Driving a campervan from Queenstown to Christchurch

Greg SouthcombeRandom reports from the roadLeave a Comment

Lake Pukaki panorama

Yesterday I set my alarm for super early and got myself onto a 7 am Air New Zealand departure from Auckland to Queenstown. It was one of the rare occasions when Air New Zealand was actually cheaper than Jetstar. I left Auckland in a t-shirt, shorts and jandals (my summer uniform) and the “she’ll be right” approach to what I knew would be more wintery conditions in Queenstown.

I was meeting a couple who were finishing their 15-day hire of Fay in Queenstown. I just happened to have my mountain bike with me so would be spending the rest of the day on the magnificent trails in Queenstown, that night at the equally magnificent Queenstown Holiday Park Creeksyde and then (this morning as I write this) hitting the road early and enjoying the sublime scenery on the drive north from Queenstown to Christchurch.

As it turns out “she” isn’t always right.

I was bloody cold! Queenstown weather was exactly as the weather forecast said it would be. Why I thought 8 degrees celsius and rain would be manageable in jandals is beyond me. It wasn’t. And, the mountain bike trails at Skyline Queenstown were closed to boot.

On approach to Queenstown

On a brighter note Fay’s guests had a great time travelling around New Zealand and were heading home.

So, my plans needed to change. I had Fay, a full tank of diesel and some warmer clothes on. A quick look at the weather forecast, which had just grown in credibility, told me the weather was primo in Christchurch and there’s a great time to be had on a mountain bike at Christchurch Adventure Park. Easy decision – leave now and go riding in Christchurch.

There were of course those interesting updates about flooding on the Rangitata and road closures but you know what? She’ll be right!!

She wasn’t. Again.

I’m writing this from Geraldine. A lovely little town it is but it’s not Christchurch and there’s no mountain biking park with a gondola either. I’m here in the company of, I guess, about a thousand other travellers stranded on the south side of the Rangitata River.

I’ve learned quite a lot and it’s well worth noting for your next campervan adventure around New Zealand.

Road closures and traffic updates are not shown on Google Maps so keep the NZTA website handy too: https://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/ and use it ahead of time to plan your journey.

Metservice is the weather forecaster of choice from now on: https://www.metservice.com/

Book changeable tickets (I did on Jetstar for my flight home) whenever you can. They cost a little extra but you’ll feel quite smug when things turn pear-shaped.

When in Geraldine, visit Barkers Food Store. I’ve just had the best Eggs Benedict I can recall ever having. The service is friendly and efficient, their free wifi is fast and their loos are lovely too.

Anyway, news just in is that the State Highway will be open from midday so I’m off! Oh and lastly, the scenery on the road trip from Queenstown is still sublime – as my photos will attest.

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