We survived our first week with Lucy, nearly… More on this later.
As it kept on raining in Auckland after we’ve arrived, we looked at the weather forecast for the whole island, and decided to head to Gisborne, the sunniest place in New Zealand! This drive would be 500km so we took three days for the journey.
Our first night was in Mount Maunganui, where we climed the 230m hill to the cloudy summit. Although we think of ourselves as somewhat experienced hikers, this climb was really hard, and we highly appreciated the Hot Salt Water Pools at the base of the hill where we relaxed our muscles.
We continued our worryless trip to the ini-mini town of Matata. The relaxed campsite near the beach was a great spot to try out our car-mounted basecamp tent. It provided some protection from the low hanging clouds.
At night however, the strong wind proved that the tent is not all-weather certified :)
Now for the hard part of the journey to Gisborne: the highway 2 mountain pass from Opotiki to Gisborne. The steep climbs almost ended in a fatal death for Lucy. While driving our eighteen-year-old, the engine started wildly overheating and we had to pull aside. We had the genius plan of waiting awhile for the engine and cooling liquid to cooldown, but this was not to the liking of the locals, who kept offering help. Eventually we gave in to the third helpers, Kenny and his dad, who insisted they would tow us up the last and steepest part of the mountain pass. So Lucy was towed up, which was kinda embarassing.
The downhill part was less exciting, although we watched the temperature gauge more closely than the road and feared the worst at even the slighest bump. But thank god for Lincoln, the radiator expert of Gisborne. He replaced the old and completely blockedout radiator of Lucy with a brand new one and now she’s driving like a new born pony.
While Lincoln was doing his magic, we explored the wonderful and sunny city of Gisborne. The city is famous for its bookshops and local wines. We obviously tried both of them!
Thursday (23 December), we surfed with Frank and he took our super cool christmas picture. The weather was sweet and the waves were easy enough for us beginners. Surfing rules!
On our return leg to Auckland, we avoided the dreaded mountain pass and took the East Cape highway along the coast. We picknicked at the seaside on the way to our first stop: Maraehako.
In Maraehako, we found the most idyllic campsite, where we had diner while watching the sun go down in the ocean. We were gently rocked to sleep that night by the sound of the waves and our remaining drops of Bundaberg rum.
The next day we drove a long way to Waihi Beach, were we plundered the Countdown supermarket for our Christmas diner. Before preparing our heavenly diner we took a dip in the natural hot water pools of the campsite where four cute girls sung famous Christmas carols like “On A Kiwi Holiday”.
Our three course meal began with an exquisit prawn cutlet dish a la provencal with a fresh garden salad. The luxurious main dish was our signature Salmon-en-papillot dish. The gourmet evening ended with two tompoesekes flown in by Santa himself. Of course the New Zealand sparkling wine flowed dearly.
Christmas day was spent walking off some of the excess weight during a 12km walk though the Karangahake Gorge. The walk displays ruines of a time when the goldmining industry was booming in NZ.
We wish you all a Merry Christmas from a campsite near Thames. Tomorrow its Boxing day for us and we hope to be joined by Emma soon.