Generally before a big trip, it’s all about getting a great nights rest, double checking my packing, and downloading a nice playlist for the plane ride over. However, being the budget travelers we are, Raphael and I booked an overnight flight with Jetstar, getting us to the Christchurch airport at the very respectable time of 5AM.
So there we were, craving an exotic New Zealander brunch involving Kiwi Fruit, yet we were prisoners of the airport, unable to pick up our van until 9AM. Overall, I can tell you all of the good nooks and crannies in the Christchurch airport to attempt to grab a few winks.
As 9AM approached, we began hunting for our van rental location. Normally, a car rental site would be attached to the airport, but our budget van rental site chose to be a just far away distance that a taxi would not jovially bring us there, but just close enough that the company would not come and pick us up. Cue Raphael and I walking with our awkwardly large duffel bags through the industrial area / sheep farm (only in New Zealand) 1KM outside of the Christchurch Airport.
Independent, this was the beginning of our big adventure! Tired as we were, we couldn’t be more excited to be introduced to our camper van named Jor-el. After a rambling of details, signatures, and a run down of the nooks and crannies of the van, we were off!
Well, kind of…
First we had to stock up the van with food and gas. Then. We were really off!
Charging through the rural roads in our orange dream machine, we felt like we had entered a different planet. Everything was so incredibly green. Even the trunks of the trees were green, covered in a thick, fuzzy layer of moss.
Sooner rather than later, the feeling of excitement wore off, and the reality of a sleepless night caught up to us. Half way through Arthur’s Pass, we stopped at a shelter park. The night quickly started to creep in on us, and the fact that we were camping started to become a gloomy reality as it began to drizzle. Now, I understood how everything managed to stay so green.
Cold, misty, and incredibly dark, everything had, over the course of an hour, turned into a mystical dark world. Raphael and I felt so alone in the world, with no one camping around us, unsure of how to work out miniature gas stove, it looked like it was going to be granola bars for breakfast. We passed out at 8PM rather worried about what we had gotten ourselves into.
The next morning we woke up a puttering of pecks on our rooftop. Raphael in his very mediocre morning mood sticks his head out the window only to see two bright green exotic birds (later determined to be a Kea bird) attempting to take the rubber off of our windshield wipers–the start to a very comical morning. Especially once a rather large fleet of the birds flew in and started ravishing other parts of the car. It’s good we took out the big insurance package.
Of course other tourists started to take pictures of us.
Here is the Kea making a rather dramatic exit
Cue a man walking with a steaming latte while wearing nice leather shoes strolling next to our camper van, which had, up until a few minutes ago, been in what we thought to be the middle of nowhere.
Sure enough, all but a few minutes away is a bustling little town, complete with a coffee shop, YHA, and info center. Not to mention, looking up into the mountains we saw a water fall, which had appeared over night due to the large amount of rain. We laughed a good while, before getting down to it.
Reality: we were camping, and we needed to make the most of it. We pulled out our gas stove, hooked up the gas canister, lit it up, and managed to not explode while making our instant coffee. Never one for Nespresso, this one tasted a little bit better than normal. Perhaps, it was the sweet contentment that we had finally begun to make camping work.
A quick clean up, and cold water to the face, on the road again!
Keep tuned for day 2 of our South Island Adventure!