New Zealand: March 15 and 16

Sunday March 15

On Sunday and Monday we made our way up the East coast of the North Island. Sunday morning we stopped in Dunendin, which as the name implies, felt quite Scottish. It also seemed to be a young vibrant city, with lots of young people eating brunch and getting coffee. We swung by Cadbury World (because I can't say no to anything chocolate) and then sat at a cafe for a bit.

On our way out of the city we took a detour to Port Chalmers to try to arrange a horse trek. Unfortunately, they were busy for the day with sheep shearing. But we did get to learn quite a bit about sheep shearing and the sport of hunting (for a hare on horseback) from the very talkative farmer. We made a quick stop at a cheese factory and after sampling about 15 types of cheese, ending up getting a hunk of sage cheddar.

We stopped for a picnic at Shag Point and then walked on the beach. At one point we were walking and I said to Rory, "Is it me, or is that rock moving?" It wasn't a rock, it was a seal! A big Momma seal had hauled herself out of the water to sunbathe.

She was completely uninterested in us and snoozed away while we snapped some pictures. It was really neat to get to observe a seal in the wild at such a close distance.

Further up the coast we stopped at the Moeraki Boulders, these cool large, spherical boulders. They formed over a period of 4 million years and layers of sediment grew around a small pebble core.

Next we scoped out the tiny fishing village of Moeraki, where we enjoyed a Monteith's cider (our favorite New Zealand drink so far) out on a deck overlooking the harbor. Most of the harbors we have seen are still mostly full of working boats rather than pleasure boats. At night we stayed at Glencoe Reserve, a wooden site on the river. It was our quietest DOC site so far, with just 2 other campers!

Monday March 16

Monday we kept hearing north, stopping first in Oamaru. We had to bundle up before we explored the city, as fall arrived overnight and the shorts weren't cutting it. Oamaru was a very interesting mix of beautiful Victorian soapstone and steam-punk. Somehow they managed to co-exist harmoniously. It also had one of the coolest playgrounds I've ever seen.

We played on the playground, wandered the main street, and visited a cheese factory before we hit the road again. A bit further up the coast, we stopped in Timaru for lunch. It felt very historic, with old brick buildings built around a central port. After lunch we wandered around Caroline Bay, a beautiful park and beach.

Our favorite part was a huge bird cage filled with brightly colored birds native to Oceania.

Then we headed inland a bit to the tiny town of Geraldine, where we sampled even more cheese (3 cheese factories in 2 days in my kind of trip) along with fruit preserves. Then we headed out to Waihi Gorge, for our final night in the campervan. We wandered a bit, exploring the campsite, and were followed the whole time by a sheep. He wanted to be friends. Then, since it had started to rain, we cuddled up inside, made a hot dinner, and enjoyed our last night in the campervan, with the sound of the river behind us.


  1. Oh my gosh! That seal! Ha ha ha! :) Cute!

    It must have taken so much for you guys to plan out this trip!!!! Were you always planning to go to so many cheese shops? I didn't know NZ was known for cheese (not that I would know!).

    1. It took quite a bit of work. I most just planned a start and rough end point for the day, with a couple must sees and then we played it by ear. That was the beauty of the camper. When we were hungry we stopped to eat, and when we were tired we stopped to sleep. I didn't know there was so much cheese either, but it makes sense with all the cows!


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