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Once Around The Sun

53629 km


Kind of a funny story with our Jucy Lucy. On the first day we didn't drive too much. After seeing the views from the top of Mt. Victoria in Auckland we have only made it to the first free camp on our way north. In the beautiful bay of Mathesons near Leigh where I've enjoyed an outdoor shower and in the morning a swim in the ice cold sea. On the second day we drove something about 200 km and stayed at a very nice farm camp. The fun started in the morning of our third day of the road trip. When we were crossing by ferry from Okiato to Opua, our Jucy caught fire. Majka was enjoying the ride on the deck while I was watching the smoke rising from the dashboard. Well, wasn't really fire, but where is smoke the might be fire. I had the ferry crew jumping around with extinguishers in no time. It wasn't a joke, they didn't think so either. Long story short, we got the Jucy off the ferry in one piece, disconnected the batteries and spent a lot of time on phone. Funny story has a happy ending. In the evening we had a spanking new Lucy with the compliments of Jucy.

The rest of our road tripping was much less of a thrill and adrenalin. It was all about the Mauri culture, unreal landscape and some surreal prehistoric fauna. In fact the landscape would be what most would associate with New Zealand. It is for a reason that many fantasy and science fiction movies were shot here. The nature is out of this world. If I had to characterise NZ in a few words, I would say it is a mixture of Scotland, Iceland and Thailand. Scotland for the green mountainous terrain, Iceland for the rich geological activity and Thailand for the beaches, which are as picture perfect as the Thai ones. I think that description fits well, but I have to admit not as well as my dear friend Norman has characterised the country. In a digital conversation he told me: 'Very much like England but stuck in the 50's, so they will understand the way you dress.' Isn't he adorable, my fashion advisor friend?! To the point... I am sort of interested in geology and the landscape is peppered with volcanoes, geysers, bubbling mud pools, hot streams, waterfalls, lakes, basically all a hobbyist can get excited about. In the far north it is the cliffs of Cape Reinga and the 90 Mile Beach (which is actually 60 miles long) to name a couple. Past this magnificent beach on our way back down south is Tane Mahuta a giant Kauri tree that clocks around 2500 years of age and is named as 'Father of two the Forrest'. There is a few more equally majestic Kauri trees with similar names, like God of the Forrest or Four Sisters, which are 4 trees living in a symbiosis. South of Auckland it is Rotorua and Taupo. A region filled with geysers, hot springs, volcano vents, acidic colourful lakes... Rotorua is actually the only city in the world build right on the top of such active geothermal region and you can spot steam or hot water seeping up in people's gardens or in parks. It's normal, apparently. Lake Rotorua is a volcano crater filled with water. And it is one giant crater. The Coromandel peninsula is the winery hearth of Zealand, unfortunately rainy weather has ruined this for us and we have decided to turn around and go south towards the Hot Water Beach near Whenuakite. The idea is to bring a shovel, look for a good spot and dig a hole where lava heated hot water seeps through the sand and mixes with cold sea water to create n ideal hot bath. Quite unique experience! Next on the road was Napier, that weird art deco town with many heritage buildings and looks from a movie set of 'Back to the future'. This is where we met up with a friend and his girlfriend who has moved to NZ, Ičko and Katarína. We camped near Napier and spent a day here walking the town, before they head back to Wellington. Me and Mariola have spent another few days exploring the coast on way to the capital, where we stayed at Ičko for a few days...

At the end of our road trip winter was starting to catch up with us so it was clear already that we will not be heading to the southern island this time around. We are leaving this for the next time, again. A verdict on New Zealand from the perspective of this road trip: Magnificent landscape, crazy volcanoes and surreal geothermal activity, fell in love with a weird fruit I've never heard of before, Fijoas, experienced the most expensive mobile data package on the planet (1.5Gb of data for 30 NZD and I had to buy 4 of these during our 19 day stay!), met some good friends, ate some delicious lamb shanks, didn't burn alive in the rented Lucy and didn't have to be ashamed for the way I dress. I’ll call that a success!


​© 2022 by JAN ROCKAR

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