Last updated on February 29th, 2020
Finally our first story from New Zealand! In November 2017 we arrived in this beautiful country, which means that we are here already for 6 months now, and we LOVE it! Completely on the other side of the world, but at this moment there is no other country we’d rather be. From the green hills to the unique beaches and from the geothermal features to the fascinating culture: New Zealand really is the most beautiful country we have ever seen. We have closed it in our hearts already! But this is not the first time that we visit New Zealand. No, in 2014/2015 we’ve also been in New Zealand for 6 weeks on our first world trip. That time we just traveled around with a hire campervan and enjoyed as much of the scenery as possible in just little time. This time is much different: we are traveling with a Working Holiday Visa, which means we can stay for a year!, we bought and build our own campervan, we are also going to work in between, we have plenty of time to explore everything and we therefore are really blending in with the culture. We are absolutely loving it this way!
Our own campervan 🙂
But let’s just first start with our arrival in this country. In our previous blog we told you that on the 5th of November 2017 we had our flight from Perth, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand. We were flying with Air New Zealand again (just like three years ago) and are absolutely loving this airline. Lots of space, good food and tons of movies to chose from.
After a 6 hour flight we arrived in Auckland at 6 am the next morning, and because of the 5 hour time difference we barely slept on the plane. For our feeling it was the middle of the night now and therefore we were actually pretty tired and hungry! So we had a nice breakfast at Mc Donalds haha, and at that very moment we saw a familiar face: the ‘How to Dad’ guy! For people who don’t know who he is: he’s a very funny guy that makes YouTube videos with parenting advice. But that parenting advice is not really serious, let’s just say 😉 Although we don’t have children, we are still a fan of him and therefore were pretty excited that we saw him. We only landed an hour or so in New Zealand and we’ve already seen such a New Zealand icon! Unfortunately he was only walking past really quickly so we didn’t have the chance to talk to him.
Arriving at the airport
When going outside, we immediately noticed it was freezing cold, something we really didn’t look forward to after the summer temperatures in Perth! We definitely have to get used to those temperatures in New Zealand! We arranged an Uber an went to our Airbnb in Devonport which we booked for the first few nights. We’re not a really big fan of Auckland, but we still have to arrange some stuff for our Working Holiday Visa, so it’s better to stay a few nights. When we arrived at the Airbnb we were just too tired that we literally crashed onto the bed. It was only 9 in the morning, but we just couldn’t stay awake anymore. Not good for the jet lag but oh well.. Our Airbnb was amazing! It was in the basement of the house and we had that whole floor for ourselves, including our own bathroom and little kitchen!
Manon sleeping in the Airbnb 😉
Unfortunately we (and especially Manon) were absolutely knackered from the jetlag that day, which is not unusual for us. Still trying to find thé remedy for a jetlag, so if anyone has good tips let me know please! And yes, I already tried all the usual remedies for jetlag, but seriously nothing works. So as you can expect, we didn’t do much that first day in New Zealand except for sleeping, grocery shopping, looking for vans to buy and looking for work.
Auckland skyline by night
The next day Manon was still suffering from jetlag and just couldn’t wake up early, so it was a bit of a quiet morning again. However, at the end of the afternoon we had a bit more energy so we decided to go explore the area. First we went to the bank where we made an appointment for tomorrow to open a bank account. A very annoying thing is that you need a proof of address to open a bank account, but how are you supposed to get that as a backpacker? We don’t live anywhere! Luckily the woman from our Airbnb wanted to write a letter as proof that we were staying with her. After this visit it was time to look around! We walked a bit along the water from where you had a beautiful view on the skyline of Auckland.
We also climbed up Mount Victoria where we again had a gorgeous view over the bay and the skyline!
On the way back we passed a Greek restaurant where we decided to eat. It was delicious! Afterwards we went to the bay of Devonport again, where we watched a gorgeous sunset over the Auckland skyline.
