A Perfect Start in New Zealand

First impressions are extremely important and I must say, New Zealand nailed it. Upon arriving in Christchurch, we quickly picked up our little camper van, named her “Winnie,” filled her with groceries, and set off to our first campground in Okains Bay.

The drive was narrow and windy (and on the left side of the road!) but overlooked magnificent landscapes. We passed rolling green hills, adorable little farm houses, the beautiful Akaroa Bay, and about a thousand sheep. I took a bunch of blurry, crooked photos (which I will spare you from) to give my hands a break from white-knuckling the armrests while Andrew got comfortable driving on the left.

  I somehow snagged one decent photo out the window of our moving van.

I somehow snagged one decent photo out the window of our moving van.

When we got to the little Okains Bay Campground, we quickly settled into Winnie for the night to get some rest. The next morning, we woke up to a perfect, cloudy beach morning.

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After a quiet cup of coffee made in the van kitchen, we set out to explore the bay with a run. The campground was just a few meters (yes, I am using the metric system now) from the sandy beach so we set off toward the water to start. We hooked a right and found a single-track trail that meandered along the cliffs.

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And to our disbelief, the run looked like this The. Whole. Way. It took a long time to run the four-ish miles I set out to accomplish because I couldn’t stop taking photos. (Also, the hills were steep so I’m not going to say I didn’t enjoy the breaks.) We ran across small private beaches, past fields filled with sheep, and just narrowly avoided stepping on a baby sea lion. The run put us in a good mood—because, endorphins—and the landscape elated our moods even more.

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When we returned to Winnie, I cooked some eggs and potatoes, brewed more coffee (because there is never enough coffee), and set off for our next destination—Lake Tekapo.

Ten out of ten for New Zealand’s first impression.