Our holiday in New Zealand in an Alpha 4-Berth Motorhome
This is our humble attemt to translate a shared holiday experience submitted to us by a German speaking customer. We gave it a go with Google's translator. The original copy is also available here: German Translation
Hans and Marianne Wolf arrived on time with Qatar in Bangkok, waiting for us and our car at the Novotel, it is the 29 March, 2012. It's a reunion! In a small space of time yet all their questions are answered before they go to Hua Hin, they rest a night out at the Novotel at the airport.
Chai and I check the clock to 13:30 flight SQ977 and push in the Silver Kris Lounge at our upcoming New Zealand trip with a glass of champagne. Arrived on time we got onboard a B777-200 and on the morning we landed in Singapore, where we spent another good hour in the lounge, the last e-mails, because this is the Internet, free. Flight SQ285, now with a B777-300ER, brings us 9:40 hours to Auckland. Flat beds in business class, almost like small suites, only 4 seats in a row, really luxurious!
Chai gets his Sardine Sauce and I delete the pre-ordered Lobster Thermidor, then we try and shorten the flight sleeping. Coffee and croissants are just right before landing, when the most beautiful sight we fly just over the center of Auckland and landed on 30th March in 11:40 on a clear autumn day (April is autumn in New Zealand). The reception at the Passport Control is exceptionally friendly, a senior official welcomed all the passengers with a warm "Welcome to New Zealand, enjoy your vacation here!"
In contrast to the 20-page questionnaire from the Embassy of New Zealand for Chai's visa, the passport control is quick and without any probing questions over, in a few minutes we are at the baggage hall, x-rayed the suitcase and sniff of drug dogs inspected our bags.
The sun is out and the weather is cool, the Novotel is conveniently just a few steps across the street. After sorting out money from my bank, we took the bus to Manukau, where the shopping center is to get the needed dough - whereafter we went to Kann, the holidays in the Land of the Long White Cloud (Aotearoa in Maori).
After a more or less well-placed night, the time difference Greetings from, we're flying in 1320 with JetStar A320 to Christchurch, again a half hours in the air, it's a domestic flight, no big checks, much like you would get on a bus.
Another beautiful fall day, good visibility between light clouds. The Copthorne Commodore Hotel Shuttle brings us to the hotel in five minutes, we warm up in the Jacuzzi and swim some laps in the indoor pool. In the lobby you have free access to the Internet, I use skype with Hans Wolf, it does surprises me how they got into the panorama of Bangkok. No problems, everything is gone well, they had not moved and are now enjoying the pool in front of the living room!
On Sunday April 1st begins our caravan trip, with a large Alpha 4 Berth Campervan (Diesel Mitsubishi), we first stop at a supermarket and shower us with a variety of foods, the trolley, we have goods worth NZ $162, so about 120 CHF, we find the foods more expensive than in Switzerland.
On the highway number 1, we first go South, then we go to the Scenic Road towards Mount Cook. At Lake Tekapu, after 250 km trip, we decide to stay at the Holiday Park overnight. It has electricity and can make a delicious Chai Thai Red Curry, the second meal today. $40 for campsites with electricity, although peak season is over, yet it still has a surprising number of campers on the road.
At 7 ° in the motorhome inside I wake up the next day, a clear, cloudless day, the sun comes up early and after a quick breakfast I drive, Chai moans, still up in his bunk and wake as I stop at the airfield of Tekapo, so he gets something to eat. We drive to Mount Cook, along the long turquoise Lake Pukaki. From the Hooker Valley parking lot (at approx 780m), we run into the Hookertal, 5km are shown in the guide, but we need a half hour to reach Hooker Lake (on ca. 950m).
The walk has more than paid off in the visual field, we have always had Mt. Cook in mind. On the left glacier mountains, the watershed mark West / East and we are 40km from the Tasman Sea, while the Pacific on the east side is about 150 km away.
The Hooker Lake is full of "icebergs", they swim in the picturesque glacier water, the glacier covered with unsightly stones and sand, but the shine of Eisspitzen Mt. Cook in the sun. Even for Chai, the march was worth it, he is proud that that was the longest march that he had ever done . . .
After a short siesta in the parking lot, we take the ride along the lake back to Twizel via Omarama. Filling up with diesel for the car, buy something and then New Zealand Wine at Holiday Park, we join the campers on the river. Now I have kitchen duty and make spaghetti with ham and tomato sauce, I enjoy a glass of Riesling, a Merlot Wine.
