Meet Mel & James (pictured left) who took Coco, our Social Cabana away for a free adventure over Christmas. They took Coco for a trip to the Hawkes Bay with loads of stops along the way. If you’re keen to check out more photos from their trip you can do so here. Jealous? Then apply to take Coco away on an adventure yourself. She is FREE! Check out www.jucy4free.co.nz to apply! Love Lucy xx
Saturday 22nd December
James and I woke up at the crack of dawn. Despite being out at my work Christmas party the night before, we were too excited about our little roady to bother with hangovers or sleep-ins! With our scheduled pick up of Coco at 10.00am, we decided to venture out for breaky to set us up for the day and kill some time.
It didn’t take us long to devour breakfast, pack up some gear and head in to Jucy HQ. In all honesty, I’d been too excited about winning Coco to do any real research about what that really meant, so became even more excited when I realised that we’d be able to cook in a little ‘kitchen’ out the back and watch a DVD if we wanted to! I couldn’t believe that on top of the WIFI, camera, and iPad, we were even given fresh sheets and towels (it’s the little things!).
So we hit the road with James at the wheel (I was maybe a bit optimistic about the lack of hangover after the Christmas party) and headed South East with Napier as our end target and stopping every chance we got.
We made it to Napier around 6.00pm and explored briefly before James told me it was time to head to Hasting to meet his parents! I was so nervous, and sooooo tired but with the knowledge that I could escape at any time to the solace of Coco’s ‘bedroom’, it would all be ok.
First stop southern motorway. Having picked up Coco and packed with enough gear to survive any natural disaster we made our way south having braced ourselves for lots of traffic, knowing most people would have the same idea about escaping Auckland for Christmas. With the station tuned and cruising along in the comfort of Coco we were casually greeted by a gridlocked Southern Motorway, traffic backed up as far as the eye could see, this was my first taste of true traffic congestion Auckland Style. Over the next hour we progressed about 5 km until we hit the bottle neck and were back running again. Fortunately we had both prepared ourselves mentally for such an event, so the traffic and delay wasn’t an issue for a Dunedinite departing Auckland by road for the very first time…
With stomachs starting to speak out and fluid retention devices at capacity Cambridge was the ideal location to stop, refuel and have a look around. Known more for its studs, (no we’re not talking eligible bachelors), Cambridge is renowned for horses, dairying and home to Sport NZ’s Rowing High Performance Centre. Having last visited Cambridge and Karapiro in 1995 for the Maadi Cup Rowing Regatta it was great to return and have a look around. Definitely a beautiful spot with loads of access to biking trails, lake, and camping grounds to lengthen a visit.
Back on the road south on the “Thermal Explorer Highway”, the next stop was Taupo to stretch the legs and see what was on offer in the central North Island Township. With the temperature and humidity high it made for a perfect stop to take in the hustle and bustle of town and walk the lake front. With Mt Tongariro in the background Mel and I planned our return visit to compete in the Lake Taupo Cycle Ride whilst somehow resisting the temptation to go for a swim. It has to be said Taupo’s water temperature has a long way to go before it gets to the warmth of many Central Otago Lakes!
Before hitting destination Hawkes Bay we had one last stop on the Napier – Taupo Rd at the lookout for Waiarua Falls. Running through the valley of dense bush, this waterfall was surprising and unexpected given the location and geography of the area. Given there had been little rain in the area over recent times, I could only imagine what waterfall would be like after rain or winter snow melt.
Having finally arrived in Napier we ventured Coco and Lucy onto the shores or Marine Parade before finally meeting up with all the family for dinner and settling in to our ‘home’ for the night… Although it was a long day on the road, the comfort of Coco made traveling easy and pleasurable.
Sunday 23rd December
I survived meeting the in-laws!! So to celebrate, we decided to go exploring. First up was the Hastings Markets to sample lots of fresh fruit, coffee and oils. Then we headed out to do some ‘touristy stuff’ like drive up a big hill and stand in front of old buildings! I loved seeing all the old pictures of pre-earthquake and how the buildings had been restored or replaced.
