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New Plymouth Coastal Walkway

After our visit to the Three Sisters we had dinner and a nice evening in the camper. It was only our second night away in this campervan so we were still figuring out a few things, like… The Hubbie’s head gets cold overnight when we accidentally leave the back door semi-open. Ooops!

Next morning we also realised we’d forgotten to pack eggs for breakfast and had milk but no breakfast cereal. Hmmmm you’d never have thought we were once regulars at this campervan thing!
So we set off on the road relatively early to go to a supermarket before we breakfasted.
We drove about an hour to New Plymouth as this was our destination that day anyway. Once we’d bought some nice breakfast and other yummy groceries we needed to then find a nice spot to have brunch.

And we discovered Lake Rotomanu.

Lake Rotomanu popular for watersports
Lake Rotomanu, near New Plymouth

The PERFECT spot for brunch and many other activities.
The lake is a very popular area with locals for watersports, plus walks and cycle trails – including the Coastal Walkway which goes right past the scenic spot. There were a good number of families out enjoying the lake; swimming, boating, water skiing – plus lots of visitors setting off on walks or bike rides. There were also several campervans who were enjoying the small number of camping sites available there.
We parked up lakeside for a yummy brunch and then set off to explore the very handy Coastal Walkway on our bikes.

Kiwi Blog Bus campervan parked at the side of Lake Rotomanu near New Plymouth
Our brunch spot at Lake Rotomanu

The Coastal Walkway stretches just over 13km from Port Taranaki to Bell Block Beach. We joined it at Te Rewa Rewa Bridge which not only is a very handy bridge crossing a river – funny that – but an extremely popular visitor attraction. The bridge was designed to represent both a breaking wave and a whale skeleton, and if you visit on a cloudless day you will see Mount Taranaki perfectly framed by the structure of the bridge.
I missed that one!

Te Rewa Rewa bridge near New Plymouth
Te Rewa Rewa Bridge nr New Plymouth

The Coastal Walkway itself is also a popular destination for many. There were LOTS of other cyclists, scooters, walkers, runners, dog walkers, swimmers cutting through to a nearby beach, and up near the port – quite a lot of boats (on trailers – not sailing down the walkway.. silly!). But we’re all a friendly bunch and there’s plenty of space for everyone. Regular signposts remind users to keep left, and cycle slowly through busy areas.

It’s a lovely path to cycle on and before we knew it we were in the centre of New Plymouth, near the Wind Wand. For those that don’t have a clue what that is… a short explanation is that it’s a pretty tall skinny sculpture made of fibreglass that stands vertically but bends in the wind. It is known by fans of kinetic sculptures around the world as one of NZ artist Len Lye‘s kinetic designs.
Apparently, it’s a pretty big deal with locals too. Some folks credit the Wind Wand with giving them good luck, from lotto wins to marriage proposals!

Cycling on the Coastal Walkway in New Plymouth near the Wind Wand sculpture
Cycling on the Coastal Walkway towards the Wind Wand

It was a superbly sunny and hot sunny day so we had a couple of handy ginger beers to quench our thirst along the way – isn’t that very “Famous Five go off on a bike ride”?!

We rode right along to the port end of the walkway, near Ngamotu Beach, we cycled down the pier/breakwater (super windy but lovely blue waters to keep watching for fish, seals or penguins) and where it does get a bit busy with parked cars, utes (pickups) and lots of boat trailers so we hopped back on the pathway to head back the way we’d come from.

The iconic billboard artwork ‘Big Wave Territory‘ at the port end of the Coastal Walkway
the Coastal Walkway New Plymouth
The Coastal Walkway and the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge near New Plymouth
Approaching Te Rewa Rewa bridge – almost back at Lake Rotomanu

There’s a lot more along the pathway that I didn’t capture a photo of so until I go again this will have to do.
It’s kind of tricky trying to take a photo while cycling but I’m getting better at not crashing into things while I do it! Or sometimes I just stop. My photos are often better when I do that 🙂

Back with more soon!

A bit about NZ Summer Holidays

We both had a few weeks off work over the Christmas break (I can hear those in the USA gasping now!) so decided that was the best time to head off for our first proper trip in the van.
Obviously here in New Zealand, Christmas falls in our summertime. This has been quite a thing to get used to for us, coming from England which was mostly just cold and grey in December. There weren’t many classic movie-scene snowy Christmas Days in my memories – mostly just cold and grey!

