August 26th 2016 – New Zealand Day 6

Today I woke up at 8:00am. I was very tired because of having to move my camper in the middle of the night, and the constant wind. I prepared a smoked salmon with egg sandwich for breakfast before getting on the road.

My journey today took me along a nice and slow route along the Coromandel coast. The views were spectacular! I stopped in the town of Thames at a McDonald’s to download some more podcasts and to catch up with a few people, before slowly meandering my way along the coastline.
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I arrived at the town of Hahei, where I parked my camper and went on an hour return trip to Cathedral Cove. I ran into my friend Anne, who I’ve been hanging out with for the past few days, who was on the Kiwi Adventures tour of New Zealand! The archway at Cathedral Cove was amazing!
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I spent quite some time at Cathedral Cove before heading my way back to my camper. I then headed to Hot Water Beach, which is a naturally occurring geothermal area on a beach. Hot steam rises up through the sand and brings the water to a temperature of 45-60 degrees Celsius! I met a randomly family there with a shovel and helped them out. Within a half hour we had a pretty decent sized pool where we could all sit in and relax in the hot water. It was pretty amazing!
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The man of the family, Richard, invited me for some beers at his house at 8:30pm, and gave me the address. I had a shower, and worked on my blog until around 8:00pm and then went looking for his house, but was unable to find it. I kind of felt bad, but it was time to find a place to sleep. I drove a half hour south to a small little sleepy town called  Tairua. There was three other campers where I was, and I found a good spot and parked for the night.
BAM!!! My camper was hit by another vehicle at around 10:30pm when I was trying to sleep. By the time I had come to my senses the vehicle had taken off. My left rear  reflector was broken and the bumper pushed in a bit. I pushed the bumper back out, but the reflector will need to be replaced. I’ll look into this tomorrow because I don’t want the rental company to know about this.
Tomorrow I’m off to Rotorua, which is what I’ve been looking forward to for the whole New Zealand portion of my trip.

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August 25th 2016 – New Zealand Day 5

Today I woke up at 7:30am. It was pouring rain so I decided that I would drive to the Museum of Transportation and Technology (MOTAT) instead of walking there. It was supposed to be an hours walk away, but the drive is only supposed to take about twenty minutes. I wondered why traffic in Auckland was so horrific for its size, and I eventually found out why, but more on that later. I prepared an egg skillet for breakfast. The drive to MOTAT took nearly 40 minutes, which is pretty bad considering it is only 5.5km away from where I was staying.

MOTAT is comprised of two spots; the World War 2 aviation museum, and then the technology and transportation museum is a short tram ride away. The tram is one of only a few remaining tram systems in New Zealand; more on this later.
The aviation museum was quite large and went into New Zealand’s history and involvement in the war. Their aviation fleet was composed of mainly DeHavilland aircraft, most of which were manufactured right in Wellington, New Zealand. The plant actually had a lot of difficulties ranging from finding enough employees (women were eventually hired, uncommon in that era, because the men were at war), numerous floods, high winds, and golf balls because airplane production started before the factory could even be finished or had windows. I also learned about the bouncing bombs that were used in World War 2 to blow up and break down dams.
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It was 12:15pm when I left the aviation museum. I went back into my camper to make myself a quick lunch before hoping on tram number 893, a 1944 SW6 tram on lease from Melbourne, to go down to the second MOTAT area. A few trams are on a long term lease from Melbourne, which is one of only a few places in the world that still has a successful wide scale tram system.
Upon arriving at the second MOTAT location i was overwhelmed by the amount of school children on a field trip, so I did my best to avoid them. The second MOTAT location has over a half dozen buildings with different displays in them ranging from technology, trains, steam pumps, arctic displays, and my personal favorite was the tram display.
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Once upon a time Auckland actually had one of the most successful tram networks, at its time, in the world. It would be equivalent to what we now realize Melbourne for. The system was over 70km in length at its height in the 1930s and 1940s. The electric tramway in Auckland was initially a public/private venture by the British Electric Traction Company in London and the Auckland Borough Councils, eventually taken over by the Auckland City Corporation in 1919 and operated until 1956 when the Master Transportation Plan emphasizing motorways was favoured. The tram network was quickly ripped up and replaced by diesel and trolleybuses as part of a “modernization” program.
Ridership fell from a 1954 average level of 290 public transport trips per person per year, to only 41 trips per person per year in 1999. In 1954 58 percent of people used public transport, now that number is around 15 percent. Auckland has a similar population as my home town, Calgary, at around 1.4 million people. Calgarian’s love to drive and don’t really favour public transport, but it’s not that bad in comparison to Auckland. The entire city is gridlocked and the reverse thinking of its municipal government in the 1950’s has absolutely crippled the city in gridlock. They had a great system and removed it, whereas Calgary never really planned properly for public transport until now, but is seeing light at the end of the tunnel. To this day I would say Melbourne easily has one of the most successful transit systems I’ve seen for its size. It’s clean and supports 5 million people quite well.
After I was done at the second MOTAT area I took the same tram number back to my camper at the first MOTAT location.
It was time to get some more groceries, so I drove to a nearby grocery store to stock up. It was now time to meet Anne to go up the Sky Tower. I parked my camper at the same spot as the night before, and did the half hour walk to her hostel in the pouring rain. The weather conditions didn’t look good for the Sky Tower, but we both were leaving Auckland tomorrow so we decided to go up anyways. The view was absolutely white out conditions, but we made the most of it by having some ice cream! I had vanilla bean and Anne had raspberry orange sherbet. Mine was better, but she’s convinced I’m boring and that hers was better…
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After the Sky Tower we went in search of food because we were both hungry. She had never had Vietnamese food before, and I was craving it again, so I suggested we go to a place just around the corner. She ordered a spicy chicken curry soup, which was actually pretty good, and I ordered my regular sate beef pho, which wasn’t the best I’ve had. We said our goodbye’s and j went back to my camper and tried to get some sleep. On my way back to my camper I saw an amusing marvel comics creation made from sticky notes in office windows. Someone’s getting paid to have fun…
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I went to bed at about 9:30pm, and was woken up at midnight with a terrible howling wind like something you would have heard out of a horror movie. It really gave me the chills. I checked the weather report and the wind gusts were around 100 kilometres per hour. I put up with it for a bit, but decided that it was time to move. I found a free place to park about an hour inland in Mercer. I eventually got to sleep at about 2:00am and slept through the rest of the night.

