The New Zealand Diaries: of cattle and campers (26/12/15)

Never in my wildest dreams would I have considered cattle and campers a logical marriage for a blog title….. alas, only day 0 and “Kiwiland” has already proven me wrong. I can safely say that I have never before seen so many large herds of cows in one day as I did today, on my very first drive in the campervan from Auckland to Mount Manganui (near Tauranga on the East Coast of the Central North Island).  My tired little eyes were struck by the lush, green landscapes dotted with trees, hills, farms and ….well….cattle… as I drove through the Hauraki Plains, through a magnificent gorge with a spectacular river runing through it, past sleepy towns with exotic names like Paeroa, Katikati and others (despite seeming very traditional and unspoilt all of them seemed to have a Mc Donalds or KFC in it……what an odd world we live in).

I could have stopped hundreds of times to gaze and take pictures but as it was getting late and I was worried about a night drive on my first day following a long trip, I had to forego the pleasure. But even just driving along, the spectacular beauty of this country overwhelmed me….not only was the scenery per se calming but the light here in New Zealand is unique.Even at 3/4pm in the afternoon (ie not close to dusk), the sun enhances the natural lush colour of trees, flowers, fields. Birds by the road side also made me laugh…..there is a type of bird which behaves very similar to a starling but is not quite the same (it seems to have some colour round the eyes and is slightly bigger than a starling-I must find out what it is). During my drive, I spotted dozens of them hanging around the road side, ready to dive into the  middle of the road to pick up food. A bit disconcerting when you are driving a camper -van for the first time but quite  fun especially once you know how crafty and quick they are

Now that I have overcome my first big hurdle and am safely docked here at the campsite, I can admit how terrified I was about this first part of my journey. Arriving in NZ all by myself, tired, without a clear idea as to how to find the campervan pick- up venue and then being let lose on the van through a 2 hour drive down South was frightening……but I am so glad I stuck with the idea despite the fear. Sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zone……so today I really had to pray for s “can-do” attitude as regards driving and navigation. Thankfully, the van is surprisingly eas to drive; New Zealanders are also very patient, traffic is relatively slow and forgiving and the roads are not too confusing so I got here safely and am happy that I can now rest here in my little abode at the foot of Mount Manganui. I hope to climb it tomorrow for some excellent all- round views of what promises to be a beautiful bay area, as well as Tauranga’s harbour…apparently one of NZ’s most important ports if the English owner of nearby  hotel (who showed me the way to the  campsite and whose daughter works in Croxley  Green!!!!!) is to be believed

Who knows if I will sleep…my body clock is all over the place and history was made on this trip when I actually got 6 hours sleep each on both the London -Singapore and the Singapore-Auckland flight…..I NEVER normally manage to sleep on overnight flights so this exception was a definite and welcome first.

I am thinking of all across the miles and do hope you have had/are having a special Christmas and that it will somehow be enriched by my random greetings from New Zealand.


Can you tell someone was excited about reaching Auckland????😀