The Final Chapter of this Adventure

The days in Oarsman’s Bay were deliciously slow.

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Mads and I went diving each morning and spent a lot of time doing as little as possible, while the girls had fun with the Czech girls – hermit crab racing, swimming, kayaking, playing.

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As our own resort was very basic, occasionally we would go to the larger resort next door to have a drink and a change of scenery, only to return to the calm of our homebase afterwards.

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One day during the week, a cargo ship arrived with materials for renovating some of the cabins in our resort.

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It didn’t take long for the children to spot an opportunity to have a different kind of waterworld. You would think someone might object to that (as would have been the case in Denmark, without a doubt) – but quite to the contrary, the crew more or less joined in, and made sure the girls had a buoy to hold on to in the water if needed. For a few hours the primary fun in the area was about jumping in the water from different heights on the boat. It was quite entertaining too. 😉

Back home, I remember someone advicing us against going to Fiji in the rain season. However, while we were there, we had rain only twice – once during the night, and one afternoon at a time, when it was rather welcome due to the heat. We had beautiful weather and a nice breeze during the day – the temperature was high, but not unbearable.

It was dark quite early in the evening, and soon after the sun had set, it was pitch black. The children didn’t stop swimming until the darkness fell, and by then, they went back to their hermit crabs and the attempts to find the fastest and most determined one of them.

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Living at the beach is great. Having sandy feet all the time, jumping into the water whenever you feel like it, and never worrying about getting wet, because you will dry within half an hour anyway. Of course, that calls for documentation. Look closely – Mads is photographing his feet and a drink – if you follow him on Instagram, you may recognize the motive.  😉

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Mads and I had some very nice dives there. Underwater rock formations, beautiful corals, and lots of different fish. Still, our last dive was in a league of its own – we encountered five different species of sharks, swimming closely all around us. It was an awe-inspiring sight, and definitely not something I have tried before, though I have a few hundred dives behind me. Awesome dive to finish off with.

 

Eventually, our week there had passed, and we had packed our bags and were waiting for the Yasawa Flyer to take us back to Nadi. I think we were all a bit sad about leaving this beautiful place, but at the same time we started to realize, that seeing our house back home again wouldn’t be so bad after all. Even Frida who had been looking forward to returning home, needed some sisterly consolation upon leaving Oarsman’s and their newfound friends. Goodbyes are hard.

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That same evening, we were back in the Raffles Gateway Hotel in Nadi. We had time for an extra swim in the swimming pool before dinner and bedtime.

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Now all that remained was a very early start the next morning before the flights home. Nadi – Hong Kong, Hong Kong – London, London – Copenhagen.

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26 hours of flying all in all. 11 hours of waiting in airports.

And bam. Back in greyish Denmark.

We’ve been back here for more than a week now – the kids are back in school, and Mads and I are back at our jobs. And what an adventure we have had together. I would totally do it again. Totally.

Fiji Time

“No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one.”

I guess this quote was actually quite true in our case. Though we had the most amazing experiences on our journey through New Zealand, we had been on the move a lot, and everyone needed to settle down for a bit, and spend some time in one place before going back to the daily grind, which would happen soon enough.

Up until this point, we hadn’t given many thoughts to our final adventure on a remote Bounty-like island in Fiji, but after we returned Børge BumleBus, it somehow became more clear to us, that we still had a quite different and exciting experience ahead of us.

We took a cab from the hotel to the airport just before lunch, and after a 4 hour flight we were greeted with garlands of flowers upon our arrival to the airport in Nadi.

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We had one night in a hotel near the airport, before the Yasawa Flyer would take us from Denarau Marina South of Nadi to Nacula Island in the Yasawas. We managed to enjoy the pool, the restaurant, and the mosquitos (or did they enjoy us?) in that evening, before we went back to the room to get ready for an early start the next morning.

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The sail with the Yasawa Flyer lasted four and a half hours, but the sea was smooth, and the views of the islands we passed on the way there were beautiful. At one point Ronja and I were outside at the bow of the boat enjoying the view, when suddenly two dolphins jumped out of the water not far from the boat. What a treat!

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Finally, we reached our destination in Oarsman’s Bay Lodge, where we would be staying for the next 6 days.

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The staff picked us up from the Yasawa Flyer in a smaller boat and took us to the beach right in front of the small resort. We were greeted by the manager and everyone else with drinks and music. She sat down with us to explain how everything works, and then we were taken to our cabin, right at the beach front. A sort of twin cabin, with one side for the kids, and one for Mads and myself.

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We went straight onto Fiji time. A concept meaning, that time isn’t that important, you will get stuff done when you get around to it. We were three families in the resort, and a few passers by, but the pace was slow with very little action around. Meals were served to everyone at the same time, and Fiji time applied here as well.

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Mads soon found the Vertical Blue Dive Shop which by some stroke of luck was our immediate neighbour. I had been sceptic, but he convinced me that going diving after well over 10 years of not diving at all was a good idea. Soon we were signed up for a check-out dive the following morning.

We dug out masks and snorkels from our luggage and took the girls snorkling on the reef in front of our own house. The reef was beautiful and the water warm – great visibility and lots of colourful fish. Mads and I had a blast listening to the girls squealing with excitement through their snorkels each time they came across another colourful sea creature or shoal of fish.

That day, we snorkled a lot – we all had a bit of a sunburn on the back in the evening. Getting used to the slow pace wasn’t hard at all – and it was just what we needed, I believe.

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The following morning after breakfast, Mads and I headed over to the dive center to get ready for our dive. After being fitted with suits and equipment, we got on the boat and headed for the dive site. To my surprise, it was almost like riding a bicycle. Once we hit the water, I was quite comfortable and loved the feeling of diving again – I know the same goes for Mads.

