21 Days driving around North Island New Zealand, In a Spaceship (Camper van) WK 1

Hey everyone,

Sorry it has been so long since we have wrote anything on here. We have been driving around the North Island New Zealand for 3 weeks. We had an amazing time and we have now just arrived in Christchurch tonight. We flew from Auckland to Christchurch this evening at 16:45pm. We will be staying in Christchurch for a couple of days, then hiring out a camper again to drive around the South island.

Here is a map to show the route that we took through the North Island

Map of our route on the North Island

Map of our route on the North Island

Week 1 Monday 6th September-Sunday 12th September

We arrived in Auckland on Thursday 2nd September, from Sydney. We stayed in Auckland for 4 nights, whilst we sorted out a camper for our travels around the north Island. We were excited about the opportunity to cover most of the North Island. Giving ourselves 3 weeks, would give us time to take roads that most people would have to normally cut out, because of lack of time.

The original plan was to go to the South Island first, then finish with the North Island. However there was a 7. Earth Quake in Christchurch on Saturday 4th September, which meant made us decide otherwise.

We booked our camper with Spaceships. It cost us $31 a day. It had a bed in the back, that you pull out. It also had a small cooker, pots and pans, dvd player, water supply and a small fridge. The car was automatic, which I’m not used to driving, but I was pleased to have an automatic in the end, with all the hill starts we had to do.

Paul outside our Spaceship

Paul outside our Spaceship

Day 1-Monday 6th September-Auckland to Thames.

We set off in our Spaceship Camper at about 4pm on Monday 6th September. We had a rough plan of our route mapped out and a rough idea of when we wanted to reach certain places by. However like all plans, they need adjusting along the way.

Me and Paul are not used to driving at all. I passed my test over 8 years ago, but only had a car for a short while, and Paul passed his test nearly 2 years ago, but hasn’t had a car since. We soon got used to driving.

On our first day we drove towards Thames, on the Coromandel Peninsula. We drove through the towns of Whitford and Clevedon. Our first stop was Kawakawa Bay. Then we drove by Seabird coast and Miranda. We didn’t have much daylight time as we didn’t set off till 4pm, so we stopped overnight in the camper in Thames.

Day 2- Tuesday 7th September- Thames to Hamilton.

We woke up early this morning, at about 5.30am. It had rained all night, the rain is so loud on the van. We set off at about 7:00am and drove to Coromandel. We got to Whitianga and Hahei at 9am and we were at Cathedral Cove by 10am. We parked up and walked down to Gemstone Cove. This is a popular spot for snorkelling in the summer. We were the only people on the beaches this morning, as it was wet and windy. It meant that we got the beach to ourselves, but I still think I’d prefer a beach with people on and sunshine! Maybe we’ll have to pay another visit in the summer.

Cathedral Cove, gets its name because of the large Cove on the beach. There are also many stacks (coastal rock feature) out at sea, which make the whole view look amazing.

Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove

Paul-Cathedral Cove

Paul-Cathedral Cove

We drove on to Hot Water beach in the afternoon. It was still raining, but we decided to still keep going, we just tried imagining everything in the sunshine. People go to hot water beach to dig in the sand and make a hot water bath. The water underneath is hot from volcanic rock under the sand. We dug a little hole in the sand to dip our feet in and it was lovely and warm.

hot water beach

hot water beach

DSCF5855

We then drove on to Whangamata, then to Waihi. Waihi is famous for it’s gold mining and Quartz.

Gold Mine in Waihi

Gold Mine in Waihi

We didn’t realise how much we stood out as tourists. When we were walking around the small town of Waihi a local man shouted from his car, Welcome to New Zealand! We can’t even blend in here in New Zealand….we’ll have to work on that.

We got as far as Hamilton tonight, and slept in our camper there.

Day 3-Wednesday 8th September 2010 Hamilton-Raglan

We woke up early this morning and drove to the coast at Raglan. First of all we stopped at ‘Bridal Falls’ on the way. The name ‘Bridal Veil Falls’ comes from the fact that it looks like a Brides Veil. There are a few places to view the falls, we looked from the top and also walked down to view it from the bottom.

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

We then continued driving on to Raglan. First of all we stopped in the town of Raglan and took a walk around the lake. Then we drove on to the beaches there. First of all we stopped at Whales Bay, which is famous amongst surfers, because of the waves that they get there. We stopped at a few other beaches on the drive back towards Hamilton.

Whales Bay-Raglan

Whales Bay-Raglan

We checked into a hotel in Hamilton this afternoon, so that we could shower and get on to the internet. We were both feeling really tired, so it was great to get a good nights rest.

Day 4-Thursday 9th September 2010 Hamilton-Matamata-Rotorua

We checked out of our hotel (Auto Lodge) this morning at 10am. It was great having a proper bed to sleep in. We went for a short walk around Hamilton before leaving and took a walk along the river. We went to K-Mart to buy me a new pair of jeans and new trainers for Paul. He had holes in his shoes and my trousers have been sewn back up so many times, that I was definitely due a new pair of trousers.

