First night in New Zealand
Trip Start Nov 01, 2009
123Trip End Nov 30, 2010
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Where I stayed
Hamilton Holiday Camp Park
DAY 1 - We had heard Australia had pretty strict customs but we didn’t expect NZ to be the same. The customs official got very excited about my tent, which he thought might be carrying some foreign bug into NZ. As a result all our luggage had to passed through the X-ray machine although it was clear that his focus was very much on the tent and we could have smuggled anything else through in the rest of our luggage. After the X-ray machine, the tent was then sent off to the lab for further testing, while Gem and I sat in arrivals having a cup of tea at McDonalds, hoping that everything was going to be ok…we had become quite attached to our $20 Wal Mart tent!
As we waited we watched the various goings-on of an airport - a whole group of South Koreans arrived all wearing identical anoraks, which was a clear indication of what the weather had in store for us outside. A mom and her 2 boys waiting excitedly for their dad to come through - when he did make it into arrivals all three of them wanted to hold a part of him as they walked off. Eventually, our tent was released, all was ok, despite customs losing all the tent pegs for a while. The search for the pegs resulted in me having to repack my tent in the middle of arrivals, which I did feeling a little stupid.
It was then time to finally leave the airport. We got a shuttle bus though the pouring rain to an industrial estate, where the Wicked campervan depot was located. It was cold and very wet, a far cry from LA.
All Wicked campervans have their own graffiti design sprayed on them and we were keen to find out what design ours would have. It was a little disappointing, with various animals, which we couldn’t really work out what they were meant to be, on the sides and a slogan on the back which read “I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people I don’t like”. As this was going to be our home for the next 20 days and we accepted the design and began the journey of getting to know our van. The van came with a few pots and pans but we were told we could help ourselves to anything from the pile of stuff left by other campers. We took various utensils along with two duvets and two pillows, cutlery and an A-Z map of NZ. We then left to fill up the petrol tank, which was where we discovered the petrol cap was missing - not a great surprise as the van wasn’t in the best condition. We went back to the depot where we got a replacement cap and an umbrella as way of an apology. We then headed on our way to buy supplies for our new life in campervan, which included a duvet cover and pillow cases, gas canisters for our stove and a charger which plugged into the cigarette lighter so that we could charge camera/phone/laptop batteries in preparation for the fact that we had a non-power van. Although we had got off to an expensive start, we were determined to make a real effort to stick our budget in NZ after spending far too much in the US.
Not having any real idea of where we wanted to go, we drove South to a place called Hamilton. The motorways were tiny, mainly one lane on either side, and we were once again driving on the left hand side of the road. It was so much easier driving here than in the US. Our first impressions of NZ were just how much it reminded us of home. We drove to Hamilton all the way in the pouring rain and also through the end of a rainbow…but we didn’t find a pot of gold!
Our campsite, although wet, had a kitchen area and hot showers. The whole place was full of campers hopping from campervan to shelter, occasionally treading in a puddle or in mud. After dinner, we had tea in our new cozy campervan and settled down for the night.