First day of March we bought our lovely van, Dorothy. She was equipped with intimidating sheep skulls, a full size bed and a stovetop burner inside. Bought it off of two german guys at the Auckland car fair. Since we bought their van, they had to find another car to buy at the car fair. About 15 minutes later they found one. We all got in, drove to the post shop and registered our cars. No DMV bullshit. 10 minutes and we were done. First adventure in Dorothy was to the Sundaise music festival. The feeling of driving your house around is incredible, everything you own is inside that moving box. Drove out to Waihi for the festival, decided to get there a day early. Stopped along the way at an old gold mining site, thought we would only stop for 5 minutes, ended up hiking around for a couple hours. Encountered our first glow worm, which we thought was light peeking through a crack in the rock. Found some stick bugs along the trails as well. Got to the festival site and met our neighbors, Libbby and Lucy, a Brit and an Australian. Everyone was down to earth and really friendly. We were celebrating the beginning of our New Zealand journey. Little did we know, we were just scratching the surface.
Since we were already in the Coromandel Peninsula, we decided to make the most of it. The first stop was at hot water beach. If the tide is right, you can dig your own hot pool, which is exactly what we did. Along with about 50 other people, but the more the merrier. The pools are heated by a natural hot spring under the sand and the ocean water fills your pools, it also destroys them. When we were walking back to our car, we noticed a couple taking photos of Dorothy and we thought it was a bit strange. Turns out this couple owned Dorothy a few years back and built most of the inside. Thats how we found out Dorothy has been around the block a few times. The next stop was Cathedral Cove, a nice beach thats only about a 30 minute walking distance from the car park. Beautiful blue waters, towering pillars and sea caves you can swim to.
Our last stop in the Coromandel was at a place called the waterworks. Its about a 40 minute drive through the hairy 309 highway. We only planned on checking the place out, it was like an adult playground. Flying foxes, hamster wheels, dangerous swings. Its a great place to break your neck, plus everything was made out of recycled material by the owner, Jeff. Deaf Jeff. We met Jeff when we had lunch in the cafe. He offered us work in exchange for accommodation and food, we thought it sounded like a deal and it was. After three minutes of training on the tractor, we were moving gravel or in kiwi terms, metal. Only about three hours of work and we went home with Jeff and his wife Monet, who was from California. They cooked us a nice meal and we chatted about the United States and its strange economy. The next morning, Jeff took us to go fishing on his boat. I (Ben) have never been fishing before and I ended up catching about 10 fish. 9 of them we couldn’t keep because they were too small. We only stayed with Jeff and Monet for a couple days and then headed back to Rosa’s farm in Helensville.
When St. Patricks day rolled around, we hopped on a bus to Auckland CBD with people who were a few generations older than us but still young at heart. Drinking Guiness at an irish bar, irish dancing with the golden girls (they were the over 90s at the RSA) made for a great morning. We met two lovely girls, Lotty and Tamara, a Brit and a German, who were also celebrating St. Pattys day. It was nice to be with our own generation. After a long day of consuming alcohol with our new friends, we had to book a bed at a hostel because we missed the bus back home. The next morning we went for a coffee and saw a sign for the Hare Krishna festival of colours. After few days of helping out on Rosa and Nigel’s farm, we headed to the Hare Krishna festival in Kumue. We began the festival with plain white t-shirts and ended the festival soaked in corn starch colours. We weren’t exactly sure what Hare Krishna was but surely we enjoyed the festival.
Finally, we decided it was time to leave Rosa and Nigel’s farm. The first stop was in Auckland to pick up these useless RTA travel cards we had already paid for. We met up with Lotty a couple more times and hung out around the city. This was where we had our first experience with sleeping in Dorothy on the streets. Realizing that Auckland was just like every other city on the planet, we left. Our plan was to reach the South Island as soon as possible before it got too cold to explore. One stop on the way down was at the Waitomo Caves. Junior’s cousin had a friend working there that we wanted to meet. We explored some of the caves and witnessed the magnificent glow worms. Absolutely breathtaking. Its like looking into the stars of the night sky, you forget its just a bunch of larvae trying to catch a meal. We found Junior’s cousins friend and they invited us out to party, so of course we obliged. The next morning we left for Wellington. Five hours of driving and we made it, booked the ferry to the South Island for the next day. Found a nice free camp site with lots of other vans right by the beach. Watched a majestic sunset and enjoyed a nice devils cabbage salad.