We’d survived our first ever night in a camper van. Getting up in the morning felt considerably better than had going to bed last night. It’s wonderful what a night’s rest can do. Things may be better than we at first thought but so far, Guillaume has absolutely nothing to fear from campervans.
Francine managed to escape the bus to the beach, literally just outside the campsite, for some early morning photography, leaving me to fight with my bruised head and struggling with the bed. Putting the bed away is a real back-killer, given the contortions required to avoid too many [Bump] “bugger” exclamations and further damage to an already battered head. Francine returned victorious.
Nearly ready too hit the road. Remember to turn the gas off and disconnect the electricity. Right. Our road out was the road we’d come in on, through Coromandel. We needed some supplies, such as toilet chemicals, which I’d have expected to be able to purchase from any campsite but no, this one had none, though they were “thinking about stocking it”. Stop thinking, do it for Darwin’s sake! We were told that the hardware store in Coromandel would have some. We stopped. Sure enough, our overnight comfort was assured for a few weeks.
Exploring the main drag – well, as main as a drag gets in Coromandel – we passed a butcher. I glanced in the window. As is usual with a proper butcher, an array of sausages was on display. The display included mussel sausages. Mussel sausages? I’ve encountered several avant garde ingredients in sausages but mussels have never been amongst them. What gastronaut could possibly resist mussel sausages? Not I. We bought four to supplement tonight’s more conventional sausages.
Round the corner we found Coromandel smokehouse. A few more NZ$ secured us some smoked fish paté and a handful of smoked scallops for lunch.
Our route out of Coromandel took us up a winding road culminating at a summit with impressive views back over the coast. Just as well – the driver could do with a break after tussling with the twisting climb.
After the summit we were heading for Cathedral Cove where Francine had learned of a walk that sounded worthwhile. Kiwi Satnav got us on the approach road to the town of Hahei with no trouble, then we began following signs. The sign we didn’t want to see was “car park full” at the beginning of the walk. We’d suspected that it could be heaving and we were right. This is not why we came to New Zealand. We spun around and returned to Hahei where the first coastal car park was also full. Just a short distance down a side road, though, was an entrance to another area with just sea kayak dudes parked in it. Nothing said we couldn’t, so we did. Out came the fish pate and smoked scallops and we enjoyed lunch looking over the beach and colourful kayaks.
Our goal for the evening was Waihi Beach and another Top Ten campsite. Francine had learned of it in a New Zealand campervan travelogue and was hoping for some interesting coastal scenery. As we were approaching, Kiwi Satnav took us down a street on the edge of town that looked like cutting a corner. I’m glad she did (female voice). We passed Gilmour Reserve with water, reeds and lily pads. I spun the bus around and found a layby big enough to accommodate us. I started wandering the path beside some of the lily pads and lo, a damselfly. Back for the camera. We’d found my first New Zealand odo. Happy camper. Identification could be tricky. It is either a Common Redcoat or the scarcer Kauri Redcoat, whose range we are just about it. Consultations required.
This campsite was exceedingly well equipped. Most travelling folks, it appears, do very little in their campervan but rather use campsite cooking facilities. This one was equipped with five or six double ring gas burners, with gas supplied, and there were even fridge/freezer units supplied to store food. [Label and date everything, fridges are cleared out on Mondays.] There were two gas-heated stainless steel griddle plates, too. Most surprising was a proper wood-fired pizza oven, complete with a booklet of pizza recipes. This was not for firing up by Joe Public but a timetable of its availability was provided. Staggering.
I used these facilities to cook our mussel sausages with a couple of more conventional pork sausages. The butcher had advised that we cook them slowly, not too quickly. I complied. I must say they were absolutely excellent.