As 2019 draws to a close and 2020 looms, it will soon be another year over and a new one just begun. So it was time to look back on some of our journeys in 2019. These offered some of the highlights as well as a couple of lowlights. The year didn’t start that well for me with a biopsy in my upper chest to confirm that lymphoma had returned. No immediate treatment was needed; instead, I am now officially on the watch and wait program. Then after the surgery, I was banned from driving for 4 weeks. Not that I could have driven anyway it was just far too painful.
When we did decide to getaway I barely made it over the harbour bridge before saying to Sarah lets find somewhere close to home. This gave us the chance to explore a couple of the Auckland Regional Parks. Staying at both Wenderholm and Shakespear only to discover that they exceeded our expectations. What a surprise to find two such amazing places to stay so close to home.
With the pain in my chest finally subsiding, it was time to join friends in the far north. We just had one small, ancient, 4 legged problem to solve first. Mr Blobby, our 21-year-old cat, had returned to live with us after spending time with one of our sons. So with us heading away, we returned him there. Only for him to go missing for the next 3 days. Found in a bedraggled state 700 metres from the house Sarah decided that he would see out his days with us. Hence we started Travels with Mr Blobby. Sadly he passed away later in the year but actually got to see quite a bit of the North Island in his last few months of life. Not bad for a cat that never been out of Auckland.
Making it to Northland, we caught up with our friends, including John, who had, had a heart bypass late in 2018. Between the two of us, we re-named Ramp Road (freedom camping on the Karikari Peninsula) the recovery ward. A very restful place with plenty of good fishing and great company.
In March and April we decided to go somewhere we had never been before. Setting off to explore the lower East Coast of the North Island. Wanting to break the journey, we decided to make the first stop at Whakaipo Bay in Taupo. Access to this free DOC camp is down a somewhat potholed road, but it’s absolutely worth the drive what a fantastic place. The first night there we were one of only 4 motorhomes in an 84-hectare park!!. Not to mention the incredible sunsets each night there, swimming in the lake, cycling the trails, just so much on offer.
Hitting the East Coast, we spent the first two nights and really the only nights with lots of other campers at Kairakau. With the day’s starting to get shorter, it was easy to get up at the right time to watch some fantastic sunrises here. We discovered that to get anywhere down here, it’s a very long drive to not go very far. The road to each successive beach down the road required a massive detour inland to get there.
However, once we got there places like Pourerere (I still don’t know how to say this), Porangahau and Herbertville offer freedom camping without the crowds and massive beaches where it seems you are the only person or cat, on earth as you walk along them.
Reaching Akitio, where you have to stay at the motor camp. We met up with a group from Taupo on Safari and had a wonderful evening and great fish and chips. Not such a beautiful day the next when leaving the area we almost lost our front wheel as the nuts came undone. A terrifying experience.
From there it was into Masterton for a stay at the A&P Showgrounds before getting out to Castlepoint for some fantastic scenery and a great walk. If you haven’t done this part of the North Island, we strongly recommend that you take the time and visit some of these places. They are all well set up for motorhomes with accommodation, either free or at little cost.
Heading back home, we drove the Gentle Annie Road, which as the sign says, is rather steep. We were also surprised to almost run over this stag feeding on the side of the road. We spent the night at the back of the Army Museum. I don’t know how many times we have driven past this without stopping but am certainly glad we did this time. What really surprised me was just how quiet it was tucked away behind the museum with SH1 on the other side. There is also plenty to see inside the museum, where you could quickly lose yourself for several hours.
Not long after returning home it was time to head to a catch up with fellow Dethleffs owners at Otamuri Bay, just north of Whangarei. The only issue with this is that being a DOC camp, no pets allowed and we were still travelling with Mr Blobby. With this in mind, I headed away on my own only to discover that I really am no good travelling without Sarah. We are a team, and she is an essential component. I cannot see myself travelling alone again.
Part two of this blog will follow in the next couple of days featuring the remainder of the years travels.
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To view the places we have visited click here to see them on Google maps. You can click the links to read the blog about that area.
To view the Ratings, we have done for places we have stayed click here