Charlotte Ellery

Joined February 2017
  • Day509

    Home away from home

    July 10 in New Zealand

    3 months of travelling have just vanished and today we found ourselves back on the farm at the house which we moved into 11 and a half months ago. Before leaving Geraldine this morning we emptied and filled up our van's water and waste for the last time. This included using small bowls under the grey waste pipe to ensure we got every drop of waste water out that we could. We arrived back at the house at around 11 and headed over to see Bruce, Candy and the girls. It was so good to see them but also great how both girls didn't seem to be affected by the time we'd been away and still took to me like they always had which was quite reassuring. Bruce's mum had come to stay so we sat on the lounge floor talking about how our travels went. After catching up we went and collected our car which had been victim to quite a few birds since we left from the workshop, so our first job was to give it a good hose down. Luckily we have so many high pressure hoses on farm! After emptying our car we decided to head down to Timaru to do our first big shop in what feels like a lifetime. We ended up deciding to buy a TV for our room. Although we don't mind sharing a house with Jono he's not always great at sharing the lounge TV. I don't think it's intentional but we do get little say in what we watch. We had a TV and DVD player at our second farm and found the library had a great array of series and films to watch. We managed to find a Samsung one in a second hand shop and got given a random $10 off the price. We went and selected probably way too many DVDs, seeing as you can only loan them for 1 month maximum, but it feels good knowing that we will have our room to escape to if we just need some space. We spent way too much money in tbe supermarket after that and probably have enough food for a month but it felt exciting to be able to not plan every day's meal exactly as we have been having to do in the campervan to avoid waste. Bruce also got our house a new fridge which is huge compared to the one we had last year so we can buy even more things to freeze and store in there which will save on petrol going to the shops all the time. We treated ourselves to some Pak'n'save pizzas which are similar to the homemade style pizzas you get made in Asda back home. It's become our treat meal for whenever we need a pick me up or are celebrating something like coming back to the farm. By the time we got back it was quite late anyway so it was nice to just chuck pizzas in the oven knowing we had so little to do cooking wise. Jono has bought an Xbox 1 in our time away so Nick wasted no time trying that out with him and I can see both of them will be spending a lot of time on that console. We're a little unhappy with the bedding provided, our bedding from last year has been used elsewhere, so I think we will be buying ourselves a new duvet when we head up to Christchurch to take the van back. With it being winter we definitely want to be warm here. I still can't believe that we are back. Time has flown by and it feels strange knowing we will be working again so soon. We don't have start dates yet but hopefully it won't be too long until we're back into the swing of working life. We miss routine!Read more

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  • Day508

    And in the blink of an eye we drove the familiar route into Geraldine, with an unexpected feeling of coming home. This area has been our home for almost a year now so it does feel safe, familiar and welcoming, just like home does but it's still a feeling I don't think either of us expected to feel as we woke up this morning. When we got to Geraldine we did a little drive by our old house on the second farm we worked on just to have a look and nothing had changed unsurprisingly. We arrived rather early to the Top10 site but with it being the winter season he let us check in earlier than usually allowed. We parked up and plugged our little Transi van in for the very last time. We meandered around the shops almost in this weird trance because it's completely surreal to be back here even after only 3 months. I can't imagine how it will feel in comparison going home back to UK and being there again after so long. We stopped at the Country Cafe for some Fairlie pies and drinks and spent most of our time reflecting on our travels together. Time has gone so fast yet when you think back to a certain thing we saw or did it feels like it happened years ago just because of the amount of places we visited here in such a short amount of time. We stopped by the bakery and spoke to my old manager who told us that everyone, himself included, has either left or is leaving apart from one of the owners daughters. Clearly no one felt they could work there without me! Next we stocked up on Barkers products from the shop next door ready to take back to our little grey farm house tomorrow. In the cheese shop the woman recognised me from the bakery and after a 10 minute casual conversation ended up offering me a job! I think that would be my younger sister's dream job, working around unlimited cheese! I politely declined. We didn't want to come back to farm with loads of washing to do so we headed back to the campsite and got two loads going in the machines. In the meantime we made use of their TV room, a novelty after life in the van. We ended up watching an episode of Child Genius which is a programme that just makes you feel rather unintelligent. In the kitchen at the site we discovered a poster that told us we get discount off many food places here with our Top10 card, a new added perk for us as we had no idea so many small businesses would offer that. It did make us wonder how many times we've missed discounts by simply assuming the place wouldn't offer it. We decided to make the most of this new discovery and get an Indian takeaway for dinner which we sat and ate in the kitchen on a huge beautiful rustic tree trunk table. While eating we met a couple who were on their honeymoon, renting a big 6 berth camper for 2 weeks. He seemed more into the idea of campervaning for a honeymoon than she was that's for sure. It soon came the time to make our bed for one last time. It was a sad but also happy moment. Happy for the reason that tomorrow night we will be in a proper bed once again! We played some games for the last time in the van and discussed tomorrow's plan of action. We've given ourselves 2 days too unpack and get the van ready to take back to Christchurch. Initially I felt these days were wasted but I'm so glad for them now knowing we do not have to rush to get ourselves sorted out. I still cannot believe this is our last night in this little mechanically unsound, leaking, damp, wonderful van that has provided us with so much freedom to explore this spectacular country.Read more

  • Day507

    Getting ready for work

    July 8 in New Zealand

    We left our campsite quite earlier this morning conscious that we didn't really have a plan or know where we were staying tonight. After using the log burner hot pool last night we really didn't feel any need to visit the Hamner Springs pools even though it is what this area is known for. If we had stayed here during the first part of our trip we may have felt differently about it but now we've reached the point of not being too fussed about doing things that are similar to what we have experienced before. The route back to Christchurch was rather pleasant but rather uneventful and it was evident we were back in the flat planes of Canterbury. We eventually ended up in the familiar the city we've become quite familiar with and spent time visiting different Savemart stores on the hunt for work clothes for Nick and jeans for me. Because I've been buying my jeans second hand here in NZ they wear out pretty quickly and this happened to the latest pair so I needed to grab some new ones to see me through calving. It's almost impossible to have motivation to look through racks of jeans that are in no order what so ever. Not in size order or even in colour. With hundreds of pairs on a rack it's pretty mind numbing searching for your size to then have to look at the colour and style to see if you even like that one pair you've managed to locate that might fit you. I headed with Nick to the changing room to try on 12 pairs and luckily found 2 that I liked and bought. I think his brain had turned to mush by the time we left the store so we sat in the carpark eating some sandwiches for lunch feeling at least like we had accomplished something. We felt as if we'd exhausted Christchurch's attractions and things to see having been here a fair few times so we decided to visit the cinema as one last trip together before we start working and having different days off. We visited three different cinemas in the city only to discover that the carparks either had a 2m height limit or were only 120 minutes parking which isn't enough time to watch a film. When we found out that carparks often had an upstairs with longer parking for the cinema customers it was rather annoying to discover once again that the height limit became 2m in that level. We ended up looking at suburbs outside the city and found a pretty small cinema in a town close by. On the phone we were told the cinema had plenty of street parking that's unlimited time wise so we set off in that direction. After booking our tickets to see Adrift we wondered around the high street to fill the time and soon realised we'd been to this area before. It's where we visited the UK food store right at the start of our travels in the car and we headed back there today to get some sweets for the cinema. The cinema was even smaller than expected with only 12 plush seats in each of the 2 screens it had. The film was emotionally fantastic, eye opening and a definite recommendation to anyone who likes films based on true stories. When we left the cinema it was pretty dark and late so we headed south for about 45 minutes into the middle of nowhere to a freedom camping spot. Many other campers were there so it felt pretty safe and after choosing our spot we began our nightly routine conscious that this is one of the last nights we will need to assemble a bed and cook in the tiniest kitchen ever.Read more