When we were back at the Airbnb Manon still felt the jetlag which meant she couldn’t sleep that night. So she looked on internet the whole night in search of work and a van. Because we definitely want to buy our own campervan again to travel around! We did this in Australia and many other places and in our opinion this is the best way to travel through a country. And of course we need some work if we’re gonna stay here for a long time… On trademe.co.nz (the New Zealand Gumtree / Marktplaats) we found a really nice campervan where we want to have a look at tomorrow. We also sent an application to work on a campground which sounded great.
That Wednesday we had an appointment in the morning to open our bank accounts.. A good time, because this way Manon had to get up, which meant that maybe this would help for her jetlag. Unfortunately the letter from our Airbnb wasn’t enough proof of address so we couldn’t open the account now. If we would stay in a hostel then it will be alright. Really weird, but that’s why we decided to book a few nights at a hostel in Mount Eden for the next few nights.
Mount Victoria in Devonport
After this disappointment we took the ferry to the city. This is really easy from Devonport, in 5 minutes you are in the centre of Auckland! In the city we walked a bit around and after we took a train towards the south, where we could have a look at the campervan which we saw on Trade Me yesterday. It was at some cheap car dealer, but that was great, because they had campervans in our price range, compared to other places where they only sell expensive cars. One van was terrible though, very disgusting, a mess and way too many kilometers. But they had one other van which we immediately loved! It was a Mazda Bongo from 2003 and it only had 190,000 km. It was an empty van though, which meant no bed or anything in it, but that was fine because that would give us the challenge to build something nice in it ourselves. We actually loved it that we could make it exactly how we want it this way! All in all, the van wasn’t bad at all, and it wasn’t even expensive either! So after a test drive, in which we noticed that everything was good with the van, the choice to buy this van was made quickly! We paid a deposit, so we were sure that the van would be ours, and would come back later in the week to pick the van up and to pay the rest.
Curious about why we bought an empty van and how we built a little home from it, all by ourselves? Then read our blog ‘How to build your own campervan from scratch’, to learn how you can do it too!
The day after we grabbed an Uber to Mount Eden, where we booked the Oaklands Lodge Backpackers Hostel for a few nights, in order to get a proof of address. While we are not really hostel people, we have to say that we really liked this hostel! It was in a ‘normal’ older house, not in a massive big building, which made it cozy. We had a lovely double room and the facilities were good. That day was a bit quiet with making an appointment at the bank (yes, again), applying for jobs, doing groceries and making a bit of a sketch for the interior of our van already.
On Friday the 10th of November we got some great news: we got hired for a job at a Top 10 campground in Hot Water Beach, in the Coromandel! The job would mainly consist of cleaning cabins and ablution blocks, but we were happy with that. We were not needed until the end of November, so that gave us some time to travel around for like 3 weeks now. We made some plans for the future and almost immediately decided that we wanted to see Northland (the area above Auckland) first, so when we’re checking out of the hostel we will start exploring the country (finally)!
Another exciting thing was that this day we also went to pick up our van! Yeah, we were really happy that we bought it and that we can travel around with it 🙂 After all the paperwork we had to go to the bank, where we finally could open a bank account with the proof of address from the hostel. And after that we went to do something fun: buying some stuff for our van! We measured everything and when we knew all the sizes, we decided we wanted to buy a small double mattress. But that wasn’t really easy to find.. after a lot of searching we fortunately found one somewhere in the north of Auckland. While driving there we noticed that the 12V charger ánd the speakers in the car weren’t working, so we might have to get that fixed soon!
Also the following day we went shopping for our van. We bought a lot of stuff at the Warehouse and K-mart, like sheets, pillows, chairs and table, kitchen stuff etc. Almost ready to sleep in it! Ok, of course haven’t built the interior yet, but that doesn’t matter for now. We’ll just sleep on the floor on our mattress 😉 We had only one more night to stay at the hostel and from then on we could go sleep in our van, yay!
