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Double the Retro

Two caravans in St Arnaud, Marlborough Sounds & Rarangi

What do you get when you have two young families and two old retro caravans in the South Island? Two weeks of FUN!!

You may have read one of our earlier posts that mentioned some friends who took 5 months off (with two under 3!) and travelled. We had planned to meet up in our last two weeks to spend some time travelling together. 

We met up in St Arnaud, close to where we started our trip. This was a great spot for the boys to go hunting/ cycling/ running in the mountains and safe for the little kids and Ridge the dog to play. We spent a couple days here, settling in and figuring out some life hacks to make two caravans work best!

Marlborough Sounds

After a couple days at St Arnaud, we packed up, and wove our way along the skinny winding roads to take us to Marlborough Sounds - Kerepuru Sounds to be exact. This turned out to be a little trickier than expected, with two long caravans and a dog....

Not many camp sites allow a dog in some places and to top it off: the DOC sites for camping in the Sounds are TINY! In a lot, there is room for 2-4 cars in some places, not even worth thinking about parking a caravan! Thankfully we were lucky enough to pull into our nominated spot to find that the biggest space was available - we could park the caravans parallel and tuck the utes under some trees. The DOC rangers on site were great to talk to, easy going and gave us some tips for exploring the area - there isn't much to do except relax; hike along the Queen Charlotte Track or go for a drive and find some nice little bays. Check out the turquoise water photo above... stunning views!

We had access to a little beach, safe enough to let the toddlers run loose finding pincher crabs and mussels for dinner. There was a threatening weather forecast of a hurricane/extreme wind and rain to come hit us at any given day, but miraculously we escaped most of it. A few overcast but fine days led to one rainy day which made us all get cabin fever, so a quick pack up and we were outta there!

Relaxing in Rarangi

After a rainy day stopover at a racecourse in Blenheim (with a laundry for the mountain of wet muddy clothes!) we carried on over to Rarangi Beach, just 10-15 mins out of Blenheim.

This has got to be one of our top spots, especially for a DOC campsite! Coming back in late Feb, we noticed a huge change in the landscape - dry, sun burnt brown paddocks and hills, a significant drop in tourist numbers and generally a quieter overtone and pace to the whole area. Bliss!

With so few people coming to camp at the huge campground, we were allowed to park the caravans at the far end and block off a large area, making it safe for the kids and Ridge. By now, we were living in such good community with each other, we'd settled into a routine! Breakfast time was cruisey, with one of the kids usually popping into our caravan for a snuggle on the couch or a little chat. We'd make a loose plan of ideas to do for the day, then meander on off. It might be a beach walk along the pebble stone beach just metres from the caravans, or to build sandcastles with the kids, or go for a walk up to the lookout and glow worm cave, or jump in the utes and explore the next bay over for the day. 

Our afternoon/evenings usually involved the boys going for a mountain run or bike, and the girls planning a big shared dinner. Boy- did we eat good or what! We'd take turns cooking and each night was a feast of delicious food to share. After dinner, the kids got tucked into their caravan with a bedtime story begged out of me; then all the adults bundled into our caravan for hot drinks, snacks and fantastic conversations. We always seemed to chat until almost midnight - a time which none of us can really make it to anymore, and it always seemed a shame to end the conversations.

Good things come to an end

(Above photo) Looking out to the snow capped hills and vineyards from the sunny mountain that took us over to Whites Bay. 

Two weeks went by fast. Before we knew it, we were packed up in the dark of the early morning and leaving at 6.30am to catch a ferry back to the North Island. For us, it had been 75 days of touring the South, and it came with mixed feelings. A feeling that it was time to go back, yet still wanting to stay in some of the best areas of the South! 

We boarded the ferry, with full hearts and blessed friends, ready to head 'home'.