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An early start for Sarah as she volunteered to walk to start the process of collecting our home on wheels from Apollo – after hearing that there can be long wait times involved. Fortunately, Sarah sorted everything out so quickly that she was able to come to collect the other bees part way on our walk to the depot.

We were all very excited to board our home from home for the next 4 weeks, the little bees particularly enjoyed their bed up above the cabin. First stop was to Pak n Save to stock up on supplies – trying to keep costs low to remain on budget despite the higher costs of eating in NZ. This involved Dave bee ‘borrowing’ the shopping trolley to take the food along the road to the van as we struggled to get it into the carpark on our 1st day. Sarah bee brought a cheap phone to be able to carry on working on the road, which proved successful, although data is expensive.

Successfully stocked up we hit the road towards the Banks Peninsula; music on (NZ channels are mainly 90’s power ballads!), scenery stunning and less traffic on the road the further from Christchurch we travelled. Sarah bees excellent driving faced its 1st test (of many on our trip) with the twists and slopes of ascending the sides of the extinct volcano to look over Banks Peninsula, and then down the other side towards Akaroa. Many memories came flooding back from 11 years ago looking down over the bay, although Akaroa has definitely developed over that time as cruise ships now bring the tourists into this quiet town

Parking up at our 1st campsite we tested out how the van hooked up, set up and prepare our tea in their kitchen -Molly bee’s new favourite food – spag bol. After playing on the playground (loving the lack of health and safety on the climbing frames and trampoline – so much more exciting!) we took in the views from the back of the van – just breathtaking, especially at sunset and sunrise.

We had phoned up the hotel in Akaroa that I proposed to Sarah bee 11 years ago to book in for lunch – to be told that it would be their last weekend of service as the hotel and restaurant were being sold! So we had luckily managed to dine there for one last time. Dave bee sneaked ahead on the way and spoke to the staff to be able to go up onto the balcony that the proposal was performed on, and surprised Sarah by looking out onto the harbour from there again, gaining many Brownie points!

Then a fabulous meal of fresh seafood and bubbles to celebrate the 1st 11 years, before a walk to look over the harbour and talk to the dolphin trip people about coming back in 5 years to swim with the dolphins when Sophie would be old enough. A walk through the woods led to the most dangerous, antiquated playground yet where daddy bee managed to injure both children! So fresh waffles needed to make it up to them. (Although they will need to toughen up if we’re coming to live in NZ!)

Regretfully packing up to leave Akaroa the next day we said goodbye to our 1st campsite and its stunning vista, then tackled the winding volcanic hills to head through Christchurch again and head South towards Timaru. So far the sun had shone down on us and we were getting used to our mobile home.