With as much planning and preparation as we had done for this trip there was one major thing we purposefully skipped each time we discussed the trip; where we were sleeping the first night in the van. Or the second. Or the thirty after that.
We wanted to keep our schedule open so we wouldn’t be bogged down by ‘having’ to be somewhere – but instead be open to spontaneous new experiences (which is the way I think all travel should be!).
So upon being handed the keys to our, er, interesting van and quelling the mounting panic attack from driving on the left side of the road we headed north with no idea where we were going to sleep that night.
Kind of a cool feeling.
We had been told the Department of Conservation (DOC) has a bunch of nice, affordable campsites all over the place so finding a spot shouldn’t be a problem so we weren’t too worried.
We putzed along the northeastern coastline, stopping to grab groceries and even took our first hike – to a small waterfall (the name escapes me – there are too many cool waterfalls to remember all their names) just off the main road.
Upon entering the little nature reserve we came upon a group of locals jumping into the stream just before the waterfall; but this was not your run-of-the-mill flop into the water from the bank, they were jumping from 20-30ft up in a dead pine tree! My photo of them jumping didn’t turn out but you can get the idea from this one:
We then strolled down a short path and caught our first of many stunning New Zealand views:
Absolutely beautiful first stop! We wandered around for a while and decided we better figure out where we were going to park that night, so we headed out.
On the drive we stumbled across an information center who directed us to a small DOC camp called Otamure Bay who said they had one spot left and that we could have it (glad we didn’t mess around any longer than we did…).
The road to Otamure took us east through some rolling hills and spit us out just before the green hills dipped into the Pacific Ocean. We were directed to our campsite by the ranger, Peter, who had the most pure New Zealand accent I’ve ever heard from where we strolled out towards the beach.
I’ll let the photos take it from here…
So this is where we slept the first night.
After chowing down on a meal of our (now famous) Otamure Special (chicken, frozen veg and ranch), we fell asleep in lush rolling hills to the sound of crashing waves and smell of cool, salty air.
Not a bad introduction to New Zealand.
The next morning I woke up quite early and was able to capture the scene in a panoramic…(click on the photo to enlarge it)
The standard has been set for New Zealand.
Here’s a video of Dawn at Otamure Bay: