Gaining Wheels (and Land Legs)

The general advice from both locals and fellow travelers regarding New Zealand was to get a vehicle to explore the country. As one kiwi put it “a camper van goes upwind much better than a boat”. It was with mixed feelings that we began our search for a vehicle, we flitted between excitement at the prospect of seeing more of this beautiful country and apprehension at complicating the simple life we have grown to know and love. Although we both agreed that a break from the boat would do us both good, we also knew we would miss Florence and life on board.

With the decision made, we set out in search of the kind of van we had always envisioned road tripping around New Zealand with; a simple, hippy looking, slightly battered but reliable old Toyota Hiace or similar.

It was therefore a bit of a shock to be driving down the highway, one week later, sat in the plush leather seats of a fancy pants people mover. The backpacker market had pushed up the price of vans and so we chose to remove the seats from a SUV of a similar price, place a bed in the back and then return the seats to sell it as a car a few months down the line. In return for slightly less space we got a much newer and hopefully more reliable vehicle.

Our Fancy New Wheels

With a week in hand before our friends Scott and Amy finished work for Christmas, we headed south to the Coromandel Peninsula; known as Auckland’s playground.

Karangahake Gorge

We love hiking, partly because its free but also because it gives us the opportunity to get some exercise whilst gaining a great view of the area. Our time in the Coromandel was a great opportunity to get some training in for our upcoming big hiking trips in South Island. Our first stop was a warm up walk around the Karangahake Gorge, an old gold mine with trails through the gorge and mine tunnels.


A modern day gold mine in nearby Waihi

The next day we set off from the campsite in search of the highest peak, via a 6 hour hike.


Orokawa Bay

A brief stop on the coast allowed us to stretch our legs along the coastal path to Orokawa beach.


Tauranga and Mount Maunganui

Ann and Ross, one of the first couples we had met back in Portugal are kiwis, based in NZ for half of the year. We took them up on their invitation to call in when we reached NZ. They opened up their beautiful home to us and we enjoyed a lovely couple of days in their company. We walked off some of their delicious cooking with hike up and around the base of nearby Mount Maunganui, a volcanic mount with views over the city.


The Pinnacles Track

The Pinnacles walking track on the Coromandel is voted as one of the must do things in the area so when we heard news that the track would be reopening following a 9 month closure due to storm damage, we headed to the Kauaeranga valley and the start of the hike.

There is a hut you can stay in close to the peak but you can also complete the hike back down in the same day (around 6 hours). We chose the day option and started our walk up the picturesque Kauaeranga valley as soon as the trail opened.

The trail crosses over the river in several places, often with the aid of a suspension bridge.


It was a steep climb on a hot day, but we were rewarded with incredible 360 views across the Coramandel from the Peak.


A swim in the river on the way back down was a great way to cool off.


8 thoughts on “Gaining Wheels (and Land Legs)”

  1. Great blog. What have you done with Florence? Could you not have sailed around the NZ coast making day(s) trips to the interior?


    1. Hi Mike, we have some work to do on Florence and she will stay in the boatyard when we travel South Island. You could easily spend 6 months sailing NZ and not see much of inland. We were warned that you can get stuck in anchorages on South Island for months and that we would see much more of the country with our own vehicle. It’s also expensive/difficult to arrange car hire away from major towns. We have put aside a couple of months to cruise on Florence before we leave.


  2. How long before you upload the rest of season 2 to YouTube? Season 1 was fantastic!! Thanks for letting us share in your journey, it is incredibly inspiring.


    1. It might be a while now Kevin as we are flat out working on Florence (maintenance) and exploring in NZ. The videos take a while to edit and we have fallen a bit behind! Thanks for the positive feedback 🙂


  3. We love your youtube season 1. My wife and i binge watched. We are hoping to do same kind of trip just stsrting from Los Angeles (LA to Hawaii to Marquesas, Cook Islands then New Zealand. We have watched other cruising blogs but yours is not only inspiring, but very informative giving info on customs, coming into ports, provisioning and flags. Thank you. We look forward to more.
    The Taylors

    Liked by 1 person

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