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Distant Lands

Monday, 26 November 2007

North Island by Camper

In Maori, New Zealand's North Island is called Te Ika a Maui, or Maui's fish. The coastline that forms this "fish," especially in the Bay of Islands and Coromandel (Pacific Coast) regions, presents beach after inlet after cove to the explorer. Some are very popular, others less well known.  In my former life, I'd hopped a backpacker's bus from Auckland to the Coromandel and found some of my favorite beaches.  As we were planning the trip, I knew I wanted to take my family back to see them.

The trouble was, I wanted to cover a lot of ground in a week - both on foot, hiking, and on the road.  It would take a lifetime to explore the North Island properly.  Giving my family a taste of the beaches, rolling green hills, and wide blue skies was one goal.  Visiting some of the thermal regions south of Rotorua was another.   Doing it without eating out every meal was a requirement, as much for logistics as for our pocketbook.

The solution was a small camper, rented in my sister's hometown of Orewa (yet another great beach area) for the week.  One-way rentals are possible, for a fee, from the larger rental companies, as many travelers drive from Auckland to Wellington, then take a ferry to the South Island for the fiordlands, and then either fly back from Christchurch or depart for home from there.  Our plan was more circular, and based on a meet-up date with my sister and her new husband back in Orewa at the end of the week.  The small camper we rented did the trick.  It was everything we needed (transport, small kitchen, matchstick-sized bathroom) on wheels, and small enough to navigate some of the switchback logging roads we were headed for without causing an international incident. 

Her car seat attached to the far back seat, and I spent a lot of time on our drives riding back there, looking out the wide windows at the passing scenery, and singing songs (you know you've been driving a long time when Old MacDonald's farm has not only a cow and a duck but also an emu, a tiger, a giraffe, and a box of old socks).  But much more of our time was spent on our feet - hiking the oceanside paths from the great campsites we found on the way.  The New Zealand tourist bureau distributes regularly-updated accommodation guides for each region, and we were able to call ahead and reserve camper spaces, including one overlooking a gorgeous beach, fairly easily in November.
Posted in Infant : Sept.-Nov. : South Pacific by Fran W. at 9:22 AMPermalink

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