Caravanning Across New Zealand II: Wine Trail, a Volcano and Glowworms

The wine trail in New Zealand Starts at Hawkes Bay (around the town of Napier) and continues South, and on to the South Island. I headed along this route after a stay over in Napier, continuing my camper adventure across the North Island. The next stop was the town of Martinborough, the campsite had rental bikes available, which provided hours of fun riding around the countryside and a chance to stop at the many vineyards to sample the good stuff. I visited several wineries around Martin Road off Highway 53, including Martinborough, Luna Estate, Stonecutter, Ata Rangi, Tirohana and Schubert Vineyards. The day had been overcast, and at some point it started to come down hard. I tried to wait out the rain at the vineyards, and rode into town when the downpour abated a little. Had a snack and coffee at the Neighborhood Café, a quaint little place in Martinborough. Went back to the RV park, grilled some steaks and had them with a bottle of recently procured wine, before calling it a day.

Next stop was in Wellington, the drive from Martinborough to Wellington is very scenic, going over the Remutaka Mountains, I had to drive through some very strong crosswinds which made the drive rather challenging, and it took me around 3 hours to get to my destination in Lower Hutt (a suburb of Wellington). Once I had settled in, I headed over to the Petone Wharf (this was unfortunately damaged in the 2016 earthquake). After a long leisurely walk I headed towards the commercial area in Petone, stopping by at Baylands Brewery and sampled some really good beers. After a quick bite at Istanbul Café I headed back to the campsite.

The next day I headed out from Wellington with the my destination being Whanganui. I stopped for a quick snack, around midday, at the Kirk Wood café a quaint little place right of off the highway in Manakau. Got to my destination early afternoon, rented a bike and had a very scenic ride along the Whanganui river, ending at the Riverboat Center. Headed into town which is known for its historic buildings, took a self walking tour before getting a bite to eat at the Element Café and heading back to the RV park.

Next on the itinerary was Mount Taranaki in the Egmont National Park. There are several treks one can do ranging from under an hour to several days, I did one of the shorter treks before driving on to my destination for the day, Fitzroy Beach near New Plymouth. This was a very picturesque campsite and I just spent the day lounging on the beach, cooking and relaxing.

The final destination before heading back to Auckland were the glowworm caves in Waitomo. It was quite the experience, the guided tour starts with a boat ride taking one into the caverns, there are spectacular stalactite and stalagmite formations along with the main attraction, the glowworms!.

I would have wanted to spend a couple of days here, exploring, but I was running short on time, and had to head back to Auckland as my flight out of New Zealand was in a couple of days. The next day I headed into Auckland, returned the Camper, thank you Wendekreisen for excellent service!. After having spent the previous two weeks in a camper I was ready for some luxury and checked into the Cordis Hotel in uptown Auckland for relaxing before heading out. Touring New Zealand had been a great experience, leaving me wanting more and I hope to be back caravanning across the country including the South Island in the not too distant future……

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