From Melbourne we flew to Christchurch to start our NZ adventure. Our first priority was to get a car and hit the road. Hostels here are expensive, as is eating out, so we knew our best bet was to get on the road as soon as possible.
After the success of the car in the west coast we originally thought to get a car and some decent tents, however we arrived and realised 1) there were very few decent backpacker cars on the market and 2) NZ is COLD! Well, UK cold, and spending 2 months in tents huddled under an umbrella to cook when it rains didn't particularly appeal.
I'd set up a few viewings for our first morning, so after a few hours sleep we headed out to see the cars. Our first viewing was of a 1993 Mazda bongo. As you can imagine we had done no research so didn't realise what each of the cars would look like or how much space they would have. So our first viewing turned out to be a very pleasant surprise - it was a cute little van that had been kitted out with a kitchen at the back and a seating area in the centre, which could be converted into a big bed for the evenings. We have the van a test drive and were amazed at how smoothly she ran and how easy she was to drive - it was going to be hard to beat!
Our second viewing was of a hundai, they had taken out the back seats and put in a wooden platform to put a mattress on, and have the bottom for storage. It meant each time you wanted to cook or get anything you'd be pulling out boxes and then having to pack everything away before sleeping.... Also, when it rained you were stuck sitting in the front seats. It might have been 10 years younger than the bongo - but it lacked all that character and practicality.
Our final car was a Toyota estima, the go to backpacker car. It had the same set up as the hundai, but with a little less room. We both decided that trying to live in that for 2 months was not going to end up with us leaving NZ talking very amicably. The Bongo had won our hearts for sure - so after a slightly longer test drive we got her!
So today has been spent trying to work out the best way to transfer money to the states - who knew international transfers were that much more complicated than UK! But Betty the bongo will be coming to stay with us tomorrow morning, and the US couple who have had her for the last 6 weeks are going to be heading to Aus to do the west coast - trip swap!!
I'm excited for the start of the NZ adventure, we're not sure where we're going.... But that's part of the fun! Once we register the car on Tuesday (it's a bank holiday here) we'll be hitting the road. Gives us just enough time to go shopping for some warmer clothes and walking shoes - there's a lot of rivers for me to fall in out there!