Sunday, 30 January 2011

Heading to the West Coast & Living in the Van

South Island West Coast

This campervan has virtually everything we could want and is the best equipped van we have every used (that is only two by the way!) and when you compare the published info for a Britz, Apollo  or any of the other big companies with this one, then there are obvious differences.

By Day


a wrap around settee (green) with storage space under one side and a dismantled table (white) which is stored under the floor.  
Van TV flat screen TV on the wall (it pivots out) plus a radio / cd / dvd player and control switches for power, central heating (!) and hot water plus a gauge showing you how much water you have left.
roof mounted storage spaces Van Cupboards
Van cooker cooker with four hobs and a grill (storage under), sink with mixer tap (storage under)
side door with electric step (push a button and it swings out)  
Van fornt seat front seats (which rotate 180 degrees to give you more space when parked
wardrobe, fridge (with ice box) and cupboard over  Van fridge
Toilet 2 
Toilet / Drying room and
 Toilet 1
a shower

By Night


At night, we close the curtains and use the table top to fill in the gap in the bed base, rearrange the cushions to give us a mattress and store the backs of the settee on the front seat.


Then we make the bed.

Fellow campers comment most on the fact that we have a wrap around settee (which is in fact very cosy on a cold day) as compared to their bench settees, our mattress is thicker than theirs, we have no advertising on the van and that we have things (such as wine glasses!) which they do not. In our opinion, this is a well designed van and two months living in it is not a daunting prospect – apart from the lack of an electric kettle (which we solved by bringing our own travel kettle), Wilderness seem to have got it right.

Towards the West Coast

Between our last resting place and the next one are some challenging roads, challenging in that they go up one side of the mountain and down the other. Look at this photo of Takakaka Hill for example (hill it is not by the way !)

Takakaka Hill Road

The road we are on goes up one side of the hill and down the other, covering a distance of 29 kms along the way.

Takakaka Hill Road with markings

The road itself is shown in red. Bends are so sharp that many carry a maximum speed sign of 15 kph (10 mph). Whilst you are coping with a road like this, you are also being wowed with great scenery such as



Views and weather

Murchison is a town on the road to the West Coast, it has certainly seen better prosperity (most towns in this area used to be “Gold Towns”) but it still retains a few buildings with tremendous charm such as the town church.

Murchison Church

Nearby it the Buller Walkway – the longest swing bridge in New Zealand (called “swing” because it swings in the wind)

Gorge Swingbridge

So of course it had to be crossed, Pat sacrificed the chance to have a heart attack in the middle of it in order to photograph a thrill seeker.

View from bridge

The view from the middle of the bridge is of the Gorge and raging waters below – quite impressive.

Further along the road is the Lyell Walkway – this time a track starting where the old gold town of Lyell used to be and heading off into the forest.

Lyell Old

We stood on the spot where this picture was taken in the late 1800'’s and there is now no trace at all of the town other than

Lyell Cemetery

the cemetery (which is tucked away in the woods) and a few grave stones –all died at an early age which is not surprising given the hard life they lived in the gold town.

 Walkway good  

The walkway itself follows an old track used by the miners to get to the workings and also a Dray Path used by them to get supplies to and from the mines. It is described as “challenging” in the guide book – parts were easy and

Walkway good

parts where the path had disappeared having collapsed in the recent floods in the area were certainly challenging.


Although this does not look much in a 2-D photo, the path has collapsed and as a result you have to clamber up a new vertical hillside with nothing to catch you if you fall into the river about 50 metres below!

Lyell Bridge

Other parts were simply too picturesque for words. There were also lots of Black Flies awaiting us – something of which we no doubt will comment upon more at a later date. You can rough camp here but the Black Flies make it a challenge.

No comments:

Post a Comment