19th- 22nd March
The camper van is brilliant, we love it! It's a little white 2004 Toyota hi ace that we have named Dorris or Dozza when she is been crazy! She is a little old and rusty but we can't complain at all. We were expecting the worst so we are very happy. She has everything we need; fridge, hob, grill, microwave, kettle, toaster, sink, cold water, portable loo, nice comfy double bed and enough storage for all our bags and shopping! The electricity only works when we are hooked to power but the fridge and lights run off the house battery- the van just needs to be driven for around 2 hours a day for the battery to stay charged and keep everything running overnight. The port a loo is handy, it goes away in storage during the day and then we get it out on a night and put it at the end of the bed. No privacy in this van! Good job we have been together a long time and he asked me to marry him already!
The people at the Happy Campers office were helpful. We picked it up from Manukau near Auckland but had to wait a while whilst it had a service. We got chairs, a table and a sat nav included with our platinum insurance and she gave us an extra quilt for when it gets cold in winter. Nath drove first out of the compound. He was brilliant and picked it up straight away. He didn't stall or anything! After doing some shopping we set off through Auckland across the harbour bridge and north to Whangarei (pronounced Fangarei, which we found out after saying it wrong for days)- which is a region and a town. We started off on the twin coast discovery route- a 800km round route from auckland set out to see the best sights along the east and west coast. It's very easy to navigate around New Zealand as there aren't many roads, especially highways. Out of the cities and towns the roads are usually windy and open, surrounded by greenery. One minute it's rolling hills then suddenly amazing coast line appears, it's unreal!! We are in love with the van, with New Zealand, everything, it's amazing!
We stopped a couple of times to take in some sights on the way to Whangarei and then found our home for the next 3 nights. The free campsite, or car park next to the swimming centre, was over the road from the town basin. There wasn't anything there, it was just a car park next to the river, where many walks began at the reserve. It was nice and peaceful though. We saw an amazing starry sky on the first night!
On the 20th we drove to Whangarei heads and did a coastal walk from ocean beach. The walk was a lot harder and longer than we thought so we decided not to do the full thing and turned around whilst we were in the hills. This walk made me realise how unfit I have become!! We saw some amazing views of ocean beach and the bays though so it was worth it.
On the 21st we set off from the town basin to Whangarei Falls along the designated 5 hour round walk. We passed Mair Park, where we got lost and ended up scaling the river! We literally got stuck at the wrong side of the river and couldn't get through the trees. We thought it was a very rough track through the forest for a designated walk! Wading through the river was funny though! We then walked to AH Reed Kauri Park, a remnant of original kauri forest (New Zealand native tree) that had some very large trees and a tree top boardwalk which was high up and pretty cool. We got a little lost in here too but then headed back the right way. My map reading skills are brilliant obviously!
The last stop was Whangarei Falls which is known as been the most photographed waterfall in New Zealand and has a 26m drop. We stayed there and ate our packed lunch before setting back off to our camp, on the right track this time! It was a brilliant day and it took us around 5 hours there and back- it would have been quicker if we hadn't got lost a few times and ended up on no path climbing over and under trees and through a river! Everyone seemed to know about the camper spot on the last night as 4 more campers turned up! There had only been one other camper on the other two nights.