Day 152 and we were up and checked out by 10 and got a taxi to the airport where we were headed to collect our home for the next 63 days. Thanks to our good friend Nikki, we were able to get a good deal on a campervan for the 5 of us for our entire time in New Zealand. We arrived at the Apollo car centre at 10, where it was mega busy. Luke had done some washing in the morning but no dried it so he left his clothes on his bag and the tarmac outside to dry. This was getting some dodgy looks. We had to wait for about 30 mins before we got to speak to someone and we started the process of sorting the car. Once we started talking we realised there were loads of hidden little extras which we didnt know about. It cost us extra to have more than 1 driver, so we only went for 2 people (Luke and Rich). The paperwork was crazy and all the prices and details took ages to sort out and to keep dividing by 5. To make matters worse their new computrer system didnt work and none of the staff had any training. It felt like I was back at work in England! Eventually we paid and were set to check out the van itself, over 2 hours later! The camper was huge, stupidly big. Over 7 metres long, 3.5 metres high and over 2.5 metres wide. A bonus was this camper was brand new and hadnt been used before. It had a TV and DVD player, fridge, 3 double beds, a shower and toilet (but we arent planning on using it!), Microwave, sink and gas hobs. Everything you need. After getting all the extras sorted and signed we were ready to drive. Luke took up the reigns first, in the 6 gear turbo diesel automatic. I briefly sat in the drivers seat and it felt like I was in the cabin of a tank. There was no rear view mirror which would make parking a nightmare. We drove to the local supermarket to buy some food and practice driving it. Luke reversed into a parking space in the empty car park and got it perfect first time, we had to take a photo it was so good. The girls headed into the shop to get some food while Burns had a go driving round the car park and parking, and then I had a go. It did indeed feel like a tank to drive, but was very easy as it was an automatic. After parking, we unpacked all our bags into the cupboards and stored everything away. In the supermarket we bought what we thought would be 5 days worth of food, which came to $170. By 5 we headed off to find somewhere to park and spend our first night. After getting lost for an hour we found a camp site called Ambery Park where we payed $5 a night to stay. We only payed so we could use their showers and toilets really. As soon as we parked up we played frisbee and some rounders, which was good fun. For dinner we planned to have Gammon and mash, but soon realised the gas tanks we were given we empty. We instead had sarnies for dinner. After dinner played a new game, Billionaire, which involves you swapping cards and shouting Billionaire, pretty good fun compared to scrabble! When getting the beds sorted, Luke and Burns were to share the double above the cabin and they both threw girly hissy fits about how to share a bed. It was hilarious and me Helen and Laura were watching and laughing, even taking photos as they couldnt decide whether to sleep top to tail or back to back. Just think, we have only 62 more days to go! lol
Day 153 and we woke up early and left the campsite by 8am, after showering etc. At the Apollo centre we complained about the gas and when they had taken the van away for a minute claimed they were 3/4 full and it was us at fault. They cleary gave us empty ones and filled them up when they took the cans away. We then drove to Auckland city where we were due to go on a day tour for free. The first stop was the Sky Tower which is over 300 metres tall and is the tallest building in the southern hemisphere. It wont be for long though cause in Dubai a tower is being built which will be nearly 1km high. We watched someone jump off the tower from the 196metre high observation deck (we were on the ground). After this we went to a memorial which was laid by the Mauri (the native people to New Zealand). From here we could see Rangitoto Island which was formed only 600 years ago. It is 260m high and was formed after a 8 hour eruption, and then it steadily rose for a week. Rangitoto literally means 'Blood Red Sky'. After this we headed to Mt Eden where we had awesome 360 degree views of Auckland city. Auckland itself is the 4th largest Urban Sprawl in the world (area with residential accom) behind Tokyo, Sydney and LA. From Mt Eden it is 18339 km to London. There are only 4 million people in New Zealand and about a third of them live in Auckland. We then had lunch in a pub, well we thought it was a pub (said Ale house on the side) but then Laura said something which caused much debate. She claimed it wasnt a pub as it didnt have 'booth's' in. We questioned this, and she claims that all the places from where she is from have booths in pubs, and if it has a dancefloor and plays music it is classed as a bar. We pointed out that there are loads of pubs without booths but she was adamant in her ways. We just put it down as another 'Cooper'ism'. We then found out Helen didnt know what a Inn was. Another debate was the North South divide and how Coops thinks the lads are northern cause they are from East Anglia. After the pub we went to the harbour bridge where we were told you could do a bungy of 43 metres. Luke and Burns didnt need to much convincing and before you could say cheese, they were in their harnesses and ready to go. We all had to where harness belts as we wealked up the bridge and by the time we reached the jump site the lads looked nervous. Burns went first and looked really scared. He literally fell off but fair play to him did it and said he loved it. Luke went 2nd and looked a bit more composed. He did a good dive off and loved it to. Again I wanted to do it, but not for $105 when there will be loads of other places. At this rate we reckon they will do about 20 jumps each in NZ! After the tour had ended, we went round the shops and eventually left Auckland about 5ish and headed north. After 2 hours of driving we stopped in a gravel lay by and parked for the night. For dinner we had the gammon and mash which was awesome. The girls struggled with going to the toilet outside but went and we had our second nights sleep. In the middle of the night a couple of cars/trucks pulled up near us and filled up with gravel but it seemed to scare Laura and Luke who were up wondering what was going on.
