When you’re travelling on the bottom of the world there is a lot to see, with lots of places to stop. Our journey is once again not the destination but passing time along a continuum of distance. We began in Te Anau, and are making our way across the most southern point of the South Island along the coastal scenic route, which in itself sounds lengthy, but the stops (unfortunately for naps) are fairly close together.
First day, we stopped at a small town called Tuatapere at a Museum Cafe for a midday bite to eat (pastries, delicious coffee, meat pies) and to let the girls play with the unique and raggedy vintage toys put out for this purpose. You know you’re a tiny being in a small town on the bottom edge of civilization (or so you feel), when you’re money is no longer accepted. After our visa declined several times, the ATM down the street didn’t accept foreign cards, and even the grocery store couldn’t give us cash back with our purchase (cards all declined), we left the town with a postage paid empty envelope to send the remainder of funds, and tails between our legs after multiple attempts of trying to pay, and giving the very understanding elderly owner lady $24 of the $30 we owed. We also quietly wiped our brows as Josh carefully replaced the dislocated doll leg into her socket after an innocent toddler mishap. That was about enough stress for the day.
A few “day in the life of a camper van” pictures: above Ry using the facilities while Zo attempts to sneak in. She is very fascinated with the small smelly room that she’s not allowed to visit. When that door opens, watch out she’s on the move.
Below, Zo shows off the benefits of being a second child. Ry didn’t get much sugar before turning one. Zo, she gets popsicles.
We proceeded directly to the next biggest town’s bank ATM and were relieved to extract some cash, then held our breath at the grocery store after inserting, swiping and inserting again before getting a final relieving acceptance. The town of Riverton was our monetary saviour and our home for the evening, up top a scenic hill overlooking the ocean. The girls played in the 1960’s campground rumpus room, enjoying a rickety out of tune piano, a tattered dress up box, some old wooden blocks and dusty lego, while we prepared and baked pizzas in the same musty wood-adorned hall while listening to some great old 1970’s classics on some vintage VINYL records! I caught Ry dancing around with a giant record in her hands and found it difficult to explain it’s special historical significance, then chuckled to myself as it dated me.
The next two nights we spent in the city of Invercargill- a home to about 50,000 people. With chilly, wet weather in store for us we drove through the old historical downtown lined with beautiful European looking buildings, full of character before proceeding directly to the Splash Palace for some indoor pool fun and waterslides. Day two here, we spent the afternoon exploring Queen’s Park (but not in it’s entirety) complete with manicured gardens, gazebo, animal reserve, two fun playgrounds, waterpark, aviary, Japanese garden, golf course and tea house. Our first stop was at the tea house for a relaxing, hot cup of Joe, which was thoroughly enjoyed as much as the girls enjoyed playing with the new and exciting box of previously and extensively loved toys.
Our quality and hygienic standards for toys has declined considerably here for two reasons- one, they are so sick of their tiny bag of mini-toys, and two, in NZ kid stuff is way harder to come by and very costly, so we just let them go to town with these coffee shop toy bins because it’s all new and exciting to them. In other news, Rylie barfed for the first time in 2 years. LOL. Might have to check those clean standards and up them a notch or two.