(Part 1 can be read here.)

Rotorua

If you scroll down to the bottom, you’ll find an entire video devoted to the sights we saw in Rotorua and I can see why it is such an important tourist destination.

Rotorua lake
Rotorua Lake


 

rotorua canopy tours
Rotorua Canopy Tours

I want to especially highlight Rotorua Canopy Tours. The tour was three-hours of adventure, but I liked how they explained all the conservation work they are doing in the area. So far they have reclaimed 20% of the forest back from rodents and predators (like here, possums are a huge problem), to give native birds and animals a chance to return. It’s nice to think that we helped contribute, even if it’s in a small way by going, or helping spread the word.

ciabatta bakery
Ciabatta Bakery

After the tour, we were famished! (And please, please go to the toilet before you head out there. Trust me.) We were told of a little out-of-the-way place, the Ciabatta Bakery. It was delicious – and paleo-friendly.

Taupo

If you’re travelling to Taupo you might get lucky, as we did, and discover an ice-cream van situated at the lookout on the main road in to the city from the north. We stopped and indulged (they have great milk/ice-creams in NZ) and it was very pleasant. As you can see.
 
Eating Icecream outside Taupo As I say in the video, I was very impressed with Taupo. It’s an idyllic town with a lot of culturally interesting things to see and do – including a number of bookshops we walked through and the public library has a temporary membership you can take advantage of for $10 if you would like to borrow books or DVDs.

Taupo playground
Look at that sky! The weather kept on delivering.

 

Taupo street art
Taupo street art

 

Huka Honey Hive
Huka Honey Hive

On the outskirts of town, near Huka Falls, you’ll find the Huka Honey Hive, which is worth a stop. One last recommendation before moving on. There are plenty of places where you can free camp in a campervan in New Zealand. We only free camped one night – mostly because we needed the facilities of a holiday park, for different reasons, each day (for washing, topping up our battery etc.). The one night we free camped was in Taupo, above the marina. This was our view.

This afternoon's view 👌#gobycamper #britzcampervan #roadtrip #destinationnz #karenslivinglist
We had pulled up to a different spot near the lake when we got a knock on the door from another couple who had parked nearby. They were about to head up to this great spot they’d heard of and wondered if we wanted to follow them? Not too invested in the place we’d picked, we shrugged and thought, Why not? Boy, that was a good decision. Not only did we have this view, but the police station was about a hundred metres away. As the evening went on, a few more camper vans pulled up and it was clear we’d done well to get in early. I’ve marked the spot on the map below with a pink star, if interested.

taupo

 

Waitomo Caves

It’s a beautiful, sleepy little town. And the glowworm caves were cool.

But by this point, Adam was really crook with a bug. This was where the camper came in to its own, as we could let him sleep while I took the kids for a walk and swim. It was here when we decided to slowly work our way back up north. After figuring out where to go next, we hit the road. It was Mother’s Day and we hit Hamilton right on lunchtime – the WORST time, but we managed to score ourselves a table at the Hamilton Gardens Pavilion, where there happened to be a cat show on, delighting us all. (Well, not Adam.)

Waitomo
Top 10 Holiday Park Waitomo
Waitomo Caves
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Waitamo caves exit
Caves exit

Port Waikato

“Let’s go to Port Waikato,” said Adam, reading off a travelling app on his phone. “Says here it’s nice.”

“Sure,” I said.

That’s what I loved about the camper van. Spontaneity.

It’s a rough-around-the-edges town, but the coast. My god.

Sunset Beach at Port Waikato

And that black, sparkly sand!

Black sand at Port Waikato

 

By that night, I’d caught Adam’s fever and cough. The kids were banished to one end of the camper while we slept at the other. (They didn’t get sick. It’s a miracle.)

Clarks Beach

“Let’s go to Clarks Beach,” said Adam, reading off a travelling app on his phone. “Says here it’s nice. Plus, it’s close-ish to the airport, so we can get there in plenty of time for tomorrow’s flight.”

“Sure,” I said, wrapped up in a blanket, teeth chattering.

We didn’t let sickness stop us – oh, no. (Let’s just stop again and thank all the powers for the warm, clear weather, with the exception for Rotorua.)

Clarks Beach was just what we needed for our last stop. Calm waters, green grass, cotton ball clouds.

Clarks Beach

 

In the Taupo video, you’ll see these places, plus a little montage of other sights.

The other night, after watching the Rotorua video, Riley suddenly grabbed me for a fierce hug.

“What was that for, buddy?” I said, laughing.

“I just had the best time over there,” he said.

We all did.

 

Thanks again to Britz for helping fulfill this Living List goal, providing us a campervan to travel around New Zealand. It was wonderful.

britz campervan logo

karen-portrait

Karen Andrews is the creator of this website, one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Her latest book is On The Many Shapes Bodies Will Take (March, 2017).