April 3: The sun wakes us up, there are 6 ° in the camper, blue sky, autumn-colored trees around the camp, so again a wonderful day! But shortly after Omarama we see thick fog on the lakes, the hills are bare in stark contrast with the dark green pine forests, sprinkled the grass and the yellow-colored trees. Against the Pacific it will be sunny to Oamaru, Chai is pleased to see no more sun - and I shiver, I am no longer accustomed to such cold days!
Cold autumn days
In Moeraki Boulders, we find the famous "dinosaur eggs " like huge tubers of stones scattered over long distances on the beach at high tide, barely visible. From our campsite at Hampden Beach, only minutes on foot, a little further away at Katiki Point Lighthouse, we can see seals and penguins climb the grassy hill to their nests, usually between five and seven o' clock, just before sunset. I've never been so close to see penguins, they are the yellow-eyed penguins Hoyho.
Road traffic is very very disciplined in New Zealand, there's no pushing. In and around the few cities it has traffic, but on the country you have the good roads almost to yourself.
Amazing for us in Switzerland is that the low-lying mid-day sun blinds us in the car from the North, where everything is directed towards the North, not as in the Southern hemisphere.
It was a bit annoying that there was very few gas stations along the road, because one must always look to fuel up to avoid being stranded somewhere in the bush, diesel fuel costs between $ 1. 56-$1. 80 NY, gasoline is 50-70 cents more expensive. Even toilets are rare, because there are many picnic areas and viewpoints, but nowhere is there a toilet to find. On the other hand, it is really unique National Parks and other public attractions to visit without having to pay an admission fee.
Wednesday mostly cloudy and the desire to move on is huge. But as soon as we are on the way the clouds disappear, it will be a clear day. Dunedin we passed through with a sharp eye for a McDonalds for the free internet, but nothing, no shopping centers are seen. So we continue South to the Catlins, a beautiful hilly landscape, green and covered in the distant blue sea. Near Waikama we look for the Curio Bay, a beach and camp with electricity, $26 was a bargain, especially with the magnificent views.
A few steps from the square you can see dolphins frolic in the water, the evening coming on the other side (Curio Bay) penguins waddling to the country. Shortly after a fine supper (steak and corn on the cob), the sunset is golden brown.
Invercargill, New Zealand's largest city in the South we pass on 5 April, stop at McDonalds for a milkshake and the free internet access. I can send my mail, and many new ones written off mail receive a great service from McDonalds. In New Zealand, free hotspots are not well known, mostly you have to pay for Internet access.
We take the route to Te Anau and yet we continue to stay straight on into the valley toward Milford Sound, on a site with no electrical connection, for this must be paid NZ $30. However, the showers and toilets are in exceptionally good condition. Before supper, a short walk into the forest, 15 minutes in a wonderful primeval forest to a waterfall.
Milford Sound is a fjord, glacier-formed, greets us with a light mist around the Mitre Peak. We're just in time for a round trip on the Lady Bowen ship. 2 ½ Hours drive of steep cliffs along to the opening of the open Tasman Sea, informative comments are displayed, for example, that here was the wettest place on earth with7-9 meters of rain, or 220 rain days per year. The next day called wet summer weather.
In Fiordland Great View Holiday Park, we use the time out to wash clothes. There are washing machines and dryers that have to be fed with a $ 2 per piece. Chai gets down to cook a Thai supper that tastes like the best ever.
A wet overcast Easter Sunday brings us the Haastpass. The day before we were in thick fog from Te Anau to Mossburn, in the clearest weather from there to Queenstown and Wanaka, located a lovely place to a deep blue lake. The weather changes fast in the West side of New Zealand. From the Tasman Sea the clouds accumulate and it is drizzling. The forests of the grotesque trees, full of moss hung, the fern trees, even the whole forest is a beautiful backdrop. It is like driving through a park. In case of rain and clouds, the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers are not visible, so we drive all the 380km up to Hokitika. For supper we had steak and spaghetti topped with tomato wedges.
Greymouth looks as gray as the name says it all: "gray", which McDonalds is already full at 10 o' clock, the coffee tastes just great as do the brownie. Over Easter there was no one on the computer in Switzerland, it seems, are the mails downloaded quickly and I can answer later offline. So we go in the drizzle continued through Reefton to Springs Junction and rest by the stream from us again in the bright sunshine.
Maruia Springs is the next address, a real Japanese experience. They are offering great deals to attract more guests in low season. The price of NZ $378 for the evening, meal and breakfast are included, and an hour in the "Private Spa" & an hour massage. The almost black spring water has taken in the vicinity, was 55 degrees hot, but in the bathrooms, it was not 38 degrees. A little too cold for Japanese terms. We were equipped with a yukata and Japanese sandals. The dinner was served by Japanese girls with a smile, a Japanese appetizer, a delicious beef steak with cauliflower in orange sauce, fried creme caramel for dessert.
