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Published: September 8th 2010
This is what we will be calling home for the next four weeks
Well, the campervan is rockin' so don't come a knockin' - but unfortunately it's because of the howling wind and pouring rain not because of anything saucy! New Zealand has been a real rude awakening regards the weather, but it hasn't managed to dampen our spirits on this new part of our adventure. We have been travelling for over 100 days now and this leg of the journey is where we are really embracing the backpacker culture!
Chez Cain is a beautiful three room dwelling (drivers compartment, and bedroom/living area/kitchen with ensuite bathroom and toilet) with a huge garden and is in a great location (wherever we want it to be!). In reality, we are living in a Transit van sized vehicle and the garden is the whole of New Zealand's great outdoors!
Our few days of campervanning hasn't been too spectacular, we have been getting used to the confined space, cold night temperatures and very British rainfall! Oh yeah, and the occasional earthquake! I could continue with the campervan rocking jokes here, but as both our parents and my Granny read this, I wont.
We landed in a breezy Auckland last Tuesday, the 31st August and were
Welcome to Auckland
Ornate carved gateway at Auckland Airport
soon at the Campervan hire depot, signing paperwork, watching instruction dvd's and choosing extra things we thought we would need for our four week jaunt around New Zealand. We were both very excited when we were finally shown to our van and allowed inside. It is pretty basic but has everything we need, including hob, microwave, beds, cupboards and a fridge. We were soon on our way, very tentatively as we both had a ten minute stint at driving to get used to the behemoth we were in control of. A lengthy stop at the supermarket to stock up and also the New Zealand version of Matalan to get some cold weather clothing followed and then we were on the very short journey to the Manakau Holiday Park, just south of Auckland, for our first night's sleep on New Zealand soil.
Now the concept behind the sleeping area in the van is very simple. Even for novice campers like Rach and I, it involves using the top of the table as a board in the middle of the two seats either side of the back of the van to create a table. You may wonder then how we managed
This is the daytime set up.
to take just over an hour to assemble the bed! There was a fair amount of industrial language eminating from the van as we struggled to complete this most simple task. Eventually, we were successful and settled down for what turned out to be a very comfortable nights sleep. The bed is certainly more comfortable than many of the motels we stayed in on the US road trip!
We woke up on Wednesday morning feeling a little chilly but otherwise in great spirits. The rather pokey little shower got its first outing and managed to run out of water just as I was rinsing myself off, which was an annoying end to my morning routine! The campervan has three tanks (other than the fuel tank). One is the fresh water tank and holds 75 litres and provides water for the sink and shower. The second is the waste water tank which is the same size and holds the used water from the shower and sink. The third is the toilet tank and it isn't pleasant to empty! Well, upon leaving the van to unplug from the mains and turn the gas off, we noticed that our waste water tank
was leaking, which meant a trip back up the road into Auckland to the depot we picked the van up from. They soon 'fixed' the problem and we were on our way north on the North Island to a region called Northland!
Our first unscheduled pitstop was at a small town called Puhoi. The reason we stopped at this unremarkable rural town was because it is home to "The Art of Cheese"! This immediately caught Rachel's attention and we decided it would make a good place to have lunch. The place was basically a small cafe in the middle of field, that made and sold lots of cheese! We had a very tasty cheese platter and then bought some lovely Sun Dried Tomato Feta Cheese to take with us.
Once we had finished the cheese stop, we pushed on up the east coast and passed through some beautiful countryside that was reminiscent of the rolling Welsh hills or the rural heaven that is the Lake District. The combination of the scenery, the weather and the sheer number of Brits we have bumped into have made this first few days feel very much like we are in the UK!
The Art of Cheese
Heaven for Rachel
Only the accent and the Maori sounding place names are making here seem a bit more exotic.
The final part of our journey before we arrived in a small village called Russell, where we were to spend the night was rather hair raising! 20km on an a very windy, 'unsealed' road (unsealed = gravel). It would have been scary enough in a normal car with all the steep drops, ravines and hairpin bends, let alone in a huge van on only our second day of driving it!! We managed to negotiate the rally course and get to Russell in one piece just as the sun was setting. Despite the frightening nature of the last hour of the drive, the countryside and coastal area we drove through was beautiful and looked perfect in the weak, late afternoon sun. The view over the bay from the campsite was also beautiful and we managed to enjoy the sunset before we sorted the van out for the evening. We took a little walk around the campsite before dinner and were amazed and enthralled by how large and bright the stars seemed. It was a perfectly clear and crisp night and the stars were
Rally driving isnt easy in a campervan!
shining so brightly and we could see so many more than we usually can. It was a fantastic end to our first full day in New Zealand.
The next blog will be up soon and tell a tale of our time at he birthplace of modern New Zealand and an encounter with very high seas and playful dolphins.
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