When we passed through Tekapo three years ago we were super lucky as it looked like this and we jumped straight into the lake for a swim!

No such luck on this occasion despite visiting it on three successive days, they have been pretty cloudy. On the upside, it didn’t rain much! And the water still looked a beautiful vivid blue.

Known for the Church of the Good Shepherd, a tiny little church that sits on the shores with a window that has the most fabulous view that looks on to Lake Tekapo, it is an idyllic spot and great stopping point.

At this time of year the lupins are in full bloom and add another element of beauty to this region of New Zealand.

You can go down the road towards the observatory and walk in fields full of lupins, of all different colours. Or if you are a crawling baby you can play hide and seek amongst the lupins!

For a spot of luxury, at $27 per adult, head to the Tekapo springs, a great place to chill out. It has adult only pools and a kids pool and fun area. Or for Evie the best part was lots of time being able to practice her walking in the water! Quite happy going back and forth and chasing small balls!

And if you fancy a short walk, there is a 1hr walk up Mt John, to the observatory and cafe on top (you can also drive up to it). Easy enough for the whole family to manage. On a good day I’d imagine that you would get splendid views for miles around. For us we watched a storm roll in whilst the thunder was booming…. didn’t bother Evie though!

No swimming here on this visit, but still a gorgeous place and one not to be missed.

The Car!!

With nearly 3 months in New Zealand we made the decision to buy a car (and hopefully sell it when we leave). Rental in New Zealand in peak season is very expensive, so this is hopefully a cheaper option (unless your car doesn’t make it).

Tim had be scouring the websites for weeks prior to coming out. That made life a lot easier as there wasn’t a lot of choice in our budget for the size of the car we wanted – a big one!

So after a test drive we hedged our bets on a Volvo XC 70. With a mere 251,000kms on the clock, it looks mint on the outside, has a super shiny engine, a massive boot and very scratched by dogs on the inside. It’s a vast car that we have managed to fill to the brim!

It even has an internal telephone!

Having gone to register it at the post office and driving to the airport to drop the hire car, Tim noticed a couple of problems.

Luckily though there is a 3 month warrantee, so the next morning we were back and it was taken to the garage for fixing, at no cost to us (or our money back in full).

A few hours later with breakdown cover and insurance in place, we are driving off crossing our fingers that the mighty Volvo will fulfil its roll as our adventuring mobile.

Work on the car

9th Jan, one month and 4600km in and the car is squealing around every corner! New tyres required! And whilst we are at it New oil and oil filter to keep our 17 year old cars engine in tip top condition.

10th Jan, car doesn’t start!! After borrowing jump leads from a friendly neighbour, and still failing to start the car, Tim walks back to the garage and they come and jump start it!

We are back on the road…..

The Volvo lives on

Developing a significant judder in the standing traffic around Auckland, we had our stop in the botanical gardens in the hope that the system would reset, but it didn’t.

We crossed our fingers and hoped that it would get us to Whangarei. Tim put it into manual and teased it up there keeping the rev’s high. And it got us there!

After garage tests the problem was down to spark plugs and coil packs. Parts ordered in and fitted and the Volvo is back on the road, heading up towards Cape Reigna.

It feels better than ever!

Cave stream / Broken river cave

Our friends Mary & Andy treated us to a day out from Christchurch to go cave-river walking. 40km from Arthur’s Pass, this cave sits just off the road side. We had driven away from drizzle in Christchurch and after going over Porters Pass via a pie shop, we landed in glorious sunshine.

Having Evie with us (who we clearly could not take caving), we split into two and took turns.

The boys went first whilst the girls had a picnic and took in the view.

We then went to meet them coming out, and they had had a great time.

Before swapping over.

At 594m long, it took a good about 45 minutes to get through. A bit scrambley in places getting up small waterfalls inside the cave. For us the water was surprisingly warm which made it a ‘pleasant exciting’ rather than ‘cold exciting’. A good quality head torch is required, without one you wouldn’t get further than the first corner as you can’t see you hand in front of your face with the lights out.

Climbing a ladder to exit the cave Mary & me had a nice welcome party!

From here we whizzed to the top of Arthur’s Pass to make the most of the weather and amazing views before returning back to Christchurch.

Thanks Mary & Andy for a day with a difference and heaps of fun and showing us a place we will hopefully return to.

Around Christchurch

We had a few days to get over the jet lag, buy a car and have a look around Christchurch. Having been here 3 years previous soon after the destructive earthquakes, it has been interesting to see the changes. Now a modern city but still with a few stark reminders, the most obvious one being the cathedral.

We visited the botanical gardens, where Evie paddled in the kids pool and hankered after our ice-cream!

She then fell asleep as we met up and walked around the greenhouses and rose gardens with a good friend I left in New Zealand on my travels over 10 years ago for a year, and she never returned to the UK.

And climbed the massive tree!

There are also some big redwoods in the gardens with branches so big you can swing on them

And of course as a baby you may consider trying to climb one (not much different to everything else she currently tries to climb!)

We will definitely be returning to Christchurch a couple of times in this trip as we know there is lots more to see, but we ran out of time, with buying a car and catching up with friends taking precedence .

The adventure begins. Penrith,UK to Christchurch, New Zealand – getting there

It’s a very long way from Penrith to NZ, but the first conundrum was how to get to Heathrow with a lot of bags and a baby. Not wanting to take our car when this trip is a long one, we looked at the train as an obvious option. But both the train and the ‘getting across London’ elements were very costly and not very easy. So we hired a car, which worked out great and allowed us to get to the airport with plenty of time to spare and was a lot cheaper.

Our first flight was a late night flight, straight away getting Evie out of sink. But Heathrow has a great play area hidden away with soft play and even a sensory room. So that kept us occupied.

On the plane and Evie has the option to fly in luxury on a basonette…. or she could instist on sleeping on one of us most of the way instead.

She will never know how probably for the only time in her life she turned down sleeping on a bed on a plane… oh to swap places with her!

So we thought it sensible to have a night in Hong Kong. Could have a relax, get a good nights sleep, then be fresh the next day for a bit of sightseeing in Hong Kong. How naive! Reality was exhausted on arrival, minimal sleep as Evie didn’t know what time of day it was, so I ended up walking around the airport and hotel in the middle of the night, and exhausted the next day, meaning no energy to go into Hong Kong for sightseeing!!

Middle of the night entertainment!

Hong Kong airport does have great buggy trolleys so if you don’t have a buggy, you can whizz your baby around!

On to the next stage of our journey – Hong Kong to Auckland. Evie gets a different style of basonette, which she generally chose not to be in for most of the flight !

Would rather sleep on us!

So she did ok, we got tireder…. too tired even to watch films….

Eventually we arrived in Auckland and it was a beautiful day there. Blue skies and warm.

But we weren’t staying. We had to pick up the bags and go through customs (baby food in packs and milk formula allowed into NZ). Then drop them again for our internal flight to Christchurch and back through security.

Well the last part of the journey is often the longest, or so it seems. But we did finally get off the plane in Christchurch, achy and exhausted.

And we somehow got all our stuff and three of us into a Suzuki Swift ready to start our New Zealand adventure!