  • Day506

    Not only is Kaikoura known as the best place to whale watch in New Zealand, it is also famous here for it's abundance of fur seals. When we visited the information centre the lady gave us a map that showed us a route we could walk out on the peninsula along the cliffs. She said although it's not mentioned on the map you can walk down the steps to see the fur seals and then follow the shore line back to the carpark along the rocks. We had our last 7 minute showers at the campsite and dumped and filled up the van before driving the road out to the end of the peninsula where there is a small carpark at the end of the road. On the boardwalk here lay two seals basking in the morning sun. Although we've seen seals on our travels before we've never been this close to them before and it was hard to keep the recommended distance away from them when they were in the carpark itself. You can see how easy it is for people to be disrespectful to these animals and get much too close if they wanted to. The view back towards the main town was beautiful with the mountains in the background and deep blue waters inbetween. As we began to walk up the hill the view only got better and it wasn't long before we were up on the cliffs walking along the edge of the peninsula. We could see seals down below us as well as hear their calls to one another. In places the rocks and cliffs were so white in colour and it reminded me of the white cliffs of Dover and how not unique they probably are. The weather was really on our side so this made the walk even more pleasant. We made it to the area where you head down the steps to the rocks below and saw so many seals lounging in the sun and young pups playing in the rockpools learning to swim. It was so cool to just stand back and observe these animals going about their daily lives and not disturb them at all. We walked along the rocks and meandered our way back to the carpark taking in the beautiful scenery, impressive white jaggered rocks and adorable seals. Back in the van we stopped in town to grab some chai flavoured ice cream which was amazing and fish and chips to share. When you're in a seaside town you have to have fish and chips. It then came the time to leave the beautiful Kaikoura behind us which was a sad moment indeed. We drove inland to Hanmer Springs, a town known for its hot pools. When we realised how busy the thermal pools were we decided to hold off visiting until the next day hoping it will be quieter in the morning and instead went to camp at the Top 10 site. The site actually offer private log fire heated hot tubs with complimentary towels and water. We decided this was a far nicer idea then sharing a huge pool full of tourists so we had a rather romantic soak in the pool as the sun began to set. When we fully resembled prunes we headed out to have showers before making some dinner. The hot tub was a lovely way to end one of our last nights spent in the van.Read more

  • Day505

    What a whaley good time!

    July 6 in New Zealand

    What a day! Probably the 100th blog I've started with that phrase but really today was sensational. Whale watching is definitely the most exciting and incredible thing to watch. It's also so very bizarre to see a small part of a whale above the water and realise there is 100 times more of the animal to see below the water. It felt so good this morning being able to leave the van behind us and walk to the whale watching centre without having to even consider where to park. We got there early and collected our tickets which would give us 80% of our money back if we didn't see a whale. I knew if we didn't see one we would be booking on tomorrow's tour that's for sure. After spending time looking around the gift shop and watching a video the crew put on for us we made our way by bus to the boat we'd be sailing on today. The company had a long time of not oppertating because of Kairkoura basically being inaccessible after the earthquake but luckily just like the seals the whales and tourists have returned to the area. The stretch of sea is home to many male sperm whales because just off the shore is a huge deep canyon which is a haven from marine life and a great bay for sperm whales to deep sea dive in to feed. Within minutes of being on the water our crew spotted humpback whales. It's the migrating season and although none of the humpbacks chose to breech for us we still got to ride alongside them as they came up for air which was pretty awesome. Out on the ocean as well we had a wonderful view over the Kairkoura peninsula with the mountains behind, it gave us some great scenery to look at as we travelled around looking for whales. Sperm whales tend to dive for 45-50 minutes but can be down for up to 3 hours. This meant because the crew knew where one dived an hour ago we could race over to the coorindates where the whale was likely to come back up for air shortly. Sure enough we soon found him sat on the surface having a breather. After 10 minutes the crew told us to get our cameras ready because he was going to dive again. With that he took one last big breath before lunging forward and brining up his magnificent tail into the air before diving down to the depths of the sea. The power and size of that tail alone was huge so you can only imagine the sheer size of the animal that's hidden underneath the surface. How incredible would it be to swim and dive with these gentle giants. Our captain also used a sonar device in the water to listen for whale calls and it wasn't long before they located a second sperm whale for us to watch dive, this time right in front of that beautiful mountain range. You don't really get a better photo than that! We were lucky enough to see so many birds out on the ocean including huge albatross. After seeing some more humpback whales cruising along we also managed to capture our first sperm whale coming back to the surface before diving down again. I found the whole experience so exciting and instantly felt like I could do this everyday, what an amazing job that would be! It also made me wish we were rich enough to pay for a private boat to take us out for the whole day to just get lost amongst the wildlife out here. It genuinely was one of the greatest experiences of my life which is saying something after almost 17 months of exploring the world. There's certain experiences from our trip that stick with you and this will definitely be one of them. Unfortunately it had to come to an end and back on dry land we treated ourselves to a rather nice lunch in the cafe at the whale watch centre before having a wonder around the shops of Kaikoura. We bought many sounvenirs and gifts for people and spent almost an hour talking to a French lady in her gift shop which ended with her giving us her number and inviting us out on her own boat with her and her partner in summer. What an experience that would be! Knowing us I know we won't ever take her up on the offer but it is so tempting. Sometimes you wish you didn't have fear or scepticism of everyone's intentions so you could instantly say yes to the things people offer you. Who knows maybe we will feel brave enough to head back there and see her again in summer. If it meant doing another whale watch even without her private boat I'd be more than up for revisiting Kairkoura because even after a day we've fallen in love with this little town.Read more

