It was a 5:30am wake-up in order to get breakfast out of the way so we could catch the shuttle bus at 8:00am to the campervan depot. The Novotel put on the usual hotel breakfast though there were eggs to order as well as omelettes, if you so desired. We checked out at 7:45am thinking we could order the shuttle bus but as the campervan depot didn’t open until 8:00am, they didn’t answer the phone until then anyway. We were told the bus would take 15-20 minutes to arrived, but by 8:35am it hadn’t turned up. I rang back ready to enquire where it was, but as is usually the case, it arrived as I was on the phone. Just prior to the shuttle arriving Harrison and I went into the airport terminal again to take a photo with a statue that’s on loan from Middle-earth.
The process at the depot was quite quick with the usual paperwork to be signed then the tour of the van to show us all the features and to check for damage. For some reason the lady serving us (who was South African) asked if our surname was German. When I said yes, she asked me “eine bier, bitte?” to which I promptly replied, “ya, eine bier, danke schon”, but no beer was forthcoming. Damn South Africans! The van is just under 3 years old and had 115,200kms on the clock which is the oldest van we’ve had in NZ. The interior is in good condition though and the layout is better than the previous vans we’ve had (the main bed can be left made up and rises up into the ceiling at the back) though there isn’t as much cupboard space as the United Campervans had. Apollo also didn’t take our suitcases and store them in their depot which United did, so we’ve had to unpack them and store them in the locker that runs under the rear seat. Luckily they just fit.
As we usually do we stopped at the nearest Countdown (Woolworths for you Australians) and grab the basic essentials for camper vanning around NZ – wine and beer. We also managed to pick up some food which added to the trolley load. Right next to Countdown was Ugly Dumpling. As the name would imply, they make dumplings. And nice ones at that! Well that was brunch covered. We set the GPS on the phone for Waihi Beach and headed south.
Now, I’m a cruise control type of person – the ease it adds to driving is underrated and I use it all the time, but the system in this Mercedes is just not logical. I spent 20 minutes driving down Highway 2 trying to work it out. I’m sure the people behind me thought something was wrong. After getting it to work once but then not again, I had to resort to the most embarrassing solution of all. I asked Julie to read the manual. She promptly told me how to use it, to which I said a lot of “ah-ha’s”, and “oh yes, I see now”. Fancy that – the manual was actually useful.
After a quick stop at Countdown in Paeroa for some wine glasses (don’t ask, though Julie managed to get some bagels!) and again in Waihi for some wine glasses (successful this time!) we finally headed for Waihi Beach. Our booking for the prime position was confirmed and we parked the campervan about 30 metres from sand and about 100 metres from the ocean. Harrison went for a swim in the pool while we sorted out the van and now it’s nearly time to start preparing dinner – good NZ lamb with mash and beans.