We were lucky enough this year to live a dream that we have had for several years now. We bought a campervan and toured around NZ! Well…. the dream was to tour for 12 months, working as we go and sleeping in the most remote and picturesque places you could ever dream of. The reality was that we very, very, very much underestimated how cold New Zealand is (even in April/ May when we were there it was freezing!) as well as having a somewhat inflamed and romantic perception of the freedom camping situation in NZ. Whilst it was not the instagram-worthy #vanlife that we had dreamed of, it sure was an adventure and we did get to see some pretty cool shit along the way.
The best way to share it with you is with photos, so here we go…! Enjoy!
Whangarei Falls and the surrounding walking tracks were a nice introduction to regional NZ (above from the top of the falls and below from the bottom)
The coastline of the north-east North Island
The longest footbridge in the Southern Hemisphere sits on the Northland coast north-east of Whangarei. It is 400m long and was slightly less dramatic than we were expecting (we had images of swinging bridges, giant fern-trees and the possibility of dropping down a cracks in the earth)… but very lovely all the less!
The view over Parutahi Bay from our campsite at Whangaruru Beachfront Camp. A rain-shower gave way to a stunning rainbow that was worth leaving the dray safety of the van to take a quick snap of!
Above and below: The DOC campsite at Puriri Bay (Whangaruru North Head) where we camped out with the rabbits and water views for a couple of nights.
Bay of Islands from the lookout at Flagstaff Hill (Te Maiki) in Russell, the walkway itself is a great way to spend a few hours too
Above and below: Camping at Paihia, Bay of Islands
Haruru Falls feat impressive rainbow. If you visit, be sure to take the walkway behind the waterfalls also (photo following), it will lead you all the way along the Waitangi River to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Following the Te Paki Coastal Track from the DOC Tapotupotu Campsite to the most northerly point in NZ, Cape Reinga. The walk was a very hilly 3 hour walk, where Chilli yelled at Monique for most of the day for making her walk the trail, then made us walk back along the road to avoid the hills – in the end I know she loved it, even if she wont admit it
*we walked down the zigzag hill below, these steps were the main reason we took the road back!
NZ is very windy – and cold – did we mention that already?
That time we got up to watch the sun rise at the most northerly point of NZ (above and below) and it was the most cloudy sunrise you have ever seen, we almost blew off the edge of the continent and froze our buns off. It was too windy to boil water so we had to drive down about 100kms to get to a point where we could have coffee…
Sometimes you have to pull off the road to let the locals through
Necessary coffee stops
Camping at the farm. Literally. We camped on a farm.
We camped beach carparks (this is freedom camping in NZ, sleeping in carparks)
Ocean Beach, just past Whangerei Heads was home for a few nights. We were short stroll from this beauty and spent our days marvelling at how kiwis were swimming and frolicking in the ocean like it was summer – it was certainly not warm and we did not go in past our toes, in the middle of the day, then ran back to the van for a hot tea!
Huka Falls in Taupo – that water!
When you wake up in the morning to find that the mountains you were planning to climb are now covered in snow. These are the hills of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing behind Chilli and the van. It was closed for days, we got too cold waiting so we bailed – vowing to return in the summer when conditions are a little kinder.
The Kaimanawa Road Camping Ground (above and below). During the day you will have it to yourself to enjoy the scenery and walking tracks, at night it will fill up with people waiting to do the Crossing in the morning. Every night there was no less than 25 vans, every morning they all rolled out at stupid-o-clock and we opened our van door at a more human hour to see an empty parking lot again. Some days we opened our van door to see the ground covered in ice, and our van looking like frosty the snow man
Chilli loves cold mornings!
Miscellaneous campsite number 68 (below), the Whakamaru Recreation Reserve
Blue Spring. Around 70% of bottled water in New Zealand comes from this spring. True story bro
The view over Blue Lake (Lake Tikitapu) in Rotarua
Travelling NZ means living life in gumboots. ALWAYS in gumboots. You don’t see that on instagram #vanlife
Want to know more about NZ North Island, keep an eye out for the soon to be published Must Do of NZ North Island post – coming soon.