  • Day504

    Back to the mechanics we go

    July 5 in New Zealand

    Another day, another problem with our van! Last night just before we made it to our campsite we realised that our left back indicator wasn't working again. After going about our morning routine and packing up to leave we headed to Supercheap Auto in Blenheim to have to bulb checked. It's so lucky they actually have one of these stores here. It turned out the bulb wasn't the issue so we needed to visit an electrician. We rung all the auto electricians listed in Blenheim in our handbook but unfortunately no one could see us until a few days time or this afternoon. Knowing Picton is 25 minutes away north, as long as you drive on the highway not down the road we did yesterday, we called one there who was able to have a look at it as soon as we could arrive. They discovered that because the van is used to sleep in, condensation had corroded the metal plate where the bulbs sit so the electricity wasn't able to pass through efficiently. I have no idea what they did but after 45 minutes or so they'd managed to fix it and charged the cost straight to Tui Campers so we didn't have to pay for anything upfront which was a bonus. While we were sat there I noticed a large white wooden cross halfway up the hill in front of us. The mechanic told us that some 30 years or so ago a pilot in a single person plane died from crashing into the hill after heavy fog suddenly descended. He knew all about it because he said he's asked daily about the cross so had to research into the story. It was such a tragic tale. With our van all fixed we headed back down towards Blenheim where we visited a supermarket to get enough food to last us the rest of our road trip. After checking the highway to Kairkoura was open we began our journey south, slowly making our way back towards our home away from home. Sections of the highway were pretty much destroyed in the November 2016 earthquake and the road only reopened this year but with on going roadworks and lots of one lane sections. It was a stunning road to drive down and the waits at traffic lights were actually welcomed because you got to sit and admire the scenery around you that still looked breathtaking even after such devastation. One of the best parts was seeing hundreds of fur seals on the rocks to the left of the road that line the shore. It's so reassuring and pleasing to see that despite the changes in the environment these animals have made their way back here to use this area as their home once more. Because of the roadworks you couldn't pull in anywhere for a closer look at the seals but that made it even more special and positive that these animals were getting to have a break from tourists pestering them, almost giving them time to move on from what happened here as well. New Zealand is a country of outstanding natural beauty but it's beauty that has been created by the two tectonic plates it sits on and seeing this earthquake damage first hand is a clear reminder of the price you pay for that. After you reach the end of the roadworks the road bends around to the right and suddenly you are treated to the most spectualar view of the snow capped Southern Alps which had such a breathtaking impact. It was then that we both felt we were one step closer to our little area of the country we've become so accustomed to, where we get to see these insane mountains everyday. We made it to Kairkoura and after visiting the visitor centre we booked to go on a whale watch tour tomorrow and planned a walk to do on the next day. Knowing we were spending two nights here we stayed at the Top10 site and are quite content knowing tomorrow we can just leave the van here and walk everywhere for the day. We had even planned to out to a live music bar this evening but unfortunately I had a headache start to kick in and I really didn't want it to get any worse especially for our trip tomorrow. I'm so excited to hopefully see whales tomorrow and it definitely makes up for another day of getting our van fixed!Read more

