New Zealand Road Trip Adventures: Auckland and the Coromandel
It’s been nearly 3 weeks since we’ve arrived in New Zealand which means its been over 3 weeks since I’ve updated the blog! We quickly learned that WiFi in NZ…not so great. Especially at campgrounds! We decided to push work aside the past few weeks while we’ve been road tripping around and focus on just enjoying ourselves. However, now that we’ve arrived at our house sit we will be back to work and working on a series of posts about our time in NZ, starting from the beginning…
I don’t have much to say about our first few days in New Zealand. We arrived in gray and rainy Auckland. It was shockingly cold and we quickly realized we weren’t nearly prepared for the weather. We checked into our large, modern two-bedroom suite on the 15th floor of the hotel one block from the harbor and were amazed that we were able to snag that deal at $45 USD/night. Better than a Thailand deal! And that’s pretty much where we stayed for the next 3 days, heat blasting, sweatpants on, watching American TV and sleeping off the jet lag while staying dry. It wasn’t until we picked up our Mighty Campervan that our real adventures in NZ began.
After picking up the camper, we headed straight to the supermarket and loaded up with groceries, alcohol and road trip snacks…priorities! Going to the supermarket in a new country is always fun scoping out the selection and the Countdown didn’t disappoint. While there are things that are definitely way more expensive ($2 USD for a bell pepper!), we found many things were pretty much equivalent to the U.S. Beer, on the other hand, is quite a bit more expensive so wine has been our drink of choice in NZ and its soooo delicious!
It was finally time to hit the road…destination: Cooks Beach in the Coromandel Peninsula. We took the longer, more scenic route, which took us along the coast and we were so glad that we did. What was supposed to be just a 3 hour drive turned into 5 after all of the stops we had to make for photos. This seems to be a pattern in NZ – never listen to Google maps as you will ALWAYS be stopping for photos. The landscape is just stunning no matter what route you take it seems.
We drove along the Pacific Coast with completely vacant beaches, along the edge of steep mountains with no railings, through beautiful rolling green fields with more sheep than I’ve seen in my life. We watched a young boy riding his horse on an otherwise empty beach with mountains draping the background. We witnessed a beautifully vivid rainbow after a quick rain shower. We were rewarded with panoramic views of the coast from the top of a cliff. And this was just the first day!
We arrived at our first camp for the night to find we were one of 3 guests in the entire lot of nearly 200 sites: the perks of low season. We practically had the place to ourselves. We settled in and cooked our first camp meal: chili dogs 😉
Surprisingly we found sleeping in the van not too bad at all. The next day, which happened to be Charlie’s birthday, we decided to head out and explore the area starting with a hike to the popular Cathedral Cove.
The walk was beautiful in itself, but the beach at the end was even more rewarding.
Right before we were leaving, a group of dolphins showed up and decided to give us and some lucky kayakers a show. They were having a good ole time showing off, doing flips around the kayakers and coming completely out of the water! It was like we were given the grand finale at the end of a fireworks display. I think it was a Happy Birthday to Charlie 😉 Regardless, we were completely in awe.
On the walk back, we took a detour to Stringray Bay, which was just on the other side of the rocks from Cathedral Cove. It was quite stunning as well and worth the 5 min detour. There were quite a few stringrays swimming close to shore so we see where it gets its name.
After our hike, we had lunch in our campervan and then drove around the area scoping things out before heading back to camp. We took advantage of the free hot tub at the campsite for the afternoon to warm up and relax. Then later that evening we decided to take the ferry just down the road two minutes across the bay to Whitianga. This quaint waterfront town has a selection of shops and restaurants to choose from, although being low season, it was pretty quiet. We found what seemed to be the most happening spot in town as they were having a special on steak that night along with drink specials. Charlie was sold. We had a great meal in a cozy pub which couldn’t have been a better end to our day.
Needless to say, we were off on a fantastic start to our two week camper van trip. We originally only planned to stay in Cooks Beach one night, but the area was so pretty we decided to stay for two. That would be the only place throughout our trip that we stayed longer than one night. The next day we headed to Rotorua, land of geothermal activity, AKA Sulphur City. More to come on that. Stay tuned… 🙂