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Day 1: Farmers market to Raglan
Driving time: 2.5 hours
We stocked up on premium local produce in the lush countryside just east of Auckland before hitting Highway 1 south to Hamilton. At Ngaruawahia (this little town was our favourite Maori tongue twister and we perfected our accents on this single word throughout the whole trip!) we stocked up on essentials and plenty of luxuries before veering off to Raglan. At Raglan we pulled into Manu Bay and jumped into perfect waves. We loved the village feel and cafe culture going in Raglan. Great coffee and lots of yummy places to eat. We also got addicted to Feijoas in this town, buying bags of it off little street stalls. Great view and coffee at Echo Lodge.
Day 2: Raglan to New Plymouth
Driving time: 4 hours
We got our fix of coffee at our favourite cafe and then made our way down the coast stopping at Awakino. From endless bare green hills we entered steep green fern valleys before it opened up into the picturesque Awakino Rivermouth and ocean. We pulled over at a deserted beach and had lunch. Our first sighting of the majestic Mt Taranaki is from here. We also drove down a few private roads searching for way to some beaches we thought we could get some good surf at. We only found a couple of farmers and their sheep who kindly told us it was only cliff and there was no way to the beach from here. We pulled into New Plymouth and stayed at the camping ground by the beach.
Day 3: New Plymouth to Mt Taranaki to Hawera
Driving time: 1.5 hours
We took a whole day as we checked out New Plymouth and then drove up Mt Taranaki.
From virtually everywhere you can see the summit of Mt Taranaki soaring through the clouds. We had to see get closer. We skipped the coastal road and drove inland to a small town at the base of the main road which leads to the ski fields. The first snowfall of winter had come a couple of days prior so there was fresh snow on the roads and the car park was full it. We threw snowballs, ate the snow and jumped around in it. After our snow fix we headed back down and straight to Harewa and to Harewa Camping ground.
Day 4: Hawera to Wellington
Driving time: 3 hours
We made a quick pit stop at Wanganui river mouth to get some very cold and black sand waves. We then cruised along the beautiful coastal road into windy Wellington. We headed straight to Lyall Beach and asked around for the best fish chips shop. We found one a few beaches down. At sunset, we watched the planes land from the cosy warmth of our lounge whilst we sipped on wine. That night we had dinner in the main strip of Wellington.
Day 5: Wellington to Taupo
Driving time: 5 hours
We travelled by night up to Taupo. This was the only time we didn't really plan our stay anyway and ended up parking on a quiet side street and slept there for the night. In Taupo we took a ride in the old boat and saw the Maori rock carvings that aren't actually that old. We only spent half a day in Taupo before heading to Rotorua.
Day 6: Rotorua
Driving time: 1 hour
Hot springs and Polynesian Steam baths. Had a swim by the side of the road in the natural hot springs river. Rolled down hills in giant balls filled with water with OGO Company. Did the slingshot on the mountain as well as sped down the mountain go-karts.
Day 7: Gisborne
Driving time: 5 hours
To get to Gisborne we drove through the mountains. Mainly a day of travel via the Motu Road with a quick stop at Rere falls to enjoy the rockslide and waterfall.
Day 8: Gisborne to Raglan
Driving time: 7 hours
We loved Raglan so much we decide to cross the country in a marathon effort to spend our last 2 days there. We did the East Cape road on the way back which was beautiful. We stopped on the north coast for a swim and at some very isolated beaches and saw lots of sheep farms.
Day 9: Raglan to Auckland
Driving time: 2.5 hours
We spent the morning in Raglan before sadly handing the keys back to our camper in the afternoon, just in time for our flight back to Australia.
Road Trip Highligths
Where was the best view?
Awakino, Awakino rivermouth looking south to Mt Taranaki at sunset. Pull up anywhere along the deserted beach.
Gisbourne back beaches along the East Cape. Also stopped at the longest wharf in the world and had some sandwiches.
Where was your favourite place/town?
Raglan. Small town with very nice cafes and boutique shops. Some Italians and French have opened up little cafes with great pizza, cakes and coffee. And of course surfing the epic left hand point break.
What was your favourite experience/activity?
Black water rafting in the caves in Waikato region. We've never done anything like it - Climbing into dark caves, freezing cold water, floating down underground rivers in blow up tyres.
- Stopping by the side of the road and taking a dip in the natural hot spring rivers near Rotorua.
- Driving around the East Cape and stopping at isolated beaches and hills.
- Blackwater rafting
- Snow on Mt Taranaki
- Surfing the awesome west coast coastline.
Best café for coffee?
Outside Cafe, Raglan Town Centre opposite the library (library has free wifi)
A drink at the Irish Pub in Cuba Street, Wellington. Then walk to one of the many restaurants nearby.
Did you have a favourite Holiday Park you stayed in and why?
Geothermal Caravan Park, Rotorua. Hot spring pools for guests.
What would be your top tip for other campervan travellers – a piece of advice?
Have a very loose plan or in other words don't be a stickler to stickiing to your plan. Make turns offs at everything that catches your attention.
Can you share a recipe from something you cooked in the campervan?
Bully beef curry and rice. Buy a can of bully beef and mix in some onion and your favourite curry powder, fry it in a pan and boil some rice.
What is your greatest memory of the whole campervan holiday?
Pulling up an Manu Bay, Raglan and opening up the back doors to the sunset and eating cheese and drinking wine.