Remember how we were pretty happy with our new campspot near Taupo? We loved it so much we pretty much hung around for a whole week! Yep, it’s that awesome. This week we also had our clutch replaced and we drove back up north to have our tanks fixed. So now we’re ready to take the van to see the rest of NZ!

Waking up in heaven a.k.a. Whakaipo Bay, we didn’t leave for the whole day but just hung around in the bay. After a day in Taupo, spent working followed by indoor climbing, we did yet another full day at Whakaipo, apart from a “quick” bike ride to Acacia Bay to pick up some more bread (16km, 400m elevation with a BIG hill).

This was just a warm up though compared to our bike ride the next day: riding W2K to Kinloch, yep, you guessed it, another NZ Great Ride. Unfortunately, the track was pretty wet and slippery due to recent rain, so the first 13km took us so long we skipped the longer loop and decided to take a longer road ride back. We definitely love this about our cyclocross bikes, so versatile and a great way to combine some rougher mountain bike tracks with smooth road riding!

We love having our cyclocross bikes with us on this trip!

The next day was a climbing day again. We had read about a climbing/bouldering area not far out of Taupo that we were keen to check out, but when we arrived we came across a sign saying the area was closed. Thomas had a quick look at the rock, and found it to be very overgrown and probably not used in a long time. So after a coffee we got back in the van and drove over to Mangorewa and spent the rest of the day climbing there, just as easy when you’re flexible like we are!

The next few days were forecasted to be pretty rainy, so we made the most of being close to Rotorua by doing some work in the library, getting some shopping done and climbing in the indoor wall, which was actually really nice. We had seen an ad for a $10 thali (Indian curry platter) that we were keen to have after climbing, but the restaurant turned out to be closed, but we actually ended up finding another $10 thali somewhere else, yay! So good after a long day of hard climbing.

On Sunday we drove further up north, with a quick stop in Tauranga to take a walk through town and have lunch in one of the waterfront parks. The weather was still a bit average, with some light rain on and off, so we continued driving till we were in Katikati, where we had a van repair booked in for the next day. The weather here was actually pretty good, so we went for a nice run along the multiple walkways through the town and along the river. We missed out on the opening hours of the pool we had planned to visit afterwards, so I had a go at using the shower in our van, which was really nice! A bit weird at first, but definitely doable and worth the hassle of pulling out all the crap we generally store in the shower cubicle. Nice to have a new “first” even though we’re already few months in the trip!

Another sunset at Whakaipo Bay

Monday was spent working in the library until we got a phone call that the van was ready for pick-up. We were now finally ready to actually start moving south, so we knocked out a few more hours of driving and ended up back in Taupo, where we couldn’t resist one more night at our all-time favourite campsite at Whakaipo Bay.

I didn’t feel great during the day and woke up being full-on sick the next day. To not lose a whole day we still decided to drive over to Napier, which was only a few hours further and just about manageable in my current state. Thomas went for a nice long bike ride in Napier, because the cycle facilities in that area are awesome, but I spent most of the day lying down, sleeping and vomiting. Another first I guess, being sick while living in a van, pretty sure I liked the cold shower better..

Luckily, it only lasted a day and the next morning, after splurging on a $1.50 hot shower, I felt a lot better. Over the past few days we’d been stocking up on food, fuel and water so we were now ready to hit the backcountry and take a long, windy road with no shops, facilities or cellphone reception into the Kaweka Ranges for some new adventures.

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