The Road Home: Hanmer Springs and Picton
I thought I was leaving the rain behind me.
I thought I was escaping.
It was sunny again.
Then it was not.
This was when the fun and enjoying of camping started to evaporate. But before the weather set in I did manage to enjoy a few aspects of what Hanmer Springs had to offer.
On a sunny morning what better thing to do that walk up a hill for 360 degree views over Hanmer Springs? That’s exactly what Conical Hill provided.
The walk up was a slow incline with a lovely forest all around. It was a pretty easy walk, nothing too strenuous.
Then at the top the views were lovely.
Arriving at my car I found I had a flat battery… lesson learnt don’t charge your phone for too long without the car going. Luckily a European couple from Christchurch were just arriving and happened to have jumper leads!
I chose the right day to make the most of nature. Closer to the camping ground I ventured into the bush for a few forest walks… there wasn’t much else to do!
I did happen to do a walk on the wrong side of the road and wondered why it was so short.
Eventually realised I needed to cross the road for the decent walk. Both were nice and quiet walks, with not many people.
Hanmer Springs Thermal Hot Pools
This is basically what brings tourists to Hanmer Springs. The complex has a range of different sized pools, some sulphur and some just hot pools. Each one has a slightly different temperature.
It’s a pretty busy place, I spent a few hours in the afternoon there to try make the most of the entry cost. However, I don’t think I’d go to Hanmer Springs again just for the thermal hot pools.
Then the rain set in…
After a couple of days in Hanmer Springs it was time to pack up in the rain and make my way up to Picton for my ferry.
It was torrential rain and the electricity had gone off in the camping ground, so that meant no coffee to prepare me for the day ahead. Packing up a wet tent is never fun, so I decided that once I get cellphone reception I’d book a hostel for a night (back to the dreaded dorm rooms again).
The road I’d been planning to take to Picton was also shut so it meant it would be a much longer drive up…
I’d escaped the rain again.
Yet there were weather warnings that may impact the ferries… but I was trying to think positive. I had a very early morning ferry and needed to be there even earlier because I had my car to get on board too.
And then the fun began…
I waited and waited. Then the ferry departure time came and went. Cars were told it was cancelled. Turns out several ferries were cancelled and there was no way anyone would be crossing the Cook Strait today.
So the extra day was spent visiting Blenheim and getting the worst coffee ever. Turns out some cafes in New Zealand really don’t know how to make a proper coffee.
The new ferry time I managed to get on was at 2am. Swells were currently at 7-8m and were expected to drop to 4-5m by the time my ferry would leave.
So I ventured out to Koromiko Freedom Camping carpark, where myself and 11 other vehicles parked up next to a toilet block and tried to get a bit of sleep before the dreaded ferry trip.
I somehow managed about 3 hours sleep then somehow was lucid enough to drive 10 minutes to the ferry terminal again. The ferry ended up leaving at about 3am, it was incredibly rough with things sliding all over the place and people sleeping wherever they could. I’d opted for a chair and quickly wished I’d brought bedding and slept on the floor like other people instead.
Unfortunately this turn of events meant I had to drive all the way back up to Auckland for work the next day. I had been hoping to stop halfway and split the drive, but it wasn’t meant to be. I stopped at the busy town of Taupo for lunch in the supermarket carpark (it was the last day of Christmas holidays so everywhere was packed). Then legged it to Hamilton for a cuppa tea with my sister and nephews before making the last stint up to Auckland.
It was a long road home.
Reflecting back on this, I have a sense of déjà vu as you’ll see in my upcoming posts from Borneo. I’m not having much luck with transportation on my final days of travels!
That brings me to the end of my South Island, New Zealand roadtrip! I hoped you’ve enjoyed the reading and photography as much as I enjoyed putting it together for you all.