We drove on to Cambridge from Hamilton, about a 20 minute drive away. It was a nice town with an old town hall, cathedral, park and one main shopping street. We took a quick walk around the town before driving on to Matamata. Matamata is famous for the town of Hobbiton from Lord of Rings. You can pay for a tour around the set from Lord of the Rings. This costs about $60 (£30) each. We decided not to do this, as we probably wouldn’t even recognise anything anyway. We could see a tour bus just about to drive off, so we quickly got in our camper and tried to follow them, but by the time we got round to the tour bus, they had driven off! So we decided to just drive around to see if we could see anything. Well we did see a lot of green, rolling, hills, but we didn’t really know what we were looking for, so we gave up. We met a guy the day after who had done the tour, so he filled us in. He said they only have one of the original buildings left up, but that they are re-building the Hobbiton Town for filming later this year. We got to see some pictures, so we were satisfied by that, plus it didn’t cost us anything.

Hobbiton Town-Matamata

Hobbiton Town-Matamata

We drove on to Rotorua next, which was a 1 hour drive away from Matamata. Rotorua is famous for their thermal pools and Maori culture. Over 70% of the population are Maori. As soon as we arrived in Rotorua we noticed the smell of rotten eggs. This is caused by sulphur, because the earths crust is so thin here and causes a lot of geo-thermal activity.

We didn’t arrive in Rotorua till the evening, so we just took a quick look around and decided to wait till the morning to do anything. We slept in our camper again tonight. After a few nights, we were getting used to sleeping in it.

Day 5-Friday 10th September 2010-Rotorua.

This morning we went to Wai-O-Tapu thermal wonderland, which is a geo-thermal park, 20 minutes drive from Rotorua. It costs $30 (£15) each to get in, which includes getting to see the Geyser going off at 10.15am. We thought there must be some trick involved in making the geyser go off, at exactly 10.15 am every morning. We found out that there was. They put a soap substance into it which makes it explode up to 15 meters high. Under the surface there are two chambers of water, one hot and one cold. The soap mixture breaks down the surface tension between the 2 chambers and allows the hot and cold water to mix. This then creates the Geyser. It was first observed by an English convict, who was washing his clothes near a stream. They dropped a bar of soap into the geyser by accident, which caused it to react and reach a height of 10-15 meters high. After discovering this, they would throw bars of soap in on a regular basis, for entertainment purposes.

Lady Knox Geyser

Lady Knox Geyser

We saw many different volcanic features around the park. Here are a few pictures.

Red/Brown Colour caused by Iron Oxide

Red/Brown Colour caused by Iron Oxide

Ruth outside-Devils Bath-Green colour is caused by Colloidal Sulphur

Ruth outside-Devils Bath-Green colour is caused by Colloidal Sulphur

The smell of eggs

The smell of eggs

In the afternoon we went to visit a Maori village just close by to Rotorua center. I spoke with a man in the village for a while and he shared stories and facts about his culture.

We then went to the Rotorua Museum. The entrance fee was $12 (£6) each. The museum is an old bath house, that closed down in the 60’s. People used to travel from all over the world to come to the bath house. First they would go and see the Doctor and he would prescribe a certain bath treatment for each client. The building was going to get knocked down once it was closed, but finally it was agreed to make it into a museum.

Rotorua Museum-Old Bath house

Rotorua Museum-Old Bath house

We stayed the night in Rotorua, as we still wanted to visit another Maori village in the morning.

Day 6-Saturday 11th September 2010 Rotorua-Taupo

This morning we went to visit the Whakarewarewa Thermal Village-A Maori Village, just 10 minutes drive from the city. It cost us $28 each for entrance to the village for the whole day, this includes a guided tour and cultural performance.

For over 300 years they have utilised the geothermal resources for daily cooking, bathing and living. They cook their meals outside in something that they call a Hangi. It’s a steam cooker, powered by the hot water under the earth. They also bath outside. We all enjoyed sitting on the warm patio by the baths whilst the guide told us stories about the village. We walked around the village our self after we went on the tour.

Ruth and Paul-Whakarewarewa Thernal Village

Ruth and Paul-Whakarewarewa Thernal Village

We also watched a cultural performance given by some of the people who live in the village. Men traditionally stick their tongues out, this is a symbol of defiance, to fight away evil spirits. They also bulged their eyes out. They would do this along with chanting before war, to intimidate the other side. Well there were only 5 performers doing the dance and it intimidated me, so I think a whole army would definitely do the job!

Whakarewarewa Thermal Village

Whakarewarewa Thermal Village

After our visit to the village we drove on to Lake Taupo. We drove down highway 5 from Rotorua, taking us about 1 hour. We stopped at a geo-thermal power station on the way and also Hukka Falls. The river at the falls was so powerful, creating a short but powerful waterfall.

Hukka Falls-Taupo

Hukka Falls-Taupo

We got to lake Taupo at about 5.30pm. We stayed here for the night, ready to explore around the lake in the morning.

Day 7-Sunday 12th September 2010 Taupo

This morning we went back to Hukka Falls to do a walk along the river. It was a 2 hour walk, taking us through a forest area close by to the river. We ended up by a thermal pool, where there were a group of guys bathing in it. Not a bad idea, if only we had our swimming stuff with us! We then drove on to where the dam is and at 2pm we were able to watch the dam gate being opened. This happens every day to allow water in.

In the late afternoon we drove to Accicia Bay. We did a walk through a wooded area, taking us to the bay. The cliffs in the background looked amazing.

Paul-Accicia Bay

Paul-Accicia Bay

We stayed the night in Taupo.

Click Here to read about our 2nd week on the North Island

Ruth and Paul

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to Comments?

PLACESVISITED

MOSTCOMMENTS

Ironing Preston
Ironing Service Preston
Web Design Morecambe
Lancaster Gift Shop
Infertitly Blogs