So that Sunday we checked out of the hostel, bought some more stuff (surprise :P) and decided to finally explore the area a bit in our new van! First off we went to Mount Wellington, where on the top you had a beautiful view over the area. Did you know that the whole Auckland area is almost entirely built on volcanic cones?! There are around 48 of them in the whole area! So all those ‘mounts’ you can visit everywhere, are actually old craters, and you can certainly see that in the shape of the hills!
We drove further to Achilles Point, where we had a lovely view over the sea and in the distance the skyline of Auckland, and then to Bastion Point. The road that continued was the Tamaki Drive, which took us past various beaches, like Heliers Bay, Kohimarama and Mission Bay. Apparently it was the first warm, sunny day of spring / summer, because some beaches were packed with people!
Beautiful bays along the Tamaki Drive
In the suburb Parnell we visited a rose garden, where the flowers were now fully in bloom. It looked lovely!
After a few boring visits to some historical houses (which aren’t really historical in our opinion if they are from around 1900. I mean, our house in the Netherland is as old as that!), we went to the Auckland Museum. As holder of a Working Holiday Visa we could get in for free, which was a nice advantage. There was a great exhibition about nature photographers of the year. We found this really interesting, there were some amazing photos! Furthermore you had a lot of exhibitions about the Maori culture and about the history and nature of New Zealand. It’s a really big museum with lots of interesting, informative displays! While we are not really museum people, we loved walking around here.
That night was our first night at a campground in our van, and we were very content with unpacking all our newly bought stuff, arranging everything etc. So for the moment we just sleep on the floor of the van on our mattress haha. Not really ideal, but for the upcoming weeks it should work! Finally we are doing what we mostly love again: camping!
The next day we first went to some cheap car electrician somewhere in the outskirts of Auckland to get the 12V charger and speakers of our car fixed. We think it wasn’t really an official company, but they did a very good job on our van! We could charge our phones now and enjoy music on the way!
Today was also the day we would finally start our roadtrip through Northland! On Google Maps we saw a street called Manon Crescent, so of course we had to visit that street! It was really funny, and of course Manon had to pose with the sign 😉
When doing some grocery shopping after, Bram found out that they sell Bavaria beer in the supermarkets over here. This is the local beer from close to our hometown in the Netherlands and it’s Brams favourite beer, so he was over the moon when he found it! Finally a normal beer 😉
Our next stop of that day was Long Bay Regional Park, which wasn’t really that special, and after that one Shakespear Regional Park. The last one was a lovely park! A lot of typically, green hills next to the coast with lots of sheep. What can be more typically New Zealand than that?! In the whole area of Auckland you have many of those regional parks and in almost every one of them there is a golden frame, typically placed at a spot where you have an awesome view. This was also the case in this regional park, which we of course had to take a picture of!
After exploring the park, we drove back and saw a beautiful view over the green hills and the coast in the background. And the best part was: you could walk up on the meadow full of sheep. They were a bit scared of us, but they were also so funny haha. We really felt that we were in New Zealand now!
That day we ended up in Orewa, a place a bit north of Auckland, and camped at the Top 10 campground. We relaxed a bit outside in front of our van, because the weather was much better already, and Bram opened a beloved Bavaria beer: life is pretty good 🙂
It felt like we were far away from the city already and at that point we felt that our road trip through this amazing country was finally starting! Finally we were going to do what was the whole reason that we came to New Zealand: exploring the beautiful nature. No more cities, no more opening bank accounts, no more shopping malls: just us, our van and a whole lot of road ahead of us. Freedom!
After this first week we were already so happy that we made the choice to come to New Zealand. After buying a van and arranging a job that quickly, we knew we were going to have an amazing time ahead of us. Definitely much better than staying in our apartment in Perth.
Happy with our van
In the two weeks that followed, we had an unforgettable time exploring the most northern part of New Zealand, but we will keep all of those adventures for a next story.
Hope to see you then!
Love from us
A little step may be the beginning of a great journey
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