|Auckland from the Harbour bridge.|
It’s quite some time since I’ve blogged the last one was 2 years ago in Bali, allot of water has gone under my bridge since then!
We’ve decided to sell up, and move from where I’ve lived for 37 years, down size into a smaller place in town somewhere, still in this area. However part of the master plan is to also buy a campervan/motorhome and periodically travel (when we both retire & get the pension) I will be clowning where ever I can and intend to visit rural schools, etc around NZ. Which brings me to the reason for restarting the travel bog, I have recently relocated a 6 Berth VW Apollo camper from Auckland to Christchurch, so I flew up to Auckland to start this journey and will also relocate another camper (different company) a 2 Berth Toyota Hi Ace from Christchurch to Nelson to get home.The idea is to check out what it’s like to drive these "Big Rigs” and to figure out the combinations of configurations, to get ready to buy the right set up for us.
So this blog will be a ramble of thoughts photo’s and ideas as I gain some experience in the motorhome world.
Being a inveterate traveller myself of the lone backpacker variety, me old backpack is threadbare and worn out, so time to upgrade to one with wheels.
Flying up to Auckland the Royals Arrival day in NZ through Wellington, fog slowed flights but eventually Wellingtons famous wind came to the rescue. I had arranged to meet another fellow clown Andrew for a chat & he turned up with this brand new (91klms on the clock) Mistubishi Outlander, plug in electric 4 wheel drive, the first in NZ, so a few photo's, as you can see he's on line!
When I hit any big smoke this what I do!
Apollo had said they have a courtesy car pick up from the airport, till I actually got to the airport then said no courtesy car for relocations, black mark #1…..taxi fare five minutes down the road minimum charge $20 black mark #2….I felt sorry for the taxi drivers, I walked to the head of the Que. about 20 cars waiting, the taxi driver told me he’s been waiting 4 hours for this first ride of the day.
At Apollo after paperwork and extra charges, I’d booked 5 days at $1 and three extra days at $75 some time ago and as I’d now got another relocation which overlapped, I expected to drop of a day early, & save $75, but no, it was booked and un-refundable, so black mark#4.
I watched the video and remember them saying " Your Apollo Camper is equipped with two batteries, so even if you have a flat battery, you will still be able to start the vehicle". (ahem...see later)
Heading south and getting dark, I couldn’t figure out how the lights switched on so I stopped at the State Highway 1 BP service station, the first one I’ve seen with a dedicated Campervan area. Another Apollo camper pulled up alongside, some fellow travellers Thai people, who were the previous hirers from the Auckland depot called Wiwat & Rabbit….(pronounced Labbit….the Thai’s have that asian language thing about not being able to roll their R’s) needed some help with their 2 berth vehicle.
Fresh off the plane ready to start their holiday, after a chat it was obvious to me they needed some friendly help to get going in NZ as they really didn’t speak very good english and had no idea where to go and what to do, so I said follow me!!!!!!
He was very good at following however, (even mistakes) and I went west off State Highway 1 at Mercer. I found a good park-up place off a minor road ending day 1 of my Motorhome experience.
Day 2 after my morning stroll I return for breakfast and unable to light the Gas (I found out later I needed to switch on the range hood to get spark power to the stove) I had a cold breakie. I was extremely carefull in making sure everything was switched off last thing at night, but when I went to start the engine, I had a flat battery so out came the cell phone and 0800 AA man came to my rescue. After a fancy test of the battery, including print out (it was faulty) and new battery installed we were ready to go. Very impressive pull out tray for replacement in his vehicle.
The Thai couple took this opportunity to also get some help with their 2 berth Camper, they couldn’t get the table off, above the bed area at the back, so AA Hamish the super friendly, burly Kiwi, gave it a good pull and the whole top came off (short screws). As we were only 50 kms from the pick up point, I suggested they go back to the depot and get it fixed or a different Camper as you really need a table on your 16 day tour of NZ!
But no they really wanted to follow me and anyway 'We no need table” No R’s so I understood it perfectly! I asked how had they slept last night, she said “We put bed on top of table”
I had not been down the west side of the North Island before and had pencilled in Raglan, New Plymouth, Whanganui on route to visit and my new found motorhome friends were willing to follow me all the way to Wellington.
Raglan was a great find, similar feel (for me) to Takaka, with an extra Maori flavour, I made the mistake of going into a Maori roadside gallery with a sharp turn in, and a narrow gateway, I got thru safely, but the thai’s scrapped their vehicle on the gatepost….blast, I said!, but they said “We got in” By now they were going to follow me onto the ferry, so I tried to get them also booked, but found they were not taking bookings (on the Inter Islander) due to the other ferry hitting the wharf last week and out of commission till sunday, so we all continued towards Wellington.
Our second nights freedom spot came about after New Plymouth going down the Surf Highway, I turned left towards Mt Taranaki or Mt Egmont and found a beautifull little narrow road heading up to the mountain, till I had to go left again and finally with no nice obvious spots for two large camper vans, we were back on the Surf Highway, so I asked in a service station and was told about Corbett Park, which turned out to be right next to the sea, and it filled the bill for freedom.
Totally new to Whanganui I choose to follow the tourist info centre signs, which took us (two large campers) through the centre of town bang on 12 noon on a friday, but hay the visitor centre was fab, right next to the river complete with bird call in the toilets and hot water!
I needed a sugar fix…this was the result in this beautiful old building (1906 and already strengthened for earthquakes) now a cafe.
Black sandy beaches were also new to me & my thai companions, and now I see their camera for the first time!
My Brother lives in Wellington and I’d been visiting a few weeks ago and had bought a torch (actually for Motorhoming) which had stopped working after 30 seconds use on night 1, so I thought, as I was going through Otaki, where I’d bought it, I would revisit the Hunting and Fishing Shop (huge purchase of $8.99) hoping to get it fixed. “No problem" she said….”What colour do you want... the same colour". This is an impressive shop, and great chat to the old fella (well he was older than me) who said “We shot that Zebra last week up the valley”..”Oh" I said…”But no Elephants?” what followed was a humourus exchange and wander around the shop, "George, the Bison”…head,..... and the Deer head shot by an 11 year old boy last year, The Zebra skin you could buy for $2700, the Wilderbeast skin on the floor to the guns room, the wild pigs heads next to the Swandrys, they certainly looked “Wild” and all this repartee, lost on my companions.
I recommend Otaki Village neat little town with great council sculptures, seating etc, well worth a look see!
My brother lives in Wellington and with his local knowledge tried to find a freedom camping spots for two in deepest darkest Khandallah & found the perfect spot…..except the only road out was so narrow (and no yellow lines) if two cars parked on opposite side of the street, no 7.7M Apollo would pass. After much thought and exploration we parked at Tepapa, not freedom, but cheaper and safer and better access for the Ferry and Motorways North.
I took my thai friends for a quick walking tour around Wellington City centre and is my custom I threw my Soprano over my shoulder for a blast in the Wellington Train Station entrance building...the sound in here is amazing, the photo's below are of a previous visit.
But this is what I found when I unrolled my instrument!
|Even you can see this is unplayable!|
I made out a North Island itinery for Mr Wiwat and wife nicknamed Labbit. pronounced in thai/english “Labbit” (I know I've repeated this, but I like it) and wished them well on their next 10 day adventure…I hope they make it…the Picton ferry did appear to have space on deck where I was. These steers defiantly looking for greener pastures were much photographed by tourist passengers as was I.
First time I've not had complaints about long tones!
I was a stand in fog horn for the Ferry.