We have left our glamorous life in Auckland behind and are now very much on the road. First project: the Coromandel peninsula a few hours away from Auckland.
Thanks to the diversity of the landscape in New Zealand, it can feel like you fit a lot of trips in one day. We had a coffee in a nice cafe in the capital, went for a hike in a mountain range and enjoyed a beach sunset all in the same day. And getting from place to place is a treat in itself, if the landscape is not obscured by one of the frequent rain showers.
Rain here is no joke: the hike we had planned to do first turned out to have been closed since April because parts of the paths had been washed away in a storm. But the vegetation seems to enjoy it, and the landscape in the lower parts can look a bit like Central Europe, if not for some things that are a bit off: the appearance of palm trees, a strangely large amount of cows per meadow, and a lack of people. Not only are there not a lot of other cars on the road, but there are also very few people outside.
The only place where we saw some more tourists was Cathedral Cove on the East Coast. And that's not very surprising: a hike through a great beach and some bits of jungle leads you to impressive rock formations partly eroded by the sea. The whole stretch of beach looks out on small islands, and only the beach houses behind you remind you that you are in the 21st century. We decided to stay all day and managed to find a designated free camping space in a car park next to a viewpoint on top of a hill, ideal for stargazing and morning strolls. The next day, our luck with the weather was up and we spent most of the day driving and getting provisions.
Along the way, we've started learning about do's and don'ts of life in a small camper van. Putting all things away immediately after use is crucial. Any object that is not solid is in fact a container for another object. You need to keep in mind what various switches and levers to turn off and on before driving. Beautiful silvery sand may look innocent on the beach, but goes viral when it makes its way into a van. And hand washing something to hang out to dry on a scenic beach may seem smart, but not if you do it with not enough sunlight left in the day. You may actually end up driving a washing line with wet dark socks around the island, looking like you are testing Christmas decorations for the chronically depressed.
All our mistakes were remedied yesterday, since we splashed out on a paid camping place with great things such as electricity, warm showers, washing machines and driers. An added bonus was a real kitchen with stoves, ovens, and taciturn Germans. Next up after our recharge: fun with geysers and ancient trees in the volcanic region.