Man I’ve missed this…
Going from the farm straight to the camper van only made it more exciting for us both. Our first day didn’t go exactly to plan but we started to get the hang of it after that!
Day 137 – Friday 7th October 2016
Today we had nothing to wake up for up for, no alarm to wake up to, and no reason to rush, which was amazing! We slept in until gone 10:00 and didn’t have to check out until 12:00 so our morning was nice and easy. Then just as we finished packing up to leave it started raining again.
We had two options – go exploring and get rained on, or leave straight away and carry on driving north. Instead of making our stay a wasted one we wandered around the Whangarei Marina, passed the Clapham Clocks Museum (but didn’t bother going inside) and then checked out a few quayside souvenir and gift shops, before cutting our stay short when a major storm hit.
Initially the drive seemed like a battle against the elements – we had the wind screen wipers going as fast as possible, the heater turned all of the way up, and an emergency blanket for wiping windows when it fogged up too much. Then, almost like something from The Truman Show, it just stopped. The sun came out, the windows went down, the radio went on, and all of our problems seemed to have run away.
We drove for a good four hours as far as Kaitaia where we pulled over at McDonald’s to eat soup out of the back of the van in the car park while using their free Wi-Fi. The art of abusing free Wi-Fi is one that we’ve definitely mastered now, and we feel no shame in doing it as often as we can! After a late lunch we carried on for about an hour in the direction of Cape Reinga, and eventually pulled over at Tapotupotu Camping Area, one of more than two hundred Department of Conservation campsites through New Zealand. It had toilets but no showers, cost just $6 per person per night, was no more than 30m from the crashing waves of the Tapotupotu Bay and is widely considered the most beautiful sites in the country:
We went to sleep a tad worried that we’d be taken away if a big wave hit us but otherwise excited for the morning when we knew we’d have a chance to leave the van behind and carry on exploring.
Day 137 – Saturday 8th October 2016
I woke up just before 07:00 after dreaming that our camper had been washed out to sea and couldn’t get back to sleep after that so started on breakfast as Abbie packed the bedding away and made sure that we were ready for the day. After eating we decided to start with a slow walk along the beach, a climb along the rocks, and then a quick selfie before we hit the road again:
From Tapotupotu Camping Area we only had to drive for about twenty minutes until we reached Cape Reinga, the northwestern most tip of the Aupouri Peninsula at the northern end of North Island and the exact point that marks separation between the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. We took a slow walk along the path to Cape Reinga Lighthouse and stopped there for a few photographs:
If you look closely enough you’ll be able to make out the distance to home (London) – just over 18,000km.
From Cape Reinga we turned back on ourselves and headed to Ninety Mile Beach on the western coast. I’m not sure why it’s called Ninety Mile Beach because it’s only actually eighty eight kilometers long, which is roughly fifty five miles, but who am I to judge? We pulled over and went for a quick splash in the Tasman Sea but the tide was on its way in so we had to leave shortly after that.
With no real destination in mind we headed towards the Bay of Islands, and made it as far as Paihia where we found ourselves a camp site. It was only around 16:00 by this point but having spent at least five or six hours on the road we were both pretty shattered. We did take a slow walk to the beach but didn’t go any further than that:
I think by 19:00 both of us were ready for bed, so had a very relaxed evening back at our campsite. We went to sleep unsure of whether we’d stay another day or leave in the morning, but put that decision on hold until we’d got some well needed rest.