Auckland to Wellington in the motorhome
Feb 17, 2014
When we left you it was Monday 10th February and we were about to head out to pick up our motorhome from the rental company close to Auckland airport.
Once again we have been very lucky and as the motorhome we had hired was in for a repair they upgraded us to a larger four berth deluxe model. We don't know how long we will get the use of the upgrade as they promised they will find us and swap over the motorhomes as soon as the repair has been completed.
For the first day we kept things very simple and Nigel drove the larger than expected motorhome to the nearest supermarket and we stocked up. Once we had packed away our provisions we headed to our first site which was only just over a hour away in Miranda which is on the Coromandel peninsular.
Little did we know the GPS had been set for German customers and we had a woman's Germanic voice barking instructions at us until we managed to find the right buttons to turn her to English
When we arrived at the coast we got a beautiful view of the bay before booking into the site and had fun exploring the features of the motorhome.
We had a nightmare with Mosquitos buzzing around us during the first night and both of us received several bites but even with that disturbance it was much quieter than Auckland.
The next day we had a leisurely breakfast and left the site before the 10am end line. We headed to a small town called Thames to buy some mosquito spray and anything else that would kill them. Thames was a old gold mining town that had now turned into a coffee making town with numerous cafe's in the long high street and we stopped for a cup. Suitably refreshed we headed along the coastal road that we both felt was even more spectacular than the Great Ocean Road in Australia. This could have been due to the views being outstanding from our elevated position in the van, the roads being narrower, the bends sharper and it being much harder to drive in this large motorhome.
Sometimes it's just the simple things that make a trip special. The highlight of today was stopping in a coastal bay and making some lunch as we watched oyster catchers and cormorants on the rocky beach.
We continued driving for another couple of hours and came to our second campsite which was at Cooks beach. As the name suggests this was where Captain Cook first landed during his first expedition to New Zealand and was a quiet semicircular sandy bay with no statues or memorials.
We took advantage of the sites enormous widescreen TV and then retired to the van as it was getting dark. We had planned to do battle with all flying things before we went to sleep but only had to dispatch a fly and a single mosquito. We both had the best nights sleep since arriving in New Zealand.
On Wednesday we headed to Tauranga where in the afternoon we climbed a small volcanic mountain that was situated on the coast at the back of our campsite.
We planned to spend two nights in this coastal town and the following morning had an early start to go swimming with Dolphins but unfortunately the Dolphins didn't get the memo and after a morning of cruising around the Bay of Plenty we had to give up.
The skipper of the boat was most apologetic and gave us a free trip if we return later on. The last time they had struck out was 6th January and he thought it was highly likely they had been scared off by Orca (Killer whales).
On Friday we set off again continuing in our southerly direction and drove for a couple of hours to the volcanic area of Rotorua.
We parked the motorhome in the centre of town and immediately got the sulphurous smell of rotten eggs that hangs over the town. We walked though a park that had bubbling mud pools, had a look around a modern day Maori lakeside village that had some amazing carvings and numerous vents around the village with steam coming out of them. One part of the road had lifted and steam was coming from underneath, this was obviously quite normal as no-one was concerned
Rotorua is where, as a special valentines treat, Nigel took Helen to watch a rugby match.(how romantic?) We had promised ourselves that we would watch a rugby match while we were in New Zealand and with a little searching on the Internet we found one.
The local super twelve team were "The Chiefs" and they were playing "The Blues" in a preseason match. Rather than have cheerleaders they had a group performing a pre match Haka. (Photo)
It was good to see a live match of quality rugby and to see how the Kiwi's play their national game. As neutrals we noticed that we were surrounded by Chiefs fans and decided it was best to support them. It was just as well as they won.
The following morning we set off early and drove a short distance to get to one of the hydrothermal valleys that Rotorua is famous for. The Waimangu volcanic valley was really spectacular. We were the first through the door and had the valley to ourselves for most of the morning. The area has been the sight of several major eruptions, the most recent in February 1973. There were lots of bubbling pools and steaming vents. We also had a boat trip around a lake that was a volcanic crater and still had steam coming out of the rim. A great day! (Photos and video)
As we were walking through the valley we got the phone call we knew was coming to swap motorhomes which we arranged for Sunday morning.
On Sunday morning we got up early and finished the last of the packing ready for the changeover. The replacement van arrived early and after a quick inspection the keys were exchanged and we carried on driving south towards our next adventure in a smaller more practical motorhome.
We stopped for a short walk around a historic earthwork fortification with some amazing carvings. (Photo)
We ended the day with our first Freedom camp (free & wild ) on the coast close to Napier at Cape Kidnappers. The reason this coastline gets such an unusual name goes back to Captain Cook and the local Maori trying to take one of his crew.
On Monday morning and we waited for the high tide to start retreating and then headed to the beach and had a long to walk to the headland where the largest colony of Australasian Gannets nest in the world. We had to wade around the last bit of beach as the tide hadn't quite gone out far enough. When we arrived we had the main colony of about 5,000 birds all to ourselves for about 15 minutes which was very special (Photo and video). When we got back to the motorhome we drove an hour to shorten our journey the next day.
Tuesday was a day of traveling as we had to get to Wellington in preparation for our ferry journey to the south island. This journey was broken up by a visit to the rugby museum at Palmerston North where among other things we saw the rugby whistle that is used to start every World Cup tournament (please don't fall asleep).
We are sending this from windy Wellington on Tuesday 18th February in the afternoon and will be traveling to South Island early tomorrow.
We're both fine, well and we're still speaking to each other even as we enter our fifth month of traveling together.