We left Sunday, Feb 25th from Vancouver to arrive in Auckland at 5 am Tuesday the 27th. We had skipped Monday (who needs Monday) and had 3 hours before we could pick up our home on wheels. New Zealand was actually the easiest country to get into, I wasn’t even questioned about my Visa, they wanted to know where my shoes had been than anything. They have a small, delicate ecosystem and because of such things, they have to take LOTS of precautions to make sure no one is bringing in foreign bugs or plants. It took less than an hour including our baggage claim. The airport was great, very clean and full of returning rugby teams. As soon as we had gotten off the plane, it was like “Oh my humidity!!!!” After being on an airplane for 14 hours (which deserves its own post I will write later), the humidity left us being awkwardly sweaty and clammy. The best.
We spent the next hour actually walking to our van pick up location, we needed the leg stretch. It was cloudy so didn’t catch the sunrise. The back sweat was real as we hauled our backpacks around. After picking up our campervan, which was slightly more outdated than the photos (we made the most of it, whatever) we took a couple practice drives driving on the wrong side of the road!!! Failed once, we went into oncoming traffic. Sorry Dad if you’re reading this, my credit card is down for the deductible don’t worry. Kyle being my master & commander, he is the sole driver and we have mostly adapted to driving on the right side? It is very odd, left-hand turns are weird. Right-hand turns are just fucked, Kyle jokes he only goes left so I, as the official title of direction giver, must find a route with only left turns. For the most part, they have lots of signs and arrows on their roads, there has usually been a car around us to make sure we are on the right (left) side.
Do we still jump when a car comes around the corner on the other side of the road? Yes. Perhaps Day 2 will be less edgy in that sense.
After driving around for a little while, we had what Auckland’s Weather report stated was a “Heavy Drizzle”. Is that an oxymoron? It was still warm, you didn’t need an umbrella and we were all still in flipflops. Coming from the ‘Wet Coast’ of BC, it was just a regular day?? If that’s the worst it gets (other than Cyclone Gita hitting days before our trip) I’ll take it.
Adventures for today included going to the Baylys Beach, which is a part of the 90 Mile Beach which was amazing! The Tasman Sea wasn’t very cold in this location, farther up it got chillier. The sand was perfect and the sun finally peaked through the clouds that had been hanging out. Although we thought we only had a little bit of sun (considering we had rain the morning in Auckland. We are both fairly pink)
After Baylys Beach, we continued to drive up Highway 12, going to the Waipoua Forest. That was equally as amazing in your dense, tropical rainforest kind of way. We drove a long, curvy road for most of it, met many bikers along the way and stopped at a swimming hole with a rope swing to cool off and watch for wild kiwis. We have yet to see the Kiwi but there are many birds here and they are soooo noisy. I have not come across any part of the forest that has been completely quiet. It’s so loud and fascinating. We ended the night at a campsite in Paihia which is back on the Pacific Ocean side of New Zealand. We basically zigzagged up the Northside after Auckland between the two coasts. Sounds like a lot of driving but we only drove around 400km and the time between coasts in anywhere from 1 hour – 2 hours. Pretty neat.
In Paihia, we parked and went for a walk in the village. It was all ocean views, little kids running around in no shoes and soft, salty sea breezes. We went to Thirty30 for some local beers and it was amazing. Garage Project was high up on my list of beers I have tried with the house beer from Gisborne Brewing solid for the price point. Alcohol here is expensive. Like we are talking $44 for a 700ml of Jack Daniels Whiskey. Beer by the bottle in restaurants was anywhere from $8 – $20. Not even joking, I was tempted to get the $20 beer but I decided against. After Thirty30, we went to an amazing build your own pizza place and had some more beers. An Amber Ale and Hefeweizen, I will remember the names later. A bonus of New Zealand, EVERYTHING HAS LAMB AS AN OPTION. I had a roast lamb, bacon pizza with onions in a creamy garlic sauce. Delicious. Walking back to our site, the sun had now set, it was 9 pm, we showered, set up our little home for sleeping and passed out.
Fast forward 8 hours, I am now writing this eating a sandwich in the sun as we plan out route to HOBBITON!!!!! And to the hot springs nearby. I am a huge LOTR fan and cannot wait until we get to The Shire.
Will update with photos as soon as I can,
See you in Middle Earth,
Maddi and Kyle