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When we got back from our dive, we found the girls busy doing hermit crab race with the girls from the Czech family. Some of the men from the staff had helped the girls draw a racing track with chalk on the floor, and everyone was cheering. What a safe, secluded environment we found ourselves in.

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Thought-provoking and Optimistic Christchurch

In the morning, we finished up packing and left the camp site to go to the Wendekreisen office to return our motorhome. We had a warm welcome in the office and no problems with the return – only warm wishes for a wonderful stay in Christchurch and brochure and recommendations to go with it. Such a nice experience.

We took a taxi to Pavilions Hotel – we didn’t have early arrival, so we didn’t expect to get a room right away. However, when the receptionist got over his initial stress upon seeing us that early, he made a few phone calls, and 20 minutes later our room was ready – great service. The girls had their own room, which was a big hit, and we enjoyed the luxury of soft beds and a sofa for a few hours, before we left the hotel to take on Christchurch.

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First of all, we had heard that Christchurch had been badly damaged in the earthquakes in 2011, but you only really understand the extent of the damage, when you are walking around in the city. So many empty spaces, closed buildings with danger of collapse, and amputated historic buildings.

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It took us by surprise how much it actually affected us. It must have been a devastating loss to the people who live in Christchurch, and love their city.

However, the way Christchurch has responded is inspiring and impressive – everywhere you see initiatives to rebuild and reinvent, and you cannot avoid being touched by the development that’s going on.

We had lunch in a café which is part of the Re:START Container Mall – as the name indicates, a mall which is entirely made in shipping containers while waiting for a more lasting solution.

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We walked the streets of Christhurch for a while, with a stop to a brand new place called Margaret Mahy’s playground, referring to the NZ children’s book author. It’s a playground, partly designed by children, and it is awesome.

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What a great playground – we spent quite a while there. And the girls had an ice cream and Mads and I had a Gingerella – gotta love that bottle design.

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We wanted to catch a pram, but our timing was off, so we just walked some of the route in stead. Later in the afternoon we walked to the beautiful botanic gardens.

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Afterwards we decided to find a place to have dinner. I was hungry and tired, and it had started raining, so I was getting just a touch grumpy, but we ended up in a very nice Korean restaurant called Kimchi to round off a beautiful day before going back to the hotel to sleep in a real bed for the first time in more than a month.

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Lake Tekapo and the Road to our Final Destination

The stretch of road to Lake Tekapo was gorgeous, and seeing the lake turn up when we came out of a corner, I mean, it has the most unreal crystal blue colour, it’s mesmerizing.

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We had lunch in the small town by the lake, and parked the car by Tekapo Springs, before packing a backpack for a 3 hour walk – our last walk of that kind in New Zealand. The path followed the lake for a while, then it turned back up over the mountain where the observatory and its adjacent café was found. It was a steep walk up, but the entire walk had an amazing view of the lake with surroundings, and we could even see all the way to Mount Cook.

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Before we took the equally steep path down the other side, we rewarded ourselves with a milkshake/latte in the Astro Café. Apparently, Lonely Planet says it’s probably the best location for a café on the planet – with a view like this, I tend to agree.

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The camp site was right next to Tekapo Springs, so after the walk we checked in, hung out and rested our feet. There were rabbits and ducks (AND ducklings) running around the camp site which added to the entertainment for everyone while Mads and I had a cold beer.

In the evening we walked to the famous church by the lake – the Church of the Good Shepherd. After seeing pictures of it, I had thought it was in a much more secluded place, but it was right there on the lake side next to the village. Still a pretty place, though.

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The next morning we gave in to the girls’ wishes for swimming pools – they have been begging to go to every swimming pool we have seen throughout New Zealand, so we decided a good way to spend the morning before a three hour drive would be to go next door to Tekapo Springs. They had a nice choice of hot pools, cold pools, water slides etc. and though we did it mostly for the girls, Mads and I quite enjoyed a few hours there as well.

In the afternoon we drove all the way to Christchurch. We chose the Inland Scenic Route there as long as we could, and though it was a pretty stretch of road, it was still very obvious that we had left the beautiful rugged mountains behind.

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We had found a camp site close to the Wendekreisen office where we were returning Børge BumleBus the following morning. We had dinner in a restaurant, and returned to the camp site to start packing. Booohooooo….

Moeraki Boulders and Omarama Clay Cliffs

We had been on the move a lot, and the shorter distance to Omarama the following day was welcomed especially by the girls. On the way we wanted to see the Moeraki Boulders, but other than that, getting to the camp site early was a priority.

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We were at Moeraki around 11 a.m. and it was a surprise to me how strange the appearance of those rocks is. It was quite a cuirous sight. And then of course, we made it there at the same time as a bunch of tour buses with Chinese tourists. Buuuut what the heck, you can’t tell from the pictures, can you? Advice for you if you go, get there early.  😉

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The weather was nice and warm, and our most important plan after that was to break up the trip to Lake Tekapo and find a nice relaxing spot in a camp site.

We did just that – at Omarama we decided to stop driving for the day, and the girls clearly enjoyed a full afternoon of no plans. Mads and I went for a walk in the funny little western-style town while the girls had some sister-time in the camp site.

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Well relaxed, our destination the next day was Lake Tekapo. However, we wanted to see the clay cliffs just North of Omarama on the way. Actually, if we had had more time, I would have wanted to go to the village by Mount Cook as well and maybe walk some of the tracks up there. It is such a beautiful area. Now, instead we just made a turn down the gravel road that leads to the clay cliffs.

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I didn’t have any specific expectations for this area, as I hadn’t read much about it up front, but the clay cliffs were actually pretty cool. Also the area around there is gorgeous – definitely worth a stop.

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After a walk in the area, we went back to the car and moved on towards Lake Tekapo.