New Zealand 2008-9

This page is basically our 'log' and will be very boring for everyone, so I apologise to all.  I hope that some of the pics might give you a bit of an insight into our New Zealand.

Arrived at Paeroa, a 35 hour journey!  Being able to use the business class lounges in Norwich, Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur; business class seats from Amsterdam to KL helped a lot.  V. nice!

The camper had been got out for us and even washed down but it smelled terrible.....found out later that it must have been the grey water tank.  We had left it empty and was thoroughly cleaned.  Or so we had thought........soon cleared!  We also found that we'd had a mouse visitor during our absence.

Next morning it was off to Auckland to see the family at last.  We stayed for 10 days taking in 2 weekends. Busy, busy, busy.

Daniel, Hannah and Tegan  Daniel

An afternoon visit to Piha to the west of Auckland was beautiful too.

Piha Day trip

Monday, 1st December.  Shakespear Park.  ($20)   Lovely setting of mown park bordering the beach.  Views of Sky Tower and Takapuna too.

We had it all to ourselves for about 3 hours.  Puhkekus, peacocks and kingfishers.  Magic.

  Sky Tower and the Spencer from Shakespear Park

Four others arrived later.  We thought we might stay a few days until, in the morning, hundreds of cars and children descended on the park for a jamboree of some kind.  We beat a hasty retreat.  What a shame!

On to Mangawhai Heads.  Nice pitch overlooking the creek. ($28)  Fabulous weather so we stayed for a second night.

On to Whangarei Heads by the coast roast through Waipu.  Stayed at a little campsite just through Onerahi, the Blue Heron.  Yes, there was one out in the bay.  The campsite juts out into the estuary so there is water on three sides.  A distant view of Marsden Point refinery and could see the gas burning off once it was dark.

  Onerahi beach

We decided to try to solve the problem we were having with the grill.  It had never worked well since we bought it, now it won't even make toast!  Having asked at a gas station, been forwarded to the Gas Man, then passed on the Recreational Services (yes really!), we found James.  James took the whole thing out, took it apart, did goodness knows what with it and replaced it.  It works well now.  Cracking toast James!  Where in England would that get done on a Friday afternoon?

Cracking toast       The Whangarei Walk

Overnight at the Top10 in Whangarei.  Been there several times before and it's as good as ever.  Even got WiFi that works for $10 for 24 hours.

Booked in for a second night so that we could 'do the walk'.  With Keven's help, John also fixed the water leak that we've had for ever using a bit of electric conduit and some fantastic glue.  Another problem sorted a la kiwi!  Lunch; seafood chowder at Split in the town.  Whangarei is a good town.

Moved on to Kerikeri and decided to stay at the Pagoda Lodge.  It's getting a bit run down and expensive at $30 but we had a nice level pitch (through the second gate) with a view over the creek.  On our second day there we enjoyed a meal the The Landing again.  It's very much quieter there since the bridge was removed a few months ago.  Quite a surprise!

Went on north looking for any one of four POPs.  Co-ordinates in the book may not be correct; we passed the first one going too fast to stop without collecting a car in our rear!  Second one was just a second-hand bookshop which didn't look attractive.  Missed the next two??  Carried on to Taupo Bay but decided against staying there for more than lunch.  We decided to go around the Matauri peninsula but because we thought it prudent to return to Kaeo for fuel, we set off to go round from north to south.  We planned to find POP no 4, the water gardens.  No one was there so we hung around for a while.  The owner turned up to tell us the gardens are closed but showed us some of his pictures.  It looks quite stunning but it turns out that he has been unwell for some months, won't let anyone else do anything for him so probably will never open again?

On to Matauri Bay Holiday Park.  Matauri Bay from Rainbow Warrier memorial  pohutakawa

Quite stunning.  Great entertainment provided by a Maori group of 7 adults with 11 children.  Games, fireworks, a bouncy castle, trailer rides, Neptune arriving from the sea with presents for everyone, a BBQ, painting, beach games, singing, sand digging and racing.  Our near neighbours in a permanent caravan with boat and tractor, went to sea returning with lots of fish but a dead tractor.  All problems overcome in typical Kiwi fashion and great entertainment for us.

Climbed the hill to the Rainbow Warrior memorial.  Great views.Rainbow Warrior memorial at Matauri Bay New Zealand

Next stop was Tokerau Beach on the Karikari peninsula.  Campsite setting is terrific but the new owners have only had a very short time to get things going; they're not there yet.  Will visit again next year maybe?  Second pic is a garden gateway in the Maori style.

