10 February 2014
From Russell via Orewa,
Auckland and Matamata to
Mount Maunganui (Bay Of Plenty)
We're starting to get used to the campervan life again. Woke up, showered and have breakfast at 08:30 in the sun outside. Wonderful and with stunning views over the Bay Of Islands. The bay in front of Russell is an irregular 16 km wide cove with several arms to other small villages such as Kerikeri. It's a great fishing area and you can swim with dolphins and you can do cruises that are offered on beautiful catamarans. Yesterday we have done good business by already buying the sheep wool cardigan for Karin. So we do not have to go again with the ferry to Paihia and back. We pack our things back on and leave for the ferry that will transfer us to Opua on the "main land". The ferry between Russell and Paihia is only for pedestrians. We get the ferry that departs at 9:45 am and drive back south via Highway 11 to Highway 1.
Video Orewa Beach
We drive again quickly to the city of Whangarei and we missed the scheduled photo of the Fonterra plant a few kilometers north of Whangarei. Then we drive further south to Orewa, where we have stood on the camping site in 2011. We stop at a viewpoint with stunning views over a huge beach and then drive into Orewa, where we take something to eat and drink at a gas station. We cross the boulevard and take our lunch at the edge of the beach. In the water schoolchildren are canoeing and playing with boards in the ocean. After lunch we leave back on track towards Auckland, where we arrive around 13:30 and have planned a visit to Alpha Campervans. As we have stated before that our toilet did not flush. After having taken the wrong turn we see a whole lot more from Auckland than we had planned. With delay, we find the depot of Alpha Campervans and we are happy helped within minutes. It turns out that a fuse was broken and after replacing that fuse the toilet is working properly. Too bad, a little something that should have been seen when they delivered the campervan. Sin of our time in this way.
We leave and go now towards Matamata. At the right turn to get on the Southern Motorway I get enclosed and is forced to take the exit for Highway 16. Now, just try to get on the right road back, because that's not easy. We managed to get back to end up (Highway 1) on the Southern Motorway through various "shortcuts" (which often were not), and then we drive quickly further south. After a kilometre or 30 we take the exit to Highway 2 are heading up towards east coast. Another 30 kilometres further we take the exit for Highway 27, which goes directly to Matamata. I want to go one more time along the former Bed & Breakfast of my and our friend Sue Nicholson who died the year before. Sue and her daughter Sarah payed us a visit in the Netherlands in 2010, and Karin and I visited her in Matamata during our 2011 trip. We drive first to the known Supermarket Matamata where we complete our fridge again and from there we drive to the former home of Sue. Almost nothing has changed so it looks as if she still lives there. The new residents have continued the Bed & Breakfast. After a few minutes of a silent goodbye, we get in and drive via Highway 27 and 24 to the south, to the junction with Highway 29 which brings us towards the east coast heading Tauranga.
Our final destination is a little further on a peninsula with a mountain on the tip: Mount Maunganui. The town at the bottom of the mountain has been given the same name. It has become 19:45 pm when we arrive at the Holiday Park, where Sonja and I had planned to spent our first night in New Zealand in 2003, but then the Holiday Park was closed because large rocks of the mountain had come down and it was not safe. That was not the case and we are happy that there is still room because I had not booked. I was not sure if we would arrive before dark, so there was a chance that we had to overnight earlier on the route. We have a very special place with a above us numerous other campers, but we do have a view of the Mount and the ocean. We walk to go to the promenade and beach and just enjoy the environment and then make everything ready for the night.
Then we pack our swimsuits and towels and walk about 100 meters to the Salt Water Hot Pools of Mount Maunganui, which are situated under the Mount its self. The warm salt water pools are the perfect place to sit, swim, bathe, relax and enjoy the view of the mountain. After we enjoyed this, while darkness falls, we dress and stabbing across the street to a Turkish restaurant. Karin ordered the food and we want to drink a beer with our food, but this eatery is not licensed for alcoholic drinks so they refer us to the neighbouring restaurant. I order my beer there and get them all laughing at the terrace as I walk along the tables of the restaurant with our two beers. One of the guests raises her hand because she has also ordered two beers and I - probably because of my All Blacks Polo - look like an employee of the restaurant. I tell her in my best English: "I don't work here, I ordered the beer myself, I paid for the beer and I intend to drink it myself". After that we eat our more then delicious dinner and then went back to the campervan. Tired after driving 450 kilometres through the beautiful New Zealand. Tomorrow is another day.