After months of planning we set off on the 14th December 2013 for a four week campervan tour of New Zealand starting and ending back in Auckland on the 9th January 2014. This is the journal of a fantastic journey to an amazing land…leaving the snow of Munich behind we took an 11 hour Lufthansa flight into Hong Kong, a four hour stop-over then we took off again for a shorter 10 hour flight to Auckland. Landing in New Zealand with a temputure of 29 degrees, a swing of 32 degrees warmer than Munich ! Despite feeling a bit rough afterwards because of the lack of sleep and airplane food, we are suddenly feeling good.
Gone to the Beach
First pick up the Britz camper van after a long wait, time moves slowly in NZ, our European attitudes need to be kicked into touch here. A short first trip to the shopping market for supplies, while I get used to driving this van, the length 7.20m means a rethinks of my cornering. At 5.30pm we set off driving to Waihi Beach, roughly a 1.45 hr drive or 150km, over the twisting Karangahake Gorge hills, it takes much less time than we thought, arriving in Waihi just after 7.
First impressions of NZ, small clapboard houses,totally foreign trees, everything seems small scale. There are strange hopping birds pecking at the roads, they don’t seem to be bothered by oncoming cars. Set up camp for the evening on a small car parking space with a free view towards the beach and the rolling surf. Only two other camper neighbours. A small snack and a glass of white wine viewing the red sunset behind the hills and across the bay to Mayor Island (or as we rename it Boris Island) …we fell asleep to the sound of the waves….14.12.2013
The Breakfast View over the Bay Of Plenty
Morning walk along Waihi beach, its warm already with the first surfers going out, we paddle bare feet in the surf. It’s a Misty view along the Bay of Plenty, take our time with breakfast overlooking the Bay. Setting off for Rotora today by driving around Tauranga Harbour, through Tauranga itself and over the bridge to the harbour which has heavy industry shipping, past Mt Maunganui, a singular conical mountain overlooking the bay. We turn inland towards Te Puke, stopping at a coffee shop for a while, a long logging train goes past directly behind the cafe, which makes the whole building shake. Te Puke is the capital of Kiwi fruit production ! Didn’t know that. Seems the whole area is a mono cultured tree plantation to Rotorua, obviously a large timber logging area.
Around Lake, wrong turning through Rotorua, readjusted to find Cosy Cottage HP, reception lady ” no wonder your feeling out of sorts, your upside down !” Hot steam coming out of the ground and from the pavement. A short walk to the beach, mud pools to dig, climb in and wallow on the shore of Lake Rotorua. Walked into Rotorua, Lake front with strange market going on, then to Eat Street for an Italian lunchtime meal and a couple of beers and cider. Stopped for an Ice. Single double ice cream ? Headed back for a snooze. Tried out the thermal spring bath, relaxed enough to zonk out back in the Van for a couple of hours. Rumbles of thunder woke us later, with a drop in temperature. 15.12.2015
The pukati, swamp hens like coots on long stilts are still running around the camp site, our early morning dawn chorus. A quick dip in the steam pools again then we set off for Te Pula the traditional maori village on the edge of Rotorua. We take a guided tour and are welcomed/challenged by the maori warriors in front of the village tribal hall. After performing several dance and songs guess who gets volunteered to get up on stage to perform the Hakka dance ! yep you got it. Taken around the steam geysers and mud pools at the base of the village, we visit the weaving and carving rooms to see how the traditional methods are taught.
Super Dry, Learning some new moves
Leaving Rotorua we drive on further to Wai-O-Tapu an area of sulphur lakes, devil mud holes and the champagne lake with green and orange steam and smoke. The devils bath is a sickly yellow pool. All very sulfuric and smelly, a hot day…
Arrived in Taupo about 4pm finding a scenic view point overlooking the lake, set out the stall but became unsettled about the number of cars coming down for the view, rechecked and noticed the 5Mile site next to the lake, quick relocation later and in for a swim. BBQ lakeside, to the sound of the waves, Mount Doom on the skyline. Windy night but stunning morning view south to the mountains. The number of freedom campers has risen to four overnight. 15.12.2015