Melissa Road, Tokerau beach    Maorigateway

Back to North Shore for a party and 2 days of babysitting.  DayCare closed on Monday leaving Deb and Matt with a problem for Tuesday and Wednesday.

  Hannah's cake  Daniel  Hannah'sTree

Christmas Day......comparatively quiet.   Hannah makes a mess        so Matt chills out......  Matt chills out in the pool

Hannah loves the dress so much she even put it back on after she'd gone to bed.

Once Christmas was over we were back on the road again.  New Year's Eve saw us mixing with hundreds of 'new friends' in the wilderness that begins a few miles inland from Thames.  No electricity, no mobile signal and water from the stream.  Cooking on a wood fire BBQ.  wood BBQ NYE

Papa Aroha beach  On to meet up with our friends Jan and Keven at Papa Aroha.  Everyone up there is just fishing bonkers.  It has to be said that they do come home with the goodies!  We dined on beautiful fish, mussels, scallops and oysters cooked in tempura batter.  All divine.

From there we had planned to travel directly southwards to Wellington but had a little plumbing problem and decided to side step to Hamilton.  The camper's makers, C I Munro soon sorted everything out.  In the meantime, we killed the waiting time with a trip to Hamilton Botanic Garden.  Far too much to detail here but this was one of my favourites.  The planting was about 2 ft lower than the marble walkways creating a super carpet effect.  Hamiltongarden

With an overnight stop in Taupo we used the desert road southwards on a lovely sunny day.


Down to Wellington. 

hotrod1  hot2  hot3

They drive great cars in Wellington!

TePapa  and the plants are made of steel.

Yes, it was ***!!!** windy.  Actually, it turned out exceptionally so.  It was reported in the paper that some damage was done so a couple of buildings and some roads were closed nearby.  I must admit that I been quite alarmed watching a construction crane swaying far more than I felt it should have been.  We had a couple of delicious meals in the city before taking the 8 a.m. ferry to the South Island.  Thankfully, the wind had dropped and it was like a mill pond.  Barely a ripple!

OkiwiBay1  OkiwiBay2  OkiwiBay3

This is the Okiwi Bay POP which costs $3 per night (£1.20)


marble_sculpture  marble_landscape 

I was absolutely fascinated by this landscape. It's actually marble turned into art by water. Took a few years I reckon!!!


Pupu_spring  WhanganuiInlet 

Near Golden Bay are the Pupu springs. I've forgotton the figures but it's about a swimming pool full every second. The water is just soooo clear. Just amazing. Later we crossed to the west coast on gravel roads to the remote Whanganui Inlet. Just stunning. Cooked on a driftwood fire and would have stayed for several days but it got windy and we were short of food too.



We sometimes cook inside, note the fan. Keeping our cool without mains electricity.


Signboard at Greymouth  RailRoadShare 

Tourist signboard at Greymouth and a rail shared with road bridge. That can be unnerving unless you just saw the train pass. It is single track so unlikely that another one could be coming? I hate to admit it but I did take this photo while I was driving.

On to the glaciers, Franz Josef was first, the pic on the left. We stayed at a 5-star campsite for $36 a night (£14.50) and drove the half hour it takes to get to the Fox Glacier. Look closely and you'll see people in front of it. (pic 3 circled).     Pic 4, Franz Josef (taken with my new long lens) from the campsite.

Franz Josef Glacier  Tantalus at Top 10 campsite  Fox Glacier  Franz Josef Glacier 

On the way back north, before crossing over to the Eastern side, we paused in Ross for a spot of gold panning. Needless to say unsucessfully. Will be trying again very soon. Need to make our gold pans earn the $12 they cost us!

A friendly weka This is a weka.    Rather like a brown chicken.    This one was very cheeky and stole some bread from the table in the awning.

Near Hokitika we found a DOC (Department of Conservation) campsite beside a 'fossicking' stream.    That means you are allowed to pan for gold there.    It's hard work.    The stream was full of boulders so that it is almost impossible to keep your footing - so no photos!    We did find a few grains.   On our second night there we were enveloped by swarms of mozzys and midges and got well bitten.    Enought of that lark!!   We did enjoy a smashing walk nearby before moving off to cross over to the East.

Hokitika Walk  Hokitika Road

We paused on our crossing at Hanmer Springs.    Is that a disappointing place ... all the tourists seem to go there but in our opinion, it's just cheap and nasty.   Take note!    The weather finally broke on us, cool, cloudy and rain so we're heading for Christchurch.    We hadn't intended going that far south, but hey, John feels the need for a 'Bunnings'.    That's like B&Q but better.    And Cynn's run out of books.    

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