The beauty of this trip is that we set no fixed plan. It felt right, to simply flow in the direction that we fancied and just enjoy total freedom to roam around New Zealand without a time schedule.
This has worked out ideal in many ways. We could relax during the Christmas period. We extended our Coromandel road trip as it just felt good to slow it all down, and we have spent much longer around Auckland in general than we had initially expected.
So it was time to head south!
We were fired up and raring to go. Our first leg was down to Hamilton, which seemed like a good spot to spend the night.
It was another scorching day, and the minute we arrived the first place we made a beeline for was a local park, which sounded pretty good. When we got there, it was more than that, it was flippin’ perfect! The place was a shady little slice of heaven, with shallow splash pools for the kids to cool off in, all overlooking the mighty Waikato River. It was just what we needed.
As it was getting later, we decided to continue south, and pinned our sights on a reserve just out of town. We pulled up as the sun was setting at Horahora Domain and it was stunning. Fin had already fallen asleep for the night during the drive, so we just pulled up, opened a bottle of red and watched the sun set over the lake from our spot by the waters edge.
The next morning, Fin couldn’t believe his eyes! He didn’t realise we had pulled up in such a pretty location and he ran straight out to watch the early morning water-skiers out pulling tricks on their wake boards.
After breakfast, we hit the road again, and we were keen to put some serious miles behind us. So we cracked on through the heat of the day and pulled off a decent six hour stretch right through the central regions of the island. Passing by ice capped mountains, and mile upon mile of rolling hills and farmland.
It was probably a bit ambitious to roll straight into Wellington that evening as we were pretty shattered, so we decided to pull up at the seaside town of Kapiti, to get settled for the night and just chill.
We landed at another fantastic spot, as we drove to the freedom camping spot by Raumati Beach, we passed the most peachy splash park area, and Fin was beyond giddy - he had arrived in pre-schooler utopia!
Within minutes of parking up, Fin was in his swim gear and splashing about in the fountains and shooting water at his dad. Once we’d cooled off, we sat by the beach and ate our dinner before crashing out for the night, listening to the waves.
Not wanting to leave too soon, we hit the Coastlands Aqua Centre the next morning for some swimming practice and realised that there was a decent campsite a few miles down the road. So we put off our arrival into Wellington and booked our pitch for the night. The campground had a cute little stream that we were paddling in, when a young kid told us to watch out for the eels. We were thinking pah ha ha, eels, nooo surely not! Fin’s face was looking a bit concerned but we were busy reassuring him - until we looked down and realised we had a full family of 5 eels sat under some reeds peering out at us! They were pretty cute and weren’t making a fuss, so we got chance to observe them and decided that they were actually pretty cool little guys.
After a solid drive earlier in the week, we only had a short hop to Wellington the next morning. Stopping off for lunch en route then reckying the ferry port, ready for the next morning’s early sailing.
There was just time to see Wellington for the rest of the afternoon. We’d spent a good few nights here on the previous trip and it was lovely to be back. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon and everyone was out enjoying the day. We popped into the little market, adventured around the park and walked the length of the harbour soaking it all up.
We topped off the day with a drive up to the summit of Mt. Victoria, which had incredible views of the whole city, and then headed down to the port to get our heads down for a few hours…