NZ | Wanganui – Ashhurst – Masterton | 18th Dec '14 - 24th Dec '14 | 21140km

For the first time in ages we were in a car, a borrowed automatic BMW, with a sizeable Labrador Rottweiler cross (also borrowed), trying to clamber through the front seats. It was the morning after one of our longest days yet (135km); we’d been offered a place to stay by a sport mad kiwi family. In another example of NZ hospitality, we were told we couldn’t leave until we’d seen the local sights, the highlight of which was an enchanting glow worm cave. Best viewed in the dead of night, by scrambling up a stream and impossible to do justice by photograph.

Another day southbound and we arrived at Val’s. When Flora and her family lived in in the Wiararapa valley, in 1994, Val drove the school bus. As well being NZ’s sole international Table Tennis referee (DO NOT refer to it as ping pong), she is also a formidable baker. This boded well as we were both carrying a hunger that had been building from all the exercise and eating on a budget. We did do some work in exchange for baked goods, but not nearly enough. In no rush to leave, we decided to hang around and take in a few sights. Val took us to the south coast to see the Putangirua Pinnacles, hundreds of eroded earth pillars in a tight valley, a seal colony and our first Kiwi. We also met a sheep shearer (who knew where Penrith was!) - watching him crutch a lamb in seconds was rather eye watering.

In town we experienced the worst of the last minute Christmas shopping. Apparently, it was unbearably busy, but we thought it was pretty chilled. While both are fairly close in size, New Zealand has population of 4.5million, compared to 65million in the UK. So we guess it’s all relative.