  • Day503

    Reunited with the South Island

    July 4 in New Zealand

    Hello South Island! It feels our time on the North Island has gone by within the blink of an eye and suddenly we are sat on the ferry headed across the small stretch of sea that separates two different but equally beautiful islands. Our ferry left at 8.30am and we needed to be signed in and queuing by 7.30 so we had a bit of an early start this morning to make sure we were up and ready to leave on time. Once on-board and with the van safely secured below deck we went to scope the boat out. We had a different boat to last time and unfortunately this one didn't have a nice viewing platform out the front of the ship which was a shame because that's the area we saw dolphins from. It did have other observation areas at the sides but with no seating nearby there was no chance of any crew really alerting you if they saw dolphins at all like last time. Instead we tracked down the best looking cafe that had a proper coffee machine and got our morning caffine hit a long with a pretty tasty pizza. I forgot that with our Top 10 card we also get discount on-board the boat so we missed out on a saving on these purchases. After a couple of hours we were heading into the Malborough Sounds of the South Island and it wasn't too long before we docked and disembarked. We realised we hadn't really seen Picton so we had a brief stroll around town before dumping and filling up the van. I had seen on the map that from Picton you can either drive the highway 1 south to Blenheim which takes 25 minutes or go a long a windy coastal route that also ends up just outside Blenheim. I thought it didn't look too much longer so we opted for the scenic route. Within 20 minutes or so we came to our first amazing view point overlooking the sound we just came down on the ferry. A further 20 minutes down the road we hit another view point which was even more spectacular overlooking the coast in the direction we would we driving in. It was then that I checked the map to see we'd barely driven any distance at all and with all the tight bends and hilly roads it was taking much longer than expected. We decided that we had committed to this so persevered. The road then became single laned really because of the size of the van and all gravel/dirt track. Luckily we only passed a handful of cars the whole route but still it was rather daunting. At one point we even saw a car off the side of the cliff directly off the road that had nose dived and was now only being held up by trees. The gravel made the driving harder and Nick did amazingly well at handling it especially on places where large pot holes and bumps had formed. We passed through several small bays with a handful of houses in each and I felt sorry for the people living there having to drive such a poorly maintained road everyday. The weather was as beautiful as the scenery and it felt very refreshing to be driving a road clearly not many people use and seeing areas untouched by most tourists. After a couple of hours we hit a man digging in the road trying to fix a bridge that had been washed out. We thought this was the end of our journey and we'd have to turn back but thankfully he had dug out an alternative road around the bridge so although he didn't ackwolodge us for about 5 minutes we were so grateful when he signalled us to pass over. After this we had a small stretch of about 1km where the road barely fitted our van, with tall subery on each side it was sheer panic and hoping we didn't meet anyone here. Thankfully we didn't and although the road was worse after this for a while and we had one stage of it being so wet that we were worried we'd get stuck trying to get uphill, for all the views and scenery it was worth it. Not sure Nick agrees with me and he definitely wants me to research roads and timings more in future but I had fun. It was the best feeling when we hit tarmac roads again as we looked out over a flat valley full of vineyards and we knew we were very close the Blenheim, one of NZ biggest winery towns. We made it in one piece and checked in to a campsite for the night where I spent hours doing washing because they only had one dryer and one lady occupied it for about 2.5 hours. It's amazing how two roads that start and end at the same places can differ in journey time by about 3 hours!Read more

