Friday 6th October
We were very excited to go and collect our campervan and once shown around and safely in our seats we headed off for the open road.
We weren't long out of Auckland to the East, before the landscape changed from city to countryside - and it was greener than green. After a few miles it felt like our eyes had been washed (thanks Sonia) and we were able to see everything in such clarity. Sheep and Spring lambs dotted the hilly landscape, and it was very much like the beautiful Devon we love so much, but with palm trees separating the fields!
We then headed north to the Coromandel peninsula to stay at a Top10 campsite where we could get used to the van, recharge it, fill with water and empty the 'grey' water (from the sinks) and loo (Dave was designated the job title 'Head of Big Jobs').
We were able to take the camps bikes for a cycle along the water to a fishing harbour and then picked up some fish and chips in the village on the way back - despite Jake riding into a parked car (luckily it had a laid back owner!) - before bedding down for the first time in our double bunks.
Saturday 7th October
We all slept remarkably well! We managed to feed and water ourselves as well before heading out at 11 (ok it took a little while to get organised - we were awake before 8!). We were headed to the East of the peninsula and stopped at Cathedral Cove for a hike down to the caves and massive rocks on the beach.
We arrived at Hot Beach in time to get down to the beach and dig ourselves a hot tub. Yes, this being NZ, a hot spring comes up through the sand and you can create your very own bath. Some areas were unbelievably hot- you can easily get burnt. It was trial and error to get your temperature right but we found the perfect spot in the end and it was tough getting out! I was jealous of the guy who brought a cold beer with him!
Back at the camp the kids took the Go carts out for a spin after showering and it was fish and chip night so we had to oblige again.
Sunday 8th October
It was time to leave the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula to head south towards Hamilton. It was raining but our spirits were high as there was a feast for the eyes at every turn - and if possible even greener in the rain!
All the way along the roads there are lookout points signposted and you step out at these points to amazing walks, waterfalls, springs etc. The beauty (and frustrations) of our digital age mean that these points are shown on the GPS as Dave navigates so we're able to choose the highlights as we go. We stopped at Oahu falls which was stunning and we could have swum there had it been warmer.
We also stopped at
Kanangahake gorge, where we had a hike around the gorge, through the tunnels and up a track that used to be a gold mine. Again it was a beautiful spot.
A great spot for a snack after a good walk.
We drove on to Matamata and had dinner at a pub that suggested our next stop, before going onto Hobbiton, where we were able to park for the night ready for our tour the following day. All we had to do was get dressed and have some breakie and we were already at the entrance for our 9am tour!