After the most amazing day of our lives, we embarked on some more traveling but this time, to the other side of the world. New Zealand, Fiji, Australia, and Borneo.
We’d never been to NZ before so had no idea what to expect and to be honest, we’ve never felt jet lag like that before! We flew into Auckland and experienced the changeable seasons of winter weather in the north island; cold nights, warm and rainy days.
Auckland: We spent a few days in Auckland, we wandered around the city trying out interesting places to eat (recommend Raw Power Cafe and Green Time for any Vegans out there!) and things to see. We enjoyed the art gallery – which was a surprise – art is not our forte, but the art gallery tour was really interesting and insightful and only cost $10 pp!
After a couple of days getting over jet lag, we headed to CheapaCampera to collect our camper. After a ridiculously long wait, we collected a beast of a van with broken heating, mouldy food inside and damp seats; not a fantastic start. Despite the late start, we were on a schedule (just) and headed off to the Coromandel penninsular…in the dark… in a massive van… driving in a foreign country. We eventually made it but a majority of the journey was in the dark and we arrived tired and hungry. We intended to do some freedom camping but all the spots were taken, so opted for a campsite. It was a nice campsite – a no frills type deal – and just what we needed (we’ll ignore the fact the security guard had to drive our campervan out of a massive muddy puddle at 5:30 am!).
The Coromandel Peninsular: A very pretty area with a sleepy town vibe. We did a lot of walking and exploring. There is a hot water beach, which is pretty cool. It’s easy to tell when you’re there as even in the middle of winter, there were already several groups of people who had dug holes to enjoy the warm water. Parking is very tight and you need a spade (which you can rent) to dig your hole! There are also a few nice hikes in that area, we decided to walk to Cathedral Cove via Stingray Bay which took around an hour.
Rotorua: The main thing to see in Rotorua is Te Puia – the geysers. With the cost of your ticket, you are entitled to a free tour which is worthwhile. We were lucky to have an extremely knowledgeable guide and learned a lot about the geysers and also the Maori culture. The Geothermal Wonderland is an interesting place to visit too. It hosts a variety of different geothermal pools in a multitude of different colours. We also explored the Buried Village; the site contains a small museum with detailed information about the volcanic eruption in 1886, remains of buildings which had been damaged and a hike to a wonderful little waterfall. We were finally able to do some freedom camping and stayed by Lake Rotorua with quite a few other campers.
Taupo: We stayed by Lake Taupo on a freedom camping spot; there weren’t many available and we took the last one! We decided to be more active and booked on a tour to kayak on Lake Taupo to see the Maori carvings. It was a really fun experience and became more interesting when the wind turned and the sea became rough by the carvings. Que several wet and tired kayak-ers arriving back on shore several hours later! After this adventure and feeling a bit soggy …coupled with several cold nights on the road we looked up the nearest thermal spa to warm up! The description in the Lonely Planet read: … you will feel warm for hours after. This is true. And was extremely welcome!
Waitomo: The Waitomo Glow Worm Caves were amazing. Unfortunately, you can’t take photos inside the caves but it is well worth visiting! For our last night we treated ourselves to a serviced campsite; heating and charging devices galore!
The campervan experience: Amazing. I loved the freedom which campervanning brings but I would avoid cheapacampa like the plague and spend a little more with a decent company. I really enjoyed being able to pull up on the side of a road to make lunch, eat in the most beautiful places and find lovely little places to stay.