After returning Winnie, our little campervan, last week, we caught a ride an hour North of Auckland to the small town of Matakana. Nestled in New Zealand’s coastal wine country, Matakana is only about 300 meters of small organic restaurants, expensive designer clothing stores, and fancy chocolate/candle/pillow boutiques catering to the weekenders that drive up from Auckland for a country escape.
After 15 days living in our little van named Winnie, it is time to say goodbye. She had mysterious stains on the ceiling, a door handle that only worked from the inside, and speakers that didn’t work on the passenger side. But, she was our method of transportation and our place to rest our heads at the end of the day so I am sad to give her back.
It took us 48 hours of drive time to travel across both islands of New Zealand and after the experience, all I can say is, “wow.” This country is just spectacular. There are (long list alert!) mountains, glaciers, fiords, forests, wide open planes, steep hills, huge lakes, rainforests, massive beaches, famous surf spots, little islands, tons of vineyards, and so much more nature that I haven’t even mentioned. On top of that, every Kiwi we met was happy to welcome us to their country and to help us when things went awry.
Debacles in three acts. Disclaimer: This is a long one.
The New Zealand leg of our trip started in near perfection but that didn’t last long. Not long at all. After our lovely morning in Okains Bay, we set out on a long drive South. We stopped at Lake Tekapo (not pronounced “Take-a-poo” apparently) for a walk, then free camped on the South side of Lake Pukaki near the town of Twizzler.
First impressions are extremely important and I must say, New Zealand nailed it. Upon arriving in Christchurch, we quickly picked up our little camper van, named her “Winnie,” filled her with groceries, and set off to our first campground in Okains Bay.