Te Aroha mountain in the evening with whispy clouds at its summit.
A few months back I was in the market for a cheap van. I came across one at a local car fair which was for sale and within my budget. Great! I thought. It was decked out as a camper van, due to it's high mileage it probably had been around the country quite a few times with quite a few owners. It had a bed, bed linen, cooker, dishes and cutlery, fresh water container even some food. I duly purchased it from the current owner with the thought of using it not only for a business venture, but also for weekends away.
Well! Last month I finally got to get away in it. I loaded it up with a few extra pieces of equipment including a new fan heater (it's winter and cool here at the moment).
Left home (Auckland) at 11 pm Friday morning and headed south along the Southern Motorway, Funny thing I had no idea or plan on where I was heading to, just get up and go.
Looking back into the sunset over the Hauraki Plains.
Picked up a few groceries in South Auckland
then continued on south. Arrived in the township of Paeroa
and had a snack there before heading to a small waterfall (Owharoa Falls) just a few kms outside of town. Another kilometre on from there is the Waikino Train Station (run by a group of train enthusiasts) a regular steam train excursion from Waikino Rail Station to Waihi takes about 30 minutes (Google “waihirail.co.nz” for timetable details). Unfortunately I missed the last train and decided to seek a place to stay for the night, as it was getting late. Stop for the night was the Te Aroha Holiday Park in Te Aroha. Managed to secure the last power site of the day and after settling in, I headed for the Park kitchen to prepare my dinner.
Owharoa Falls Delightful scene close to Paeroa.
I met a long term resident there who was also preparing his, we had a lengthy chat on varying topics before I headed back to my van. After downloading a few photos into my laptop, I laid back and quickly went off to sleep. Wow! What a great sleep.
After breakfast, on the road again and headed to a town called Waihi. Cloudy with showers that day, but managed to take a few photos of the Cornish Pumphouse and Martha Mine. Would you believe it! Waihi was and still is a Gold Mining town. Later that day headed to Tauranga after a brief stop in Bowentown for lunch, a brisk walk to the top of Bowentown Hill gave spectacular views of Bowentown Holiday Park, Waihi Beach and the Pacific Ocean. At Tauranga I booked a site at the Silver Birch Holiday Park.
Stream running away from Owharoa Falls.
By this time rain was pouring down, so only one thing to do...put on a couple of Michael Palin's “New Europe” travel DVD's. During dinner spoke with an older couple who were heading back to the South Island after a month's worth of travelling the North Island. Very friendly couple I wished them a safe journey home. After cleaning my dishes I headed for my camper and after some reading went to sleep.
Sunday morning shower, breakfast and on the road to Rotorua, the Thermal Wonderland of New Zealand. Approximately 11am I arrived there, awaiting me was the pungent smell of sulphur (smells like rotten eggs which you soon get used to) typical of this area, the weather was a bit better than the day before but much cooler.
Cornish Pumphouse situated right next to the Martha Mine
The Sound shell Market Day was operating with crafts, food, clothing and various other stalls, selling their goods. Later that day I booked a power site at the Waiteti Trout Stream Holiday Park. I had been there years before, but this holiday park was now under new management, the new owners were very friendly and knowledgeable and gave great advice. Later that day I went for a walk along the banks of this beautiful little stream and came across some local folks fishing for trout. As a keen sea fisherman I observed with interest their fishing techniques. Unfortunately there were no fish caught and I managed to take only a few photo's around the river before the cold weather started to numb my un-gloved hands. The night was windy, cold and raining and the next day saw me head home, I arrived back in Auckland in the early afternoon just as the weather improved, sunny skies, warm weather (always happens).
Statue of Maori Chief on top of the Martha Mine
Perhaps a bit too much travel in the time available and outdoor sightseeing was restricted due to weather conditions. However, I totally enjoyed my little camper van and being hooked up to a power site enabled me to run my portable TV, laptop and heater as well as keeping my cell phone charged. All the pleasures of home you might say. Umm...now I know why so many young and budget travellers coming to New Zealand buy campervans, cheap and versatile transport, cheap accommodation etc. No doubt for me I'm looking forward to my next trip.