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Published: March 7th 2009
Fab location darling
There were other campers behind (infront as you're looking at the picture) but the day before this was taking, there was a storm and kept thinking that the sea was going to come over the break and sweep us away!
Well after leaving Thornton - there are no other words to describe it - we just bum about for a while. We head south along the coast to a place called Ohiwa and on our first day there - guess what? It p*sses it down again. We're developing a custom for rainy days - if it's raining when we wake up, we tend to go to the nearest town for an all day breakfast. Good custom eh? As we were driving through Whakatane, we stop at a place called Javaman and I had a pancake stack with bacon, banana and maple syrup - I tell you what, it was delicious and bacon and banana work a treat! Anyway, we get to the new campsite and Paul decides to check out the beach and the TV room of the campsite while I stay and finish my book. We spend 2 uneventful nights here and after leaving, we drive a bit further up the coast to Ohope (we can't go too far as in a couple of days time, we have to go back to Rotorua to do the deal for the campervan). In Ohope, we pull up and stop at a huge
Cracking photo, Gromit
On the beach near the rustic campsite.
outdoor bookshop. Well it's actually someone's lawn filled with storage boxes full of books but there's just loads of them and we spend a while having a looksee before purchasing a couple.
After that, we head to Tauranga and happen upon an unusual/old fashioned campsite...Instead of having the usual office where you pay and they give you a plan of the site, this once had a wooden hut with a hand painted sign on the sign with the fee (just $9 for the two of us) and then loads of rules "Speed limit in camp is 8km; All rubbish to be recyled, check out time at 10.30am, children not allowed to play in camp" etc etc. It was basically a field with a road running down the middle and a "block" in the middle which had ladies and gents toilets (think breezeblock and wooden bench style with the extra insect wildlife at no extra cost) and a single shower made out of corrugated iron. This shower, was basic - it cost 50 cent for a whole 6 minutes and the water for it was heated by the boiler at the back of the block (near the recycling area) and this boiler basically burned everything which wasn't glass, cans or food for the pigs! Hmmm - I didn't risk it but just put an extra bit of deodorant on.... The owner lived in a colossal old Bedford Bus which had satellite dish, huge flatscreen TV (could see through the window) and even flower beds at front and greenhouse at the back (that's why I liked it - rustic charm and all that). Another bonus was, yep, you guessed it, it was right next to the beach.
We then head to another place called Bowentown where in the name of exploring, we walked up this huge hill to check out the views (although I couldn't see anything when I got there as I was blinded by sweat and fatigue). We go back to the van to what I thought was going to be a relaxing afternoon (it was a scorcher of a day and I'd already done far too much exercise than was good for me) when I'm told that we're going to the beach to fish. Which beach would that be? There are 3 near us - one that is literally a few steps away, another that is about 5 minutes with a bit of up and downy scenery but do-able and then yet another which is a down steep, steep steps that cling to virtually, a shear rock face and it'd be far easier to fall off said steps that hang on. Hmmm. Which one do you think we went on? In the name of fishing, we went down those bloody steps (I was NOT impressed) with me clinging on to them for fear of slipping and tumbling on to the rocks below. Was I glad when I got to the beach below. Our daredevil nerves paid off, and inspite of there being 5 other fishermen on the beach, Paul actually catches a fish! It's not massive so we put it back but finally, all the blood, sweat, tears and money have paid off! We head back up the steps feeling a lot happier.
We then go back to Rotorua to sort out buying the van - we've both got used to our little home and would feel bad if we abandoned it to someone else so decided to buy it. We drive the 2 hours back to meet the guy who rented it to us and we have to sort out 1) Balance of money needed, 2) Getting it serviced, WOF'd (MOT) and paid for by rental guy, 3) giving them their chattels (saucepans, crockery etc) back and 4) buying replacement stuff. It's not straightforward as the rental guy is v pushed for time having diving courses to teach as well as 2 other vans to get out in the road and the van fails it's WOF on 3 things. After lots of to-ing and froing and 3 days later, we've finally got everything sorted and are now the proud owners of a 1989 Ford econovan called Jessie with air conditioning, cruise control, beer fridge, microwave, dishwasher, shower and toilet. OK, the last bit is a lie but she's our home and that's that!
Few points to note about NZ so far. The whole country is mad on outdoor activities - whether they be triathlons, cycling or rugby, or other "sports" such at hunting (pretty much anything that runs/flies) and of course fishing. You can buy fishing bait at petrol stations, local corner shops, the campsite shop - anywhere and can buy fishing rods from supermarkets and sports shops as well as from the multitude of fishing tackle shops that are found everywhere.
Every other car is a campervan or caravan. Yes, I know I'm adding to it but there are loads! Some of them are no more than a Toyota hiace van with a foam mattress chucked in the back, yet others are huge custom built vans with as much space as a 4 bed detached. My favourites are the conveted buses. The buses here are difference sizes than in England. They have the large coaches for long distances like we do but they have quite a lot of smaller ones too. You do get some which are the same size as a converted National Express bus and are huge but the older and smaller ones have a lot more character and still have the double doors in the middle of the bus - cute!
New Zealanders like using the words "Sweet" and "Awesome!" when they're enthusiastic about something. And they like walking around in barefoot too - whatever the weather.
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