After exploring Coromandel, we only had two more nights before our scheduled flight out of Auckland. Wanting to spend one of those nights with a coastal view, we settled on freedom camping in Kaiaua. This little town permits camping in a small area next to their boating clubhouse. We arrived just before sunset to dozens of other campers with the same idea. Luckily, we found a nice parking spot with a view although it was near some puddles from the constant rain. The rain let up for sunset and we watched the dramatic sky while enjoying a drink after our wet day. (Read about the wet day in the Coromandel post). That night, we took a break from cooking and walked across the street to a fish n’ chips shop – the fresh fish and large servings left us completely satisfied!
The next morning, we drove to Auckland and first stopped at a library to use their free wifi. There are not many options for camping in the city and we found the cheapest to be Continue reading
After a day of mountain biking and enjoying the thermal activity in Rotorua, we headed northwest to stay at a campsite at McLauren Falls. It was one of the best campsites we visited on the North Island! It’s a wonderful little park with several walking trails, great views over a river, and many sheep, ducks and swans roaming about. Also, there were great amenities so it was worth the $10 per person fee. Before leaving in the morning, we stopped by the falls right outside of the park. Above the trickle of water cascading over large rocks were large caution signs. Although you are permitted to climb on the rocks Continue reading
After spending most of the rainy day catching up on the Internet and grocery shopping, we headed north from Taupo. That afternoon, we stopped at a natural hot spring known as the Hot-Cold Spring. It’s another hot stream that meets with a cold river but the barrier between the two waters was not as distinct as the one we visited in Taupo. Rather, pockets of warm and cold water travel around a pool area creating a very neat contrast. You can also relax further up stream to enjoy just the hot water. We sat in the ever changing pockets of water while watching the sky move to dusk then darkness full of stars. It was perfect.
We stayed at a free campsite that night located on the small nearby Lake Okaro. When we arrived, the area was completely empty which was rare and had not happened since our rugged road trip but by morning another small campervan had joined us. We also woke to blue skies but it was extremely cold! Apparently, the week of rain brought Continue reading
Sara was a bummed-out from almost a week of rain and our bedbug situation so wanted some normalcy. We decided going to a movie would do the trick and provide a break from the van. On the drive from Cape Palliser to Tongariro National Park, we searched for movie theaters in small towns and found one at Palmerston North but just missed the movie by 15 minutes! We tried again at the next town with no better luck. So much for that idea because we weren’t going to be in any towns with theaters for a few days… oh well.
That night we stayed at a DOC budget campsite near the trailhead of Tongariro Alpine Crossing (a very popular day hike) and we had our sights on climbing Mt. Ngauruhoe. The center of the North Island is a volcanic and geothermal hotspot. Mt. Ngauruhoe is an active volcano that last erupted in 1975, but its main claim to fame is starring as Mt. Doom in Lord of the Rings. As we were cooking dinner, the clouds and rain finally lifted allowing us to peak at the volcanic mountains through the trees. Hopefully the weather would stay away for our climb the next morning! Continue reading