We walked round the corner to check out what time we could pick up our van, only to find that the depot had just moved over the weekend and that we now had to go to Onehunga on the other side of Auckland to get the van. We caught a taxi there for about NZ$30 and arrived just after noon. There were two other couples there to pick up other vans and we recognised some of the vans from our South Island travels.
We were due to have a van called “Bruce Lee” but on inspection it didn’t have any opening windows in the back which would have made it very hot in the evenings, so Gerard swapped us to “Herpie” which is painted a bit like “Herbie”, the VW Beetle, and has “Beer Won’t Give You Herpies” sprayed on the back. Not as good a paint job as Darth but a slightly better van. (And yes, we know that herpes doesn’t have an ‘i’ in it, but the guy who painted the van didn’t!).
The van is an Toyota Townace automatic with power-steering. I’ve never driven an automatic before so Gerard gave me a quick run through and I soon picked it up. The power-steering makes the van much easier to handle too.
We didn’t get far that day, as we did some food shopping and then got caught in Auckland traffic, so we spent the night at Orewa.
The next day we headed back across country and northward through Waipoua Forest which is full of huge, ancient Kauri trees, and on to Opononi in Hokianga Harbour on the west coast of Northland. We stopped a few times on the way to take photos and admire the scenery. Hokianga Harbour was particularly lovely, with beaches and lovely hills around giving great views.