Day 154 and after a good nights sleep we were up and ready by 10 and started driving further north. We drove to a town called Waipu where parked up and had to take photos. This was due to the sheer size of our camper compared to everything else in the carpark. It makes a people carrier look like a micro machine. The town of Waipu had nothing there, not even a cash point, so we soon left and drove on. Our next stop was Whangarei where we went to the Abbey Caves to see some glow worms. Luke went in first, and me Laura and Helen soon followed. Burns stood watch at the top. We walked through some freezing cold water and saw loads of florescent green dots (the glow worms) all over the cave. You couldn't take a good photo which was annoying. Afterwards we walked through a forest of rocks and then headed to the camper for lunch, Gammon sarnies. After Lunch we went to the town of Whangarei and went to a cash and carry called Pak N' Save which was dirt cheap. We bought some essentials such as bread and sugar, while also getting five (yes 5) 340g dairy milk choc bars (1 each). We really are fat pigs. The next stop was at Whangarei falls (a waterfall) where we took a few photos and then headed off again. We drove north and were heading towards Oakura, and I as navigator 'accidently' decided to take us on the scenic route, much like Tazmania. After turning around and not being sure which road to take we finally found what we thought was the right one, but it was a bumpy ride, with it basically being a dirt track (their version of a B road in England). This road nearly took the camper apart, the fridge came open several times, books fell off their shelves and the table even tipped over. Once back on tarmac we soon noticed a cow wandering down the road. The girls thought it was cute, but we realised it was outside its fence and we weren't sure what to do as it wasn't our place to let it abck in or not. In the end we headed on and let it be. We arrived in Oakura bay by 7ish and it was getting dark. We parked up, yards from the beach and decided to stay here for the night, even though it was blowing a gale outside. For dinner the girls cooked us Chicken Chow Mein (we forgot to add the bean sprouts we bought though). After dinner another arguement / debate broke out between Laura Luke and Helen. It was about being able to draw, and how Helen wished she could draw like Laura, and Laura said she could if she practiced and trained enough. Helen claimed that no matter how much she practiced she would never be good at it. Laura then said if you train your brain enough, anyone can draw. This went back and forth for ages before Burns (who was reading) claimed he felt like he was on Big Brother in the middle of a house argument. After reading for a while we all headed to bed, with the camper literally rocking about in the wind and rain it was so violent.
Day 155 and after a interupted nights sleep we were on the road by 10 after a slow start. We headed north to a town called Russell. By now it was chucking it down and town looked very drab and boring. We parked and went for a wander. There wasnt anything about really. The highlight for me was finding out Liverpool won the night before, and how Helen correctly predicted the scores. She thought Liverpool would win 2-0 and they did, and Arsenal to win 3-1, and they did, Amazing. After a brief walk we got back in the camper, ate some of the chocolate, and then drove to the ferry. It cost $17 for our camper to get across, which is a proper bargain. At this point we all noticed quite a pungent smell in the camper but we had no idea what it was cause we hadnt used the on board toilet yet. After smelling towells, blankets, and checking the bottom of shoes I opened the sink and got an almighty whiff of a drain like smell. It turned out the campers waste hadnt been emptied before we took the camper! As soon as possible we found a layby and dumped the waste. It stank! really really badly. It had all sorts of food bits, mainly noodles, and was a browny watery colour with lots of soap suds as we dropped a washing up liquid bottle in their. After leaving our waste we found a campsite where we parked up and paid some money to use their electricity and showers overnight. It had been raining all day so we did pretty much nothing all afternoon. I blogged (as we had Elec), had lunch (instant noodles) while Luke and Coops did arrowords and wouldnt stop jibbering on about how to spell words. It was like watching 2 children! For dinner we had pasta and sausages, though the sausages didnt agree with me. Good thing this campsite had toilets close by. We went to bed with the camper being battered by rain and wind for the 2nd night in a row.