that Quinn should drive first since she was the only one who had experience driving on the opposite side of the road! (Thankfully we had an automatic!) We drove back into the square to pick up our bags from the hotels and get Liz. There is a good reason that Liz did not join us for the exciting moment of picking up Pablo - she wasn't old enough and didn't technically exist! To get the best price on the van we needed everyone over 25 to be the drivers, and there could only be 3 drivers...actually only 3 people in the van at all, but we fudged that detail a bit...so we left her behind at the hotel...to do laundry. We love you Liz!! But to be fair, since she wasn't allowed to drive we nominated her to be the 'Petrol Queen', a luxurious title with great responsibility!
We stopped by the CDC to check on the flight from the ICE - still delayed - and to try and get our boxes out of their storage area which was still closed. So in lieu of our current situation we decided to get something to eat at the Antarctic Center and figure out what we were going to do next. We felt kind of stupid eating there seeing as we just got back from the real place, but it was the closest food source and we got a discount! During our lunch we decided that instead of hanging around Christchurch waiting for the flight we would take a day trip up the coast to Akaroa and come back for the flight tomorrow. So that's what we did!
We headed up the coast enjoying the sunny weather and the beautiful countryside. Along the way we saw so many pastures full of sheep! They were everywhere we looked! Occasionally we would see some cows or horses, but mostly we saw sheep. We thought it would be fun to call out "Sheep" or "Ewe" whenever we saw some. Unbeknown to us this would be a tradition that followed us for the rest of the trip! In the middle of conversation or singing along to some tunes someone would shout out "Ewe!"
We reached Akaroa mid-afternoon and reserved a site for the night at the 'Top 10 Akaroa Holiday Park.' The Holiday Park was great; it wasn't like any of the campgrounds we had ever seen before! It had plenty of sites for tents, camper vans and RV's with lots of room between the sites. There was a main building which held the huge community kitchen (several ovens, stoves, microwaves & fridges), a laundry room and the bathrooms. Up the hill was another building which had a TV room, Internet area, and a pool.
After getting settled we decided to walk down the trail from the Holiday Park into Akaroa and check things out a bit. It was a quaint little town with a small marina area with several streets of shops and markets. We headed down the main street and ended up stopping at a little beach area for a while. We spent several hours just relaxing, swimming, and collecting shells. While we were there we ran into Bri & Eric, friends from the ICE who also worked in the galley. They had just arrived into town, with plans to swim with the dolphins the next morning, and ended up hanging out with us for the evening. On the way back to our camp site we stopped into the little corner market to pick up some pasta to make for dinner. We headed into the kitchen to cook our first 'gourmet' meal of the trip which consisted of pasta, French bread and wine. We spent the rest of the evening sitting in the grass watching the sun go down, in awe of the first sunset we had seen in months, planning the route the rest of our trip would take.