Teabagged in Coromandel

Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
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Trip End Jan 04, 2012


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Where I stayed
Coromandel Campsite

Flag of New Zealand  , Waikato,
Sunday, November 13, 2011

If in Auckland, I must warn you Taxis are expensive – especially to the airport. Thankfully, the rest of the place is cheaper than Australia so you shouldn't do to badly.

We had been duped by our campervan company. In our information pack from when we booked ages ago it stated that a free pick up would be available from any hotel in the CBD (which we are based), however this has recently changed to any hotel near the airport, or the airport itself – no wonder, the campervan place is about 2 minutes drive from the airport, no help to us though.

We got a taxi booked for $35 after our second and last night in Auckland. I can’t say much about the place other than it is quite an ordinary looking city as we only ventured out for a couple of hours to pop around the shops and get some food and it was raining a little when we were out. It felt a little English. The town was packed with souvenir shops staffed by an intrepid band of Asian salespeople. There were more staff than shelves in the shop and more souvenir shops than anything else. Highest sales items appear to be Rugby World Cup merchandise, which the country is slowly trying to clear the backlog of gear.

We got to the Happy Campers Depot after leaving City Oaks Apartments (a great mini stay) and picked up our home for the next 3 weeks. It’s a 2003 Toyota Hiace, the standard campervan of these parts. It is a 3 sleeper with fridge (supported by an auxillary battery), a microwave (which works only when hooked up to power) and a gas hob and grill. We also have a little port-potti which we were forced into taking as rugby fans apparently have low social skills and feel the need to pee and poop in along the side of the road forcing the NZ government to introduce a new law.

We’ve booked the Hobbiton tour for a couple of days time and so we are trying to arrange a schedule around being in Matamata around the 16th. Trying to keep this journey as simple and cheap as possible in the meantime we stocked up with foods and headed for a cheap ($18 a night – about 9 GBP) DOC campsite (Department of Conservation – the government has about 350 cheap to free sites around the country with basic facilities for use). We spent about 75 quid on the food, but hopefully it will pay off with what we will be saving for not eating in pubs and restaurants.

The start of the journey was difficult. Not because it is a bigger vehicle than a Getz, and not because it is back to driving a manual. They are both not a problem, in fact, slipping into Manual mode felt automatic to me and everything was easy. The thing feels clunky, like it’s done 331 000km; and that’s to be expected; because it has. But the big problem was the winds that we seemed to be experiencing on the open freeway. With the light vehicle, and the adjusted high sides (The Hiace is normally a low transit but has been extended upwards for the sake of a second bed) the thing blew around like a balloon in a breeze. I did not have fun with it. It required too much concentration and we kept slipping across the road slightly dangerously. We stopped for a break to regroup, 10 miles from our start point.

After a Mccy D’s, everything calmed down- an effect that a good Mccy D should always have. We came off the freeway, headed East and onto Thames (not the English one or that would have been an impressive drive).

If the Great Ocean Road was good and a drive to remember, than the Pacific Highway driving to Coramandel was simply exquisite. A drive in which I learnt how to be polite and allow people past my bulky slow framed vehicle (as I would expect but do not normally get when I am stuck behind some slow ass in a camper) while savouring the beginning of a 3 weeks delve into some of natures finest.

Along the road are plenty of places where we could stop off without facilities if we wished, rolling green countryside, small secluded gravelly beaches and tiny townships which show up as big dots on the map but are little more than villages in size.

"I don’t think I’ve ever seen many cows standing on hills before…." (Kate)

“errr….well they’re goats”

“They did look a bit small for cows….”

“Ahem”

And we moved on.

We drove past a township which we weren’t sure if we were meant to. The insurance kinda says we shouldn’t go north past Colville but we were kinda going east of the township (and a bit north). After another few km we were close to our destination (about 7km away) but the road turned to gravel. Crap.

The last 7km took some time, a lot of care, and a lot of patience. We arrived into the campsite with 350 plots and only about 6 of those taken and pulled into a space next to one of the shed like toilets – all to ourselves. It’s a drop toilet, its full of spiders and Kate was very proud of herself when she successfully had a sitting without getting terrified.

We had a simple tea out of the camper (sandwiches, tea, crisps, mince pies) and Kate made me laugh harder than I have on the whole trip.

While sitting on the step looking out over the green pasture, Kate took her teabag and flipped it out of her spoon, intending for it to loop over the top of the High-top into the trees next to the vehicle. A millisecond later the slap of the teabag hitting the side of the camper made me giggle. Kate laughed too. As if the teabag itself had studied years of comedy timing from the greats of slapstick, it then flopped onto the back of Kates neck, almost 4 seconds after the original slap. To be in the country.

We finished up dinner, went for a walk along the almost deserted beach - except for a young French couple (they can’t get enough of it) and witnessed a beautiful sunset, photos attached.  We jumped a mini creek leading to the sea, and I got my foot wet – but only a little.

Kate chased some seagulls.
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