I drove from the first camping to the second one, and this day was the first I used my kitchen! Cooking actual food, taking a half-hour walk around the camping ground and just chilling.
I also managed to get in contact with Jessica, whom I met in Nelson last year. She had moved up to Wellington, so the day after I went and caught up with her. We walked around the city, and the botanical gardens, and had lunch before I booked tickets for the evening ferry over to Picton. We also went by The Warehouse so I could buy pillows and a real duvet to sleep more comfortable in the car.
I would arrive late in Picton, but with nothing else planned it would work out really well. I met a few Americans on the ferry, and we played Settlers of Catan. I also traded one of my head torches for kiwi fruit, as I got one extra when I bought some other equipment from The Warehouse.
As I arrived in Picton, it was late, and already dark. I drove the half hour to the camping spot, but it was already full, and from the reviews I would probably get a fine if I stayed here. Along the road I saw a car turn into a courtyard, so I took my chances, parked in the beginning of the driveway and walked the 100-odd metres to the house. I asked for permission to sleep in my car at their courtyard, and it was no problem. Sweet!
Jessica put me in contact with her mum, so I had a bed to sleep in in Nelson for the evening. I only had two planned things before that, first, i wanted to by the same mosquito spray I bought last year at Pelorus Bridge, as it was a good-smelling toxic free one. The second was to climb the Maungatapu track, but this time with car. I thought it would be much easier than with bicycle, but I soon learnt that was not true.
The car made it over the water, through mud, and across all the rocks, and everyone I talked with living in the area thought it was really impressive for a car like that!
t probably wasn’t too good for the car, but everything held together. I also met two touring bikers on the way, and when I met them at the top again, one of the bikes free wheel had broke, so he had to push it a long way.
The other side is even steeper, and you need a key to pass the gate, so I didn’t even have any choice but to drive back the way I drove up, and drive around the mountain. The drive around was really boring with a lot of slow vehicles and no passing lanes.
Finally in Nelson, the car’s thermometer started to climb the last 100 metres. Nothing I could really care about that evening. I got served a really nice vegan dinner at Jessica’s mum’s place, while planning for the next day and having a good nights sleep.
The next day I wanted to go by Motueka to do a couple of jumps in Able Tasman. While getting the DZ briefing I got a surprise, as I saw Ben walking in with a tandem parachute! Apparently he was working here, and Isabelle, his girlfriend from the same hometown as me, did as well! The next awesome surprise was that Ben had a brake, and joined me for a skydive, so I didn’t even have to jump alone!
While Ben continued working, I went to surprise Isabelle at her work. She was soon finished, and we went to look at an old rusty ship laying around on the beach, at low tide reachable without swimming.
I spent the afternoon with Ben and Isabelle, and we tried to see if we could see what was wrong the car. It was low on coolant, so that could be a clue to the problem. After spending a night at their place I went to a mechanic and did a pressure test of the engine, and it wasn’t totally sealed. To fix it would cost more than the car was worth, and it was more than possible do to drive a Subaru Legacy with a blown headgasket for thousands of kilometres. I bought more coolant and decided to see how far I would make it. After another skydive, I went south to a camping an hour away for another nice night.
I picked up two hitchhikers at the camping, and drove them to Westport (where my bicycle passed 10000 kilometres last year) before I continued south. If you remember Michael with his red Surly from last year, who I met the same day as the earthquake, my plan was to visit him and his parents again.
While driving I saw tho bicyclists, and they had a Swedish flag! Decided to stop and chat with them for like 20 minutes), and gave them a tip about the place I camped at last year.
As I didn’t have any way of contacting Michael, and I didn’t even have an adress, I decided to wing it. As lucky as I am, after I turned around because I thought I drove too far, I saw him 50 metres away! He was on his way to the beach, as he had adopted an abandoned duckling. His parents were happy to see me as well, and I stayed a night at their place.
The duckling was really cute!
I wanted to get to Skydiving Kiwis before the weekend was over, and now being Saturday the 18th, I crossed Arthur’s pass.
I took a small detour to say hi to the camping spot I pitched my tent at last year as the rain, hail and cold got me, and then continued my easy driving. Apparently the car did only overheat at lower RPMs, so climbing mountains was all good.
To get a good start for the next day I camped in between Christchurch and Ashburton, and the next day I drove down to Skydiving Kiwis to jump with them. Brent was still there, so I did some nice belly jumps!
After the last load I decided to continue south to another camping. This one was really hard to find, but after asking at the pub, they showed me a printed map. The app was showing the wrong place, so they got the question a lot…
This is what my home looks like inside nowadays!
As I wanted to skydive in Wanaka, I drove past some other beautiful places from last year, Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki, While exploring around Tekapo I found a place with 15 dead rabbits… don’t understand why.
I stopped in Twizel, again, to buy food and use the internet. There was a camping along the canal coming from Lake Pukaki, and that would be my place for the night. When I arrived there, I felt really down, not really knowing why. I ended up bringing my camera out, taking loads of photos as there were really beautiful surroundings, and by the evening everything felt a bit better!