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Published: November 24th 2008
Our home for a month
The road to Waitangi Sunday 23rd November 2008
On Friday morning we collected our Toyota campervan and set off north towards the Bay of Islands and Waitangi. The camper isn’t as new as we had hoped. In fact, it is pretty well-worn and hasn’t been well-cared for. A lot of backpackers hire campers in New Zealand so they get thrashed about a bit. The fridge door flew open half way up the motorway because the seal is broken but we have managed to sort that out by wedging a tree branch between the fridge and sink. The gears are crunchy, the bodywork is adorned with quite a few dents, but nevertheless it is cosy with everything we need included for camping.
The journey into Northland was very scenic with contrasting views at every turn from rolling green hills, vineyards, cattle farms and meadows full of fluffy white sheep to sweeping bays bordering turquoise-green seas, backed by lush forest. Our first night stopover was at Mangawhai, a headland about halfway up the coast between Auckland and Waitangi, by sand dunes and a truly scenic stretch of coast, then yesterday we arrived in the beautiful Bay of Islands. We are camped just
Front line pitch
north of the town of Paihia on the estuary of the Waitangi River. Kiwis are happy tonight because they have just beaten Australia in the Rugby League World Cup. We watched the Aussies thrash Fiji last week when we were in Nadi, so we’re glad that our arrival hasn’t jinxed the Kiwi team (since they put England out)!
This morning, Sunday, we walked across the bridge to the Waitangi Treaty grounds, where in 1840 the Maori chiefs signed a treaty with Great Britain giving Britain sovereignty over New Zealand and guaranteeing the rights of both Maori and non-Maori citizens. Waitangi is one of the most historic sites in New Zealand (or Aotearoa as the land is called in Maori) and really worth visiting. This area is Kiwi habitat but we haven't managed to spot one yet. We have seen Tui and Kea, which are other indigenous birds and some others whose names we don't know.
This afternoon we had planned to get a ferry across the bay to Russell, one of the first Victorian settlements, but it is raining hard so we are holed up in the campervan lazing about; another day tomorrow! So glad we went to Waitangi this
Great coastal scenery right by the camp site
Monday 24th November 2008
It is cold and damp and hasn’t stopped raining all night (going across the camp site to the loo isn’t much fun). We can’t even see the islands in the bay this morning, so it really isn’t worth going out on a ferry. We decided to de-camp and head south because the forecast is for this rain to continue for two or three days in Northland, although the whole country has bad weather at the moment. Fortunately, we arrived here in sunshine on Saturday so we got to see the views of the bay then. The boats that take folk out to see whales and dolphins are staying in the harbour so we’ll try to do whale watching elsewhere some other time (there are several places in New Zealand not just here). We only drove about seventy kilometres down to Whangarei and then decided that driving really wasn’t much fun; aweful driving conditions. Whangarei, capital of Northland, is a nice small city and we have found a nice camper park nearby and adjacent to a natural bush park. It is time to put on the boots and kagoules and go out to explore
First Campervan Meal
Steak, salad and cheap red wine
Despite the bad weather we are enjoying New Zealand. We just hope that it clears up soon because the scenery is stunning (when you can see it) and there are so many great activities (like whale watching) and places of interest to visit. Most of these attractions, however, rely on good weather since they are very outdoor-orientated, so we’re just hoping it brightens up. Just seen today’s newspaper which has a front page photo of the rugby team’s arrival yesterday at Auckland airport, with the world cup. The headline is “Look what we got in Australia!”
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