  • Day502

    Last day on the North Island

    July 3 in New Zealand

    Just like that we are back in Wellington tonight ready for an early start tomorrow to catch our ferry. Before we drove down here from Masterton we drove for an hour and a half to Castlepoint on the east coast. We heard that it was a nice little town to visit so we figured it would be worth the detour. When we left our camping area the rain had started to set in but by the end of the drive we were welcomed with sunshine through the clouds which was lovely. It's a beautiful little bay with a lighthouse on the top of the hill. We parked up initially just to admire the view before us. When we reached the carpark for the beginning of the walk up to the lighthouse the rain really start to pick up again so we got geared up in our rain coats and waited for a big enough break to make a run for it. When we did make it outside the wind was so strong that it had already covered one side of the van in sand and was blowing the sand on the beach like waves in the sea. By the time we started walking up the steps to the lighthouse itself the weather had calmed down and we enjoyed exploring the area in the sunshine again. The whole area felt so peaceful and untouched by many tourists which was a nice feeling after going to so many touristy places. We even saw female seals and their pups down on the rocks below playing in the waves. The rock formations here are rather impressive to look at and it's no surprise that they needed to build a lighthouse here with the rocks. We managed to have a walk around reading all the information and get back to the van just before the rain started again which was rather lucky. The waves of rain seemed to be coming in and out so unbelievably quick. The drive back to Masterton felt a lot shorter than the way there, which always seems to be the way, and we began to head south once again. We stopped off at a fruit and veg shop we saw on Campermate where you can make your own ice cream by mixing 3 different real fruits or ingredients together. Nick enjoyed a combination of lemon, ginger and kiwi fruit and I went for a passionfruit, pineapple and mango mix. The lady who was working their spoke to us a lot in broken English about the lack of parking outside and she seemed so concerned that we were parked there. She made us feel we had to buy the ice creams and drive off immediately. When we didn't do that and stood outside eating she came out to talk to us again about the parking situation. We felt so rushed to eat quickly which was a shame because it was a really good ice cream that tasted so fresh. We also stopped off at a gift shop on our way south that we had read sells all the gifts you see around NZ but a lot cheaper. We found out this wasn't the case regarding the price so I think the people saying this haven't been to many gift shops. We did get something for Bruce and Candy as a thank you for looking around the car which was good though. Eventually we entered the familiar city of Wellington where we spent so many days in a month ago. A month sounds so long but when you break it down and include driving times it really isn't that long at all to explore a whole island. We've definitely missed things out so a summer road trip is looking likely. For now we managed to get a spot in the freedom camping spot in the city which is only 15 minutes from the ferry. It'll be an early wake up for us tomorrow to make it in time but I'm glad we got a space and didn't have to pay for a campsite we didn't want or need tonight. It's hard to believe this time tomorrow we will be back on the South Island where we spent 10 months of our time here in New Zealand.Read more

