New Zealand - Auckland, Hamilton and the Bay of Islands
We arrived in New Zealand at Auckland on July 6th, ready to campervan our way around the country till the 31st when we are due to flight out of Christchurch (earthquake central). Apart from the flights, we had nothing booked meaning we could roam free for 3 and a half weeks! Using various tour guide information packs including one from Billy Connolly when he did his tour of NZ, we made our first call to head north and explore 'The Bay of Islands', which turned out to be great, then come back down and finish off checking out Auckland. This decision was made on the spot mainly because we werent that confident driving the van around the centre of Auckland so I chickened out and got us out of there! From The Bay of Islands we did a nice scenic drive back down the north east to get back to Auckland where we saw a volcano, slept in a petrol station then moved on to Hamilton to meet up with Nick Mita (NZ squash friend) and catch some of the NZ nationals! Here is some of our antics:
1. Our flight - After saying bye to June and Llon at the airport we spent the last few dollars and cents on food. I thought I was screwed over on my burger from Red Rooster because it contained no burger when I opened it, but this turned out to be my fault as I asked for no chicken thinking it as going to be beef! Ooops. After the moching from Hannah stopped we boarded our plane, late, then noticed there were a load of massive guys getting on with us wearing WWF wrestling tracksuits. Not recognising anyone we were oblivious until we both saw John Sena, the WWF champion and realised the whole team were there, Ray Mysterio and the woman with massive fake knockers! We had further delay becuase the indicators of the plane were not working then we were away, but unfortunately arrived in NZ too late to pick up our van so we stayed in a Nomads hostel.
2. Our camper van - We chose the best looking van from Escape rentals which was a 2004 Masda with a giant picture of Bob Marleys face on either side! It looks amazing and is cool to drive in because it goes with our naturally cool image! Inside the van is a table which is put down to make a bed, under the seats are loads of storage for our bags and bedding and round the back is a little kitchen worktop with a sink and a gas bottle to cook on.
3. Our accomadations - Ever since the first night in a hostel we have stayed in our campervan at various locations. For the 3 night trip ending in Hamilton we first stayed in a car park in Whangarei with a load of other freedom campers. This took us ages to find because we deliberated hard about staying in the i-site carpark, but after asking a security guard, we decided to give it a miss. Once down in the car park we were both tired and needed the toilet. I said go outside the van in the car park but for some reason Han developed a concience after all her other outside toilet stories, making us drive again to find a public loo! The second night was very upper budget for us as we stayed in the car park of a hostel at The Bay of Islands for $10 which allowed us access to all their facilities. This was much more to Hannahs liking because she could have a shower and go to the toilet! Finally, was our funniest night because we stayed in a BP garage car park under the watch of the late shifter who said it was ok for us to camp there. This was in a place called Silverdale a bit north of Auckland. All night we kept imagining a poiceman knocking on our window and telling us to shift but it didnt happened thankfully!
4. The Bay of Islands - We did a boat trip around the 150 odd little islands that were discovered by captain Cook (standard) which was pretty cool. We got to see some bottle nosed dolphins, read about killer whales attacking the dolphins once and saw photos of dolphins being biffed out the sea and we had a walk on one of the little islands where we had a hot choc and saw some class views from the top of a hill as well as a wierd guy dressed like a Maui tribesman!
5. Auckland - In Auckland we did the lonely planet walk around the town to see some of the sights. This went down like a lead balloon with Hannah who was quite grumpy and dragged her feet quite a lot of the way......then it started raining haha! We also went to the Skytower Casino and lost on the slots but won on the result of the State of Origin rugby match! It was a propper good atmosphere in the casino watching the game on the big screen! Lastly we drove up Mt Eden which is an old dormant volcano and saw a good view of the city. The middle of the volcano was covered in grass.
6. Hamilton Squash Club - We said a brief hello to Nick who we had trouble finding because I could not remember what he looked like and Han had never met him! He was busy coaching so we didnt keep him long but in the time he introduced us to loads of English people, making them shake hands with us. Afterwards we got a good seat to watch the Womens National Final, Joelle King vs Jaqueline Hawks. It was a bit one sided but during the game I caught a ball and had a camera dropped on my head so at least it was entertaining!
7. Tahu Mahut - We visited the largest Kauri tree in NZ (what exciting things we have been upto!). It was called Tahu Mahut and was a gerthy tree that was not really worth seeing but at least the forest drive was nice.........until Han started driving like a rally drriver and I could see our $700 insurance bond disapearing into thin air!
So far so good, loving NZ despite having a lot of rain but it was a nice homely reminder! Cheers for reading the essay, I'll keep it down next time and stop writting about trees!