Upon arriving at the Auckland International Airport John promptly pulled out his handy GPS device and determined how far from home (well, technically from Rachelle’s house because that’s where we have a mark for Newberg) exactly we were at that moment. In miles 10,939 km works out to be 6,837. Even though we are so far from home Auckland reminds us of Portland, but with palm trees.
We spent just about 48 hours in Auckland gearing up for the next 9 weeks. Gearing up meant finding a campervan to hire, picking up camping supplies we didn’t bring with us, purchasing a small guitar for John, sampling the fine food of the city, figuirng out a general route to take around the country, and visiting with the Department of Conservation representative (we’re pretty sure he has spent more time talking to trees than people). Yesterday afternoon we picked up our campervan and slowly made our way out of the city. We say slowly because we’re getting accustomed to driving on the left side of the road–we have found people really don’t like it when we try to drive on the right side, American style.
The campervan lifestyle is definitely for us. It’s luxury camping! We have a two burner gas stove, broiler, table, mini fridge, double bed, and awning. Also, the “Holiday Parks” of New Zealand are nicer than our home. They have a full kitchen, laundry, internet room, TV room, and this one even comes with a trampoline. Yes, a trampoline like the one you would have in your backyard as a kid. It’s hard to want to leave your van or park during the day. Of course, this is really only day one for us and the weather is a bit cooler so that could have something to do with it too.
New Zealand is an incredibly beautiful country and we have only seen about 150km of it so far but have wanted to stop about 15 times only have been too afraid to pull the car over. We’ll get the hang of this left side stuff soon. We are in what is considered the Northland of the North Island. The North Island is actually considered to be second rate in terms of beauty in comparison to the South Island, but we have found it to be gorgeous and incredibly green.
Speaking of green, NZ is very proud of their efforts to be a green country in terms of recycling and general stewardship of the islands. We have noticed a few things already that we really appreciate: the option to half flush the toilet, recycling bins placed throughout the city and even the campground, and most food products are locally manufactured/grown (and we have yet to find anything in the stores that contains high fructose corn syrup!!!). It seems like most folks are on board with the efforts to keep this place as beautiful and natural as possible.
We are heading to the Bay of Islands today where we plan to find a good tramp. Then, we’ll probably head up to Cape Reinga where the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea meet. From there we’ll head south back toward Auckland, stop at some point at Waiheke Island, then on to the Cormorandel Peninsula, Lake Waikaremoana, Lake Taupo, Tongariro, and Raglan (for surfing), among other stops I’m sure we’ll make. We aren’t sure if we’ll make it all the way down to Wellington, there just may not be enough time. We plan to fly out of Auckland on the 10th of November and down to Christchurch where we’ll pick up a different campervan and cruise around. We will be in the North Island for 23 days total and the South Island for 37 days. We’ll be doing more tramping in the South as there are many more hikes to explore. We are trying our best to quench the feelings of needing to see everything and reminding ourselves of our trip objectives and that we don’t want to run ourselves into the ground. It’s hard to do though when everything here seems to be so cool!