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Driving to Wellington - Day 70

On the road in New Zealand

20 °C

We woke up, after managing to fall asleep over the noise of a caravan park party, showered and got on the road. We had around 8 hours to drive today to get to Wellington.

There's not a great deal to say about the drive itself, it was long and samey, so ill take this chance to tell you a few things about being on the road in New Zealand.

1. The Radio.
The Good. Much like the television programmes, they are allowed to say anything they want on the radio here. I don't even feel comfortable saying what one female presenter said on air, because I am not sure its an appropriate abbreviation for a group of people (this bit, of course, is not the good bit of their freedom of speech!). It's also often really funny though, as again they're allowed their own opinions and will argue amongst themselves and speak over callers. One of our favourites so far has been a radio programme with a psychic and callers - 'Yeah, I'm calling because me and my husband are having problems and I need to know whether its worth fighting for', Psychic replies, 'What I'm getting is, you and your husband are in a struggle, you keep on saying what he's done wrong and he is telling you what you've done wrong, and you need to stop that' - ridiculous!

The Bad. Now maybe we have a rubbish radio in our Spaceship van, but we've spoken to other travellers here and they've found the same. There is NO solid signal almost anywhere! You scan for a station, if you're lucky you'll get it and then when a few minutes later when a good song is on it will start to crackle, or most often you'll get a crackly station right from the beginning. Why pick up a crackly station on auto scan?! Radio crackle is the number one annoying sound for me in the world too, so we've had the iPod on, a lot. I am sick of every song we own.

2. Signs. From the brilliant to the ridiculous.
The road safety signs or advertisements are genius and much more hard hitting than in the UK. No pictures, as its difficult to get them on the drive, but my favourite was this - Drink DrIvE.

Absolutely everything is signposted. So much so I'm surprised the cows in the fields don't have 'Daisy the Cow' name tags. For example, you'll drive down the road and there's a yellow sign saying 'Tui Creek' and you will see nothing but grass. It must be the world's tiniest creek or completely hidden from view, but they'll name it anyway!

The road names are very literal too, such as 'Cemetery Road' - leads to the cemetery -, 'Harbour View Road' - has a lovely view of the harbour -, and 'Big Flat Road', which I can only assume would have been big and flat.

Another thing I don't think we have in the UK are road signs that you read from the bottom up. There are loads painted on the road that say:
We're asking 'What does Bridge Lane One mean?!' But you're meant to read from the bottom, which just isn't natural. Another thing about the One Lane Bridges - the giveaway sign is always on the end that has the worst sight line. Luckily there aren't enough people on the road for it to be a big worry. And finally...why do highways have bridges that only have one lane anyway?!

3. Roadkill. It's everywhere. Birds and all sizes of animals. So sad.

4. Andrew's favourite thing on the road is waving at other Spaceship vans as they pass. He gets upset when they don't wave or put little effort into it, but you should see his little face light up when they give him a hearty, meaningful wave! His favourite to date has been a guy who had his arm out of window and did a 'power to the people' fist pump, which of course he has tried to copy since.

5. Whether it's due to road induced boredom or not, our Sat Nav makes us laugh. She can't pronounced words or abbreviations properly at all. The main roads here are called State Highway and then a number after, e.g. SH 1. This is pronounced 'Sh-one'. This reminded us of Wayne's World and 'Shwing' so whenever we're on SH 1 we say 'Sh-One, Sh-One'! This can be replicated with some other numbers too. She also says 'right' like Dr. Evil from Austin Powers, when he says 'Number 2, you look so handsome...and Frau, you look so...riiiighhhht.' You might have to have been there...I think the driving is affecting us a little.

Posted by staceywaugh 05:23 Archived in New Zealand Tagged driving radio on_the_road gps spaceships sat_nav roadkill road_signs 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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