  • Day501

    Feeding all the animals

    July 2 in New Zealand

    Nick suggested we visit a farm or petting zoo seeing as we haven't done that in a while. We stayed last night in a low cost campsite south from Hastings because all the campsites in the area had such bad reviews. This meant we did have a bit of a commute and had to go back on ourselves to get to the farm this morning but we didn't mind too much. We actually got there as soon as the place opened which worked out well because every animal was hungry and pleased to see us walking around with cups of corn, although that did mean we were followed around by all the free roaming birds a lot. They were good at cleaning up all the corn that the alpacas and goats managed to push off your hand and onto the floor at least. The whole time we were there we only saw a couple of families with young children so we had quite a relaxed peaceful morning walking around the park. They had an interesting sheep in with the deer that was born with a set of two extra legs coming out the side of it's stomach. It was a very weird sight and looked as if it was caused by the embryo failing to split properly into twins but it was good seeing the sheep alive and healthy, we were pleased it wasn't just put down because of this birth defect. After we ran out of corn and had washed our hands several times to remove the goat slobber we continued on with our day and visited Te Mata Peak near Havelock North. It's a range of huge hills which has many walking tracks around the area. We made the decision that we need to start heading south pretty quickly so with that in mind we drove the narrow windy road all the way to the top of the peak rather than walking up to save time. This did mean we had an amazing view to sit in the van and eat lunch in front of. I love that they just decided to build a road up the hill. It's nice that it opens up the accessibility to people who wouldn't be able to partake in such a hike up the hills. It also worked well for people like us who are short on time and are being a bit lazy. We explored the top of the hill and admired the beautiful views while trying not to get blown around too much. Soon came the time to slowly make our way back down the little road and continue on our way. We both felt like we needed coffee so headed to a cafe I saw advertised as an attraction for it's sculpture garden. Unfortunately they didn't actually sell coffee but it was nice to walk around the sculptures and buy ourselves some treats in the old English style sweet shop that had on site. We settled on a coffee from McDonald's before heading down highway two for several hours all the way to our next freedom camping spot in Masterton. It was a long drive but we feel glad that we managed to get it done today as well as do quite a lot of things. We are staying at a small reserve which feels a little bit dodgey but luckily the gates get locked at 5pm so the lovely guy asked everyone to leave who wasn't staying the night. When you're inside the van with the curtains closed and it's dark outside you do feel safe in your little bubble so this added bonus of the gate being locked is extra reassuring. Tomorrow will be another big day as we have one place to vist before making it to Wellington to catch the ferry the day after. It feels so weird how close we are to the end but it's exciting as well to be returning to routine and people we know after 3 months of just the two of us. Plus the journey isn't over yet so we are still excited for the next week or so left of our trip.Read more

  • Day500

    500 days away from home!

    July 1 in New Zealand

    We woke up to the most gorgeous sunrise this morning over the sea. It was so incredible to sit in the van with the back doors open eating breakfast while watching the sun turn the sky in to all kinds of colours as it stretched up from behind the horizon. Because we've had to pick up the pace a bit we haven't really been researching what there is to do in each place we stop. With that in mind we headed straight to the i-site this morning to find out what is best to do in Napier in a day. We soon learnt that Napier suffered from a devastating earthquake in the 1930s that destroyed pretty much everything. It also lifted the ground by 2m so the harbour they had no longer was underwater. Despite it being the great depression the town was rebuilt from scratch but with the modern art deco style that was present at the time. Because this style era was during a big depression major developments like this were not happening much elsewhere in the world so Napier is now said to be a snapshot into the 1930s art deco era. We discovered they have a centre here that explains it more so we went and watched a video about the entire history of the town and the earthquake. After getting a full understanding of the history we grabbed a couple of coffees, Nick's being the tiniest take away cup I've ever seen, and walked around the streets admiring the buildings. They now have a trust in place that continually works at keeping the buildings in good condition and freshly painted. Each year as well the whole town goes back in time and has a huge 1930s style street party for the day which sounded pretty fun to attend. We weaved our way around town and eventually ended up back at the van where we decided to head to Hastings down the road for some lunch. We found a nice little cafe and both enjoyed a fried breakfast despite it being lunch time. Our last stop for the day was to Arataki Honey which as the name suggests produces a lot of different types of honey. They had a really good information section about the production of honey and even several different cross sections of working hives on show. We spent quite a while trying to spot Bee-yonce, Bee-trice and DeBee amongst the mass of stripey bodies. We were able to taste all their honeys and Nick enjoyed this section a bit too much I feel! Although we didn't like any enough to buy we enjoyed the whole place very much. Today has also marked 500 days away from home. Can you actually believe we left the UK 500 days ago?! I can't! It's flown by and dragged by all at the same time. We've had such an amazing journey, seen and done things I never imagined, had awesome highs and depressing lows but one thing that I know for certain is that I'm so glad we've experienced it all together. Missing home and family has been and will continue to be the hardest part and we've had days where home sickness takes over. On those days we try to go a do something awesome, splash out on an experience, food or even a powered site for the night so we can have heat! We love New Zealand, this has become our second home, but without the people we love and care for the most in the world it can never be home for us and that's why we will always come back to the UK no matter how beautiful the country is. Here's to the next however many days exploring this incredible world!Read more

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