Day 1 - Arrival

 

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Day 1 - Arrival
Day 2 - Raglan to Urenui
Day 3 - The Long Road to Levin
Day 4 - A Day with Granny
Day 5 - A Wellington Wander
Day 6 - The Tour to Taupo
Day 7 - Rolling to Rotarua
Day 8 - The Redolence of Rotorua
Day 9 - The Beach at Bowentown
Day 10 - Outtrip to Ohope
Day 11 - Meander over McLaren Falls
Day 12 - Mission to Mt. Manganui
Day 13 - Shopping the Strand
Day 14 - Wistful in Whangamata
Day 15 - Cruising to Coromandel
Day 16 - On the Road to Orere Point
Day 17 - Departure

Thursday, March 14 to Saturday, March 16

The tough part of this entire trip is the actual traveling part - let's face it, New Zealand is just a long way away. The flight has two legs - the first one is a little over two hours and a thousand miles long, from Vancouver to Los Angeles. Then comes the big leg, Los Angeles to Auckland, New Zealand, twelve hours of flying and 6500 miles.

To top it off, the flight crosses the international date line the "wrong" way, so while we left at 5pm on Thursday, March 14th, we didn't arrive until 8am, Saturday, March 16th. What happened to Friday!

Alex & Caitlin hang out in the Air Canada lounge in Vancouver before the flight to LA (and later on to New Zealand) Seventeen hours later, Caitlin contemplates the impact of trans-Pacific flight on a six year old body while sitting in the Auckland airport.
The girls hanging out at the Auckland airport, waiting for a lift to Pacific Horizon RV. Caitlin mugs for the camera, disturbingly chipper after the over night flight.

Our previous trip to New Zealand, we rented a small 4x4 vehicle (a Honda CRV). The car rental was surprisingly dear. On top of that, we had a number of places we wanted to visit, and packing and unpacking with the four of us wasn't going to be much fun. The solution was to rent a motor home. While more expensive than renting a car, it was cheaper than renting a car and hotel rooms all over New Zealand. Plus, we'd only need to unpack once - in fact, we left our suitcases at the Auckland depot!

The first look at our home for the next two weeks - after a detailed inspection. A look from the other side. Many panels, many keys, many things to break...
The girls find their bunk (and seem to like it too!) A look at the directional and motivational input/output area of the transportation vehicle. Notice its on the wrong side - and a stick shift, too (the left arm gets a work out).
Stacy stows the contents of our suitcases in the many cupboards of our motor home. An empty suitcase, looking forlorn, suddenly realizing its going to be left behind...

With some last minute instructions by the staff (you're 2.8 meters tall, better avoid anything less than three meters, mind the gap, etc, etc), we were off. The first order of business was to stock the shelves and refrigerator of the motor home with goodies. The next order of business was to stock ourselves.

Look mom, they have banana spread for toast! (Ewwwww...) Alex loads up on electrolytes at a cafe while the rest of us wait for our meal.

Fully stocked in all requisite ways, we were off down the road to... where? Last time we were in New Zealand, we made a clockwise orbit of the North Island, from Auckland to Tauranga to Rotorua to Taupo to Levin to Otorohanga and back to Auckland. This time had to be different, so we went for counter-clockwise. We knew the girls would love the Waitomo caves, so our first thought was to head there.

But we weren't sure if there were RV facilities in Waitomo, so perhaps Otorohanga was a better idea... and after a bit more pondering, we realized we were all very, very tired and needed a nap. So we pulled off at the first decent rest stop we could find, piled into the back and snoozed for a half hour. After a rest, wash of face and change of shirt, we were back on our way.

Travel catches up with Caitlin, who catches up on sleep. And she wasn't the only one... Post rest, post wash, post change of shirt, Richard drives on...

Our destination had changed too... Caitlin's suggestion of wanting to see a beach struck a chord, and we headed for Raglan, a beach town west of Hamilton. Our guide books indicated that there was a motor home park right near the beach.

Driving into Raglan, mind the speedbumps. At the RV park, we plug in for the night. Also, Part 1 of a 10 part 360 degree view of the site.
Part 2 of 10, looking northwest. Past those trees is the beach. Part 3 of 10, looking due west (beach that way too).
Part 4 of 10, looking southwest of west. Part 5 of 10, looking almost due south. Pretty empty around here, isn't it?
Part 6 of 10, looking southeast, toward the very empty side of the RV park. Part 7 of 10, looking east, still empty, after all, its fall.
Part 8 of 10, looking northeast, did I mention there were cabins on the lot? Part 9 of 10, looking north of northeast, there are definitely cabins on the lot.
 
Part 10 of 10, looking north, back where we started.  

With a bit of daylight left, we decided to check out the beach and Raglan itself.

Our first look at the beach... its black! Alex and Stacy walk close while Caitlin clings to her hat (its very windy).
A look back from where we walked, the bridge leads off the beach, into the town of Raglan. Rounding the point of the beach, we encounter... shells. Lots of 'em. All over.
The girls sort through some of the more interesting shells on the beach. A pose further along the walk, the shells have diminished.
Even further on, we spy the remains of a World War II-era bunker, sinking into the sand. Alex points the way home.
Stacy prepares our first dinner in the motor home - steak and mushrooms! A view of the sunset out the back window of the motor home. Notice the ominous looking clouds.
Stacy straightens out the bed. Alex and Caitlin ready for sleep (or something).

Our first day finished, we bedded down at sunset, quite exhausted. It didn't take long to fall asleep... then shortly after midnight, the storm hit hard, with blasting winds and pounding rain. We all woke up a bit, made sure all the windows were tightly closed and went back to sleep. Nothing of ours blew away over night, and the few other people at the site obviously had been through this before and had everything tied down tight.

The next day we'd head further south along the west coast.