NZ in a campervan: The North Island

13 02 2012

We are on a three-week-trip through New Zealand with our 5-month-old daughter in a Volkswagen campervan. Starting point was Auckland, where we arrived on January 30, 2012 and picked up our van from Classic Campers (see my previous blog entry for more on this rental company). We stocked up on groceries and spent the night on a campsite on the beach front of Orewa, a few kilometers north of Auckland. Next day we headed into Auckland to get broadband for our phones, then started south and eastwards towards the Coromandel peninsula. 100 km on motorways and larger roads which was nice to get familiar with the car and the local traffic. We spent the night on a caravan park in Thames, then went northwards along a beautiful coastal road. In Coromandel Town we cut across the peninsula, up and down steep and windy roads through the mountains. Great fun if you are not in a hurry and occasionally pull over to let the long line of cars behind you overtake you.

Road along the coast between Thames and Coromandel.

Short stopover in Coromandel Town.

Through the mountains, east of Coromandel Town.


Lunch break on the beach of Whitianga, on the east coast of the Coromandel peninsula.

In the late afternoon we reached Hot Water Beach on the other side of the peninsula. The thing to do here is rent a shovel, wait for low tide (that evening conveniently around eight in the evening) and dig yourself a little pool on the beach at the water line: This fills quickly with very warm (and in some places burning hot) water from geothermal sources some 300 m underground. A very nice evening. Next day we drove down to Rotorua, a center for Maori culture and geothermal activity. New Zealand is covered with volcanos, and the regular earth quakes are a reminder of how active the earth is here. In Rotorua this underground activity is constantly released in form of hot water bubbling and steaming out of the ground in every corner. In the town center people actually tap this heat source to heat their houses and spa pools and even to cook meals. We stayed two nights in a great little caravan park, Cosy Cottages, right in town and at the water front of Lake Rotorua. It has its own hot water spa and we steam-cooked salmon on the Hangi cooker, run with boiling hot steam directly from the underground. With our little one we took it easy and visited only one of many geysers and geothermal sites, the Te Puia cultural center and thermal valley. Lots of information on Maori history, crafts and culture, plus three active geysers and a nocternal bird house where we could watch two kiwi birds. Great experience. And then there are tree ferns everywhere. And I just love those!

The Pohutu geyser in Rotorua. The name means “Big Splash” or “Big Eruption”. It blows about once per hour and up to 30 m high.

Closer to the geysers: This one is actually a second geyser, 5-10 m to the left of Pohutu geyser on the previous photo. It is called the Prince of Wales Feather geyser and erupts always a few minutes before Pohutu and up to 7m high.


Our route from Orewa, north of Auckland, via the Coromandel peninsula to Rotorua, marked in yellow.



2 responses

14 02 2012

That is incredible scenery!!

15 02 2012

Thanks! And it is actually getting better and better. In a few days I will post more on the even more impressive South Island.

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