Northland, New Zealand

May 18 - 31, 2001

 Our Travel Experience

More Photos


Tourist Info


Our Travel Experience

We were extremely excited about renting a camper van. It was a type of travel that we'd never tried before and it sounded neat. Tara was especially excited about being able to cook food for us. We were also happy that we had a goal. We planned to drive to the Northernmost point in New Zealand, Cape Reinga.

However, after the first hour on the road, neither one of us thought we'd make it very far North since the camper van was extremely difficult for Seth to drive. At the rental company we had decided to rent a larger camper van than we had originally planned so that Seth would fit in the bed. Seth was taller than the length of the bed in the 2-berth camper van, but he fit fine into the bed in the larger 4-berth camper van. The problem with the 4-berth camper van was that it was larger! Now, imagine that you haven't driven daily for more than five years, are faced with unfamiliar city roads and have to drive on the left (opposite) side of the road. Now, put yourself into a vehicle with no rear visibility, limited side visibility and no acceleration. You'd take out full insurance for NZ$35 as well. You'd soon wish that your camper van came with a big bullhorn through which you could shout "KEEP CLEAR, KEEP CLEAR"!
Our first day's driving experience was cut short since it started to rain after about an hour's worth of driving. Seth did not want to add possible slick roads to the driving equation, so he pulled over into a parking lot right next to the road. He crawled into the back of the camper van for a recuperative, post-stressful-driving nap while Tara went out in search of a toilet. Even though we had a toilet inside of our camper van, we really didn't want to use it (since we'd have to clean it out). Thus, Tara's first objective was to find a toilet. That accomplished, she explored the beautiful beach where she had found the toilet. Then, she went exploring in the nearby national park. Seth was still recovering from driving by sleeping. 

By some miracle, we didn't crash the camper van and it did get easier to drive over the course of twelve nights. We did take it easy especially the first few days and over the course of almost two weeks, we covered 1,044.4 kilometers (xx miles).



We also decided to delay our rental by one day since we didn't want to start our adventure in pouring down rain just before dusk. Luckily, we were greeted with sunny weather.

to be able to keep all our stuff in the same place and yet move about as we pleased.

Turns out that the nearby national park where we ended up spending the night was the same place we'd stopped seven years before when we were in New Zealand.

1994 Photo & 2001 Photo compared. We think it's the same place.


Food in the Camper van

Mark and Tara ate lobster and wine. The other world travelers also had fancy meals and wine.
We ate:

scrambled eggs with cheese, onions, hot dogs & sometimes with green peppers
english muffins with butter & cream cheese
toast with butter and sometimes cream cheese
orange slices
fruit that looks like a tomato

Pasta's: pre-packaged Continental noodles with mix (Carbonara, Curry, Bacon and Cheese, etc.)
Spiral pasta noodles with garlic spaghetti sauce
Garlic bread made out of toast
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Twice Backed Potatoes with butter, sour creme and cheese
Soups: Pumpkin soup (for Tara), chicken corn cream soup, tomato soup
Taco's: beef in flour tortillas with cheese, tomatoes, onion and sour cream (couldn't find lettuce)
Chicken tonight Korma sauce over rice and then again with actual chicken pieces in it
Chicken tonight honey mustard sauce with chicken pieces over rice
Hot dogs with grilled onions
Hot dogs on toasted, buttered bread with cheese
Left over Fish & Chips with tartar sauce (for Tara)

Standard Daily Fare:
Tim tams throughout the day for Seth
Orange slices with every breakfast and often for Lunch/Dinner desert (from big bag of oranges that we bought first day)
Water out of various campground faucets - very full of minerals and different from each place

Meals Out:
Pizza at Waipu Pizza Barn and Bar for lunch
Carrot Cake/Blueberry Muffin takeaway from Waipu
Green Chicken Curry takeaway for lunch in Keri Keri
Fish and Chips in Mangonui (for Tara)
Funky Fish Cafe yummy dinner (Chicken pesto pasta for Seth, Fish and Chips for Tara)

Are you surprised that our jeans felt tight after 11 nights? We definitely gained weight while Tara was cooking!
 Our Goal - Cape Reinga

Nearby hill:

Postcards at the Cape:

Beautiful Views:


Laxy Days:
Breakfast in bed

From Day to Night:


Category Rating Comments
Overall Experience 7 The whole camper van experience was very nice, but not exceptional. The scenery was often gorgeous, the people we met were friendly and we're glad we did it. 
Ease of Journey 5 Driving the camper van was hard for us - especially at first. Even by the end of nearly two weeks, we felt that having a big, huge, lumbering vehicle inhibited our travel and desire to explore. 
Accommodation  6 Maui 4-berth camper van: spacious and convenient 
Wenderholm National Park: beautiful natural setting, cold water only 
Waipu Cove Cottages & Camping: top-notch facilities in a beautiful setting 
Pagoda Lodge: fine facilities, postcard view over a river, shame that walking trails were closed 
Waitiki Landing: no view, convenient restaurant and TV room 
Russell Top 10 Holiday park: large park, good water view from site #9, nice since it was empty 
Baylys Beach Campground: no view, friendly host, big common area
Activities 6 We didn't do much since it was the colder, off-season and most activities were centered around water activities. It was enough for us to see the scenery and relax.
Coolness 7 The restrictions of driving around a big, lumbering vehicle hampered our experience. 
Tourist Info

Maui 1999 Campervan - 4 Berth Ford Transit Vehicle
NZ$110 per day off-season rental + 35 insurance per day of rental (not 24 hours, so we were charged an extra day effectively)
NZ$153.42 per night for 12 nights of rental
Deisel gas used for 1,044.4 kilometers was 193 liters (16 liters per 100 km). Cost = NZ$158

Overnight stops
Wenderholm National Park - NZ$10
Waipu Cove Cottages & Camping - NZ$20
Pagoda Lodge - NZ$20
Waitiki Landing - NZ$18
Russell Top 10 Holiday park - NZ$22
Baylys Beach Campground - NZ$20