We decided to fly into Christchurch on the South Island. The plan was to find a used campervan to buy and start touring as soon as possible. We had a month for the South Island and a month for the North Island, plus a few extra days to buy and then sell the campervan.
Arriving in Christchurch was a bit of a shock to us. We knew about the earthquake(s) of 2011 but, until we arrived, we had no idea how devastating the damage was. It feels like a ghost town. Despite the destruction in certain parts of town, other parts were bustling with innovative efforts to rebuild. The use of corrugated steel and shipping containers to patch, repair, and protect was truly inspiring. Our favorite was the re:start mall. Shops, cafes and a performance stage in the midst of ruins, built with stacked shipping containers. In this small section of the city you could almost forget about the natural disaster that had displaced so much of the city’s population. We weren’t too sure at first, but after exploring the city a bit we ended up feeling optimistic for it’s future.
Our priority while we were in Christchurch was to purchase a van to live out of for the next 2.5 months. We had read a lot about backpackers buying vans to tour in and reselling them at the end of their trip. After researching rental options, we quickly realized that, financially, it was out of the question. After seeing a couple of vans, we found one that came with a fold up bed, and most of the camping equipment we would need. It had a lot of kilometers on the engine, as they all do, but the timing belt had just recently been replaced so we decided it was our best option. We stocked up on a few small things and hit the road after about a week.