We rented our car on Saturday morning, and since then have been moving around quite a bit. The car is rather tiny (will try upload a photo, but may be difficult as they've locked the computers away at this Internet cafe!) but seems to work fine. Billy says it doesn't like hills, I maintain its just Billy's driving it doesn't like.
Saturday evening was interesting. After picking up the car we went back to the Moyles' for lunch, said goodbye and went off to stock up on food and pick up the self inflating mattress we bought of TradeMe (NZ equivalent of Ebay). The mattress turned out to be HUGE but luckily it just about fits into the car if we shove hard. We drove up the Coromandel Peninsula on a very windy 'highway' with plenty of glorious gravel sections, and were extremely relieved to pull into a campsite near Colville - $9 for a hot shower, sky tv and kitchen access seemed like a bargain to us! The campsite turned out to be an even bigger bargain after our tent gained 3 extra windows during erection in the near torrential rain and we ended up staying in a very nice extended caravan, with 3 beds and our own kitchen and sitting room. We were very glad the owners took pity on us - the duct tape repairs weren't going so well.
In the morning we continued around the peninsula with the cliff side roads keeping Billy on edge. We stopped at Whangapoua and took the muddy track to the hidden New Chums beach which had been recommended to us several times. The beach was lovely, very picturesque according to Billy, but rather chilly! We ate a lovely donated salad lunch (thanks Alex!) and continued down to Hot Water Beach, where we stole a hole from some retreating bathers and enjoyed the 60 degree water and near burning sand. Next stop was Thames to the wonderful Warehouse to buy one of their 'exceptional' quality tents for 35 squid. We camped in the Kauraeranga valley which was very pretty - like a tropical lake district!
After a rather less than tropical night we 'tramped' (Kiwi for walked.. quite accurate for how we looked by this stage) up to a lookout for some great views. Our car then decided to display the ABS light for the 2nd time in the trip, and we were forced to take a pit stop in Tauranga (which we were planning on visiting anyway.) We made it down to Rotorua that evening to enjoy a pleasant night surrounded by Canada geese (I wore earplugs) at lake Rerewhakaaitu. After the previous night we decided to be learn from our mistakes and wore the majority of our kit to bed. I was still cold.
Today we moved to a campsite closer to town which claims to have 'Thermally heated tent sites'. We will see! We went to visit a pretty church in Rotorua and then took a trip to a free geothermal park where we saw lots of bubbling mud and foul smelling steam. This afternoon we've been to 'Rainbow Springs' where they are hatching Kiwi's to release back to the wild. We took a backstage tour and got to see one of the new hatchlings which was very cute and rather large for 1 day old (about 20cm long!). Apparently laying a Kiwi egg is like giving birth to a 4 year old child - human mothers should be grateful! We crept into the nocturnal room and saw 2 adult Kiwis rummaging around in the enclosure - unfortunately they soon hid once we were joined by some rather loud others. We're going back tonight to try to see some more - should be good!
Lots of love,
Rosie and Billy
Will upload pictures asap, promise!