Morning and off to pick up the campervan. We were not at all sure what was the best way to the van hire was. Use the airport bus back to the terminal and then phone for the free transfer, or use the buses? Eventually tried Uber. It’s built into Google maps now. All I had to do was verify my phone number, and then ask for a taxi. Payment was automatically taken from my google pay account. It worked so well, by the time I pressed “Make Booking”, the response came back with the registration of the car, and there it was already sitting outside the hotel. We loaded up and off we went. Our driver had come over from Iran 12 years ago.
Checked in at the van hire and we soon had our very bijoux campervan ready to go. The first stop was the Pick ‘n Pack, a warehouse style supermarket. Bought a small starter pack of food and beer which should see us going for a few days. We were then on the highway at around 12 for our first day of the camper van aka Luxury Sleeper.
Our campervan is deemed a Freedom Camping Certified (FCC) “luxury sleeper”. FCC means it has a toilet (a porta potty), and management of waste water from a v bijoux sink. The toilet takes up a massive amount of space which could be more usefully utilised as storage, but no matter. Once the bed is down, you can do sod all; no access to porta potty, “fridge” (cool box running off the car’s electrics), sink nor anything packed. You can merely sit in the driver’s and passenger seats. You cannot stand up anywhere. Bijoux is the apt word. Rather different from our VW campervan. You can, of course, still lose any number of items at the drop of a hat.
We were heading to Trounson Park. My initial intention was to stay on the DOC site there. However, we changed to stay at the Kauri Coast Top 10 in the Park because we needed to fill the van’s water system. It is never clear whether this is possible at DOC sites and potentially we had three DOC sites in a row. Going to the Top 10 also had benefits of booking a night walk of the Kauri forest with the possibility of seeing a Kiwi in the wild.
On the way, we drove past the sculpture park at Gibbs Farm. Unfortunately, it is hardly ever open, and you have to book in advance. But a road-side stop was worthwhile because some of the huge sculptures were visible. They are immense and stand out on the skyline. Strutting around were giraffe, bison & emus.
A short excursion to the Piroa Falls. Neatly signposted with distance and time, as all NZ sites seem to be. R saw a flower which she rather liked and therefore I had to photograph. (No idea why she can’t like plants which are more accessible.)
We drove and checked into the Top 10 at Kauri Coast, we even registered because it gives a discount on its sites and many extras. We’ll probably be staying at a few more Top 10s on our way, so it seemed worthwhile to register. The down side of these sites is that they are expensive and provide facilities we probably won’t use. Never mind we will make up for this with the cheaper DOC sites.
The camp site was lovely, we were sited on a field with three other campers. Even if it were full, the pitches were a reasonable size so you could sit outside with your tables and chairs. Nearby, there were even our own pet glow worms. The NZ variety are fly larva not beetle larva as our’s.
The forest walk was very worthwhile. Our guide out front had a red light & we trooped behind, hanging back and changing to the end of the crocodile at intervals. Kiwis are nocturnal, hence the night walk. The female lays one huge egg in her burrow & the male incubates it. Sometimes a second is added. They are not considered to be good parents. A Possum was seen. It walked towards us in the dark, illuminated by the red light, showing no fear. It unfortunately looked cute, much to the fury of our guide who said they were “squashums”.
Kiwis remained aloof and only one was spotted at the end of the walk as we entered a mown patch of grass near the exit. I saw it, but Rosemary didn’t as she, silly woman, was looking towards the undergrowth. The glimpse I had was fleeting and lasted a couple of seconds as the bird legged it over to the bush.
The walk also showed us the Giant Kauri trees, and explained about how some split and you have two trees on the same root system, always with one being smaller. We also saw a Kauri where two trees had joined. Unfortunately, the trees are threatened with a fungal disease. We had to clean our shoes with a fungicide on entry and exit to the forest.
R had been ecstatic over NZ flora on our journey so far. A walk in the forest even at night underlined her enthusiasm.