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North Island Campervan Adventure

inside a two berth fully contained modified ford wagon

After a few days in Auckland, we settled into our two-person campervan and took to the road with our duty-free Fijian vodka. Note: people drive on the left-hand side in New Zealand AND the driver sits on the right side and shifts with LEFT hand! After a week on the road we can now safely say that we are on the left hand side of the rode most of the time. And luckily, the kiwis have already realized how confusing this is to the foreigners and have constant road markers that say “stay to the left.” Which is a pretty polite way of saying “you are most likely driving on the WRONG side of the road right now.” The “Cow I Win” game quickly turned into “Sheep I Win” and only lasted a few minutes each day but was still a pretty exciting way to start the day.

Our first stop along our week-long adventure on the North Island was to the quaint town of Coramandel up on a northern peninsula. We took the scenic drive along the coast and arrived in time to catch the world cup rugby semi-finals match in the local pub. The next morning we headed over for low tide at hot water beach. At this beach, you can dig a hole and create your own hot tub, or you can make friends with the locals and share/ take over someone else’s hot water bath (without a shovel, that is what we did). The water temperature was no joke and if you didn’t watch your step you were risking a serious burn!

You may have heard of Tauranga, because it is one of the towns along the Bay of Plenty, where a large oil ship called the Rena hit a reef and is causing a HUGE environmental impact. We ran to the top of a mountain in this city called Mount Maunganui and could see the ship far off in the distance. The locals we chatted with were in good spirits but still quite pissed at the whole situation and hope the ordeal makes its way into NZ election talk. Along the beach, we were surrounded by army and navy personnel in white suits and boots collecting the oil deposits on the beach, and they told us that it was really hard work getting the beach reopened and they were just hoping the tides wouldn’t shift and re-soil the beaches they just cleaned.

We found out we were in the kiwi fruit capital of New Zealand when we saw a giant kiwi fruit on the side of the road. We stopped at the gift shop and sampled some wine, liquors, juice, and chocolates all made from kiwis. It was fitting that we had made kiwi pancakes for breakfast that morning.
Animated Kiwi Test

Animated Kiwi Test

We headed south to Rotorua, which has the most geothermal hot spots (literally) of the entire country. Rotorua smells JUST LIKE a wastewater treatment plant (lots of sulfur)!! You can fart at anytime because the air smells like farts already. Much of the city is geared towards tourist attractions, but we found some beautiful walks and geothermal sites in the Government Gardens and Kiwainis Park.

We ventured into Tongaririo and Whanganui National Parks to check out some the amazing beauty everyone raves about in NZ. This was when we started seeing the legendary film sites in movies like Kong and Lord of the Rings. We hiked between “Mount Doom” and “Mordor” in hopes to stumble across some 10 sided dice, but found a waterfall in some fog instead. The scenic drive along Whanganui River was similar to the Yungas road that we biked down in Bolivia, it could easily be “the most dangerous road in New Zealand” because it is narrow, along a cliff, unpaved, and has frequent logging trucks along it. We survived and had a great time, despite an absolute downpour along half of the drive.

All in all we loved our little van and had an awesome time, but unfortunately the way of the wayfaring free camping in NZ is almost over. City limits are off limits for even self-contained (with toilet) vehicles, and info sites are discourage camper vanning with the recent restrictive laws being passed. We are now in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, and home of one of Kevin’s friends, where we plan to rest, do some laundry, and have a real shower for the next few days prior to our stint on a sheep farm.

Posted by Robin-and-Kevin 21:21 Archived in New Zealand Tagged new zealand campervan

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Happy trails!

by megandibiase

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