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Published: June 16th 2009
Our transition from South America to New Zealand was pretty painless. We decided to try and not sleep on our flight from Santiago to Auckland so that we could try and beat jet lag. We would be moving from -5hrs from home to +13hrs from home. An 18hr difference. Also we would lose a day of our lives. We flew on the 9th of June and arrived on the 11th! In the airport in Santiago we picked up two bottles of Chilean Carmenere wine as little memories of South America. Our flight was fine and pretty easy. We had a good choice of movies and the time went quick enough. When we arrived in NZ we rang our hotel who had offered free airport transfer with bookings. We got to our room at 5am NZ time and went straight to bed to try and beat any jet lag we might have got. We slept until 8:30 before waking and watching a bit of TV. First up was an episode of Emerdale!
As we were not picking up our camper van until the next day and our hotel was in the middle of nowhere we decided to head to a shopping
centre for the day. We had a fry, hot chocolate and went to the cinema. We also got some cheddar cheese, bread and milk in the supermarket and made toasted cheese sandwiches back in our hotel room as it had a little kitchenette as well. The next day we were collected and brought to the office of where we would pick up Ted(the christened name of our camper van). When were arrived our names were on a board outside the offices welcoming us. We got the tour of Ted before signing of the contracts. Before we set off we got the address of a nearby supermarket so that we could stock up on food for our first day our two. We had our first lunch in the camper van in the car park before hitting the road. Our first trip was to take us around the Coromandel peninsula with some stunning views along the way. Everywhere you look in NZ you can see different types of green. The scenery is quite stunning.
Along our first drive Michelle spotted an ambulance crew looking into the sea. We thought immediately that something bad had happened. Next Michelle spotted fins in the
water. The ambulance crew were not looking for anyone but watching some fish in the water. We stopped a small bit up the road at a lookout point. We could see what appeared to be dolphins. Other people stopped but they told us they were to big to be dolphins and had to be Orcas(killer whales). We couldn’t get over it. They told us that it was extremely rare for them to come that close to the shore and just as rare to spot them at all. Apparently some were sighted out a bit further a few weeks ago but this was even closer. Even the locals we met watched in amazement. There were about 6 or 7 of them and they swam around very peacefully. I waited and waited for one to jump out of the water and do something spectacular but it never happened. Still though it was an amazing first introduction to life on the road in NZ. We later met some retired people who told us that we had seen something that they had not seen their whole lives. We appreciated it even more then. That night we booked in to a camp site and made
our first dinner in the van. With the van if you want to move on you need to have all packed away so it is a good incentive to clean up straight after we eat. We also packed away our stuff and put away our rucksacks for the next 50 days.
Next morning we made a quick cup of tea and had a slice of toast before hitting the road to find a beach to have our breakfast. Hot Water beach is where we stopped. Here when the tide is out you can dig a hole in the sand and it fills with hot thermal water and you can have your own thermal bath. Unfortunately/fortunately the tide was in so we couldn’t make our own pool. It was a little to cold out anyway and not really that appealing. The view(see photos) from Ted while we had breakfast was amazing and hopefully a sign of things to come. After breakfast we drove to Cathedral Cove which was absolutely stunning. We had to trek for 45 minutes to a beach were a cove opened up from one beach to the next through the cliff. We took some photo’s before returning
to our van and moving on again. Also, we’ve decided to call everyone we see in camper vans our cousins, for well, obvious reasons. Michelle has warned me that if we get talking to any of them I am not allowed call them our cousins to their faces. Like I would! We parked up in a town called Whagnamata for the night in a campsite outside the town. We had to cross streams to get to it and there were good walks to do there too. We tried to walk up too see a waterfall but had to turn back when we came to a stream that was overflowing because of all the heavy rain that day. Instead we returned to Ted and some tea and sandwiches before going to bed early.
Next day we had a long journey to Rotorua. We stopped in Tauraguna and went to a local fish market and got take away fish and chips. It was wrapped in newspaper and as good as you’ll get. Next up was a return to a supermarket so that we could pick up some more things that we would need for our camper van. We also filled up
the van with fuel, 50c euro for a litre of diesel. The last bit of our journey would take and hour and then a bit more to our campsite. When we got there the place was empty. There was no office but an honesty box to pay the money. We parked up for a few minutes to decided if we would stay. It was in the complete middle of nowhere and freaked us out a little to be honest. We thought it would be better to stay in a busy site so we returned back the way we came to Rotorua town. Here we booked into a campsite with more facilities than you can imagine.
Ted by the way is a dream to drive. It’s a six gear 2.1ltr diesel engine with cruise control. We have a toilet and shower, TV and DVD player, fridge, gas rings and just about any gadget we might need. I’ve put up some photos that hopefully do it justice. For the next few days we’ll visit geysers and mud pools and maybe a Maori celebration. There is also a thing called ‘Zorbing’ where they put you in a big ball and roll you
down a hill. Sounds fun!
In a bit: DH
Song of the blog: The Eagles - Desperados
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