Summer Christmas means summer deserts – like a pavlova board with
mini meringues, fresh fruit, cream and chocolate flake! NOM NOM!

Here in NZ they tend to have a large (commercial) build-up to Christmas – as in most countries – but we find they do Christmas for just a day or two and then BAM… it’s summer holiday time!
A lot of local businesses close for the holidays. Not just for the statutory holidays or a few days either side, but close for the summer holidays. A couple of weeks, maybe more. We were amazed in our first few years here that the normally busy town we lived near simply emptied during January. Two, maybe three, days after Christmas and the streets were empty. Supermarkets were the busiest places and you could still park almost by the front door and bump into nobody whilst there! And if you needed any work done; a mechanic for your car, a sparky to wire in a new electrical thing, or any such kind of task – then you’re pretty much out of luck – unless you have a mate, who has a mate, who knows someone that has NOT gone away on holiday and can *maybe* get to you in a week or two.
Cars, trailers, boats, campervans and any other types of wheeled vehicle (this is New Zealand – you see things here you literally couldn’t imagine!) get loaded up for the big summer roadie. Tents and beach games are loaded into cars along with the average 2.4 children and a hairy dog or two. Surfboards and/or bikes are strapped to roof racks – trailers are hitched up, and the compulsory roadtrip snacks are put up the front to be handed out when the ‘are we there yet’ moans get loud or frequent.
I realise this scene could be repeated anywere around the world and you’re thinking this is nothing new. And it’s not. It’s just it still surprises me that it’s full on focus for Christmas for a month, or even more, and then as soon as we get Boxing Day over it appears that a large majority of the country whips the decorations down and disappears to the beach.. or the lake… or wherever their holiday spot is that year. And I love it!
And while I don’t really want to blog about that horrible C word I have to recognise that we are very VERY lucky here in NZ that we can currently freely travel and do all those fabulous summer holiday things that we want to do. All except get on a plane and fly to have a holiday somewhere else. But why would we want to when we have all of this amazing country to explore.

SO….
A few days after Christmas we disappeared on our summer holiday – in the campervan! Actually four days after Christmas in our household – and we didn’t rip the festive decorations down before we left as some of the family stayed at home and would have been quite upset by that move!
This was to be our first proper holiday in the van. Up to now The Hubbie and I had only managed to get one night away in it. So it was quite exciting to load it up and do a mini ‘moving-in’ session, finding out what would fit into all the cupboards and little storage spots etc. I was amazed by how much it actually did take. I filled two small lockers with my personal clothes (packing for all seasons as anyone sensible should always do in New Zealand!) and I didn’t get through half of them in the ten nights we were away!
The fridge also took more than I expected it to, along with the kitchen/pantry drawers, and then we still had a really large storage area underneath the rear seats – that we access via the rear doors – where we could throw outdoor seats, tables, bike helmets, BBQ etc.
Overall I was very impressed with how much stuff it held but at the same time we’re trying not to clutter it up with too many things that we’ll leave to mount up in there. We’d rather stick to doing a small pack-in every time we want to go away, just leaving absolute basics to live in there all the time.
Once loaded up, included our two bikes on the bike rack, we filled up the fresh water tank and set off.

Our camper has a pretty large solar panel and house battery set up (please don’t ask me what size in term of watts or whatever technical lingo is appropriate – I have no idea!) which means we don’t need to stay on a campsite with power to hook up to. Yay!
And one of the best things about campervanning in NZ is the huge number of motorhome-friendly towns, villages, businesses, pubs, tourist attractions etc. that have dedicated spaces for motorhome overnight parking.
Important to note here is that in the majority of cases, vans need to be fully self-contained to be able to stay in a lot of these ‘freedom camping’ spots. This is all done via the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association – the NZMCA. For a vehicle to be officially approved as self-contained it is physically checked to ensure it complies with the Association’s requirements to meet the ‘ablutionary and sanitary needs of the occupants for a minimum of three days without requiring any external services or discharging waste’.
I won’t harp on too much now about self-contained vehicles. I’ve posted about Freedom Camping in NZ in the past, and even though it was way back in 2012 I don’t think much has changed since I wrote: The Good, the Bad and The Ugly about Freedom Camping

The Kiwi Blog Bus Campervan parked in a freedom camping spot near the Three Sisters
Here’s our camper parked amongst other freedom campers
enjoying a beautiful riverside spot at Tongaporutu

I’ll leave it there for today but here’s a taster of what’s to come soon; our ten-night break took us the following overnight camping spots and some amazing nearby adventures in each destination – all to be blogged about very soon!

