From Waiheke Island we headed up north just past Auckland to a place called Red Beach. Here, we found a pleasant campground with full hook ups that was a jumping off point to head further north; a place to dump our very full grey tanks, and to plug in our electronics (ie. the phone used as a sound machine at night and baby slept through 2 nights in a row). The weather has been sub-par and apparently unseasonal with high winds and alternating rain with sun faster than you can sing the alphabet.
However, when in Rome… regardless of the weather, you go to the beach… which was packed with heaps of Kiwi kids learning to swim and surf. We poked in the tide pools, drew in the sand, watched the kids, collected a few of the billions of shells, and also took part in another “Le Park Tour” in the small town of Orewa. I think it poured rain for about 5 minutes every 15 minutes. We took our coats and hoodies off a number of times, but still enjoyed some sunshine and some playtime.
After two nights here its time to move on. Ry was sad as once again she had met another “best friend”. This time it was a 4 year old girl named Romy from near Perth, Australia, camping next to us with her family. With our doors both opening onto a grassy yard to the same side it was a perfect little place for the kids to share play-doh and princesses.
Onward, we are heading north, and Josh is so lucky to have such a fantastic co-pilot who has a keen sense of direction… okay, that’s a lie. His co-pilot does not have time to maintain our whereabouts or research current location on a map… instead she packs snacks, passes out water, programs the GPS and keeps the children alive (AKA fills tummies and keeps the peace). Once in a while she may give praise for staying on the left side of the road, or navigating a sharp corner or parking stall. That’s enough, isn’t it?!
Last night, after our longest drive yet (just short of 2 hours), we stopped at the town of Ruakaka. It was a massive campground on the bright, white, picturesque sand dunes overlooking a quiet inlet of sparkling baby blue water. The view from the campervan was pretty unique, the only problem was the wind. Again. So far this has been the windiest place we’ve ever been!
We went for an afternoon walk down to the water and along the dunes, which Ry enjoyed making sand angels and sifting through the soft silky sand immensely… so much so, we had to nearly drag her home. We couldn’t though, as our hands were full holding our hats and bracing into the wind. Zo was also a happy camper perched in the hiking pack with a big grin on her face. Little did we know she was plotting a 3 hour night waking for later, extended in part by air raid sounding sirens in the middle of the night. Thanks to google we learned we were not being bombed, and there was no impending tsunami, but merely they were beckoning the volunteers for an emergency.
Whangarei (pronounced Fangarei)
We continue our journey north to the Bay of Islands, but not before making a quick one night stop in Whangarei (the birthplace of New Zealand – I think). Its a medium sized centralized town about 40 minutes north of Rukaka and has a great central park and path district (ie. kids playground) surrounding a small marina. Josh and the kids made the 5 km tramp around the marina and surveyed the many large sailing catamarans (next adventure perhaps), played at the park, and smelled the flowers (I went for a run, YES).
We grabbed some food on a patio overlooking the sailboats and surrounding flowers while the kids played in the park. There was a 4.2 km loop trail around the marina and through the town basin, so I took a run (AKA escape). Then we enjoyed a nice “toastie” and a mocha at a charming cafe, hoping to hijack some real wifi (as the campsites have only had measley 100MB’s for free), but we were too busy feeding the kids to go ask for the password. As an aside, the coffee in Whangarei is great, super riche, and thick, yum just they way we like it.
Afterwards Zo and Ry needed some chill time, so they played under a shady tree in the town square. And, to our mild surprise (we’re in tourist town seeing doing what tourists do) we ran into the Aussie’s and Ry’s little friend Romy, who were also staying in the same campervan park once again! This afternoon Zo went down for a nap, and Ry and Josh headed down the hill to the towns wave pool (free passes from our campsite).
Tomorrow we’re heading out to see the Whangarei waterfalls, and then continuing north to the Bay of Islands, but not before making a few stops (ie. bathroom breaks, lunch, playground, or for any other reason that may present itself).