Once we had let our BurgerFuel meal settle, we decided to start our journey. The original plan was to spend the night in Christchurch and attend Ko Tane, the living Maori village the following night. With the help of WikiCamps New Zealand, we found three cheap campsites in and around the city. One was a back-packers, so we cancelled that one out. We then drove around and had a look at the other two. Both were car parks which we didn’t mind, after all we had a fully equipped, self-contained motorhome, we could stop anywhere, well so we thought.
We drove to the first one which was very small and completely full. The second one was very large but every single car park was filled with what can be best described as homeless or disadvantaged people. They all gave us dirty looks when we drove through. Maybe the van was a little to wealthy looking to stop there. We felt extremely out of place.
After researching online I noticed that to book the Ko Tane we had to do so online with 48 hours’ notice. Bugga, there goes our plans. After Christchurch we were going to travel down the east coast towards Dunedin, however plans quickly changed. Due to not being able to find cheap or free accommodation in Christchurch, we decided to skip Christchurch and Ko Tane and move on to our next destination. We were hoping to get back to Ko Tane by the end of our round trip.
Another of our destinations was the Sheffield (award winning) Pie Shop. This is 63km west of Christchurch. The decision was made to head out that way, so I researched into accommodation in that area. We couldn’t believe it, after being stuffed around since tea with car parking, we actually found a small holiday park in Springfield, only a few minutes out from the pie shop. Wow, just perfect. So that is where the next stage of our trip took us, to Kowai Pass Reserve, Springfield New Zealand, for a sleep, then a pie in the morning.
On the drive there we kept our fingers crossed that it would be suitable and inexpensive. We pulled up and saw other motorhomes park on the grounds. It was dark by the time we arrived, but we were soon directed to the Caretaker who also lives on the property in his own motorhome. He was very friendly and helpful.
As we were not after power, he directed us to a site not far from the amenities, at the back of the property. He explained that the prices for a powered site were $20.00 NZD for one or two people and $10.00 NZD for one or two people on an unpowered site. This is the cheapest price we had found. How could we say no? We pulled up and started checking over the van to see what all the buttons and accessories would do. I was surprisingly falling in love with the Britz motorhome. If only I could take it home with me back to Australia.
We cooked our very first meal in New Zealand and finally had time to stop and relax. This was also the first time I used the toilet. It is a little cramped as the toilet, hand basin and shower are all in one very small cubicle, but it is designed really well. We unpacked our luggage and made ourselves right at home. I slept up on the top bunk and had an amazing night sleep. The bed was very comfortable.
In the morning I opened the little curtain behind my head to see the amazing view of the reserve. I could have looked at it for hours, just magical. That’s when I realised I was on holiday.
I had a shower in the park showers to save water in the van. The amenities were basic but very clean. In New Zealand when you stay somewhere you have to pay for the shower. I could not remember if it was $1.00NZD or $2.00NZD but it went for 4 minutes. It’s amazing how quick you can have a shower if you need to.
New Zealand money is strange but not that different. I didn’t worry about working out the exchange rate, I just used the money. In Australia $1.00 coins are the large gold ones whereas $2.00 in Australia are the small gold coins. In New Zealand this is the opposite. $2.00 are large and $1.00 are small. This took a little getting used to but I eventually caught on.
There was also a washing machine which rattled and apparently woke some people up early in the morning. The toilets were on the other side and also quite clean. Next to the toilets was another building which housed the lounge area and a kitchen area for campers. In addition to these amenities were the tennis courts and playground. They were very close and looked like they were in good condition.
I noticed a sign as we were leaving the park saying that dogs are allowed with restrictions, which is similar to most parks in New Zealand. These include keeping the dog on a leash, keep them away from the recreational areas and pick up after them. Fair enough I thought.
This was a fantastic place to stay either over night or for a longer period. I was sort of sorry to say goodbye. It was clean, inexpensive, friendly and easily accessible. It’s everything you could want in a holiday park.
When we were back on the road we headed off to Springfield where the award winning pie shop was located. I was looking forward to this.