Golden Bay will be well known to many who have chosen a campervan rental road trip in NZ, but over the last week the Bay has had less positive associations, with a massive spate of whale strandings seeing hundreds of whales coming ashore in Golden Bay around Farewell Spit and Taupata Point. It’s not all bad news though: in a counterpoint to this gloomy story, one campervanning family seized the chance to make a positive difference amidst the tragedy.
TVNZ reports that a father and his two children were driving through the Golden Bay area when they caught sight of a few whales stranded on the beach. After realising that the whales were still alive, by the movement of their tails, the family rushed down to the beach and pushed the whales back out to sea before getting in touch with the Department of Conservation.
When DoC arrived on the scene, the whales were already safely out to sea. Gregg Napp, a DoC ranger said that the family “basically single-handedly saved five whales” and showed an impressive spirit by pulling over to help the distressed marine animals. “It shows a pretty determined attitude to get out there and get stuck in, which is awesome. It’s not just luck, it requires a bit of can do,” said Mr Napp.
This is not the first time that New Zealand campervan travellers have taken on the role of heroic rescuers in recent months. In January, Michael Williams was heading toward Auckland in a campervan when he stopped helped to pull a 28 year old man from a burning vehicle after it collided with a tree. Ripping out the steering wheel, Williams along with other members of the public and an off duty police officer carried the injured driver away from the blaze and performed first-aid while waiting for emergency services to arrive.
While not every campervan holiday will cast travellers in an unexpectedly heroic role, the whale rescue is a prime example of the type unexpected memorable moments that can crop up while journeying in a motorhome. The seamless combination of transportation and accommodation allows for an extremely flexible style of travelling.
Destination also has a big part to play: New Zealand’s South Island is a prime candidate for wildlife spotting opportunities, marine and otherwise, and is packed full of hidden gems just waiting for those willing to take the time to discover them. Also, in spite of the region’s recent tragic strandings, Golden Bay is among one of the South Island’s most beautiful places and should feature prominently on any great New Zealand itinerary.
If you’ve never visited the South Island before and would like a few pointers, tips and tricks to kickstart your holiday plans, these New Zealand itineraries are packed full of destinations, attractions, routes and secrets. This Queenstown to Nelson itinerary in particular will guide you through some of the country’s most breathtaking scenery including the Golden Bay area, just a couple hours from Nelson.
Booking early is highly advised as this country is a hugely popular tourist destination and motorhome rentals in New Zealand are in high demand especially during the peak summer months. While hopefully you won’t have to rescue distressed sea creatures, there’s no question that any campervan road trip through New Zealand’s South Island will furnish you with experiences and memories that will stick with you long after you hand in the keys to your trusty rental.