Justine Tyerman

International Travel

Heading for Paradise

Heading for Paradise

Justine and Chris Tyerman set off on a road trip to Central Otago... with no idea where they will end up each day. 

‘Fancy a South Island motorhome road trip this winter... since we can’t travel overseas?’ I asked my husband while he was enjoying a beer by the fire one chilly evening in May.

Knowing his hyperactive tendencies, I quickly added biking, hiking and skiing to the mix.

On a calm day, the mountains are perfectly reflected in the mirror waters of the lagoon at Glenorchy. ©Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat

There was a flicker of interest, especially when I flashed a photo of a luxurious late- model Maui Cascade motorhome in front of him, hinted at the possibility of trialling a couple of brand new Wisper Wayfarer ebikes and reminded him that now we were both ‘seniors’, skiing had just got a lot cheaper.

‘What about the weather?’ Chris asked. ‘We’ll freeze to death in a motorhome down south in the winter.’

‘Nope. The Cascade has a super-efficient heating system... but we’ll take hot water bottles... just in case.’

Fast forward to late August — we duly arrived at Queenstown Airport, collected our smart four-berth motorhome from the nearby Maui depot and set about finding storage for our all bulky ski gear, ebikes, suitcases and enough provisions to last a month. My husband has a fear of running out of food.

‘If only you could learn to travel lightly,’ came the predictable comment from Chris, to which I replied, predictably, ‘If only you could learn to buy just what we need.’

Our four-berth Maui Cascade motorhome at the head of Lake Wakatipu. Picture by Justine Tyerman

Investigating the motorhome, we discovered to our surprise and delight that the skis, boots and poles fitted perfectly in the spacious under-floor compartment, the clothes in the wardrobe and drawers, the empty cases in the over-cab storage, the food in the fridge and kitchen cupboards, one ebike on the rear rack, (sans battery because of weight restrictions), and one inside, wrapped in an old duvet with gloves on the peddles and handlebars.

Mission accomplished, we were away laughing... literally. We had no idea where would end up that day. We had been advised to plug into a mains-powered site on our first night in order to fully charge the batteries but thereafter, being fully self-contained, we could freedom camp for up to three days using battery and gas power.

After stopping briefly to cushion the cutlery, crockery and pots and pans with tea towels to stop the clattering, the big rig trundled along smoothly and quietly. Chris found the driving effortless with great vision from such an elevated position.

The heady sense of freedom took a while to sink in. We had to reprogramme ourselves to the fact we had no fixed itinerary, no bookings or check-in/check-out times and no commitments. The sole focus of every day was to meander along at a leisurely pace driving no more than a few hours, and find stunning spots to stop for lunch, dinner, hiking, ebiking and overnighting.

Justine on her Wisper Wayfarer ebike. Picture by Chris Tyerman

At the Frankton intersection, we had the choice of left to Glenorchy or right to Arrowtown. Chris pointed left, I nodded, and we set off for the idyllic little settlement at the head of Lake Wakatipu, just 50 minutes from Queenstown on one the world’s most scenic lakeside drives. In the pre-Covid era, finding parking space to pull over at the popular observation point at Bennett’s Bluff to photograph the breath-taking view of the lake and mountains would have been well-nigh impossible but we had the road to ourselves that day. We’ve driven that route dozens of times but we’re always spellbound by the vast expanse of the teal-blue lake enclosed on all sides by jagged peaks and gleaming glaciers.

We reached Glenorchy by mid-afternoon, leapt on our Wisper Wayfarers and explored the Heritage Trail, an excellent track and boardwalk that begins at the famous Glenorchy boatshed on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and weaves its way through wetlands and lagoons inhabited by native birds, across paddocks and the local golf course. On a calm day, the mountains are perfectly reflected in the mirror waters of the lagoon. The views of Mt Earnslaw/Pikirakatahi and the surrounding ranges are spectacular.

No wonder they call this place Paradise... but ironically, it’s not named for the heavenly scenery. To be continued...

Justine Tyerman travelled courtesy of thl in a Maui 4-berth Cascade motorhome, and rode a Wisper Wayfarer ebike courtesy of Electric Bikes NZ.