Having packed everything up in Hattie we took her down to storage and then loaded ourselves and my mum onto the plane at Heathrow ahead of the long flights to Auckland via Singapore. Surprisingly, the journey was far better than any of us expected and we all arrived in Auckland a little tired but able to make it through to a lovely Israeli meal before we passed out at about 8pm local time!
I have always been rubbish at sleeping and changing timezones and this trip doesn’t appear to be an exception but thankfully both Keith and my mum were slightly better so we were able to get up and after Keith and I had a quick visit to the gym, we explored Auckland despite the rain that it had decided to offer us!
We walked around the shopping area and then up into Parnell before passing back through the Auckland museum grounds to take in the views over the city and returning through the University quarter … all in all not to bad considering jet lag and the weather. It is fair to say that we aren’t really city people and although it was a good place to catch up on ourselves and also catch up with Paddy and Marie (Paddy was an old Bath Uni friend of Keiths’), we were all (including my mum) happy to move on after a couple of nights.
So on Wednesday morning we packed our bags and set off to drop my mum off at her hotel in prep for her Moatrek tour and we headed to go and meet Paddy and Marie for a lovely lunch and catch up before John very kindly tackled the Auckland traffic in the elongated rush hour – yes, it really is that bad – to be taken out to the suburbs to pick up the motorhome.
We met John and Lorraine in San Juan, Alicante a couple of years ago when they were taking a year out to travel through Europe and we hit it off (possibly the love of food, wine and the outdoors helped) and haven’t looked back since. When we said we were looking to come out to New Zealand they were kind enough to introduce us to some of their friends who have agreed to lend us their motorhome for our New Zealand adventure…..
So, here we are, one week in with Ava (as we have now named her) which means ‘like a bird’. She is 6.5m long (with the bikes on the back), has a lovely light lounge area at the back with a drop down bed and suits our needs perfectly for this trip. We set off on Thursday last week and made it all the way back to John and Lorraine’s (roughly 25km’s) to park on their driveway for the night and be fed with Oysters (cooked and Raw) and Whitebait Fritters – Kiwi style …. their whitebait are nothing like ours, measuring in at roughly 1 inch, completely transparent except the eye – despite my reservations – all absolutely delicious.
Moving on from John and Lorraine’s driveway we headed up the coast to One Tree Hill which is where John and Lorraine have their holiday house shared with Chris and Karen … or Bach as it is called over here.
The drive up the coast gave us our first insight to what the North is really about ….beautiful sandy beaches that just go on and on….
The house is right on the estuary, the garden big enough for us to park up and the views from our back window weren’t too bad either…..
We were treated like royalty with John, Lorraine, Karen and Chris inviting us into their home – although we did sleep in the motorhome – and showing us a beautiful part of the North both in terms of the the food and the scenary. Saturday morning … or to be fair it was probably almost afternoon by the time we got there, we set off up Mount Manaia which is situated directly across from where the Bach is, although about an hours drive away.
A long walk up but stunning views once we were there.
Following lots of steps, we were rewarded by the most delicious seafood platter at one of the local watering holes that looked out over the bay afterwards ….albeit that we were conscious that we didn’t want to spoil our appetite for the roast lamb that Lorraine was cooking for dinner …. she had obviously forgotten our appetites and love for food!!
The following day, after a fabulous cooked breakfast containing Chris’ golf winnings along with some left overs from last nights’ dinner we set off, leaving John, Lorraine, Karen and Chris in peace to venture northwards before they unfortunately had to head back towards Auckland.
Before coming over to New Zealand we joined the NZMCA which is the Kiwi equivalent of the motorhome club and provides a selection of places to stay – Sunday night was a service man’s club in Paihia costing just $5 a night to park up. Safe and Tranquil and only five minutes walk to the seafront.
We were using Paihia as a stop over to get to Russell as although it was fairly quiet when we were there it is evident that it is a tourist trap and in the height of summer it would be horrific!
After a run up into the park where the treaty was signed (me) and a bit of exercise whilst being invaded by school kids (Keith) we ran down the road and caught the ferry to Russell. It is still a little overcast up here on occasions and the boat trip was a bit choppy but it didn’t stop us from walking up to Topeka Point via Flagstaff hill where the views out over the bay of Islands and back into Russell were incredible.
And we even managed to see some Kiwis … the bird, not the fruit! Two adults and two babies, seperately – apparently they are normally night birds so we were quite lucky although it was too dark to take photos and we didn’t want to scare them.
Moving on from Russell we were conscious that unfortunately the poverty in the local community is high and as we didn’t want to invite any problems we found ourselves a nice little campsite to stay at in Pukenui costing us NZ $32 a night and as the evening was looking pretty good we decided to bite the bullet and drive up to Cape Reinga to take in the northern most point of NZ before settling in for the night.
Not only is it the northern most point of New Zealand, but it is also the place where the Tasmanian Sea and Pacific Ocean meet providing a dramatic view out past the lighthouse. This part is also famous for its 90 mile beach and sand dunes … although why it is called a 90 mile beach when it is only 90km I don’t know!
Having taken in the northerly most point we headed back to the campsite to cook our steak on the campsite bar b q for dinner before settling in for the evening.
Woken by birdsong this morning we both got up and did our exercises before showering, breakfasting and heading back South to a beautiful spot at Rainbow falls near Kerikeri where we are staying tonight.
We are parked roughly 100m from the waterfalls themselves and there is a walk that goes from the NZMCA site (which is $3 per person) all the way along the river into Kerikeri which is a lovely little town.