08 Dec // Christchurch to Auckland Road Trip

Never one to pass up the opportunity for a road trip, my sister was moving from Christchurch to Auckland, so last week I flew down to meet her and we drove her and her impeccably packed car, north.  

It’s easy to forget just how beautiful New Zealand is. With the constant temptation of cheap flights abroad, it's always so good to remember to explore your own backyard. We got delicious toasted sandwiches and ginger crunch from Red Eight in Kaiapoi before settling in for our couple of days on the road.

The recent earthquake near Kaikoura has closed off much of State Highway One, so we took the Lewis Pass inland, before cutting across to Picton.  We drove through Marlborough as the light lowered, then arrived in Picton in time for an impressive sunset in this tiny port town. We had dinner at Le Cafe, right on the waterfront, which was excellent (charming European waiter, new season asparagus with local hazelnuts) and we shared a cheap motel room at the Picton Yacht Club Hotel, which I booked through the booking.com app (which I use all the time).

It was an early morning ferry ride (cruising on the Interislander) across Cook Strait, and that's always a good reminder of just how beautiful the Marlborough Sounds are. Survived with a bit of wind but no seasickness, praise be. On the other side, an hour or so in Wellington saw us have lunch at Prefab, before stocking up on snacks at my spiritual home, Moore Wilsons. Road trip essentials including fresh orange juice, corn chips, fruit, and sweet treats were purchased. We’d decided we would head East to the sunny Hawkes Bay to break up the North Island part of the trip, and drove through as dusk arrived. The music selection for that part of the trip got really good, including some truly awful yet amazing ‘90s-’00s pop music, sung loud.

We had a tiny pink motel room at Parkside Lodge, and we really should have gone to Pipi Kitchen in Havelock North for dinner, but stayed in Napier and settled for avergae Mexican food instead. The next morning we had amazing coffees at Crazy Good with Ella and Gus, before breakfast at Mister D, famous for doughnuts served with syringes full of sauce. I took the wheel to Taupo, and then just like that it was the stretch towards home. Not before the first real fruit ice cream of the summer though, loaded with strawberries and an absolute dream end. Great yarns, terrible singing, some good and some so-so food, and beautiful scenery. A+ road trip.