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Coromandel - Day 59

24 °C

The first night in the van was a success! With team work, we managed to cook, wash up, put away everything we'd used, turn the back into a bed, brush our teeth and wash our faces - in cold water! You have to work together to do everything as the space is so small. Andrew being tall is handy to put the tent on the back and sort the awning velcro out and me being small means I can make the bed even with little space and move things around inside the van without injuring myself! Perfect! And we slept well too. We were warm, especially with the extra quilt, and the bed was comfy enough too.

We drove up to Coromandel Town, on the western side of the peninsula, via a little town called Thames. The roads were so windy and relatively narrow in places too, we had to concentrate on every turn to make sure we didn't drive off into the sea! It was a very pretty drive though, with sea, beach and hill views along the way.

Both Thames and Coromandel Town are small with, to me, a 'small town' America feel to the towns and houses, which are made out of wood. We kept a look out for camp tables in the charity and camping shops, but there was either none to be seen or they were very expensive.

Andrew wanted to travel down the 309 road, as apparently it was a scenic drive, but there wasn't much there! There was a waterfall we could have walked to see, but Iguassu Falls has spoilt us for waterfalls and everything seems tiny now, and there was a walk to see their native kauri tree but we weren't sure we'd know what one looked like if we saw it, so we decided to research that and try and see one later! What is interesting down here is the vegetation, that we also saw a bit of yesterday and this morning too, which is much more tropical than I had expected. It reminds me a little of Brazil.

Once we got the end of that road we headed north to somewhere I wanted to see - Cathedral Cove. After parking the spaceship, around about 20 other campers and caravans, we walked the 45 minute track to get to the cove. The day had turned out lovely and warm, so lots of people were on the beach enjoying the weather. We had to run through the cove to get to the beach on the other side, trying to time it right so we didn't get soaked by the waves. I still got wet! The beach, cove and rocks were really beautiful and I could have stayed their all day.

But we had to carry on! It gets dark about 8pm here so we need to be at our campsite before then to cook in the light. We drove down the eastern coast, stopping at a few beaches along the way, including hot water beach, where you can make your own hot spring pool in the sand, but it wasn't the right time of day that.

We arrived at Wentworth River campsite in Whangamata, which is a big place with good facilities and even hot (outdoor!) showers that you put a two dollar coin in for 4 minutes of water. The woman at reception asked us whether we'd booked as their little town of 4,000 people was being taken over this weekend by another 80,000 people attending the Beach Hop - a 50s/60s festival with music, stalls and classic cars. luckily they still had space for us, but I did wonder where this town had put 80,000 people up?!

Everything was a bit easier tonight as we're starting to learn where we can put things! To think I thought we lived in a small place in London?! Here is our home and bed!

We're already jealous of the some of the other campers here though, they seem to have every luxury...separate tents for cooking and sleeping, a gazebo for relaxing under, full size caravans with head height and a real bed. A middle aged couple next to us popped open a bottle of champagne under their canopy! What's worse, everyone has a table to eat from but us!!

Posted by staceywaugh 05:56 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beaches trees views seaside campsite campervans Comments (0)

Auckland to Coromandel - Day 58

Meet Vela!

23 °C

Well, it was the big day! Let me start by saying I have only ever camped once in my life, in the Lake District for one night with Andrew and his friends when I was about 17. But today I was going to spend the first of 24 nights in the New Zealand countryside in this:

Meet Vela. Yes, she has a name. The company, Spaceships, gave it to her not us, but we made her a she. Andrew tells me it could have been named after Carlos Vela, but it doesn't feel like a he. It's a compact little van, the back has seats, a fridge, storage space for cutlery, utensils and food and in the boot there is a large storage area for your belongings. To sleep, you either fold your bed out inside the van, which takes up all the space behind the drivers seat, or you can open the boot and add a tent to the back, giving you the seating area still. The woman at Spaceships showed us where everything was, how the bed worked and gave us a description of how the tent went on the back and the awning on the side, then she was ours!

A couple were returning their van while we were picking ours up and they kindly gave us a second duvet they'd bought so keep us warm. The Spaceships office also had a corner where other returning people leave things for new travellers, so we picked up an extra frying pan, another knife, a bucket (just in case the toilets in the camp sites are so bad I can't go!!), some unopened mineral water which will be handy if the site doesn't have drinking water and few other bits.

We set off to Sylvia Retail Park to pick up a sat nav, as we'd seen a cheap one advertised at a shop called Dick Smiths (there seems to be loads of shops with the name Dick here?), a USB charger that fits in the lighter slot as there is no power to van and some extra cooking equipment because Andrew is a diva in the kitchen and can't cook without a decent knife! And also do a 'big shop' to start us off for the next 3 and a bit weeks. Dick Smith didn't have the cheap GPS in two if its stores, and the other two outlets we tried were no cheaper, so we ended up spending £75 on another model. Luckily it has Australia maps too, and assuming we don't hate camping, were planning to hire a camper in Oz too, so we can use it then. Plus it's only £5 more than hiring one for 24 days here in NZ. We spent a tenner on a usb lighter charger and bought two camping chairs (Spaceships were charging £20 to hire, and we got them for £10) and Andrew's kitchen equipment (new knife, utensil set, scissors and pan in the end!!) for £20. We tried to find a cheap camp table too, but they were about £35 so we're on the look out still. Then another £95 on food from a Pak N Save (like a massive Aldi or Lidl) and £70 petrol to fill her up, meant it wasn't a cheap day! We were also starving, so we made our first lunch in the campervan in the Pak N Save car park, and an crazy old lady said we were mad! Takes one to know one I guess...

We then had to double back to Spaceships office to get some Department of Conservation (DOC) camp passes that we forgot to pick up. This was about £70 for three weeks worth of camping in DOC camp sites, which are pretty well spread across the country. They're pretty basic sites, having a hot shower at best, only stream water at worst, but with holiday park camp sites looking like they charge around £18 a night per couple, they're a cheap way to camp. So this will hopefully save us some money as the sites are on average £7 a night for two people (some basic sites are free and other better sites charge around £12), so it would save us money in the long run. Apologies if this part is really boring, the price of things like this is just something I would have found useful when we were planning the trip!

Finally, around 3pm we were ready to set off to Coromandel! We realised we wouldn't get very far before dark today, so we headed to a camp site at Kauaeranga Valley in Coromandel Forest Park, which only had another three campers on there the whole time. We filled our water up from the drinking water tap, found a spot and then tried to put the awning up. Not as simple as it sounds! It has three poles, two elastic ropes to pin to the van and then Velcros on to the roof. Whoever decided to use Velcro to stick a heavy piece of tent like material to a car should come and try and make it stay after its been used for a while! Anyway, we eventually got it up, got the back tent on the van and then started cooking on our first night out in the wild!

Posted by staceywaugh 05:54 Archived in New Zealand Tagged campervans costs spaceships Comments (0)

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