New Zealand, take two: North Island
My previous post, Mewe Zealand, detailed our adventure on the South Island and in which I promised a damning video. Well, against my better judgement and sensitive ego, I’m gonna live up to my post. Aptly titled, laurenjumpsoffabridgescreaming, enjoy.
Did you know that your body was capable of such a guttoral scream? I didn’t. I was calm as a cucumber until that baffling sound came shooting out of the depths of my visceral organs.
So, North Island, Kiwiland, here goes.
After spending time on the South Island, where the population is very low and freedom camping abundant, we were, at first, a bit underwhelmed by the North Island. The Cook Strait crossing from South to North was spectacular, though it did come with a hefty $500 ish dollar pricetag (campervan came with us). We bee lined up the middle of the island (time constraints), for the Rotorua area. We ventured through Waimangu Thermal Area and were then recommended to go to Waikite Valley Thermal Pools and hot damn (literally and figuratively), what a find. While it would have felt even better were we the Euro couple who had been bike camping through NZ with their 4 year old and 6 month old, our lazy, luxury camping selves thoroughly enjoyed. You role up (or down actually) through winding roads into a STEAMY valley that looks like it must be void of life and to your shagrin, inside said steamy valley lives a hot springs (camping) resort.
One great feature of the North Island that you don’t get as much on the South are the cultural roots of New Zealand; the Maori people, to whom we can credit a language that trips up even the most seasoned of travelers (and locals). Onward and upward, we then headed through the rolling hills of Hobitron (where the Shire in Lord of the Rings was filmed – and still exists as an amusement part of sorts), which were everything you’d hope Frodo Baggins dreams were made of, and more. And North we drove, until we got to the Coromandel Peninsula where we happened upon both the Driving Creek Cafe and Driving Creek Railroad (two different businesses, both located on Driving Creek Road). Both of which you must do if visiting the Coromandel. Deliciously thoughtful, slowly prepared food of all types (with a fantastic kids play area out front) and a miniature train line built by the hands of the ceramist who bought the property and constructed the railroad to cart clay from the mountainside.
And our one and only (illegally) parked campsite:
And then, we found paradise (with a way better view than the amazing view shown above). Little Bay, on the east side of the Coromandel Peninsula. It’s a calm little bay, flanked with hills that are speckled by sweet vacation homes, with a lazy stream winding its way into the water (and a spectacular place for young kids to frolick). The problem with Little Bay (for travelers – an asset for locals) is that it’s very remote and there really isn’t anything around – though we did figure out that there is a campground just north of it (we ended up parked on the property of some locals who welcomed us in like we were family).
And, we got to go sea fishing for the first time (and each caught more fish than our captain and first mate, combined – beginners luck).
I can’ t be sure whether Denali is looking at the fish in disappointed disgust (for me), or if he’s saying “Mom, you’re a badass fisherwoman”. As difficult as it was to see the fish die for my [eating] enjoyment, I take comfort in the fact that I did just that and that he/she helped nourish my body; it wasn’t in vein little fish, it wasn’t in vein.