Breakfast is plentiful and is served until late, we are accustomed to eating a little earlier in the motorhome. So we start today at 10 o' clock, we have a long drive ahead of us. It's raining again slightly, but is more pleasant to drive as it is cooler. Nelson again in the sun and the journey at Queen Charlotte Sound is spectacular along with beautiful views on the green water and the pine woods.
In Picton, the ferry port, we'll get back to the Campervan and enjoy a glass of red wine and a simple supper.
In Nelson we see many vineyards and the grapes grown are now ripe, but in the shops you get no home-grown grapes, strangely they are all imported from Chile, but wonderfully sweet. So we buy apples that are at least from New Zealand trees.
Ferry Southern North Island
On April 11, once again get updated very often with some variety in the daily weather, the whole area is covered with clouds, too bad for the ferry ride across the bay Kataiki by the open sea to Wellington, $378 - ferry shipping costs (Motorhome and 2 people).
The Campervan camps with electricity are not cheap, we pay between $26 - $40 in some places you even have a shower or separately. Even the most expensive places do not have the best showers! We could have a shower in the camper, but it is quite cumbersome, first everything is wet, the sink must be opened and also the water tank is not very large, the wastewater must also frequently be drawn off.
Another rainy, gray and wet day and low visibility on the pass North of Upper Hutt. The North Island is at its most unpleasant side, but we fill up diesel in Woodville for cheap price of $150. 90, if there has squandered a worker cover letter with the price of gasoline today is nowhere else so cheap. Almost 30 km we drive through to Napier, where we got the most beautiful place we had so far, with a direct view on the gray-shrouded sea, the sun shines briefly, but around the motor home get updated very often only puddles.
As the world is beautiful in the sunshine. On Friday, April 13, at 06:30 the sun had just risen from the sea and disappears into the motor home, there's no sleep anymore, even Chai is getting up and gets down to cook breakfast. For me this is a bit easier made with corn flakes, bread and jam and a hot coffee, the water in the microwave oven very hot, with cold milk and real cream.
On the state road number 5, we first drove 80km up to Tarawera and take a stroll to the hot springs. High above the river, we take a warm bath by the sun. Next on mountain roads, through beautiful pine forests, green hills and valleys with sparkling waterfalls and go for lunch in Taupo, at 350m altitude on the beautiful deep blue sea. In the afternoon you get to the Aratiatia Rapids, at 14:00 the floodgates will open, and the river swells in seconds (to be forewarned with sirens).
In the nearby Crater of the Moon we see rising hot vapors from many holes in the ground, the whole area is a geothermal wonderland, where electricity is produced, can bathe in hot springs is, hot water is fed into the homes and heating systems are operated. The area of Tongariro National Park to Rotorua's volcanic region, still active today.
Taupo is worth seeing. Orakei Koraku I visited five years before, the thermal plant is one of the most interesting and less touristy but a bit remote. Meanwhile, they charge $36 admission, but everything is in perfect condition, the roads are clean with signs and they built the new reception building at the small lake.
Also, Wai-O-Tapu has not lost its charm, the Lady Knox Geyser is fed at 10:15 with a detergent, such as 22 years ago, fountain spewing three to five minutes in the air, and amazed us, and the photos worth $31.
Waikite required for entry into the hot bath just $14, five years ago the figure was $7, the sanitary facilities are not improved, a safe should be re-fed with $2. Luckily, the sunshine is still free and the surrounding countryside.
Rotorua has disappointed me this time, something about the city - there are many vacant stores, seems to have come down a little. A short visit with Brian and Kate (since I was 7, years ago three nights at her B & B) was the only bright spot. So we go the next day continued on to Tauranga to Thames in the Coromandel area. On the second last full day of travel, we go over the incredibly twisty roads of the peninsula to the Hot Water Beach, a spectacle beyond compare.
Whitianga is located on the circular bay and most beautiful, you feel welcome as a tourist. The entire length of beach grass is overgrowing and free, provided with tables and benches, plenty of parking spaces available and the view across the bay to the rocky coast from the motorhome was just fantastic.
I consider Coromandel region the most beautiful region of New Zealand, the glorious, almost untouched nature with many different types of forests and bays, especially on the Pacific side. The streets are narrow and require greatest concentration by the driver, especially if you're traveling with a small truck and manual.
Kia Ora - it was New Zealand.
Hans Rhyn - 2012