Friday, November 18, 2011

our NZ camper car
Opoutere Beach
Tongariro Crossing
Adrianna was kind enough to come for a brief visit to New Zealand. We had considered sailing around Hauraki Gulf--Great Barrier Island in particular--but the weather forecast did not look ideal (it's never ideal in New Zealand as far as I can tell). So we rented a Nissan hatchback set up for camping (the camper vans and cars of NZ deserve a post of their own) and set off down the road. On day one we drove around the coast of the Coromandel Peninsula where we saw penguins standing on a rocky beach. We camped by idyllic Opoutere Beach on the SE end of Coromandel. The following day we made our way to Tongariro National Park and hiked the popular Tongariro Crossing, a ~12.5 mile hike along volcanoes, snow, steaming rocks, and lakes.
We made our way down the SW coast of the North Island and ended up in Wellington where we only stayed for a few hours while I checked out the anchoring/mooring/berthing options for Twister. We did see the local Occupy Wall Street protests there as well as in Auckland. Neither has been evicted as of today. Our next stop was in the just appropriately quaint town of Martinborough, popular for its wineries. We stayed in NZ's wine region as we continued towards Napier in the Hawke's Bay region. On the way we stopped at Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Center where we got to see a couple of Kiwi Birds (in captivity) as well as some other cool NZ wildlife (shrieking eels). We also stopped at Junction Winery and had a few samples. We camped on the beach in Te Awanga just south of Napier, known for its art deco architecture. We returned to Auckland via Tauranga, where the container ship Rena is stuck on Astrolabe Reef 12 miles off the coast.

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