Tuesday 26th August
So after another not so great night sleep, we got up and ready so we could have a really productive day! We had to set up our bank account which took far longer than it should because of stupid Cheryl the bank woman making us go all the way back to the hostel to get a proof of address. Anyway we sorted all that stuff out and went on our way to view the campervan we had been looking at for over a week on gumtree.
I had already got my hopes up about it because I loved it but we had to check it was what it said it was and Matt had to check over all the technical stuff!
We got the train to Glen Eden, and finally found the house. The campervan was sat outside and we immediately got excited! Some crazy Russian man came out of his house to show us around the campervan. He seemed pretty genuine and was telling us he did the van up himself as he is a mechanic, carpenter, builder and a pilot.
So Matt and the Russian went for a test drive and then after some bartering we BOUGHT THE VAN!
We had to go and sort out the registration but literally as we arrived at the post office with the Russian and reached out for the correct form, the woman said ‘no, sorry the system across the whole country is down’. I was scared it was a sign that we shouldn’t choose this one, but we just had to drive an extra 30 mins to a different building…which was fine, but just meant more small talk with Russian. We went straight to ‘the Warehouse’, which is a bit like a K-mart, and completely kitted out the van! $300 later, and he was totally ready for the trip! We have called the van Timone (Timmy for short) because the number plate is HKM which is like hakuna matata – plus he is a Toyota townace, so timmy is now his name.
We unpacked all our stuff and got some food essential and then headed over to Matt’s friend Caz’s house. They are friends from Australia and so we went over for a brew and ended up staying over which was good! Good to have a nice nights sleep ready for the start of the roadtrip!
We got up and on the road and decided to try to make it up to Whangarei (pronounced Fenguray apparently!) and leave Auckland until later in the week when we had to come back to do our bungee jump!
After driving about 2 hours north from Auckland, it suddenly became really rural and sooo beautiful. It was exactly how you would imagine New Zealand to be, so green with mountains and forests in the distance, with a very light blue sea in the distance and loads of lakes and rivers running through the valleys. We took sooo many photos but it just doesn’t do it justice.
We decided we would just drive really chilled and in no rush so we could enjoy the views and look after Timmy!
We were just plodding along (with a traffic jam behind us consisting of about 10 angry cars getting right up timmy’s ass) when a police car sped ahead, put its lights on and stopped just infront of us and signalled us to pull over!
Turns out we were driving too slow and he just took one look and went ‘Foreigners?! You’re going far too slow’. Haha oops, to be fair it was only 20km slower!
We stopped off at a place called Waipu, which was a lovely beach but it was just too windy to sunbathe or get in the sea, so we cooked beans on toast with our new gas hob and had a cuppa by the sea!
We then headed up further to reach Whangarei, and when we were there we drove around for an hour to find a surfboard for Matt to buy…turns out the man that told us about it, must have been lying because there was no surf shop to be seen! So we settled for a box of wine, a pack of cards and a Frisbee! All you need in camping life! The wine was expensive – about $27 for 3l which was a bit of a shock considering we were used to $10 for 4l in Adelaide! So we need to go on the hunt for the cheapest alcohol, we did however find some moonshine which is apparently banned in a lot of countries for being so strong, so we are def gonna have a go with that soon!
We found a free campsite (i-site)… which was essentially a car park on the side of the road and made some egg fried noodles, which was definitely MasterChef standard. We finished the night with at least 2L of wine and a whole pack of custard creams – It’s been a great first day on the road.
Wednesday 27th August
The next morning we were up and on the road again by 9am (getting good at this getting up early malarki) and went to have a gander at the Whangarei Falls which is apparently the most picturesque waterfall in the whole of NZ!
We drove on to Russell, which is a town at the Bay of Islands which used to be called the ‘Hell hole’ because of its lawless history with Whalers. There wasn’t that much to do there, so we walked into the Museum to be educational, however we saw the price list on the counter ($10 each) and span round straight away and left before we got spotted.
The Northland of the North Island, is so rural and you can drive for miles without seeing any other cars or towns. The roads are so winedy along clifftops with 1,000ft drops and the views are absolutely incredible… it just seems the whole country is so unspoilt by tourists!
We came around a corner and were faced with a giant rogue cow roaming on the road and just wasn’t even fazed when we crept up to it in the van to try to make it move – we seem to be making a habit of this.
We took a ferry over to Paihia, which is the main tourist hub on the bay of islands, and stopped for a coffee by the sea. There’s so much going on there and loads of water sports, but it was just too cold and windy, we decided to find a place to set up camp and have a chilled night.
We found a lovely campsite at Omahuta Forest, which was a giant field next to a river, with loads of horses roaming around, so we pitched up there and cooked a nice curry! We walked down to suss out the toilet cubical and braced ourselves as we opened the door of a graffiti ridden metal box. Matt slowly pushed open the door and a huge bird came darting out and skimmed over our heads, screeching at us haha! I screamed, ducked and nearly cried and Matt screamed and swore at the bird…So that was the first and last time we went to that toilet cubical and unfortunately we had to be proper campers and go how nature intended…NOT COOL…especially at 11pm in pitch black, in the view of another campervan and when Matt shines a torch mid flow to expose me.