First Camping Trip in New Zealand

We had a delay of one day before leaving on our camping trip. But, we finally left on Saturday morning. We had a nice drive up to Hanmer springs. I always enjoy driving on the metric system. It’s fun seeing your first “100” speed limit sign! On the way north, we saw many beautiful river beds which were mostly dry. These rivers are the run-off of the snow melt from the mountains during the spring. But, we are well into the summer so they were mostly dry. You could see huge amounts of rock which had been brought down by the raging snow melt rivers. My Dad would have loved seeing some of the clear rivers with men fly fishing for trout.

As we headed west, we started seeing hills developing into mountains. We had to go through a smaller mountain range to get to the valley where Hanmer Springs is nestled against the next larger mountain rainge. We finally saw some big fields of sheep. Most of the fields had cows. More evidence that New Zealand is shifting from sheep to cattle.

At the turn-off to Hanmer Springs there’s a big old one-laned bridge over a deep gully with a snow-melt river raging below. Signs warn only one heavy vehicle at a time. They do bungy jumping from this bridge. When we got to the other side, we got to stop at a scenic overlook that let us see the old steel suspension bridge we went across. Quite a view! [Picture coming later]. At the overlook, there were a bunch of immaculate old VW vehicles – vans, bugs, and even a Kaarman Ghia! ( Some of my older friends and family might remember my first vehicle was a 1971 Kaarman Ghia). We went directly to the campground to get ahead of the influx of new campers.

We stayed at Alpine Adventures Tourist Park. It’s a really nice full-service campground. I really liked the large communal kitchen with fridges and freezers so you don’t have to rely on a cooler. We set up our new tent to hold our spot after paying for the night. We then went into town to get some lunch.

We spent the next two days hiking and enjoying the nice alpine scenery. They have some beautiful trees here that are totally different from the US. There’s a nice hike at the end of town straight up a forested hill called “Conical Hill” – aptly named considering both its shaped, and the plentiful pine coned-covered trees. Very nice view of the entire valley from the top. I took a 360 photo from the lookout.

So, we’re finally doing some sightseeing and camping. The new gear is working great. And New Zealand really is the beautiful place everyone says it is!

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