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Saturday, 8 January 2011

Day 249 - 256: Hello from New Zealand!

Right. First things first – happy new year to you all, now this may seem like a redundant statement on 8 January but things have been pretty busy in the bubble that 365 occupy and I haven't had to chance to wish you well yet. God. First post of the year, and wildly overdue – better make it a good'un. I do have very exciting news on my side, but more on that later...

We arrived safe and sound in recently shook-up Chrsitchurch to find that the earthquake had indeed closed the hostel we'd reserved but the friendly bus shuttle bus driver (we'd found him via the friendly guy at the airport info counter) advised us of another. None of this “my brother has hostel, he make you good price” malarkey – oh no! We were definitely, and somewhat strangely after the best part of 2010, not in Asia any more. There was a short but pleasant walk [note: we were not hotter than the sun itself or drenched in sweat/rain at the end of it] and we were there! Stonehurst Hostel was to be our home for the next few days and the base from which the hunt for 4-wheels to call home was to operate.

Chrsitchurch is a lovely city; there's a beautiful art gallery, cute shopping streets, a vintage tram system and a well-maintained botanic gardens. It's kind of like Bournemouth meets Cambridge, but 100 years ago. It's quaint [all the pics are here.]

We began searching for a campervan by heading to the 'car markets' – basically show grounds for cars and vans that other travellers have driven around and are now selling on, and by checking hostel notice boards for posters that crowd each one. There is something for every taste and budget available here and, apart from knowing we wanted a fixed bed i.e. not an airbed/mattress sitting on the floor or on the folded down seats of a people-carrier, we weren't sure what we were looking for - until we met Emilio.

When Emilio showed us his '87 Toyota Townace I think we both knew it was the one. He and his girlfriend had ingeniously fixed up the then-empty space so that it was possible to have a full bed, a sofa and a table, two bench-like sofas with a table in the middle, all sorts of diagonal table fixtures going in and out of the van, or just have the table free-standing outside. It's difficult to explain, but hopefully it'll show in photos in time. IT also came with all the bedding and cooking necessaries, fold-down chairs and maps too.

Now you might be wondering what I'm getting all excited about table/bed formations for so I'll try to explain. In all the other campervans we saw there is really one two positions you can be in; sitting in the driver or passenger seat or lying in the back. And if it's raining outside you're cooking on your lap or your pillow – which isn't safe or fun, I imagine. So we're hoping that Emilio [we decided to name the van after the man, so our vehicle's full name is in fact Emilio Jose Garcia Rodriguez] will be a more functional and sociable option.

We had to wait until the mechanics re-opened the other side of NYE to get a full service done (passed with no problems) and, despite Nationwide & Santander's combined best efforts and ridiculous practices, we bought the van, signed the papers and became full owners.

It is all terribly exciting. NZ is (like Pai before it) one of those places that everybody we know that has been there has loved. We have not heard a bad word said and now we were here, in 2011, to see it for ourselves. The open road was ours to explore, so we set off...


  1. jullie vallen wel met de neus in de boter steeds - wat geweldig is - welkom to the family Emilio!

  2. Loving the similarities Emilio has with the old Banger Van! Hopefully our brother Emilio is slightly more reliable, eh?

  3. how very dare you! Emilio is NOTHING like the banger van...thankfully! no major break-downs in holiday destinations (yet), i'm enjoying the 'brother emilio' thing though...i think that's going to stick :)