And…obviously we did not pray hard enough. The rain has not really stopped for one day one night now. It was pretty difficult to do anything in the rain with the strong wind (imagine going to toilet in the rain?). The sky was grey, weather unpredictable. We were happy when the rain stopped, but it might only last for few minutes until the next rain starts again. That, however, did not stop the New Zealanders from surfing. After admiring the surfers (in our car of course) we went to the local legendary fresh fish market which serves reputedly best Fish n Chips. And yes, they were indeed the best fish n chips we had (mind you, we have been having quite some fish n chips across Australia and New Zealand. Though we would not call ourselves fish n chips professionals, but well, we have had quite some experience u know. Hehe!
The weather for the next few days can be summarize into either one of the following words: fast-changing, depressing-for-tourists, rainy, sh*tty, rainy-for-ten-minutes-sunny-for-two, etc etc. We could just summarize the next few days activities into one paragraph simply because we could not do much for the following few days due to the weather. Apart from driving from Mt Maunganui to Auckland suburb via Karangahake Gorge, we managed to visit the Victoria Battery, Owharoa Falls, Kaiaua in 2/3 days. The Victoria Battery was once the biggest battery producing gold in Australasia until it was closed down in the 50s. We were lucky for visiting there on a Wednesday! Some volunteers manage the place now and show people around that place on Wednesday and Saturdays for few hours. We paid 10nzd per person and had a tour in the tunnel. What seems to be an abandoned place now used to engage some 6/700 workers daily when it was still functioning. After visiting the battery we had a short drive to have a look at the Owharoa Falls. The lady at the Visitor Center told us the Victoria Battery and the Owharoa Falls are near to each other so we thought, well, why not? We did not have high expectation but the Owharoa Falls turned out to be pretty stunning. The Karangahake Gorge was beautiful despite the grey sky. We had a hike around with a torch as some parts of the hike was in completely dark tunnels. After spending a night at Kaiaua, we continued our journey in Auckland direction. As we approach Auckland suburbs, the weather began to clear up! Clear blue sky, how have we missed you! There was only two days left until we part with our campervan which has served us pretty well (apart from the jump starting incidents and it being quite old and used).
Friendly and helpful in daily life, New Zealanders are not quite friendly and helpful on the roads. We concluded that New Zealanders to be one of the most aggressive drivers we have encountered. That being said, driving around with a campervan is no fun in a big city like Auckland, which was why we decided to spend the last two days driving around in suburbs instead of in the city. We went to One Tree Hill, history of which we don’t quite remember, but you can definitely find it on google. We hiked to its summit and had a good view of the city. After having lunch at Barilla Dumplings (not Italian but Asian actually) we drove to Mt Eden, the top of Auckland’s highest volcanic cone and highest natural point in Auckland. Auckland is built on some 50 volcanoes which makes it a very hot place. Ok just a joke. Though not all of them are extinct, the last eruption was 600years ago so we were not so afraid to spend time in this beautiful city. We spent the last two nights in our campervan at Ambury Campground (it had hot showers!). Cleaning up all our stuff, we had some items that we did not need anymore and were just thinking to give away instead of throwing them. A lucky German who just arrived after 28hour flight “inherited” all our goods. It was a win-win situation for both parties, he saved at least 3/40bucks and we did not have to throw things away. The Wendekreisen Campervan somehow looked sad in the sunset, as if it was saying goodbye to us.
We dropped off and bid goodbye to our campervan on 2 May 2015. We have had 5 weeks of good times with it and it is time to move on! Roman is happy that he does not have to drive at least for the next two weeks. We drove 4000km across New Zealand in 5 weeks (poor Roman drove 3800 and Yinru 200km). We entered our last spot for NZ, Auckland, with all our luggage and checked into Jucy Hotel. This is a hotel owned by a car rental company. It has the ugliest company color ever. Bright green and purple combination, you can see it from faaaar if someone is driving on their rental cars. Well, at least it is easy for them to find their car in a carpark! The next two days is filled with multicultural menu: Japanese, Dim Sum, Thai, etc. We decided to pamper ourselves after having Yinru’s delicious-yet-boring-after-five-weeks-camping-food. We sent some time wandering around in the city, admiring the Sky Tower (Southern Hemisphere tallest building), visiting Viaduct Harbour and Auckaland Fish Market, soaking up some sun at the Wynyard Quarter etc.
Auckland was a nice place to wrap up our 5 week journey in New Zealand. All in all, New Zealand is a lovely country with landscapes so beautiful and spectacular that words can’t really describe (we can’t really, at least). Where else on earth can you have volcanoes, glaciers, rainforests and the ocean all within 1 or 2 hours’ drive? The scenery is very versatile, contrasting and full of surprises. We will for sure remember the beauty of New Zealand for a long long time. It is pretty far from home, so the chances that we will visiting it’s islands again in the near future are pretty slim. And well, it is a relatively expensive place to visit too. Even though we have been cutting down our costs by doing a lot of self-cooking (a meal with some meat, veggies and side would cost in average max. 10 NZD) or freedom camping (free camping on designated areas) we still got a shock when we calculated our spending during our stay. We calculated an average cost of around 150 USD for the two of us per day (flights excluded) and spent more than 1’000 USD on petrol on our 3’950km self-drive journey only. So maybe we will need some years anyway to save up some money before we can visit NZ again.
The last day of NZ trip marks the 93rd day of our Round the World Trip and we have had slightly more than half of our trip already. Thank God for the 6 safe flights we have had, 7th coming up and few more to go. We enjoy ourselves a lot and are grateful each day knowing how blessed we are to be given this opportunity to see the world a bit. We are now looking forward to some warm weather, stunning beaches and the unique charm of the pacific islands. Next stop: Fiji!