Published: October 21st 2010
October 15th 2010
We decided to start the day by having a treat and eating out for breakfast (we've been trying to save money!) so we headed into Porirua and found a shopping centre where we ate a yummy breakfast at the Coffee Club and had a look around the shops. We then made our way into Wellington and went to the Te Papa Museum and found out lots of interesting things about New Zealand's history. We decided to take a look at the Botanical Gardens and had a little picnic there before heading to our next destination...... Eastbourne!!!! We felt obliged to have a look around this small village that's the other side of the world!!! After our photo session in Eastbourne we had a very hilly and windy journey to find somewhere to stay for the night and after going down this very narrow track and frightening lots of sheep (obviously not many cars come this way!) we finally found the Kiriwhakapapa DOC campsite. We enjoyed our dinner by the stream just as it was getting dark and then headed for bed.
After a good nights sleep (these campervans are actually really comfy!) we continued North-east to Hawke's Bay and stopped off at Dannevirke for a quick toilet break which turned out to be a bit of an attraction as the toilet were super cool - they were single pod-like cubicles and gave you verbal instructions on how to lock and unlock the sliding door before playing some music! (very sad we know but it kept us amused)!! After having a look around the only shop that appeared open (it was a sunday and much to Brett's amazement it appears that most shops are closed!) we continued our journey to Hastings where Mandy was planning to meet up with her friend but it didn't quite work out so instead we headed to a local winery for some wine tasting! We arrived at Sileni Estates Winery and had a look around the shop before trying a few different types of their wine - Mandy had hers and most of Brett's as he was driving of course! It was a little bit weird as we were total novices and most of what the lady was saying went over our heads but it was interesting and free!! We decided to buy a bottle of the Pinot Grigio (or Gris as they call it over here!) and some cheese with cumin in it which we'd also tasted there. After this we headed to Napier where we had a little look around the town where all the buildings are in art deco design before going to the nearby (and fly infested!) Westshore Holiday Park. We decided to treat ourselves this evening and had a walk down to West Quay and had a really lovely three course meal at the Fox on the Quay - A restaurant in the final of the local masterchef type competition!
We travelled north and inland today where the green, lush hills disappeared and instead we found ourselves driving through mountains and roadsides covered in snow and ice!! We finally reached Taupo after a slow drive and decided to have lunch overlooking Lake Taupo and tried our luck at the golf challange where you win $10,000 if you get a whole in one from the lakeside onto a floating platform - the wind was really strong and even the Boniface Snrs would have struggled! From here we proceeded to Huka Falls, a super powerful waterfall, which was amazing, and then onto Craters of the Moon where we had a 45 minute geothermal walk and saw lots of steaming hot pools and bubbling mud around this volcanic area - again an amazing experience! We spent the night next to Lake Rerewhakaaitu at the Guy Roe Reserve where we enjoyed drinking our Sileni wine and Brett's commentaries on the life of the many ducks living there!
After leaving the campsite (and having to wait for some time for a herd of cows to be moved into a field, just like you picture!!!) we had a short drive to the smelly (it smelt of eggs due to the sulphur!) Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland where we did Walk 1 of 3 before going to watch the Lady Knox Geyser erupting - it is contrived but still pretty cool to see! We then went back to Wai O Tapu where we continued our walk through another geothermal area although this time it was probably more spectacular than the Craters of the Moon, with massive craters, a huge 'Champagne Pool' of hot, streaming water, geysers, mud pools and the greenest (like Shrek green) lake you have ever seen! After this we headed to another mud pool - the biggest one yet and then headed to Rotorua where we had lunch overlooking Lake Rotorua. We then visited Whakarewarewa, a living Maori thermal village where we ate some corn on the cob, which had been cooked in a hot pool, and then had a tour around the village - it was really interesting to hear about how they use this geothermal area in their every day lives. After a really enjoyable day we arrived at Ngaherenga, another DOC campsite that was difficult to find (and also empty!), played some bat and ball and enjoyed a wine and cheese/nacho picnic.
After a short stop for supplies at Te Kuiti we arrived at the Waitomo Caves where we had a tour into the famous Glowworm cave which included a boat ride looking at the hundreds of twinkling lights being made from the glow worms. It was so interesting listening to how nature has made this fascinating attraction and how the Maori people discovered it! We had lunch there and then made our way to and then past Hamilton as we had read in one of our 'bibles' (the AA guidebook and Atlas have been invaluable!) that Candyland was nearby and we're not ones to miss an opportunity to buy some sweets! We then went to Te Aroha Holiday Park where we spent the night organising how we were going to spend our last full day in the Campervan.
We decided to risk the bad weather and head to the beach and during the drive to the Coromandel Peninsula we were awarded with a much needed break in the clouds and some sunshine. After a short stop at Tairua we headed to Hot Water Beach where we were delighted to find that it was warm enough to take our jumpers off so we ate some lunch outside and even had an ice cream whilst walking on the beach. After this we went to Cooks Beach which was nice but nothing special although the houses along the seafront were lovely! We then made our way to Catherdral Cove where we had a 45 minute walk each way through rainforest, then a farm track with roaming sheep and then down lots of steps, stopping off at Gemstone Bay until reaching Mares Leg Cove only to discover that we could not access Cathedral Cove due to it being too dangerous to walk underneath a big archway! Although we were a little disappointed, Mares Leg Cove was a really beautiful beach with cliff faces, a view of lots of little islands and even a small waterfall! After our walk back to the carpark we drove to Hahei where Mandy enjoyed a cup of tea looking out onto the beach before we returned to Hot Water Beach, where two hours either side of low tide you can go to a certain spot and dig up the sand and watch your hole being filled up with hot water (hence the name!). Unfortunately, by the time we got there the shops that hired out spades had closed (weird!) and so we had to make a hole with our feet which did make good substitutes although the water was extremely HOT!! After enjoying watching others who had spades dig their holes and they lay in them (ouch!) we got back on the road where there was our last bit of drama as we tried to find somewhere to stay before it got dark whilst it was pouring with rain! Eventually we found Dickson's Park in Tararu, a small village near Thames, where we spent our final night in the campervan!