Vlog link: https://youtu.be/5ePoNuhN7W4
Our very first feeling coming from the UK to New Zealand’s North Island was – imagine you’re on the upper left room of a Cluedo board (aka the UK), and you use the secret passage to teleport to the bottom right room of the board (aka NZ). There is a strong sense of familiarity and comfort even though you’re on the complete other side of the world – we understood the language (still trying to master the way they say their vowels!), we were welcomed with windy showers, and we were surrounded by greenery and farm animals as we drove down the motorway.
But it wasn’t long before we realised, Mother Nature was fifty times more exaggerated in New Zealand….this place is a kingdom of grass, lakes and cattle with every stop along the way filled with fifty shades of beautiful green, stunning natural landscapes and strong cultural roots.
As much as we loved the sights, living and driving around in a campervan massively added to our NZ travel experience. At first, we were completely clueless not even being able to figure out how to start driving, but within 10 minutes of hitting the road, our little baby Kiwi (what we named it) was home sweet home.
A huge learning curve…our own questions answered!
How do you start the car? Lift the hand break slightly before releasing it (duh?)
Why does the car keep hooting and why is everyone around us laughing?! Apparently it hoots when you drive without releasing the hand break… we learnt the embarrassing way
Why doesn’t the Diesel nozzle work?! Use a smaller nozzle, of course! Took us 10 minutes to figure that out, but we are sure they don’t have varying size nozzles in the UK!
Is there a bedroom? Yes, three single beds, two of which fold out to make a double bed…that one we learnt after 20 minutes on the phone to customer care!
Did we use the bedroom? Hands down the cosiest and our favourite part of the car – slept like a baby!!!
Is there a bathroom? More like a wet room that will fit the size of a baby cat… if you want to shower, you’ll basically have to sit on the toilet
Did we use the ‘bathroom’? Once (each)
How do you empty the ‘bathroom’? Yet to figure this one out… waiting as long as possible
Is there cooking facilities? Yep! Toaster, fridge, stove, microwave. The caravan company are foodies just like us.
Did we use the ‘kitchen”? Does heating up our packed food from the restaurant the night before count? We think yep!
Where do you park? There are camper parks everywhere, and they are pretty nice, often with WiFi, hot showers and cafes. Thanks to the Camper Mate app for helping us spot them
Who’s the better driver? Shalini (but we later discover Amar is the better cyclist, so it’s all good!)
And where did we drive to? Here are our North Island recommendations if you’re here for a week…
Stop 1: Auckland – Check out our 24 hours in Auckland City blog!
Stop 2: Waitomo Normally, we aren’t that interested in seeing bugs, but this is the home to one of the magnificent bugs on Planet Earth (actually featured on the show) – the glow worm. They hang from the ceilings of pitch black, cold and wet underground caves, which they brighten up in their thousands looking like bright neon blue Christmas fairy lights. The moment, you flash any light (e.g phone/camera), their superpowers disappear and they look like gross web-like threads.
Stop 3: Hobbiton – aka The Shire in Lord of the Rings. Although I felt like an imposter for the day (having fallen asleep in the movie), this place was awesome! Biggest achievement of the day was standing outside a Hobbit Hole and realising I’m taller than a Hobbit!
Stop 4,5 and 6: Rotorua – welcomed to this geothermal wonderland with the sweet smell of Sulphur! With so much to do here, we crammed in loads!
Started off with a bit of R&R at Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa – chilling in naturally hot baths, heated from the natural springs of the earth.
Next up, we got to experience the Maori traditions and culture in action at a local Maori village called Whakarewarewa. Our highlight was their live performances of them doing the Haka and cooking freshly made sweet corn in the natural stream from the Earth.
Our final stop was Wai O Tapu, a walking tour of colourful mineral-infused lakes , volcanic craters, spouting geysers and bubbling mud pools. Absolutely breathtaking!
Stop 7: Taupo – home of NZ’s largest lake. We cycled the Great Lake Walkway (approx 20km), stopping off to challenge ourselves to see if we could get a hole in one on a small golf floater that had been set up in the lake. We were close, but not quite!
Stop 8: Wellington – the hipster coffee capital of New Zealand! An epic 24 hours spent ticking off the major sights, quirky bars, cool coffee shops and the best foodie spots. Our top recommendations are visiting Te Papa Museum, walking down Cuba Street (restaurants and cafes), drinking down Courtenay Place (loads of bars) Mr Go’s (Chinese Restauarant), Ti Kouka (breakfast joint near the main shopping area) and The Hanging Ditch (breakfast themed cocktails!).
800km later, we are ready to catch the ferry to the South Island… watch this space!
P.s Yes, we packed light and packed for summer so we are wearing the same clothes every day 🙂
p.p.s We don’t care 🙂