Our flight from Auckland was delayed due to fog in Brisbane. By the time we landed in Brisbane, we had missed our flight to Cairns. We booked another flight to Cairns for later that night and had about 9 hours to kill so we headed to the CBD of Brisbane to explore. We walked around and found a weekday market selling all sorts of produce and ethnic food. We were shocked at how crowded it was at 1pm on a Wednesday. We also went to city hall to the free Brisbane Museum that had exhibits about how the city was formed. We did the free tour of the clock tower while there as well. City hall is surrounded by huge skyscrapers now so the view wasn't a good as it used to be, but it was still pretty cool. After only a short time in Brisbane, we thought it would be a great city to live and work in. After exploring we headed back to the airport and finally flew to Cairns.
After a week on the road in our campervan, we made it to Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. The campervan was a great way to explore the country, but morning temperatures were gradually getting colder, and we weren’t packed accordingly.
Entering Auckland, we stopped off at the War Memorial Museum. This was both a museum and memorial, with the names of many fallen soldiers inscribed on the halls inside. The museum had exhibits ranging from the Maori Wars in the early stages of European settlement, to the Vietnam War and beyond. It was amazing to see how Kiwis were called up, historically as required for the British Empire, but still fought bravely and for the greater good of humanity. Their numbers were usually small comparatively, but their spirit and sacrifice was just as great. Some of the exhibits were also a reminder of just how massive the British Empire was during the first half of the 20th century. New Zealanders entered the WW1 as separate colonial provincial battalions, but in the end earned their Kiwi nickname and crafted a unified national identity.
Our journey to the Coromandel started off a little rocky. Our car wouldn't start and it had rained all night so our car was a little stuck. Luckily the Holiday park gave us a jump and helped push us out so we were quickly on our way. The forecast called for rain all day so we took our time going to the Peninsula. We stopped on the way in Hamilton to visit their Gardens. It's different than the other botanical gardens we had visited (that Chris loved oh so much). The Hamilton Gardens are themed from different places and eras. They have a Japanese, Italian Renaissance, Tropical, Maori, Indian Char Bagh, and more. There were other sections that were being renovated. We quickly walked through the gardens during a break from the rain then continued North. Once at the Peninsula we stopped to get some maps and information on the area, grabbed some fish and chips for dinner, then camped that night behind the Ngatea Public Library where freedom camping is allowed. Most free camp sites in New Zealand are only for self-contained (bathroom onboard) vehicles, but they do have a select few that are free for all types.
Chris & Taylor
Read our travel blog as we visit three continents in 2017.