First Week in NZ: Full Report

I’ve been writing this offline in the evenings and now that I have some internet time (we’re parked outside the library in Hokitika) I’ll get a bunch of stuff online. I’ve just put up some photos from the museum in Auckland, here’s a little more about this first week.


Getting there:
It’s a long journey, made longer by the layover in LA. Air Canada was ok, we weren’t able to book seats ahead because we booked thru NZA. The best we could get was across the aisle from each other. not bad, not great. Paying Air Canada for food when it’s a 5 hour flight and there are no options? That sucks.

By comparison, NZ Air was great. Once past the lounge the fun starts with their safety video and goes on to the food, beverages (all included) and then you can add in the sky couch. It’s too small to really get comfy and cuddle so we’ll see how we do on the trip back (not going to think that far ahead though! writing this on sat 1/7). We did both manage to get some sleep and some cuddles in on the way…

The flight arrived in Auckland around 8am and we took our time organizing at the airport since it was so early. It felt like we were close to on the right bio clock time and so we sorted out stuff and found our way to to the hotel (after getting some “flat whites”; a standard coffee here). Our room wasn’t ready so we put the bikes together and went for a ride. it was a mixed bag weather-wise, with some rain, some cloud, some sun. After being out in that for about 3 hours we we well toasted… not burned, just more exposed that we had expected to be even though we knew to be careful about sun exposure.

Along the way we dropped in @ Lucky Rental to say hi to Brendan and Jenna. We got to see the place, see how they’re doing, and make some dinner plans for that night (Tues 1/3). Once we got back to the hotel and checked in we crashed hard around 4pm and had to work to wake up. Once we were it was a great evening and dinner with J & B topped off with them delivering a “plunger” (as a bodum coffee press is known here) with all the ingredients to make good coffee for our trip. Sweet As!

After a good deep sleep the next day was spent in Auckland with a bus trip in, a museum visit, and coffee shop / dinner hunting expedition. We eventually gave up and headed back to the hotel to dine and plan. It was a nice day, lots of exploring without being too much… perfect lead-up to the start of our “Camping NZ” experience.

Thurs (1/5) was our day to pick up the camper so we got there early (rode our bikes to make it simple) and enjoyed coffee with Tim Tams for the first time (for what has now become a part of our daily routine!). “Bite the 4 corners off, suck your coffee through it, then eat it before it melts”. Yum!

Brendan did some final tuning on the camper to make it as good as possible, including putting a new stereo and speakers in… nice touch. Jenna made sure there were a few extras in there too… olive oil, wine glasses, and more which were very much appreciated. Writing this now that we’re 3 days into our trip those little details are very helpful.

At Lucky Rentals with Brendan

Bike Parking in Auckland

On the road at last, and then the first real test: driving on the left side of the road! This is definitely a test of contesting reflexes and ingrained behaviour. We drove to Raglan with a few stops in Hamilton to get supplies, then a coastal road down to Kawhai where the hot sands are @ Ocean Beach. We didn’t make it to the beach, we did get to enjoy some great free camping as our first night. Bill @ Oparau Roadhouse had a great and generous perspective… definitely want to spread the word about his spot. It was a quiet night with lots of stars and a bright moon and no other company… a great start! Bill recommended a bunch of local things to do and we opted to do a few of the free ones on that list. Water falls, caves, natural bridges… and what I think was an attempted vandalism @ one spot. I’m glad they failed… our bikes, computer and much of my camera gear was in the camper at the time. We’ve since tried to find better ways to keep things secure.

Traveling the backroads is slow and worth it!

Another view of Bridal Veil Falls
Petrified oyster shells

We also stopped in to see kiwis at a bird “zoo”. I have no photos of them (not allowed), it was still very cool to experience. I hope we get to hear or see them in the wild somewhere. Then it was on to Rotorua. We struggled picking a camping spot thinking we wanted to stay in the same place for two nights. The one we tried was way too busy and the next one we got to was full. Ultimately we found a beach spot and set up there; not too many folks around and it looked promising to be a quiet night spent with  the black swans. A highlight was when an air cooled Vanagon pulled in… see photos. It originally imported from Scotland by the 2nd owner who had it for over 20 years. the couple who now have it (a german / kiwi combo) and his brother visiting from Germany were happy to chat about the bus. This is the first time we’ve seen that interior config: it sleeps 5… 3 up to and 2 on the z-bed. nice! Nothing like a Westfalia interior… which reminds me: the owner mentioned that VW & Westfalia didn’t make right hand driver camper production models, I’ll have to look into that. After 10 days here I’ve seen a number of Bay and Splitties but that remains the only Vanagon.


Flightless duck

Stay tuned for more… I have two entries almost ready to put online.

One Reply to “First Week in NZ: Full Report”

  1. Helpful and fun to have the narrative to go with all the terrific pictures. Thanks to both of you for keeping all of us up-to-date. I hope your security upgrade does the trick.

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