Kiwi Kez Hits the Road!

So we are in New Zealand and we are self-driving it! In the coolest camper van ever! Kiwi Kez … painted with Kiwi Birds and Kiwi Fruit… we almost blend in… haha. Maybe not – but the van has everything you could need. We still had to hit the $2 shop in Auckland though to purchase some essentials… domino set, BBQ skewers, bat and ball game… all essential!
Auckland was just as I remembered it… a bit dull. So we just mooched around for a couple of days and then we were OFF on the road. First stop was the gorgeous Coromandel Peninsula and our first night in a Department of Conservation campsite. These are cheap as chips (some are even free) and set in the most gorgeous places in New Zealand. They are a tad basic though and most have dump toilets (apt phrase… hey!) It was FREEZING and very damp – good training for our return to Yorkshire! We visited hot water beach… where we missed the low tide and the chance to dig our own spa in the sand… and Cathedral Cove where you can no longer walk through the awesome cathedral like cave… for fear of falling rocks!… rubbish.
We covered some fair old miles in the first couple of days so stopped for a good 2 night rest in the smelly town of Rotorua… famous for its geothermal activity and full of geysers (not the wide-boy variety). We made it just in time for an AMAZING sunset at the lake and stayed in a campsite with some school kids who were competing in the national rowing championships. So next day, it was time for us to don hard helmets and hit the awesome mountain bike tracks of the Whakarewarewa Redwood Forest. There must have been about thirty tracks varying from scary to terrifying… winding through the forest and down huge drops. Andy hit them with a real daredevil attitude… and I pushed my bike most of the way! Got some great ‘gnarly’ footage of Andy on ‘The Grinder’ track… where he went head over heels in spectacular fashion. 

If that wasn’t enough excitement, we decided to head off Whitewater rafting the next morning on the raging Kaituna River… grade 5 we will have you know! The photos of the rafting showed the most terrifying images of people upside down and falling into the whitewater of a 7 metre high fall… great! Adrenaline had kicked in before we even left the base. Kitted out in wet suits and boots (slightly more professional than the rafting we did in Thailand!), we got a short lesson in how much power to put into the oars and how to duck into the boat and hold on over the waterfall (not doing much for my nerves!). Then it was time to board the craft and test our whitewater mettle!


The river scenery was amazing but we only had about 2 minutes until we were straight into the waterfalls… screaming and splashing and generally grinning… until we stopped at the top of the 7 metre beast… we had to scream a Maori phrase for luck and then we paddled like mad until we were told to GET DOWN! then we threw ourselves into the bottom of the boat and went flying over the top, holding on for dear life! Take a big breath and then plunge into the cold water… hoping not to flip! We made it! woo hoo and got to watch the other boat go next and take it from me… the WHOLE boat goes under the water… it was Awesome!
Soggy and with tired arms, we headed south of the north island and got to our first free campsite… right by a river and totally peaceful… oh no, hang on … is that a group of teenagers on a school outing… maybe not so peaceful – but still lovely. The night sky was amazingly clear and we saw more stars than either of us had ever seen.. plus some seriously strange moving lights that were definitely ‘unidentified’.
Next stop was the Art Deco town of Napier where we oo-ed and aah-ed about the architecture and trawled the charity shops to get materials to make our own BBQ… the one supplied with the van is a hot plate that connects to gas… NOT a BBQ by British standards! So we decided to cobble something together from old pots and pans (for those of you who know Andy… you will understand this!). We tried out the BBQ last night in another free campsite and after some coaxing… we had hot BBQ’ed snaggers.. yummy! We also met such an interesting bloke at this campsite… Eric, who lives there and does up old buses to sell to travelling Kiwis… complete with wood burners, double beds and full kitchens… amazing! He even fits in some drag racing in between and taught us to fire an air rifle! The Kiwi’s are so hospitable!
So we are now in Wellington which is sunny and lovely and we are randomly camping in a car park near the harbour, complete with toilets and showers – right next to the main road and catching the ferry tomorrow to the South Island… off to sample some world famous Marlborough wine… mmmmm…

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