After a 13 hour plane journey from Chile, and losing a day crossing the 'date line', we arrived in Auckland airport at 4am with little to do, as we had to wait until 8am until we could collect our campervan, and finally get the road trip started. Ended up passing the time with a much needed shower and mcdonalds in the airport, before heading to collect the van. Very pleased with it, although it was fairly strange driving again after a month of smelly buses and packed out tube trains!!
We firstly headed up north to the bay of islands where, (you can see a video of us on a jet boat going through the hole in the rock at cape Brett), visited the first 'liquor store', stocked up with a load of goodies to keep us going, and checked into a really nice campsite at the waters edge. We decided that this was the farthest point north that we were going to go, so the next day, made our way down south to Whangerei, where we spent the night in a supermarket carpark, which was a fairly random experience, as we had overlooked the fact that when we awoke on the Sunday morning and opened the curtains, whilst still lying in bed we would be surrounded by people unloading trolleys into their cars!!
Waingaro was the next stop, where we stayed off the beaten track, in a resort with hot outdoor pools, which we spent most of the afternoon in, before cooking a luxury dinner for two which comprised of tinned spaghetti on toast with cheese on top!!
We then set off South and travelled as far as Tauranga, where we again spent the evening in a carpark, but a carpark that was close enough to all the important amenities, (the pubs and bars were a 15 second walk!!) So went for a few beers, watched the rugby, and psyched ourselves up for our first curry since leaving the U.K - which in the end, we missed due to getting carried away with the beers, not realising the only curry restaurant within miles had now closed!!
After a 'little' sleep-in we were up and off again down to Rotoura, as we were driving down the road noticed a sign saying 'Pet a lion cub' - well we had to go do that!! Unfortunately the video wont upload, but we were in an cage with a lion cub running round us (and luckily a trained man to supervise it) even though it was no bigger than your average dog it was strong and pretty scary, but awesome being able to stroke her - and they're not as soft or cuddly as they look! That night we did eventually manage to find another curry restaurant, so decided that we wouldn't be missing out again, and made sure we ate before going for anymore beers!! Must admit though, that is was a little disappointing, and certainly no Rajpoot.....nevertheless - it was food!!
After ANOTHER sleep in, we eventually got going, and went down to Taupo, which is a geothermal area, (which Kate was excited about), but the thing that Ed was looking forward to was the fact that this was the first place we had come across where you can Bungy Jump!! We visited a geothermal area, with lots of hot bubbling pools of water, and bubbling mud pools, which Kate was pleased about seeing & Ed not so much as it STANK!!! We then visited the Bungy jumping site to have a look, but Ed was concerned that it wasn't high enough at a mere 47 meters!! In the end, we decided that i'd have a go as it was a really nice setting over lake Taupo, and you were given the option to get dunked into the water!! With a free t-shirt at stake if you opted to get wet - Ed felt that it was worth it, and after signing on the dotted line, took the plunge, (video as evidence)!! Well worth it, and would definitely do it again!!
From Taupo we carried on south stopping at Napier for the night before heading to Wellington where we had our ferry to catch the next day, as it was Friday we treated ourselves to a night out in Wellington - and the city was just like Leeds! What a pair of idiots we felt in all our scruffs, not having washed for three days, surrounded by people all dressed up for a night on the tiles!
So after nine glorious days on North Island we boarded the ferry across Cook Straight to the South Island, which we have now been told by everyone we've met is even more amazing than the North. So watch this space for Road Trip part two coming soon...