We awoke after half a night’s sleep, having arrived at 01:30. It also took me ages to get to sleep. The room and bed were perfectly comfortable but I just seemed to wake up. The coffee at breakfast couldn’t have woken anything up; it was quite simply the weakest coffee I have ever tasted. At least it wasn’t bitter. The hotel, a Holiday Inn BTW, let us leave our bags while we walked a block away to collect our campervan.
Monday morning 10:00 AM and the Maui/Britz/something-else rental business was absolutely heaving. We logged in and were told we’d be called for the next stage. An hour later we still hadn’t been called. The company seemed rushed off its feet but surely this can’t be unusual, nor as bad as it gets. Eventually, Francine went and rattled a cage and a lady came to help us, saying she’d been looking for us. Not very hard, I’d say. She pointed us at a Mercedes 7m unit outside and sent a nice man [well, sweet, truth be known] to get us going, or so she said. He thought he was doing a damage check, which wasn’t technically necessary since we had zero liability. What he didn’t do much of was teaching us to use the campervan. I asked a few questions but left more unsaid. It’s a good job we know how to deal with a caravan, otherwise I think we’d’ve been mostly lost.
Finally we drove away to the local-ish supermarket to stock up. Other than wallowing quite a bit, it seemed quite easy to drive – automatic fortunately. Every curve and every turning manoeuvre was accompanied by a rattle, rattle, rattle. I’ve used shake, rattle and roll before, so that’s out. 😉
We headed out of Auckland using the Kiwi Satnav provided. It comes with a bunch of other features that we can’t possibly get to grips with, yet – everything is so strange. We struck out east across country and into the Coromandel peninsular. Crossing an estuary we spotted Thames with a suitable parking place so stopped for a rest and some refreshment. I breathed something of a sigh of relief, never having driven a bus like this before. Slightly chuffed. Refreshment took the form of a pie-thing and some coffee in a Cambodian-run “bakery”.
It is now worth pointing out that the cousin countries of Australia and New Zealand are the pie capitals of the world – they are both absolutely besotted with pies. Bakeries, i.e. pie shops, are absolutely everywhere. Curious. My pie was OK but nothing stunning. It filled a gap. Sparrows enjoyed flying into the bakery and helping themselves to pecks from the bread rolls. Don’t buy bread from this bakery in Thames.
We wandered around the one street town and found a slightly more up-market end. Typical – if only we’d known. A stunning orange Ford Anglia 105E turned onto the street and drove by. Brilliant! The church is pretty neat, too.
We continued along a very twisting and very picturesque coast road, finally passing through Coromandel itself and going on a few more kilometres to Shelley Beach campsite, where we were about to lose our twin cherries spending our first ever night in a campervan. Scary spiders. We checked in, collected Francine’s Top Ten camping membership card and were directed to an already occupied pitch. Someone’s knickers were twisted. We moved to the neighbouring pitch.
First job – unpack and store our gear. Tricky. This beast has about half the storage space of our beloved caravan, Guillaume. Guillaume has oceans of space compared to this. These cupboards are narrower, as is the van, and shorter but eventually we worked something out. The “wardrobe” is only a about 3ft high – Guillaume’s is full height – and nothing of mine would hang. Francine’s got it.
[Bump] “Bugger!”, became frequently heard. Stand in the driving cab – [Bump] “bugger!”. Straighten up after rummaging beneath the seats – [Bump] “bugger!”. Walk into the toilet compartment, whose door is considerably lower than any others – [Bump] “bugger!”. My head was rapidly turning black and blue. More care is needed. Maybe we’ll get used to it. Oh, and which genius decided that beneath one the bench seats would be a suitable place for a waste bin? Absolutely bloody barking!
The bed is almost long enough. I can sleep at a slight angle and let my feet overhang in the middle of the van. I’ll probably get used to making it, too. Our friendly Aussie neighbour has a slightly smaller Britz van and has already resorted to leaving the bed down. It’s his third night away so has two nights more experience.
Everything was restful, apart from the head bumping, until I witnessed a man running away from a rampaging possum which was in hot pursuit. I kid you not. The guy ran across the campsite, even round in a circle, and the scampering possum stuck doggedly to his trail. Amazing. I don’t know how he gave it the slip but somehow he did. It went to the base of a tree before setting its sights on a young family in a tiny campervan. The kids screamed and the parents slammed the door. Bizarre.
Right, possum gone, night falling, feet over the end of the bed – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.