Friday, February 27, 2015

New Zealand - North Island

The 'Lucky' Campervan
Cheese press - not the books
We flew QANTAS from Brisbane to Auckland.  The three hour flight and 3 time zones gave us an afternoon arrival for a hotel night.  
The next morning we picked up our camper from Lucky Campervans.  These are Previas like the one we had in Australia.  The price was good but it didn't have the outside sleeping concept nor an electric fridge.  We thought NZ was going to be colder than Oz so it wouldn't be too hot sleeping inside, wrong.
The fridge was no problem except we were always buying ice and dealing with melted ice water on everything.

We headed north up the west coast to the Kauri Forest.  The trees were spectacular but not much in the way of wildlife.

Russell car ferry
The next day was Paihia.  This is where the treaty between the settlers and Maori's was signed which essentially ended the wars between the settlers and indigenous people.

'Lucky' on The Paihia to Russell ferry
The Maori traveled thousands of miles from Polynesia to New Zealand thousands of years ago.  Their same ancestors also traveled a similar distance to Hawaii.  Their current language seems very similar to Polynesian and Hawaiian.  Just like Australia has kept the Aboriginal names for many places, New Zealand has done the same with the Maori.
Anglican Church in Russell

 The day after Paihia we took the car ferry to Russell.  This was the countries first capital.  It has a well protected anchorage and was the center of whaling for a while.  

We did some hiking, found some deserted beaches and think we saw a Kiwi bird.

Ended up at the oldest tavern and had a beer.

The town of Russell

Sundial on Flagstaff Hill

Russel and Bay of Islands

New Zealand Wildlife
 We enjoyed Happy Hour with our new friends.  We don't like to compare places too much but Australia has such cool wildlife.  Kangaroos bouncing around in every campsite.  NZ has ducks.

Cooking in the 'Lucky Van'

Booker at the Falls

Whangarei Falls
We took the winding beach road to Whangarei and poked around the wharf.  We met up with Per and Sabina from BREEZE.  They crossed the Pacific from Mexico when we did in 2013.  We have only met over the radio and never in person.  It is nice to talk with them and put faces with voices.

We went hiking to the Whangarei Falls.  Fortunately it was an easy hike since the Russell hiking had done a number on our bones and feet.
Whangarei Falls
The relocation Campervan

Hiking in the Taupo Thermal Valley

Thermal vents at Taupo

Dave at the heavy petting zoo

Grapes at the Elephant Winery

The Tui Brewery Bar

Men's Room at Tui - Great Urinals

Beer Keg Sink at Tui
Tui Beer Sampler


Our parking spot on the ferry to Picton

We turned in the 'Lucky' and had another hotel night prior to picking up our new van.  This van needs to be relocated from Auckland to Christchurch.  It's essentially free to us except we pay the ferry and fuel.  We felt like Rock Stars compared to being in the Lucky.

It turned out to be a long day so when we stumbled upon a campsite when checking out the Taupo thermal vents, we stopped early.  We hiked among steam vents on the hills and valleys.  The campsite had kind of a petting zoo with llamas, sheep, and rabbits.

Our original first day goal was Napier/Hastings in the Hawkes Bay wine region.  We ended up there the second day and somehow, right around happy hour we ended up tasting the local wines.

The next day we were heading to Wellington where we would take the ferry to the South Island.  Along the way we stopped at the Tui Brewery.  They had some nice beers that aren't available anywhere else except here at this brewery.

I have seen lots of great stainless fabrication in New Zealand but this has to be the best use of old beer kegs that I have ever seen.

We had an early ferry departure.  The weather was nice and ended up at the South Island at noon.

It was a 3 hour trip but it looked like we were in a different country.

That's it for this blog.  Will post the South Island when we get done.  Cheers mates.

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