In New Zealand, we have struggled to keep the blog up to date due to lack of decent wifi, but we will be updating it with all our adventures once we arrive home in 2 weeks.
Today we wanted to share a little about the wonderful hospitality we have received in New Zealand whilst we have been traveling around.
South Island surprise
As we drove through the South Island, we didn’t really meet many people during the early part of our trip, however, whenever we went into shops, petrol stations and campsites, we were surprised by the genuine interest in where we had come from and how our day had been. We could learn a lot about customer service in the UK from the Kiwis!
As we headed up the West Coast of South Island, we had an interesting evening at Fox Glacier and got chatting to an Australian couple who told us of a little-known campsite just outside of Hokitika that we had to go to. So on their recommendation, we headed off the next day, thinking we would check it out but without definite plans. Driving up we started to experience some motorhome issues (we had to have the van checked out in Fox but were told it was fine), to cut a long story short, we had to arrange for a replacement van and the company wanted to know where we were staying so the decision was made to stay at Links View even though we hadn’t yet made any firm plans.
This had to be the best decision we made in the South Island – Kevin and Julian were the perfect hosts, their small boutique campsite has a home from home feel with the facilities block laid out like a home! They couldn’t do enough for us and the girls loved being able to go out on the quad bike each morning to collect fresh eggs. We booked in for a second night, and Kevin gave us a plan of where to go to see the lake, Dorothy Falls and gorge, as well as driving us to see the glowworm dell in the evening.
On our last morning we were discussing our plans and Kevin told us we had to go to Golden Bay and the Abel Tasman National Park – this was an area we hadn’t visited before or considered this trip, but following his advice and with a hand drawn map, we made the decision to go that way, whilst eating freshly baked scones that Julian had made that morning for us.
Some may say were completely insane to follow the advice of a guy we had just met, but it was the best decision we made and we had a fantastic couple of days, catching fresh salmon, kayaking and playing on the beach. (You will hear all about that in another blog!).
Leaving the South and heading North
With heavy hearts we left the South Island to head North – they say you should always leave wanting more and just like back in 2007 we definitely felt this way. However, we were also looking forward to meeting up with some British expats.
We left the ferry to drive up to Marton where a family who used to live in our village now called home. Sophie Bee had been friends with their daughter briefly in the UK and the friendship was quickly rekindled. We spent two lovely nights with them, hearing about life in New Zealand and being very well looked after – I know they will read this so again thank you for your hospitality and sharing your stories with us. The girls now have pen friends in the North Island that we have already sent postcards too! We loved seeing life in the smaller rural communities of the North Island, as well as seeing what the houses are like from the inside.
After a few days in Taupo and Rotorua, we were in contact with a friend of a friend who had emigrated 14 years ago. Hoping to meet for a coffee we let them know our plans and were very kindly invited to stay with them in their home in Te Awamutu. We have been absolutely spoilt here, the girls have been treated like grandchildren and it has been lovely to have a few days of ‘normality’ on our trip. Again they will read this and we can only say a heartfelt thanks for all the time they have taken sharing their experiences with us, feeding us and making sure that the girls were entertained. Having never met this family before, we are leaving feeling like we have made lifelong friends and the girls have gained a new pen pal in the form of their grandson. We have loved visiting an altogether different area close to two big towns which has given us a completely different but equally good view of New Zealand life.
Our final stop was for lunch with the friend of an ex-colleague of Sarah’s who conveniently only lives 30 minutes from where we have been staying. Back in 2007, she had picked us up from the airport in Auckland and taken us to her home for dinner, where we were congratulated on our engagement. This time we were again welcomed with open arms into her and her husbands home, treated to a fantastic lunch and the girls were able to catch up on some telly!
All in all, we have had a fantastic few days catching up with people who live in New Zealand, we’ve loved hearing about wonderful living here is and whilst we aren’t ready to move out ourselves, it does give us a lot to think about!! We look forward to sharing more of our New Zealand adventures with our blog followers soon but for now, we are going to enjoy the last few days in this beautiful country.