Day One Auckland to Waitomo
Going to Waitomo was a little bit of a detour as we were actually heading to the Coromandel but a friend suggested we go to the glow-worm caves and we’re so glad we listened to them. What an incredible experience and the driver of our van even got in for free! Bargain! The tour-guides were fantastic and very knowledgeable and the glow worms were spectacular. It was like being in an enchanted world as we made our way through the caves in the boat. Afterwards we had a delicious lunch at the huhu café and went for a relaxing bushwalk. Nobody should miss out on a day at this magical location!
Day Two Waitomo to Paeroa
1 hour 50mins
We are both big fans of the hobbit, so we took our time getting to Paeroa (getting ready to start cycling tomorrow so we thought it’d be a good idea to take it easy anyway) and stopped in at Hobbiton on the way. We totally geeked out when we saw the hobbit huts and started quoting the movie, a few people laughed at us and a few others to a giant step to the side and looked at us like we were weirdos. Not that we cared. Hobbiton was great. The setting is stunning and was better than we imagined it to be. Dinner in the camper was great, Dave cooked up a delicious pasta with some fresh tomatoes and basil, and topped it off with a bottle of L&P (we couldn’t come here and not have a bottle!).
L&P Bottle Pose - Paeroa.
Day Three Paeroa to Waihi
We’d been wanting to cycle the Hauraki Rail Trail – in particular the Karangahake Gorge for a while now, so we were both excited about it and set out quite early to beat the heat of the day. Google told us it would take about an hour and a half to get to Waihi, but we stopped to explore on the way so it took us all day for the return trip. We followed the old railway track along the river. We stopped in at the winery and I made Dave carry the nights tipple back in his backpack. Lunch was at the Waikino Station Café. We were pretty famished by lunch-time and pretty much inhaled our meals. Riding through the tunnel was probably one of my highlights of the day. Dave doesn’t say much but I know he was blown away by how beautiful it was riding through there.
Ange cycling the Hauraki Rail Trail.
Day Four Paeroa to Thames
After such a big day biking yesterday we decided to be a bit lazy and drove to Thames. We grabbed lunch at the Matatoki Cheese Barn and while we were there they said they allow up to two campers to spend the night there for free. So we parked up the camper and went for another spin into Thames to have a look around. A shorter trip than yesterday, it took us about 40 mins to get there. We sat on the beach and relaxed in the sun and felt a bit sad about returning our camper the next day. I made dinner that evening. We had left over pasta, salad and some fish we picked up in Thames.
Dave getting the bikes out.
Day Five Thames to Auckland
Neither of us wanted to hand the camper back, so we spent the morning having a look around the water gardens. It’s easy to see why it has won so many awards. Dave and I decided we’re going to bring the camper back here again soon as there is still so much to explore. We didn’t even get to go to Hot Water Beach. We want to cycle some more of the Hauraki Rail Trail too, as there is still heaps more to see and do!
Ange at the beach.
Road trip highlights:
Where the best view was?
The best view would be riding through the Karangahake Gorge on the Hauraki Rail Trail.
Where you stopped for a picnic?
Sitting on the beach in Thames at the end of the trip was pretty amazing.
Where was your favourite place/town visited and why?
Waihi – the Beach and the small village is quaint, a few cute shops and friendly locals and the ice-cream bar at the Waihi Beach Hotel has a great selection as well as pastries to die for!
What was your favourite experience/activity & why?
The Glow worm caves and Hobbiton. We’re big fans of the hobbit so it was great to see where it was filmed, and the glow worm caves were stunning.
Glowworms, Hobbiton, Karangahake Gorge.
Best café for coffee?
Waikino Station Café.
We didn’t really visit any pubs/restaurants – but would definitely recommend the cheese barn to people! It was great!
Did you have a favourite Holiday Park you stayed in and why?
Waihi Top 10. It was lovely, well maintained, clean and had good facilities.
What would be your top tip for other campervan travellers?
Don’t structure your time too much, enjoy the freedom of a campervan and change your plans, you never know what you’ll experience by doing that. Also, look into hiring a bike and bike rack with your camper. We hired one with our Britz and it saved us lots of effort trying to take our own, and we used them quite a bit so well worth the extra.
Can you share a recipe from something you cooked in the campervan?
Dave cooked up a great pasta dish. He boiled up some pasta, then tossed in some fresh cherry tomatoes, basil, (lightly fried) garlic and olive oil. Yum!
What is your greatest memory of the whole campervan holiday?
All of it. It’s hard to choose just one thing, but we really loved cycling along the Hauraki Rail Trail.