Distance Travelled: 317 km
Total Road Trip Distance: 1126 km
22nd – 23rd Nov
Once we’d paid our elusive host we were off, to a dump station. If you’ve never driven a motorhome before (like us) it turns out that to stop your human exports and dirty water being leaked out onto the roads, they put various dump stations around the country that are basically holes in the ground with taps next to them (in case a little bit gets on you) that you drain everything in to. With that achieved and the fresh water tank full we were back on the road.
After driving past Mount Doom…
…we made it to the south of Lake Taupo just in time for lunch. The campsite lady had advised us that there are ao many little parking spots around the lake that you can just pull in right up to the lake and gaze at the incredible views of NZ’s largest lake. We thought it was the perfect time for lunch.
We spent an hour or so there aggrevating the local swans and gulls by not giving them any of our sandwiches. I decided I should take a dip. I probably should have guessed, what with it being flanked by snowy mountains and all, but it was crazy cold! After having managed the plunge pools in Japan though, I was ready. Once I was in it was lovely and refreshinh, and the water was so clear you could see right to the bottom all the way out.
Once dry we set off again to Taupo township. I’m sure it makes a great base for exploring the huge lake on its doorstep but it was just a lot of streets of chain restaurants and shops and not much going on. I think perhaps because the weather was so good people had decided to head to the lake instead but when we were wondering around it, it was empty. The two things we did appreciate were our first taste of some delicious hokey pokey ice cream (vanilla and honeycomb) and the fact that McDonalds has a plane.
After Taupo we were heading for Hamilton but on the way we saw one of the many green signs pointing us in the direction of an interesting natural sight. This one turned out to be Huka Falls, one of NZ’s biggest falls by volume with 220,000 litres of water flowing over it every second.
It only took a few minutes to get to the viewpoint so ten minutes later we were off again.
We arrived into Hamilton and parked up around 8ish. We got changed and ordered a taxi to meet up with a few buddies from uni that now live in Hamilton. We had arranged to meet at Good George so we got our taxi to drop us off outside and we headed on in expecting to find my friend Euan and his partner inside. After doing a quick lap of the establishment we found no Euan. I rang him and the conversation went a little like this:
Me: Hello, where are you?
Euan: Good George, where are you?
Me: Good George. Are you outside?
Euan: No we’re inside. Are you sure you’re in Good George?
Me: Yes, are you?
Euan: Yes, hang on… (to bartender) excuse me, is this Good George? No? Oh… Turns out we’re in Little George. Stay there, we’ll come and get you!
So Hamilton has a brewery called Good George with two establishments and we had been sent to the wrong one. But a short while later we were picked up and whisked off to Little George.
We met Kerry, Euan’s partner, had beers, pizza and chats about the good old days, and the bad new ones. Later on Eleanor, another friend from uni that’s moved out to Hamilton, joined us. After the evening had rolled to a close we were kindly dropped off at our motorhome.
The next day we had hoped to be able to go to Hobbiton on the way to Auckland but had found the earliest available tour would have meant we would have been too late to drop off our camper so we made do with brunch at a place called Hayes Common by the river. Once we’d ordered and started tucking in we suddenly weren’t so disapointed we couldn’t get to Hobbiton that day, it was a good brunch!
Brunch demolished it was back on the road for our final NZ stop.
The campsite (car park)
A lot of the free camping spots that allow freedom camping around NZ are simply car parks and this one happened to be for the Hamilton Classic Car Museum.
It did absolutely everything it needed to do. It was a slice of tarmac a short drive to the centre of Hamilton and it was free. No complaints whatsoever.