South Island Epic Adventure 2011

It was an ordinary Friday weatherwise - cloudy, a little breezy, nothing special - but this was an exciting day. We were up at the crack of dawn (well, almost!) and raring to go on our South Island adventure, just the two of us and our four lovely golden retrievers. The van was almost packed the night before but there are always untold things food-wise and clothing-wise/beauty treatments etc that you can't pack until the last minute. Sometimes I think it would be more worthwhile to forget about the whole trip beforehand and just get up at 2am on the day of travel and do all the preparing and packing then, rather than trying to do bits and pieces all week long and not being able to complete anything properly until the last day. However, the excitement of the trip forgives all the stress once you are on your way.

Our original plan had been simple - take the dogs to the Greymouth shows for the Saturday and Sunday, then go to Hanmer Springs for a night or two and a soak in the hot pools, and then back home again - just a longish weekend away. However, when the schedules came out for the Greymouth shows, I saw that the following weekend there were four shows in Invercargill that we could enter. So it popped into my brain that it could just be a bit of fun to increase the holiday and make the Invercargill shows the target for the next weekend and go right round the South Island. We could spend a few days tootling down the West Coast to arrive in Invercargill on the Friday night and then after the shows on the Sunday we could take a couple of nights to get back up to Picton for the ferry trip back. The trip would be 12 days, 11 nights long.

When I mentioned it to Rob there was only a slight raise of the eyes to the heavens and I knew it would be on because he started looking on Google Maps for instructions on how to get to the Invercargill grounds - yippee. The biggest problem was always going to be getting motels who would allow four golden retrievers in the unit. We could sleep them in the van but they have never done that and Phoenix is terrified of rain and panics, and I had this little thought that going down the West Coast of the South Island for a few days without rain was possibly going to be asking too much! Phoenix is fine if we are driving and it's raining, but I don't really know how much she would panic if it was in the middle of the night and the vehicle was parked.

I managed to find a motel in Greymouth that would have the dogs in the room - mind you, they charge extra for that - that was the Charles Court Motel. So we booked two nights there and two nights at the Surrey Court Motel in Invercargill and were going to wing it the rest of the way. However, a couple of days before we were due to leave, Rob decided that we needed to find somewhere in Alexandra because around that area and Wanaka and Queenstown there are only a couple of motels that will take pets, and no-one that was prepared to have them in the room. So he found an historic stone cottage on the web that was just outside of Alexandra with about two acres of land - rabbit land! The owners were happy for the dogs to be inside and so we booked that for three nights. We also booked the ferry and were ready to go.

Below are some images from the trip, the story of which you can read on the following pages:

(Click photos to enlarge)
The West Coast (left). Central Otago (right).
The Deep South (left). Homeward Bound (right).

Click here to be transported to Part 1 - The West Coast.