Start of our New Zealand Adventure
Trip Start Apr 12, 2011
86Trip End Apr 01, 2012
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Where I stayed
Apart from rugby dominating our time in Auckland, we did manage to visit a nice residential area of Auckland called Ponsoby – where there seems to be more coffee shops than anything else. We also stumbled across the Auckland Art Museum, recently re-opened after a massive renovation, so we managed a couple of cultural activities as well
Monday morning we pick up our campervan, or as we find out, our bright green and purple, highly branded converted people carrier that made plenty people smile when we drove past – I like to think we brightened up their day. And so we start our road trip around the north island. First day is a drive up the coast where we make several stops at beautiful isolated beaches with turquoise water – very idyllic. We stop at Whangarei Falls for the night (pronounced Fangarei Falls – who knew it would be more difficult to pronounce place names here than South America). Our first campsite had a kitchen, tv lounge and hot tub which we took full advantage of – so looks like we won’t be slumming it too much in this style of camping. Plus the campervan (I named him Walter) turned out to be more spacious than expected with a small stove, sink and electric cool box.
Next day was a drive around the Tutukaka coast – again our day consisted of driving, stopping off a nice beaches and walks around the coast for more spectacular views. Despite the weather, the water always looks inviting due to its turquoise colour. Finally we stop off at Whangarei Falls beside the campsite, the falls are pretty but what is unusual is the volcanic rock formation around the falls which reminds Jonny of Giant’s Causeway back home
Our road trip takes us further north to the Bay of Islands. This is where we start to get a little more isolated – we have since been told that this is where celebrities have holiday homes and you can get work as the caretaker so we’re still looking out for any job opportunities. Again we pass many beach settlements and the beach houses are impressive – all built for a perfect view. Another thing we have begun to notice in New Zealand is that shoes seem optional – whether it’s kids walking to school or adults popping to the shops, there is a fair chance that they will be in bare feet. Not sure why but I suppose New Zealand has appeared quite clean so far....We stop at Russel which is a small, picturesque town at the Bay of Islands that has plenty of cafes and restaurants. We stop for an ice cream and a walk before taking Walter on the ferry across to Pahia. Pahia is a bit more touristy but is the starting point for most tours so decided to stay there next to Haruru Falls where we had a bit more basic campsite and as it started raining we spent most the time in the van. So we learnt our first lesson – at this time of the year always look for a campsite with indoor space. A good thing about New Zealand holding the world cup is that once you’re away from the cities where matches are held it really quietens down and everyone spreads out so we didn’t have to worry about booking our campsites or planning ahead
The next day would have been some sort of boat tour of the Bay of Islands which is meant to be picturesque but the weather didn’t play ball and so given the lack of visibility due to heavy rain we drove across the island to the west coast where it was still sunny. Here the site to see is large ancient trees of around 2,000 years old called Kauri trees. These were really impressive size in terms of their width, they weren’t tall but had a great presence in the forest. The rest of the day is spend dodging the rain and where we start our routine of coffee & a snack for Jonny (he has discovered his favourite coffee... a Long Black!) each day as he is doing most of the driving. I only tend to drive if there aren’t many other vehicles on the road, not so keen on the automatic and the fact it’s the biggest car I’ve driven. Now as it’s been raining all day we decide to see how far south we can get as the Irish game is in Wellington at the weekend. After driving for five hours and still not past half way we decide to abort and go to Taupo for a relaxing weekend – turns out New Zealand isn’t that small!