So we know we’re a bit behind on our updates, but to start you off here is a summary of our first section of traveling on from Auckland, until we can write more!
We’ve finished our time in Auckland after a good time with the other BUNAC’ers and a great day hike up Rangitoto volcano in the bay – pics on Facebook!
Talking of which, you’ve probably seen it all over Facebook already, but we’ve bought a Campervan! After the simplest registration at the Postshop, Nessie (our ex-rental, converted Toyota Estima) is ours! And we couldn’t wait to take her out for an explore!
And explore we have. On the Friday, we left Auckland for the Hunua Ranges, visiting the beautiful Hanua falls, and going for an accidental 6 hour hike over three peaks and through an ice cold river, impassable without taking boots off, brrrr (we thought we were taking a gentle walk around the reservoir). Then we spent a rainy day in Raglan, not surfing, but enjoying a lovely coffee shop and visiting the Bridal Veil Falls before driving to the Pirongia Forest Park for yet more walking (with sore legs)!
On Wednesday 8th we went to Waitomo where we spent 5 hours (two tours for the price of one!) in the Ruakuri caves which are filled with glowworms. This began with a 37 metre abseil into the cave, and included black water rafting, an underground zipwire, climbing waterfalls and throwing ourselves back down them in rubber tubes. Cold, dark, sometimes scary (especially the wetas…) and absolutely worth every second!
That night, we went back to our home away from home, the Operau Roadhouse, a campervan site run by two of the nicest Kiwis we’re yet to meet, Bill and Brenda, who found their way into our hearts when they gave us pies and chicken on the horrible stormy night we arrived here (Abby was sure the campervan was going to blow over), and have since shown us the warmest hospitality, and a home cooked meal! And a shower. We needed a shower! We headed off the next day for a second attempt at Raglan, with the chance of some sunshine!
Nessy Lessons (Nessons?) learnt:
1. Don’t cook into the wind (especially if you’ve overportioned!)
2. Don’t park in a muddy field without 4WD (thanks to the Kiwis who helped push!)
3. If you feel a draught, BLOCK IT! (With towels, Josh’s scarf, pillows or a sheep, there’s loads!)
4. NO SHOES IN THE CAMPERVAN!!!!
5. Park near the toilet. Nobody likes a long rainy walk in pajamas.
6. Don’t park too near the toilets. They smell.
7. Get beer. More than you think (NB, not while driving)
8. Don’t go over 3000rpm unless you like the smell of overheating
9. Don’t corner too hard if you like your food and crockery where you left it.
10. Gravel is not your friend, don’t top 30kph or your head may shake off, you won’t hear the radio and brakes become irrelevant.
Suffice to say we loved Raglan – three days surfing, a night out in the bars of the town with some people from the hostel, excellent pizza at the Harbour View Hotel and an altogether chilled out time at the awesomely cool Solscape Eco Retreat, especially with the excellent surf school there. We will definitely be back to improve on our surfing, although we think that being able to stand up for a good few seconds after three days is not bad at all!
Next stop, Rotorua!