Freedom camping at Te Maire At Puketi Forest (Jurassic Park)
Well, my inquisitive audience, to put it simply you must travel in the winter when the van hire is literally a tenth of the summer price, camp in free freedom camping areas which are found by people in the know or from the ‘Camping NZ’ app that costs £10.99, and eat pasta and pesto. How is that fun I hear you ask? Well, surely everyone dreams of waking up a meter away from the broken waves on Miranda beach listening to the sand and shells swish up and down the shore in the swash. Yet the reality is, I can confirm, that you are startled out of a deep sleep from the waves that crash what sounds like inches from your wheels, and you thereby awake under the terrifying pretence that the high tide has swept you away in your sleep. No, I am joking, it is really quite romantic. There are other travellers close by in their converted buses that are just as close as you are to the edge.
If, like me, you don’t have an overactive imagination and don’t think that you will be murdered by tribesmen hiding in the shadows of trees after parking for the night down a beaten track in what looks like a jungle reserve, then you will love freedom camping in Te Maire. Or, like me, you don’t think that a swamp monster is going to scratch the sides of your van and scrape his way in through the back doors to eat you for dinner then you would also enjoy Puketi Forest, especially if you like Jurassic Park.
Now, I don’t want to make too many comparisons to Australia, but down any beaten path on the whole of the Aussie island, even if it is only slightly out of Adelaide… you just wouldn’t. There are too many strangers with an appetite for tourists. New Zealand, on the other hand, is the second safest country in the world and we have only been approached by the kindest of people. These places that New Zealand kindly gives to cheap travellers like us to rest in are the most stunning locations I have ever seen in my entire twenty-four years of life. Being able to park in such places with unique views and scenery that you just can’t find in any other country are a legendary addition to what makes hiring a campervan around New Zealand fun.
Admittedly, there are some elements of campervaning that are not quite so appealing. The toilet container for example is filled with all the ingredients after three days to make the perfect poo cake. I can’t go near it so fortunately the man does the emptying in the designated dump zones. The toilets at Latitude Festival traumatised me forever when I saw two floating turds pass as I lifted the lid on what was a pool of everybody’s alcohol infused bodily evacuations from the comedy area, and now I cannot bear the site of poo and wee mixed like a poo cake, it makes me want to chunder.
This is a recommended route of fun for the north island. If you’re not interested in exploring the island for ten days then I wouldn’t read on. I want followers and readers alike not unfollowers and people falling asleep. It would be like someone sharing the rules of chess to someone who has no intention of ever playing chess.
THE GUARANTEED FUN ROUTE:
Freedom camping at Lake Wairarapa Visit to Mount Ruahepu
From 1) Auckland (after visiting The Basement for some transvestite burlesque)
Go to 2) Whangarei (pronounced Fangeray apparently) and have a coffee along the harbour.
Go to 3) Russell purely because it was New Zealand’s first port and the first place the Europeans settled making it New Zealand’s original capital; plus the views along the way are out of this world and they serve THE most delicious fish and chips, which the sea gulls hover inches away from your fingers to get and this makes a cracking photo.
Then head to 4) Cape Reigna and become THE most northerly couple in New Zealand.
After, head for 5) Rotorua just so you can get a sense of what a town built around volcanoes smells like… and, if you’re slightly rude like me go The Polynesian Spa and ask if you can pay $5 to use JUST their showers and not have to pay the $45 to use their hot springs because you’re a tramp and need a shave.
6) Lake Taupo is a must and camping by the lake is just perfect as you can see the glaciers in the background. Taupo itself is… different.
Then, even if like me you’re not a skier just go to 7) Mount Ruahepu ski resort to have a free ride down the ski lift.
The 8) National Army Museum is also a must on route to Wellington as they take you through the Maori land wars to New Zealand’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan. You can even see the medal Queen Victoria designed and had made for the brave soldiers of Britain and her supporting countries out of the metal caps that were taken from the guns stolen from the Russians during the Crimean War. Fascinating stuff!
9) Lake Wairarapa has a pink, purple and blue reflection when the sun is setting behind the mountains. Perfect little free camping area. No imaginative death stories floating around here.
From there, 10) Wellington is easy access and its even easier when you can park at any town on the railway line and leave your vehicle there for free. Katherine Mansfield’s house is a huge must for literary fanatics, The Observatory is too as it not only sits in the Botanical Gardens, but an astronomer gives you a talk in a dome shaped room about the stars in the Wellington sky at night.
The 11) Waitomo Caves are the highlight of the north island as a little boat takes you in silence through the cave dotted with glow worms that shine like little stars.
As a town on route back to Auckland it seemed wasteful not to visit 12) Hamilton…
Finally, 13) Miranda; a camp area just a foot away from the beach and under an hour from Auckland. The perfect spot for a beach walk at sunset and an exploration of all the exciting things the sea drags in at high tide and leaves behind.