After 1 week of searching desperately to buy a car in which we can sleep we realize that we are too late in the season to get a good deal here in Whangarei and finally decide to rent a campervan from Auckland.
In the moment that we fix the deal with the rental company we realize two bad news: Reto’s ears are heavily infected, so he has to start taking antibiotics and Cyclone Gita is on the way to New Zealand after heavily hitting the south of Tonga.
Therefore we change our plans, get the car and head up north first, in order to be still around in case of complications or Gita getting to close to our She San.
Via Kerikeri we go to Tokerau beach where we spend an awesome first night freedom camping.
On the northernmost tip of the north island we visit Cape Reinga with its beautiful lighthouse, just at the right time when all the tourist busses have just left again.
Then we have a first problem with the car: We hear a huge noise and first of all think that we have lost the exhaust pipe. Then we see, that the cage of the spare tyre has gone loose and was hitting the road.
The spare tyre is nowhere in sight. We assume someone has stolen it and contact the rental company about what to do. The following conversations via whatsup let us worry a bit about the “no worries full insurance” coverage that we are supposed to have…
Fortunately the next morning we have a close look again and there we find our brown tyre hiding at the side of the road – uff, that was good luck to find it again! Now we just have to improve the worn off closing mechanism, fix everything with some rope and cable straps and off we are again 😉
Via Kaitaia, Ahipara and Kohukohu and Rawene which we already know from our bike tour in November we drive south to see more of the Kauri trees.
Then we pass the West of Auckland with a Surf and bird watch break in Muriwai.
After another visit of the ear doctor in Rotorua we follow the masses of tourists and visit the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.
Stupid enough, we go together with thousands of others at 10 am to watch how th Lady Know Geysir gets initiated with a handful of washing powder. After a few fountains the spectacle is over and everyone rushes through the park…
Heading down to Wellington we hear in the radio that
“all flights in and out of Wellington are cancelled” and find that Gita is suddenly supposed to be stronger than the 35 Knots that were predicted on the day before. We go over the mountains to “hide” in Upper Hut on a lovely DOC campsite and visit Wellington the next day. After a night on the parking next to the museum we spend the morning in the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum in Wellington and board the ferry to Picton at noon.
We visit Bob whom we have met in Turkey a few years ago and who told us at that time we have to visit the South island but preferably by boat. There we are now years later by car and I feel a bit sorry that we didn’t make our way down to Picton with She San…
Following our target to go hiking we do a fist walk in the Marlborogh sounds, then hike a good part of the Cable Bay Walk north of Nelson and hike up the Mount Robert on the Lake Rotoiti, unfortunately with quite some cloud cover…
With a bit rain we arrive at the West coast, hike/climb up the Mount Te Kinga and visit the Monteith’s brewery where Brewery Manager Rob gives us a private tour.
In the afternoon we find a camping in Okarito with a roofed kitchen, when all of a sudden Lydia and Hannes from the SV Blue Lilly come around the corner. We are very happy about the company and immediately fall into endless “boating talks” 😉
In Haast we see the weather forcast for the coming days
which makes us “flee to the east” over the Haast pass. And immediately the weather improves.
From the lovely Kidds Bush DOC campground we earn the evening beer with a hike up the hill and afterwards wash off the sweat in the Lake Hawea.
The next day we find out about the Istmus Peak hike and enthousiatically do the rather long way up and down between the two lakes Wanaka and Hawea. The views are really worth the effort but my knees on the way down reach their current limit and tell me that that was really enough of hiking back down…
Via Wanaka and Cromwellwe drive to Arrowtown and Queenstown.
Next target is the Milford Sound.
Following the recommendation of our travel handbook we go there “anti-cyclical”: starting around noon in Te Anau we have no busses on the way up to the Milford Sound and once there we just arrive to find a parking again.
We choose to spend the night in the Hollyford Camp which is a lovely and very interesting site and in comparison to the DOCs for an additional NZD 7.- /person we enjoy a clean well smelling toilet, a hot shower and a heated and sandfly protected common area…
The other day we do an early hike up to the Key Summit and are out of the area long before the busses start moving back again…
In Manapouri we meet up with our friends Annie and Hugh from the SV Vega
and exchange about travel plans and favorite camp sites.
Due to the weather forecast we decide to go back north to Mount Cook rather then visiting the South and East Coast and arriving in the mountains with bad weather.
Another highlight is the Lake Pukaki with the hike up and around Mount John.
Back on the East coast we enjoy the sea lions and Peninsula Walkway in Kaikoura and slowly make our way up to Picton.
From Wellington we rush up to the Tongariro National Park, the weather seems good for a hike up the Ruapehu…
But even though we start with the first light at just after 7 am
we arrive at the top a few minutes too late to reach the dome for the crater lake view point.
Well, we are happy to have reached the crater rim and only with the help of some GPS points we find our way back down through the rocky and rough landscape…
Back in Auckland we get picked up by Andy
who studied with me in Weihenstephan some 25 years ago. He shows us around Auckland and spoils us with some great beer, awesome food and a normal bed and hot shower!
What a beautiful finish in this great NZ camping experiance 😉