Cook Strait is one of the most notorious sea areas of the world
Now that we know New Zealands worst campground, we make our way to the Picton ferry terminal. The trip to Wellington is a little more than three hours, the first hour takes us through the sheltered fjords of Queen Charlotte Sound. We are glad that the strong winds of the last days have gradually subsided since yesterday.
Cook Strait is one of the most notorious sea areas of the world, its situation in the Roaring forties, the jet effect between North and South Island and up to eight knots of tidal current can pile up huge waves, which you are better off watching from the shore than experiencing them on a car ferry. In this YouTube video you can see how nasty things can get over here:
However our crossing is fairly quiet and we arrive in Wellington at 5.00 pm. After checking in at the campground, we start to search for a restaurant. We are lucky to get the last table at Taylors on Jackson where we spend a very pleasant evening.
we go to a nice restaurant while our third hail storm passes by
The next day we drive to Napier, find a lovely campground at the beautiful beach and decide to stay for another day. We visit the city, which was largely destroyed by an earthquake and then rebuilt in 1931 in the Art Deco style. After a visit to the cinema we go to a nice restaurant while our third New Zealand hail storm passes by outside.
Our next destination is Ohope, we take the shorter inland route past New Zealands largest lake, Lake Taupo. The whole area is full of geothermal activity, there’s smoke and steam at every turn. A volcanic island puffs quietly in front of our campsite.
Finally, I call the 24/7 hotline of the Rental company
Plugging in our power cord, nothing happens. I check all the fuses and connections a hundred times, try to plug in at different sites, without any success. Finally, I call the 24/7 hotline of the Rental company. The lady at the other end quickly realises that she is not able to help me and sends the contact details for their only contractor in the area. The city’s name is Whakatane and at first I think that the friendly lady has some sort of speech impediment. Some research on the internet after the phone call makes me realise that “Wh” is pronounced as “F” in Maori language.
The next morning I try to make the current flow by twisting the power cord, and this time it works. Thus, the error must be within the cord but I am still not able to fix it without having any tools. Unfortunately, the cord is mounted to the camper permanently, otherwise I would have just bought a new one and therewith saved us a lot of hassle. Nothing else remains to be done other than call the workshop and make an appointment. Unfortunately 3.30 pm is the earliest I can get and so we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to commence our journey. Beyond that I’m pretty sure that an auto repair shop is not the right place to solve our problem, but we’ll see.
We spend the involuntary day of rest on the beach before we make our way to the workshop. The receptionist gives me a warm welcome and presents me to the workshop manager, who immediately tells me that they are not allowed to carry out any electrical work. He passes me on to an auto electrician they collaborate with and dispels my concern that an auto electrician might only be able to work on low-voltage systems. So we continue our odyssey to the other end of town.
Once there, an employee awaits us with the totally unexpected statement that they are not supposed to carry out any work on 240 volt electrical systems. Kindly, he calls a friend who is an electrician and shows up half an hour later.
His name is Simon and he is incredibly friendly and helpful which totally reminds me of one of his namesakes who I know very well. In no time he fixes the bug. The repair went almost too quickly for me, he knows New Zealand like the back of his hand and tells me a lot of places to go. In gratitude, whilst helping him to return the tools to his car I empty the contents of a case with an estimated 200,000 cable lugs and clamps on the ground. Simon laughs, the same had happened to him when he picked up the box the first time, those shutters were just treacherous . As we shovel all the stuff back into the box I apologise a thousand times but he tells me that he doesn’t mind at all. He tells me, he is looking forward to sorting out the whole mess while having a beer tonight. As we say goodbye I even have to force him to accept a tip. What a nice guy!
We head to Opoutere the next day, the campground is quite basic but beautifully located. Our Campsite is separated only by a narrow strip of forest from the dunes and lovely beach. There is just a handful of other campers besides us.
the area is too lovely to explore it in a rush
Our next destination is called Hahei which is definitely not just an insider tipp anymore, a lot more tourists can be found here. Fortunately, the season doesn’t start until Christmas and the campground is still quite empty.
We decide to stay for three days and go for a few walks, the area is too lovely to explore it in a rush. Furthermore, its Emilia’s birthday tomorrow and we don’t want to spend it driving all day. The rope swings at both ends of the beautiful sandy beach are too tempting to ignore and serve as a fun activity for the whole family.
the supermarket reminds us that Christmas is just around the corner
The supermarket in the nearby town of Whitianga (pronounced Fitianga), reminds us that Christmas is just around the corner. All employees are dressed up as Santas and there are numerous stands where one could try different specialities. We love the hulky butcher who praises his prosciutto in such mouth watering words that you can’t help but try some.
Since we want to visit the famous “Hot Water Beach,” we buy a shovel at the local hardware store. Apparently you just dig a hole in the sand at low tide, which then fills up with hot water within minutes. At least on paper. A nice change from the rather cool (15° C) Southern Ocean.
The concession stand in the parking lot at the entrance of the beach makes us realise quickly that we are not the only ones who know of this phenomenon. We grab our shovel and make our way to the promised hot springs. The beach is endless and empty although we can see a lot of people gathering somewhere in the distance. Apparently it only works in a certain area. There’s no doubt about this being the worlds densest distribution of shovels per square metre. The Whitianga hardware store must make a fortune. It’s fun to watch but we’re not up for wallowing in the mud with hundreds of others.
Before leaving Hahei we pay a visit to Cathedral Cove. It became famous after some scenes of “The Chronicles of Narnia” were filmed here.
After an overnight stop in Coromandel we commence to lovely Auckland where we stay for another Day and Night just before beginning the next and longest episode of our journey: Australia.
*Ever since the first The Lord of the Rings movie was released in 2001, New Zealand has been known as the ‘Home of Middle-earth’