Down Under - Winter/Spring 2009 travel blog

enjoying the pool

After almost a month of energetic touring driving 3200 miles, we arrived in Orewa just south of Auckland in time for a late lunch and checked in to the final Top10 campground. It was the biggest one we’ve seen with about 300 sites, half of them permanent set ups. It is a lovely spot right on the beach and it’s obviously a nice place for city folk from Auckland to come and have a relaxing country weekend. We put the laundry to good use, trying to leave here almost as clean as we arrived. Who knows what opportunities for such activities the Sydney hotel will provide.

Packing to leave the camper was easy. Just empty out the cabinets and pile it all into the suitcase. We had brought so many maps and reference books that we will leave behind, that our suitcases are actually lighter than when we started. That’s a first!. Then it was off for the final drive through Auckland to the Garden Inn near the airport, where we departed still bleary eyed and jet lagged a month ago. Although we took an expressway into Auckland, much of the drive to the airport was on one lane road, peppered with stop lights. Such a set up would never work at home. The RV rental agent agreed to meet us in the hotel parking lot so the final transfer was quick and easy. He seemed pleased that there were no new nicks and dings on his vehicles. And so were we!

It has been a very successful month. We have seen and done a lot, as much as humanly possible. With the GPS we drove efficiently from place to place. Even though we had a good atlas and roads are well marked, the lack of straight lines between one place and another were often confounding. We are glad that we decided to see New Zealand with campers. There were many places to camp and it gave us the flexibility to go when and where we wished without packing and unpacking every time we went somewhere new. This country is well set up for tourists. There is an I site (tourist information center) in all but the smallest towns and they are brimming with pamphlets and staff ready to help you to make the most of your day. Many folks used these places to assist them in finding a place to spend the night, but that was a service we did not need. Even with the strong dollar, we have spent a pile of cash here. This winter will exceed our usual motor home hiatus from the cold by a long shot. While we are talking about coming back again, this is not an area we can just drop in on and we did our best to see and do everything. That costs $$$. Even in a month we didn’t do it all and it would have been nice to have had the time to wait for a better weather day to enjoy some of the spots on the itinerary. Our stay in Wellington was especially affected by the rain.

New Zealand is a beautiful country. The scenery varies constantly and every day’s drive brought great views out the window. The summer temperatures were very comfortable. We would recommend this country to anyone who loves the great outdoors and hospitable people with a good sense of humor. We have been impressed by how the New Zealanders of European extraction have allowed the Maori culture to flourish. We were watching TV when a half hour newscast came on all in Maori. The language is vital, used every day and taught in school. When two Maori men meet on the street they touch noses while shaking hands. A charmingly intimate custom. We don't expect a similar situation with the aboriginal people of Australia.

Australia may find NZ a hard act to follow!

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