Here's how it goes:
Brendan walks into the local carhire agency and says, in his normal manly way:
"I'd like to hire a vehicle where I can sleep, prepare food, and still drive from place to place".
"Well, I'll give it a try", I said, loosening my wrist, upping my voice pitch a few notches and repeating: "I'd like to hire a vehicle where I can sleep, prepare food, and still drive from place to place, dahling."
And so it goes on. Of course it didn't happen, but thanks to Duncan for the original 'joke' which then set the tone, and the catchphrase ("Camper?" pronounced in a shrill Aussie accent) for the rest of our time on the road in our Winnebago.
Do our bums look big in this?
The first leg of our journey was the longest and took us from Christchurch to Blenheim - the central winegrowing town in the centre of NZ's Marlborough region. The coastal road along the way near Kaikoura is amazing - the road is meters from the Pacific spray, dozens of seals hang around by the water's edge undisturbed by the passing traffic, and hanging in the background are the snowcapped mountains.
We stopped off in The Store (recommended to us by Simon and Leah), and it was already dark at that point. An unmissable spot on the main road, it's probably best seen during the day to appreciate it's setting, but we still found it very special, and it's open fire and wooden furniture was particularly welcoming.
We got to Blenheim so late that pretty much all the restaurants were closed. We rang one of the restaurants attached to a winery called Herzog and made it there in 20 mins from the camper park, only to find an ultra-luxurious and suitably expensive place, well out of our price range. Fair enough that it was Duncan's last night with us, but we weren't going to make that even more tragic by forking out 130 dollars a plate (not including the wine). The evening started going downhill after we arrived too late for a number of other restaurants, but was saved by Bellafico's in the centre of Blenheim who took us in and fed us well for a decent price. Great local beer too.
The evening was freezing - the coldest yet - and our first campervan sleeping experience involved certain people wearing beanies in bed. Discretion prevents me from naming names.