We had to stop off in Auckland on our way south to pick up some post, and we decided to drive to Mount Eden in the South part of Auckland as it was easy now we were mobile. Mt. Eden is an old volcano which has a 50 metre deep crater in the centre which is worth the short walk up as the views of Auckland city and the view were literally breathtaking in the wind.
Then on to Raglan which is New Zealand's perfect surfing town, the nearby ocean bays are famous for their breaks and it attracts surfers from all around the world. Not being a surfer I can’t comment on the breaks, I thought that meant a stop for a cup of tea! But the town itself is beautiful, very laid back and certainly one of the best looking towns I’ve been to. We didn’t have blazing sunshine but on a hot summers day I bet this place is full of hustle and bustle.
It was also here we decided to free camp because the campsite prices were really high as it was the only one. We wandered around the town looking for a spot but everywhere had no free camping signs up, I can only imagine it’s a problem with residents in the summer. Then on our way to buy a bag of chips for tea I saw a social club with a huge car park, so we decided to sleep in the car and save ourselves $40, we would eat our chips, pop in for a pint, watch a film then off to sleep. But as we were eating our chips cars started parking up all around us, it began to get really busy, and people everywhere...What’s going on? Why are they all here? We started to guess what is going on it the social club? Bingo, Rugby match, Quiz! Only one way to find our so we headed in for a drink, the place was packed there must have been 400 people in the place, I felt like everyone was staring at me. We waited at the bar to get served when Justin said " I think you need to take your hat off" my hair was a mess so I thought he was joking with me he said there was a sign on the door stating no headwear allowed, as I was laughing at his poor attempt of a joke the barmaid said “ Oh you will have to take your hat off its not allowed” to which I was trying to explain to her my hair was due a wash and was a bit greasy, like she would change the rules for that! The hat came off as it became clear why people were staring! The set up was really odd, we signed in as you would in a social club back home, then we had to get out chilled pint glass from a fridge with a coloured tag on it with the name of the beer we wanted. I asked the barman why this was and he explained that if there is a big group of people and someone goes to get the round in they just had over the pint glasses and the barman can easily refill also in the group you will know which pint is yours. Great method but there was only the two of us and we were both drinking the same thing so not too confusing for us! I asked the barman if it would be ok to leave the car in the car park overnight as we were going to have a few beers and she said yes its fine to do that, I just held back on the fact we would be in it! The reason the whole of the town was in this pub at 6.30 was for a weekly quiz and at the end of the quiz they drew a lucky number with a prize of $2300, so once that was drawn the place pretty much emptied. We played snooker and hung around a little longer for most of the people to leave, and then off we went to sleep. The seats in the car go right back so it turned out to be more comfortable than the roll mat in the tent.
The thing with this country is everyone is so nice and very laid back, nobody bothers you and there is a lot more respect for other people than in the UK. With a human population of 4.2 million and sheep population 40 million the balance seems to be right. Most of our journeys so far have been down the state highways and we have pretty much been the only car on the road and this is a real breath of fresh air.