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We were thrilled to find out that we were able to have Coco for our trip as long as we picked up from Queenstown. Having both previously done Queenstown, we knew how beautiful it was and didn’t mind – especially because we could go back to the famous Fergburger!
Our route: Queenstown – Catlins – Kaikoura – Picton – Wellington – Tongariro Alpine Crossing- Taupo- Waitomo – Rotoura – Hot water beach – Auckland – Bay of Islands – Auckland Airport. Along our trip we played lots of hide-and-seek, mainly of hidden campsites, but also with Lucy. Here are some of our highlights (we could go on and on)…….
We collected Coco in Queenstown and our first little hunt started. Leanne lost a walking boot in between the carpark and JUCY’s office! After a long hunt around the airport, finally an airport cleaner spotted Leanne with only one boot and told us he had found the other, but it was in the bin, so we had to rescue it. Relief, as Leanne can’t do much walking with only one boot.
After a quick introduction to Coco, we off on our busy adventure. First stop: Fergburger! After refuelling, we had a little walk around the lake and then headed south ready to start our trip up to the Catlins.
An early start and we awoke to a beautiful sea view and sand just a few metres away. The Catlins are known as a “hidden gem and highlight of the Southern Scenic Route” for its rugged coastlines, lakes and stunning waterfalls. It didn’t disappoint. It was a busy day and the weather wasn’t the best, but thankfully we didn’t get too wet. We saw some beautiful places: from Curio Bay with its fossil forest to the waterfalls, which grew higher and higher as you got closer! Unfortunately the blow hole wasn’t blowing and the wildlife were not really out to play. But we didn’t mind as we were en route to Kaikoura shortly!
The first dolphin-watching trip was cancelled due to the wind, therefore we booked on for the following morning and spent the rest of the day having a walk around the peninsula watching the seals laze around and the young pups play. The next morning we headed out on the boat in our fetching wetsuits searching for dolphins. After a long search we found them and managed to swim 3 times with a pod of about 40 very playful dolphins! After this adrenaline rush, we warmed up in in 11 degree water up with delicious hot chocolate and biscuits, then back to dry land and a warm shower! Heading out of Kaikoura, we saw a little track which led to a waterfall where seal pups played – an amazing sight.
We then took Coco on the Interislander ferry, North Island-bound. Wellington was way too windy so our stay was short. We did an early morning walk around the Botanical gardens, then a few hours around Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum. This was the best museum we’ve ever been to, lots of variety, and great interactive sections.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
The sun was shining. It was a great day for a long walk, and a long walk it was! Approx 6 and a half hours later we had completed the Tongariro Crossing (with Lucy) and it was definitely worth it. At 1900 meters up, we could see down for miles. The sights on the crossing were amazing: the red crater, like a mini grand canyon, smoking rocks, gleaming emerald lakes along with many Lord of the Rings-looking settings. However we did end up with a touch of sunburn and sausage fingers due to the altitude!
We could not be this close and not visit the home of the glow worms! What better way to do it than tubing – this was also taking full advantage of JUCY deals. We floated along inside the cave in pitch darkness with only the glistening of the glow worms above us leading the way. On arrival to our free campsite, we saw that one cow was loose from the neighbouring paddock so took it slow. However once further in, we saw that both gates to the paddock were wide-open and soon enough the cows surrounded us. Using our dairy farm experience, we managed to move some cows out of the way so we could head toward the exit. We definitely were not staying here! Then they started to charge towards us and we were surrounded by hungry cows licking Coco. Personally, we don’t think Coco would be that tasty! After a long wait, they started to move slightly away from the car so we made a dash for it. Sure enough, they ran after us but we escaped. It was time to hunt for somewhere else to stay.
Hot Water Beach
On arrival to Hot Water Beach, the tide had come in too far for us to reach the thermal pools. So we changed our plans last minute, stayed near to the beach, and got up before sunrise to go down. It was a strange natural occurrence. The pools were boiling hot and I don’t think we could have managed to sit in them! After our morning dip, we had breakfast on the beach before heading to the massive Cathedral Cove. That night we stayed at Ambury Farm Park campground, a great campsite where you could walk around the farm and meet the animals, no loose cows at this one!
We had an amazing trip with Coco and Lucy. It was just over too quickly. Thank you JUCY!
Kim and Leanne xxx