Having got settled in the van and stocked up we headed off! Our bags were unpacked for the first time in months which in itself felt great and although we were in such a small space it was ours and only ours to do what we liked with! We put a few pictures up and made it our own, found the best radio stations in each area, and were ready to take on the world….or at least the North Island!
From Auckland with Amy pretty much comatose, I first drove back to the airport to meet up with Nadine who I was out in the states with before she flew back there for a friends wedding. Was great to catch up over a drink, as I hadn't seen her for 2 or 3 years. Then it was southward bound to camp up for the night in Pukekohe!! This was where 2 of my friends, Alex and Karen (also from the states) were originally from and Id heard a lot about it, so I had to stay there just for them!
Here the weather wasn't so good, so after the one night we headed towards the glow worm caves and went for a walk through woods and fields. Again it was raining lots but the scenery whilst driving was absolutely breathtaking with rolling hills and snow capped mountains. Almost Jurassic with a fern leaf nestled between a palm tree and a pine tree.
Having passed lots of sheep, we then went on to Rotorua with its thermal springs and mud pools. It stank of methane, growing more pungent the nearer the centre of the town we got, but we overcame this wand went on a 12k walk around a park with natural freshwater lakes, live volcanoes which constantly bubbled scolding water and once again unbelievable views and scenery.
By this point we had established our staple diets. Cooking for 2 on 2 small hobs wasn't actually that difficult, although manoeuvring around the van whilst cooking was more challenging. Favourites were pesto w/pasta, tuna with bolognaise sauce and pasta, chilli and rice, soup as well. Pretty good given the sparse resources! And very well balanced!
Pretty much everywhere we parked up at (usually car parks) we went for walks at and clearing our lungs (esp Amy who had given up smoking for nearly 2 months by this point!). Sometimes we'd grab a drink, but often we'd chill out, play cards as well as reading a hell of a lot! Driving such long distances some days was exhausting, as well as having to navigate constantly. We're LOVING the freedom though!!!