North Island - Napier and beyond

Trip Start Jan 01, 2008
Trip End Dec 29, 2008

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Sunday, July 6, 2008

As we had come to the end of our time on the South Island, the weather had continued to deteriorate and, unfortunately, did not improve on the ferry crossing a large part of which was in thick fog. This crossing is described in the guide books as one of the great ferry journeys of the world and the scenery is apparently spectacular, sadly, we couldn't see a thing.

Arriving in the capital Wellington, we drove out of the city to Palmerston where we stayed overnight and travelled back into the city by train the next day to have a look around and to visit Te Papa the main museum in the country (not terribly impressed!). Wellington is a big city by NZ standards and judging by the number of boats in the harbour, is also a major yachting centre. Our main impression of our first few days in the North island is that it is much busier and more crowded than the south (relatively speaking).

Unlike the South Island, there doesn't appear to be a "natural " route to cover the sights of the island so after getting yet another leak in the van fixed, we head off in yet more rain in the vague direction of Napier on the West side, but starting along the eastern road.

The rain is getting heavier so we decide to stop overnight at a DOC campsite at Otaki Forks as we cross country. Having wised up to the fact that some of these sites are very muddy and that it is easy to get stuck in the mud, Carolyn "volunteers" to walk down to the site (in the pouring rain) to check it out. During the night the rain turns to hail which, believe me, is VERY noisy in a campervan! In the morning the site is very muddy but fortunately we get out ok and continue our journey northwards along the thermal highway to Napier and Havelock North.

This area had a few good (albeit very windy) walks with some great views over Hawkes Bay.   Nearby a town called CLIVE caught our attention.   

Napier was destroyed by an earthquake in the 1930s. The upside of this is that it was rebuilt in the Art Deco style and some stunning architecture remains today. We stick around the area for a few days and visit (after a lot of searching) a farmers and produce market. The range and quality of produce is fantastic (and by comparison with the UK, so cheap).

Having stocked up with goodies we continue our journey onwards to Taupo.
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