I just love the Camping Van life!! Rob is slightly less enthusiastic about it but he is definitely coming round to my way of thinking!!
We picked the van up in Auckland after 3 great days staying in a beautiful contemporary apartment (for next to nothing) and exploring the city and Waiheke Island - Thanks Josie, for the tip off!
We loved the island - beautiful beaches - and we happened on a nudist beach! We didnt realise untill we got there and looked up from our rock pool explorations! I suggested to Rob that we should swim, as the fact we did not have our cossies with us didnt matter in the least! but he was not as keen as me so we didnt!!An opportunity lost - but probably a big relief to the other bathers!
Our first stop with the van, was just a couple of hours north of Aukland at Waiki Beach. We wanted to stop and unpack all our things into all the little cubby holes and cupboards available! Everything is stored away carefully - even the drawer handles store inwards and there is a place for everything.
We have a fridge with freezer compartment for the
ice! a microwave, a cooker, a sink, a cupboard with shower, toilet and washhand basin, a tv which plays DVD's and a opwer cord which plugs in in campsites!! also Wifi which I bought extra so that I can keep in touch and use Skype with Simon!!
I met a very nice Irish man in the kitchen of the campsite, when I was doing the dishes- a college lecturer who had also just retired a few months ago, and had spent his time travelling with his wife! He told us about the Coromandel peninsula and said we should visit it, so we did- we made it our next stop.
It was spectacular, with beautiful scenery reminiscent of Scotland on a hot summers day!and with magnificent beaches
Here we are back to the Pacific Ocean which is a magnet for surfers - the surf rolls in from miles away -Rob likes to swim - no jelly fish here but the currents and rip tides are very strong so I still prefer to paddle and walk along the edge of the sea bare foot - you can do that for miles and I sometimes do. I have found enough lovely swimming
pools to swim in too, whether they are campsite pools or lagoons!
So swimming and walking at the moment are my only forms of excercise - and very pleasnt it is too!
I have finally wound down from school - I dream about other things now and I only think of it when someone is in contact with me!I do enjoy hearing about it though!
We are more than halfway through our trip now and when one of Sheryl's friends asked us about it, she remarked that we will be home before we know it!!
That gave us a jolt as we feel like gypsy travellers and feel able to do this for ever!!. Of course, we wont, We are missing people - family and friends, but e mail, facebook and Skype are just great We met the mother of the man who invented Skype(along with a friend) and he now lives in London (small piece of unimportant irrelevant information!)
After Waihi Beach we set off south to Hot Water Beach where we went to sit in lovely hot water holes on the beach at low tide. You dig a hole and the hot water comes through - sometimes
it is too hot and you have to dig somewhere else to find the perfect temperature! Then when you are sitting in the hole relaxing, in the lovely warm water, a great big Pacific wave comes in and fills up your carefully selected space with very cold water!! and everyone jumps up quickly and starts again - looking for the perfect temperature waterhole!
After Hot Water Beach and camping there for the night, we went to Mount Maunganui to visit Sheryl and Tony, Two amazing New Zealanders who have done remarkable work on Phi Phi Island to help the Island and the islanders recover after the Tsunami. They visit Phi Phi every (New Zealand) winter for about 3 months and engineer various projects to help the island. They take friends from all over the world with them and set to work. They were instrumental in helping the 2 schools on the island to continue to provide education and they played a huge part in cleaning up the island and its coastline after the Tsunami with their organising of the divers to bring all the rubbish (and more) to the surface so that it could be sorted out and disposed of
appropriately. They are like gold to the island and never know what their next project will be until they get there.
I hope I may be able to go out to help them too in September.
We were sad to leave Sheryl and Tony's place as we d such a nice time with them - we met their friends and went Kayaking with Tony and Marciel, a young German boy,who had been doing his Dive Master on Phi Phi and was staying with them. We camped in their garden and had a chance to explore 'The Mount' which was a wonderful town situated on the fabulous ' Bay of Plenty.' A most perfect place to live. Tony had a very nice guitar and Sheryl a Ukelele, so Rob was perfectly happy!
Sadly, we had to leave there after a couple of days as there are just so many wonderful places to see.We came to Rotorua and had fun on a luge, in a Gondola (cable car) and visiting a Maori Village for an event - Dancing and eating, meeting Maori people and seeing and hearing all about their rich culture.
I love driving the van - New Zealnd,s roads are
great, quiet and wide and very scenic - Reminds us so much of Scotland but in beautiful sunshine! (I think I already said that!!
Nothing could be nicer than driving the miles along to the next new place, listening to one of our 2 CD's (bought from a bargain basket somewhere along the road - Jackson Browne and Emmylou Harris with Gram Parsons - great!!) while Rob plays along on his harmonica!
We have arrived in Napier and are looking forward to exporing this Art Deco town and the Hawkes Bay wineries which are famous. We have been enjoying lovely wine in New Zealand and it is very reasonably priced. You can, of course, buy very expensive wine too - but we leave that for others!!
The weather is still beautiful, about 24 degrees but as we head south, I hear Autumn is beginning to set in and it is a much cooler 12-15 degrees - so will have to bring out the one fleece I brought with me. I have worn only shorts, tee shirt and flipflops since I arrived in Thailand on 23rd December! and hopefully after the South Island, I will be able to continue to do
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