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August 24th 2016 – New Zealand Day 4

Today I woke up at 7:00am to make my commute into Auckland. I looked outside my camper and the view was pretty darn nice! I prepared myself a coffee and hit the road. No breakfast this morning because I was meeting Anne for breakfast. 

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The commute was fairly steady until I hit the Auckland city limits then it slowed to a crawl. Navigating the RV around Auckland wasn’t too difficult, but I am used to navigating fairly large vehicle from a previous career as a delivery driver for a coffee company. I picked up Anne from her hostel on the way to my parking spot as she was central downtown. I found a spot to park on Z Pier for $20 per 24 hours. I will eventually camp here later tonight. The place even has a dump station, but no fill station.

I packed my small backpack with my camera, some water, and a rain jacket and headed in pursuit of a place that sold pancakes; her request. We walked half an hour to “No. 1 Pancake”. Sadly this was false advertising because it definitely wasn’t pancakes. It was some Chinese impression of a pancake. We searched on Google and the word we were looking for was hot cakes. We found a place on the other end of the Central Business District (CBD) called “Britomart”. I ordered a huge cowboy breakfast with all the meat you could possibly want, and Anne got her Ricotta hot cakes that she wanted. The service wasn’t very good, but the food made up for it. We settled up the $45.50 bill and left.

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Anne told me she had free tickets for the Sky Tower from work and invited me to go with her later on in the evening. I told her I would love to come and that I was going to Mt. Eden today if she wanted to come along. She said sure but she also had to do laundry. I had to do laundry as well so it worked out well. I went back to my camper, grabbed my larger back pack and stuffed my laundry in it, and met back up with Anne at her hostel. Laundry wasn’t open until 2:00pm so we went to Mt. Eden. The walk took about an hour in the pouring rain. It was up hill all the way there. On the way we saw a lot of beautiful old buildings from the early 1900’s.

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The views at the top of Mt. Eden was breathtaking. You could see the entire city, although it was a bit overcast. There was a monument at the top of Mt. Eden as well that was used as a survey point for the area when Auckland was founded.

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The walk back was way easier since it was downhill the whole way back. When we got back to her hostel we both put our laundry into washing machines and she talked to her boyfriend on the phone. I passed the time catching up with my friends too. After switching the laundry over to the dryer we went and got some groceries and delicious Domino’s pizza; also her request. It’s much better than the Domino’s pizza at home. 

We then we’re going to go to the Sky Tower but when we arrived we were told it’s pure white out conditions at the top and to come back another day. We decided we could come back tomorrow evening instead. 

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We went back to her hostel, just around the corner, and talked for a while. I headed back to my camper at about 7:00pm and worked on my blog and catch up with friends. 

Tomorrow I will be visiting the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) and attempting to visit the Sky Tower again. 

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