  1. Tongaporutu / Three Sisters
  2. New Plymouth
  3. Ohawe Beach, South Taranaki
  4. Whanganui – site 1
  5. Whanganui – site 2
  6. Kapiti Coast
  7. Putangirua / Cape Palliser
  8. Castlepoint
  9. Napier
  10. Taupo

Hi Honey! I’m home!

Here we are – back in the land of blogging again, who’d have thought it.
But here we are in January 2021 (we’ll just gloss over 2020 for now – eek!) and the blog is back up and running because… we have bought a new campervan 🙂

This beautiful thing came into our lives last October….

the Kiwi Blog Bus campervan at Ohawe Beach

We (the royal we that is The Hubbie and myself) decided it was about time to get back into the campervan lifestyle again – especially seeing as we currently CAN travel around New Zealand and currently CANNOT travel to…. anywhere else!

The bus we used to own was obviously a reasonably large vehicle so I wanted something a little more compact (this van actually isn’t *that* much shorter – but definitely feels smaller), I was keen to find something with a rear lounge and back doors/windows, and something newer with more up to date facilities (such as solar panels, and air con in the cab), plus a few other preferences and upgrades from the bus.

We found a preloved 2/3 berth (more on that later) VW Crafter – all officially self-contained (a big requirement here in New Zealand so you can freedom camp or park at low cost in many amazing locations) with a very handy two-bike rack on the back door, a large solar panel, two house batteries, and just enough of everything else we were looking for to make us say, “We’ll take it”.

Kiwi Blog Bus Campervan parked near rocky foreshore at Cape Palliser
We’ve already been adventuring….. I’ll be sharing all about our New Year travels soon
The Kiwi Blog Bus Campervan parked up on a campsite with awning and furniture out
Our set up when we’re in full ‘relax and put your feet up mode’
washing up views from the Kiwi Blog Bus Campervan parked up with views out to the sea
You cannot complain when washing up with those views!

The Hubbie and I both currently have fairly busy work lives so during the first three months of ownership we only managed a grand total of ONE night away together! I did get to use it on another occasion with the teenage daughter – which was a great opportunity to see if I could drive and manage it by myself… and I can! So if our promise to get away together at least once a month doesn’t happen – I can just disappear for some campervan ‘me’ time if I need to!

However our intentions are good and solid – we bought the van to use it and both intend to make that happen as regularly as possible. In fact, we’ve only just returned from a nice 10-day break over the New Year which I’ll be blogging about soon.

So that’s it… we’re back in the world of campervanning again and how could I not turn back to my trusty Kiwi Blog Bus blog to share some of our tales, photos and adventures from time on the road. New Zealand has a seemingly endless supply of amazing destinations to visit and our intention is to discover them! The blog will bring you more details on campervan life too, and I’m sure include some pics and tales of these two pests….

Jess & Pip the Kiwi Blog Bus dogs happy to be travelling again
Jess & Pip the Kiwi Blog Bus doggos

See you again very soon – and do write and let me know if you have any questions, comments or ideas about what you’d like to see on the Kiwi Blog Bus part II.

Hello again

So SO many apologies are owed to my long time committed readers of this blog.

I abandoned you.
I’m sorry.

The belated news is that just over a year ago we actually sold the Kiwi Blog Bus 😦

We were all sad to see it go after having many happy holiday around New Zealand and enjoyed the wonderful convenience of travelling in a bus / campervan.

However – we were still travelling, but in another direction.
We moved to a lifestyle block.
We are the very proud owners of a tiny two bedroom cottage on an acre and a bit of prime NZ land.

