Meet Kathleen & Hannah who are the latest lucky people who got to take Coco, our Social Cabana away for a free adventure around the South Island of New Zealand. It sounds and looks like they had heaps of fun and even faced their fears of driving on the “other side of the road”! If you’re keen to check out more photos from their trip you can do so here. Jealous? Then apply to take Coco away on an adventure yourself. She is FREE! Check out www.jucy4free.co.nz Love, Lucy xx
P.S If you want to follow Kathleen on more of her personal adventures you can follow her own blog here neverhaveievernz.blogspot.com
Okay folks, I have really hit the ground running with this whole “try something new” game I’m playing. Today I drove on the left side of the road. And no one got hurt. Not even any sheep! This is how this came to be…
So, once upon a time there was this little thing called “Twitter” where people were free to post sarcastic, funny, self-deprecating, sometimes mean, sometimes nice things about the people and places in their lives. Businessmen and advertisers (sometimes also considered “people”) also use this service to make themselves known in the lives of us mere citizens. When I decided I was going to NZ, I promptly began following a number of NZ affiliated Twitter accounts (including but not limited to: New Zealand Wine, and the NZ Rugby team All Blacks).
This brought me to JUCY. And although the Twitter account was labeled “JUCY LUCY”, a name I have reserved space in my mind (and heart) for a particular beef + cheese item, I was intrigued. And you know what else? They had chutzpah. Maybe it was just the green and purple website, who can say for sure, but I decided they needed to be followed by me. On Twitter.
Turns out they are a car rental company. Didn’t see that coming.
After months of helpful advice and the kind of sassy tweets I have come to expect from this service, this arrived in my newsfeed (or whatever the Twitter version is called):
And I was like “ME! I feel like a free roadtrip!” Because A) free is my favorite price and B) it is called “Coco our Social Cabana”, how can I pass something like that up? I entered the contest and the rest is history–except that I should really mention how incredibly helpful they were! They responded in lightning speed fashion and emailed back and forth with me until we were able to find a date that would work for all of us; me/Hannah, the JUCY staff and Coco the Social Cabana.
So here we are. After making initial plans to start in the North Island, this fabulous opportunity had us racing south, to Queenstown, to pick up Coco for a week long luxury vacation.
We step off the plane in Queenstown and are immediately struck by the insane beauty; gorgeous snow capped mountains surround the area. Then I become struck by fear and anxiety as I begin to realize that I will soon be placed behind the wheel of a vehicle, on the right side of the car, driving on the left side of the road. This was my overall emotion as a I sat behind the wheel, willing myself to drive out of the parking lot.
After what seemed like at least 32 roundabouts/rotarys we were on the main road that lead us to Wanaka, luckily it was a straight shot, no turns needed! I started to relax and by the time we made it to Wanaka I think I was downright confident in my driving abilities.
Wanaka is a beautiful lake down, dedicated to the life of skiing and snowboarding. One of Hannah’s friends has been living in Wanaka since July, so we popped on over there to check it out. After two nights in Wanaka, and a hike to the top of a hill for a wine tasting at Rippon Vineyard, we decided we needed to actually fully utilize the free van we were given, so we headed north to check out the famous Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers.
The drive north took us nearly four hours through some winding roads. I held my own though and made it through, continuing to keep us safe on the left side of the road. We stopped at the famous Blue Pools, then continued to the glaciers. As we walked toward the glacier it felt like something straight out of Land Before Time (or Jurassic Park I guess, whichever one you identify with more, picture that). As with most everything, it costs money to go on an actual tour in which you are able to touch the glaciers and walk through them. Seeing as how we have minimum amounts of dollars, we decided to do the free version, so we were still quite a few meters away. But we felt/saw the beauty, even from afar!
Afterwards we drove to Okarito a tiny tiny tiny “town” where we were able to set up camp and stay the night. We were able to make dinner in the back of Coco and enjoy the company of a lovely Kiwi/UK couple fishing for whitebait, which is apparently a type of fish that “Doesn’t taste particularly good and you don’t use it for anything” yet it is an expensive commodity…
The next day as we began to fill up our gas tank, we realized that gas is actually extremely absurdly priced here in this lovely little island. SO we decided to head back towards Wanaka for some cheaper activities.
We decided to tramp (hike) through Mt. Aspiring National Park and stay over night at one of the huts located on the hike. It was a two hour tramp from the car park, through a beautiful valley. Walking just a few feet away from cows and sheep, fording rivers and climbing lots of rocks. We arrived at the hut, which is used primarily in the summertime (remember its winter here right now people!) as a pit stop for trampers as they continue on.
Because we are super smart and clearly very well prepared in all aspects of life, we somehow thought it would be a good idea to begin the tramp at 4:45pm. (Our late arrival was also in part due to the sheep blocking our way!) Meaning we arrived about 10 minutes before the sun set, reealllly cutting it close! There was no electricity, just a bunch of mats to sleep on and a fireplace. Again, this is meant to be used primarily during the summer months…and now we know why.
We quickly built the fire (thanks to all of our cumulative girl scout skills) and promptly huddled around it (along with the bottles of wine that are obviously important additions to any long hike) all night long. The fire of course went out in the middle of the night, just as a massive rain storm came through the valley. The next morning we had to hike back….still a two hour hike…through rain rain rain and winds reaching close to 70 or 80 mph. If you recall, it seems as though the only way I like to hike, is if I am going to end up being in miserable pain the next day; 35 mile overnight hike. This experience wasn’t nearly as bad as that though, it was actually pretty amazing, the land was virtually untouched making 360 views constantly breathtaking.
For our final night we drove to Queenstown, the location where we were meant to return the vehicle. Queenstown is the “adventure capital of New Zealand” but we didn’t have time to take part in any of those crazy activities, stay tuned in the coming months for those…
It was sad to see our purple gas guzzling monstrosity go, but it was time for another lucky few to have their way with her. She definitely earned her stripes as we drove through the Crown Range and up the West Coast. She provided a lovely sleeping facility + kitchen + lounge PLUS she was FREE so it was really beyond splendid.