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Coco, JUCY Rentals Social Cabana is a free campervan that travellers can use to travel around New Zealand in and document their experiences and adventures. This is Liz & Stuarts Adventure. And it sure sounds like they had fun!
DAY ONE – The Wild Wild West!
After 9 months for work & play in Queenstown, the home of extreme sports & (more importantly) Fergburger, it was finally time for our date with Coco. We picked her up after saying goodbye to friends in Queenstown, and headed straight for the west coast. Unfortunately the sun decided not to travel with us, so our experience of the west coast was wet and wild, the scenery was still breath taking. We made a quick stop just north of Jackson bay, to add Liz, Stu & Coco to the collection of names on the white stones by the beach. By the evening we had reached Fox Glacier and Franz Joseph and found a great little free campsite to stay for the night.
DAY TWO- When Lucy Met John!
We arrived in Greymouth mid-morning with the rain still lashing down, so we headed to the Montheith’s brewery to brighten our day! After some beer tasting and whitebait fritters, we noticed a gathering of important looking people at the brewery door and a few police dotted around. A flash car pulled up and John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand, strolled through the brewery door! We managed to chat with Johnny boy and told him about our adventure with Coco. We introduced John to Lucy and he even asked for a photo with her! After that it was back on the road again, along the winding roads of the west coast we passed Pancake Rocks and saw some stunning scenery and wildlife. As we were on a tight schedule we didn’t have much time to explore Nelson, but by now the sun was out so we quickly hit the beach and took a walk to the centre of New Zealand. That night we camped at a beautiful spot by a river near Rai valley.
DAY THREE- Sister Act!
We had a early start in order to catch the ferry from Picton to Wellington. We had been advised that we had to be at the terminal 1 hour before departure and we managed to get lost in the small streets of Picton! Thank god for Navman! We made it just on time & got Coco secured for the ferry journey over the Cook Straight. On arrival to the North Island we soon realised why they call it “Windy Welly”! We drove around the city and found a car park for Coco to sleep while we explored the bars & cafes in the city centre. There’s a real buzz about the place with funky bars, bohemian cafes and cool graffiti. For a capital city it is very chilled out. We headed to Molly Malone’s where Liz’s sister works & began our night with Guinness & live music….The night ended after many tequilas and a pie on the walk home.
DAY FOUR- Kia Ora Sunshine!
Woken up by Jen’s fabulous hospitality of bacon sandwiches and fresh fruit smoothies, we then went to explore Te Papa Museum. We got lost for hours in the amazing exhibits and interactive zones. There was everything from Maori culture to an earthquake reconstruction, even a giant squid. It’s fun and educational and really worth a look. Although Jen loved Coco so much she wanted her to stay, we said our goodbyes and headed in the direction of Hawkes Bay.
The scenery had changed to being less wild and rugged and more rolling hills (think Hobbiton). We were going to stay in Taumata¬whakatangihanga¬koauau¬otamatea¬turi¬pukakapiki¬maunga¬horo¬nuku¬pokai¬whenua¬kitanatahu but Liz got a bit bored of typing it in the Navman so we camped in Waipawa instead and even got offered jobs as fruit pickers!
DAY FIVE- Thermal Explorers!
We continued on to the art-deco city of Napier, with the sun shining we walked around admiring the buildings and local artwork. We were lucky enough to catch a free show in the city park with music and Maori dance in aid of mental health awareness. The dance group from nearby Hasting were particularly impressive with dancing and singing and the HAKA! All topped off by a tasty sausage sizzle cooked by the local police! Coco then took us further inland to wine country. We stopped at a vineyard called Crab Farm, which was a family run winery and restaurant with a hippy tree house. We loved the Pinot Gris and could of stayed there all afternoon. Driving on to Taupo we checked out a few brilliant waterfalls Waipunga and Huka Falls. We then discovered our favourite campsite of the trip Waikite, a nights camping included entry to all the hot pools, a bit pricier than our usual free campsite but well worth it. At 39 degrees it was like stepping into a hot bath, just what we needed after 5 days on the road.
DAY SIX- Rock ‘n’ Roll!
Up early for a last dip in the hot pools, then we headed to Rotorua known for its strong eggy sulphur smell (and it did smell!). The Saturday farmers markets were on and there were many tasty treats to be had. We hoped to see the mud-pools in the centre of the park but the heavy rain meant they weren’t bubbling and it looked more swamp-like. As we didn’t get to experience the mud first hand we bought a mud-pack from the gift shop and plastered our faces with it! More excitement followed with Zorbing being next on our to-do list.
Basically Zorbing is rolling down a hill in a massive inflatable ball. We had mixed reviews on this activity, the first dry zorb we did individually was more painful than fun (possibly due to the bad weather conditions). HOWEVER on our second zorb we opted for the hydro ride, where warm water is put into the ball. Unlike the first zorb, we were both in the ball together and were not strapped in. This meant we slid about inside as we tumbled and laughed down the hill, brilliant fun! After drying off Coco was waiting to take us to Mt Manganui. We arrived there mid-afternoon just as the sun began to shine. We decided to find a campsite for Coco, an awesome place right on the beach, and went out for a relaxed evening. We ate at a lovely little Middle Eastern restaurant called Hassan Baba. The town was quiet particularly for a Saturday night but we found a bar doing karaoke and got up for a rendition of “Coco Cabana”!!
Day SEVEN- Goodbye Coco
Sunday morning and our last day with Coco. We stopped in at the Farmers Market in Mt. Maunganui for some supplies and listened to two amazing buskers. We had 7 hours to get to Auckland so decided to see how far we could get up the Coromandel Peninsula. We set our destination to Hot Water Beach and arrived there just on time for high tide. The crowds had already gathered on the beach to dig holes and sit in the warm water in the sand. We shimmied through all the individual spa pools and dug one of our own. Only about a foot under the surface and the water was as hot as a boiling kettle! We sat on the beach and soaked up some sun then it was back on the road for the final leg of the journey to Auckland.
After finally navigating our way around the city we arrived at Jucy HQ to whoops and cheers from the members of staff outside! A fantastic end to a fantastic journey. We had an amazing week and cannot thank JUCY enough for letting us take Coco for a date, so we wrote this wee poem to sum up our trip and say a big THANK YOU!!!!
Thank you Coco it’s been a blast,
Our adventures with you have gone by so fast.
We’ve had so much fun along the way,
From town to city, from beach to bay.
Drank in a vineyard, rolled in a sphere,
Met the prime minister, shared a cold beer.
From Queenstown to Auckland,we’ve travelled so far,
And its only been possible coz of our Jucy car.
We’re leaving you now, but it wont be the end,
As Lucy will always be our friend.