Jan & Lio

Summer 2014/15

Jan & Lio
Community Outdoor Nation Jan & Lio Exploring The North

Exploring The North

Jan & Lio

November 2014

  • The quest for a decent van took longer then expected, but we were treated as family by the Robertsons. They were such a great help driving us to Te Rapa road where the used cars await their second life, giving us good advice on what to look for and helping us getting all the paperwork sorted. Plus we were treated to great kiwi food (how good are your steaks!), cuppas and wine galore while chitchatting with mum Adele while the boys watched their rugby. It’s funny how you can feel at home somewhere so fast.

    It was a rainy day when we saw her for the first time. She looked spotless on the outside and was nicely groomed on the inside. Her previous owner, Luis, was selling her because he was moving back to Portugal. She passed the mechanical test and soon the deal was sealed. I was so happy we got something a bit smaller (and safer?!) as Jan had set his mind on an actual van. He worried there’d be too little space but was soon proven mistaken when she was completely fitted out. Heaps of storage space underneath the bed and just enough room for the chilly bin, gas burners, BBQ and gas bottle in the boot.

    It was a beautiful day when we first set sail up north. After a mandatory stop at Pokeno for some well-deserved ice cream, the plan was to head for Piha. Unfortunately we missed the exit and soon found ourselves on Auckland bridge. After some reassessment we decided to camp at Shakespeare regional park at Army bay. As the large automated fences slid aside, it felt like we were entering Jurassic Park. We spotted peacocks, pukekos and our first tui. Even Jan hadn’t seen one before. We were both enchanted by the song coming from his double voice boxes (I know this because Jan told me) After a first good night sleep in our new home for the next 4 months, we took a hike up the hill, through the paddocks and the Kauri forest. Don’t worry, we disinfected our shoes (as requested by the DOC) upon entering the forest.

    Although it started raining heavily we decided to keep going. The wonderful views, and Jan’s enthusiasm about nature, kept the spirits up. When we reached the car we were soaked to the bone and thought we could do with some warmth. So the Waiwera Thermal Resort would be our next stop. Even though the infrastructure seemed a bit old, we relaxed in the hot pools and Jan had a blast in the slides. Fatigued by the hot water we wanted to camp somewhere nearby. The campground at Wenderholm regional park it was. It was just up the hill. Jan made a mean spaghetti carbonara and we watched the sun go down while enjoying a glass of New Zealand Marlborough wine.

    The next day a fellow camper recommended we hiked up the mountain for a view over the sandspit and ocean and so we did. We had lunch at the park before heading off. While eating buns with avocado we were surrounded by a pack of seagulls, mother duck and her 3 ducklings and some cheeky sparrows.

    Being a snorkelling enthusiast, Jan really wanted to go to Leigh marine reserve. After a long and windy road with a lot of ups and downs we finally reached the marine life sanctuary. We took a short stroll on the beach and then Jan entered the water armed with mask, snorkel and rash vest. He only lasted some ten minutes but at least he saw some fish. That night we stayed in a quirky little camping with amazing views and a laidback host. We really enjoyed our stay at Goat Island camping and would recommend it to everyone.

    The next day the plan was to pass through Whangarei and go all the way up to the Bay Of Islands but we only made it to Whananaki. Luckily, I’d say, because we had the Motutara campground all to ourselves. They gave us the prime spot with a splendid view over Barrons beach. Our own private beach. The next day the weather was so nice that we decided to stay for another night and day. It was the perfect opportunity to get a bit of a tan after a worthless Belgian summer. Although I was so careful and used heaps of sun lotion that day, my left ear (come on?!) and some other spots on my body got sunburnt. I just cannot believe how strong the NZ sun is. I won’t let that lotion SPF 50+ out of my sight anymore. Later that evening we put our Kiwi Camping solar shower to the test and it passed with flying colours. The water was a lot hotter than expected. We got out the BBQ and had ourselves a kiwi inspired diner: Sausies and bread, grilled onion and some tomato sauce.

    We’ve only been on the road for a couple of days and we have plenty more to go. Let’s keep our fingers crossed they’ll all be better than the last one. If not, we’ll just roll with the punches.

    • THE BEST OF so far:

    • Kiwi Camping gear: Orb camping chairs & Gauze Toaster

    • Purchase: Sun Lotion ‘New Zealand Cancer Society’ SPF 50 +

    • Birds: Tui & Kereru

    • Reserve: Wenderholm Regional Park

    • Campground: Goat Island campground at Leigh marine reserve

    • Beach: Barrons beach at the Motutara farm campground

    • Guilty pleasure: Watching the Hobbit (1 and 2) in bed.

    • Best moments: Jan: When Lio got pooed on by a shag (bird) Lio: The awesome swing from a Pohutu Kawa tree at Barrons beach

    • Worst moments:
      Lio:When I got pooed on by a bird!! Jan: When the swing’s rope broke and I tumbled down the hill...