With James and I both being ‘pretty into’ our sport, and with the upcoming England cricket team tour to NZ, McLean Park was a bit of a must see (geeky huh?!), although I was secretly dreaming of vineyards and wine tasting tours…
With the travel over for a couple of days and a superb sleep in the back of Coco it was time to explore the Hawkes Bay. First stop was the Hastings Markets to sample all the delights from the region: fresh fruit, wine, pastries coffee and oils. Who would have thought orange olive oil and ice cream would go together?! Yummm!! It was great fun, especially with the odd local asking why I was carrying Lucy around in my back pocket while visiting stalls! Unfortunately for us we had missed the TV1 News team who had been there earlier that morning!
Following the market we ventured in to Napier, and being the sports nuts that we are, headed straight for Mclean Park – home of the Magpies and Central Stags. The intention was to get a photo of Lucy and us wearing all Jucy’s props in the middle of the Mclean Park, but unfortunately we couldn’t rouse a grounds person to let us in (and those fences were HIGH!) From there we set about and checked out Napier’s water front Xmas market, visitors centre, mini golf, Port, Bluff Hill (not to be mistaken for the one in Southland) and art deco buildings. Napier, having experienced a major earthquake in 1932, is popular for its ‘Art Deco’ buildings, with the former Rothmans Smoke Factory being the most high profile building and where we chose to take Coco and Lucy.
Day was finished off with an ale of the world’s finest (Speights) at one of the many bars overlooking the Marina at Ahurari Bay, before heading back to Hastings, cooking up a storm thanks to Coco’s kitchen, and settling in for the night.
Monday 24th December
Sadly, it was time to say goodbye to the East Coast and head back up to Auckland to spend Christmas with my family. So I packed up Coco and avoided tearful goodbyes by sneaking out when everyone was busy with final Christmas shopping! Coco, Lucy and I cruised home – again stopping at every place we could, including Taupo for an early lunch (mmmm thanks Burger Fuel), Tirau for some last-minute Christmas shopping of my own and Cambridge for some groceries (fearing that Auckland would be carnage). It’s funny, I’ve driven through these places on so many road trips, but never really stopped to ‘be a tourist’. I almost wanted to put on an accent so when I got out of Coco people wouldn’t wonder why a North Island Local was so excited to take pictures of giant, corrugated iron animals.
Christmas Eve, I unfortunately had to say goodbye to Lucy, Coco and Mel for their return leg to Auckland, having safely delivered me to the Hawkes Bay. The previous couple days roady-ing and venturing around Napier / Hastings was the icing on the cake anyone would want leading up to Christmas. One thing’s for sure, Christmas 2012 will be remembered not for the record temperatures and Auckland’s traffic, but for JUCY giving us the freedom to explore the roads, rest areas and townships to be with family!
Once again I would like to thank all the team at JUCY, giving us Coco and Lucy for the week was magic. Can’t wait till the next big holiday knowing a Jucy Cabana Camper is on the cards allowing the freedom to explore.
Tuesday 25th December – Christmas Day!!
Despite being up at my Mum’s house, I refused to sleep in the house while I had Coco. I slept in there, watched a movie, wrote some (literally last minute) Christmas cards and was up ready to tackle Christmas with the family. Coco got a lot of attention from everyone and became a welcome escape for me when it all got a bit overwhelming – as big family reunions can. I was thankful and excited to be able to continue my adventuring – even on Christmas day – by heading out to Wenderholm – a beautiful Auckland Regional Park.
There were loads of people at the park, which reminded me of how awesome Christmas in New Zealand is: Once the presents are opened and the eating is done – everyone hits the beach to play with new toys, and of course eat some more. The park was alive with activity, not only from the people visiting but from the native birds residing in the pohutakawas. I actually fell asleep in the back, after an adventure through the bush, while listening to all the Tuis singing.
Wednesday 26th December
It had been a very relaxing way to end the last few days of adventuring, and although I still had a couple of nights to sleep in Coco, I was a bit restricted as far as distance I could venture. So I enjoyed camping out and pretending I was somewhere far away for another couple of days. I decided that it could be a real way of life, just packing up and hitting the road, taking naps when you feel like them, seeing what kinds of gourmet meals you could cook on the little gas stove, and heading out exploring on a whim. Yup, it was definitely my kind of holiday and one that I plan to do again very soon.
Thanks Coco, Lucy and all the Jucy team!