Slowly but surely, aided by funds from the sale of the Blog Bus, we are doing up our do-er upper with the addition of some KiwiAnnison favourites: a huge veggie garden, a tractor shed (full of tractors!), a paddock for the miniature horse, a field full of Christmas trees and chooks… etc….

So for all those that may be interested in following the tales of our “Kiwi Good Life” – you can now do so via the new blog I have started 🙂

And for Kiwi Blog Bus fans – I may still dip in here and write up a few travel stories from the good old bus days, or just general NZ travel tales I think you may just be interested in.

I won’t finish with a goodbye as hopefully this is the recommencement of something that lots of you will stick by my side on.
See you soon
Vicki

Kawakawa and disappointment

On our approach to the Bay of Islands I noted that we were to drive near Kawakawa.

As this was the infamous home of the Hundertwasser Toilets, I duly prodded the driver and requested (for his benefit of course) that we take a driving break in the locality of this tourist attraction.

Kawakawa

I wish I hadn’t bothered. Read More…

Well, that was Christmas – Hello summer holidays!

Just a brief post as we’re almost ready to set off on our New Year trip.

The Kiwi Blog Bus is stocked up and groaning under the weight of all the Christmas leftovers.

The togs, towels & jandals are loaded. The body boards are strapped to the roof.

We’ve purchased a Read More…

The official medal chart (Kiwi Blog Bus style)

In the spirit of the Olympics ….

(or just because I cannot think what else to blog about today!) this post is about the best of The Kiwi Blog Bus and the winning entries to date.

The positions for most popular post:

Gold medal goes to Waterworks: surely the best fun you can have with recycled objects?! Read More…

Happy half birthday to the Kiwi Blog Bus

I just looked in my diary and I have a note that it is exactly six months since I first posted on this blog!

So…. 107 posts later…. 14,213 hits…. visitors from 104 countries … 460 followers… and …..

I’m still totally addicted to it all !!

I love travelling, seeing new places….. seeing old places, taking photographs
I love writing and sharing my (often useless) banter with you all
I love how so many of you like to get back in touch with me about anything or nothing in particular

I love my Kiwi Blog Bus and long may it continue.

Thank you to all my readers, followers and one-off visitors

I hope you found something here that you liked or were inspired by
I hope that something I wrote about has helped you make a great decision of your own
I hope that you can travel to wonderful places, see beautiful sights and meet amazing people

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  ―  Dr Seuss

100th post! (and an explanation)

I’ve made it to 100 blog posts!

It is 19 weeks today since I first pressed that big blue “Publish” button and launched the Kiwi Blog Bus on the big world-wide web.

If you have followed me since early on then you’ll remember my amazement when the blog quickly took off and established a (small and friendly!) readership around the globe!

The blog stats became the first thing I checked online each day and the flag counter was closely monitored as it ticked its way upwards (it’s currently on 92).

I love to blog about our travels in the Kiwi Blog Bus and have managed a few short, brief posts while we’ve been on the road; tackling the longer more detailed descriptions from home at a later date.

Winter has snuck up on us now in New Zealand and we may not be out on the road quite so much until it warms up a bit (having no heating at all in the bus!).

I will continue to post from The Kiwi Annison Archives as we’ve still quite a selection of trips to tell you about and heaps and heaps of photographs to work through.

Kiwi Annison and Pip the dog

But the other reason for this post is to mention that I have now graduated (Diploma in Journalism) and found full-time employment (yay!) so I have to admit the free time I had for blogging is beginning to dwindle a little!

I hope to still get a post up every week and perhaps you’d like to become one of my blog ‘followers’ just to make sure you don’t miss it!

Thank you and hope you stay tuned.

Don’t get too close today… I may just bite

Today I’m in the mood for a rant… so, sorry no nice pretty pictures, but sometimes things just have to be said.

Regular readers will know that our two dogs, Jess and Pip the travelling dogs, come with us in the Kiwi Blog Bus on every trip.

This of course means we have to exercise them and pick up after them – which we do without fail.

We are responsible dog owners and walk them on leads in permitted areas only, we take them off the leads when we are on mostly empty beaches or big spacious fields/dog parks etc. Many beaches have strict rules about what time of year dogs are allowed on, or if it’s in the evenings only. Read More…

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