Meet Aaron & Jen (pictured left) who took Coco, our Social Cabana away for a free adventure in New Zealand. Sure sounds like they had an amazing time. You can check out more photos from their adventures on our facebook page. 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
Day one: Memory Lane
Today was the beginning of our trip with Coco. Being Hamiltonions we needed to get to Auckland before the Jucy office closed at 5pm. And being from Hamilton we underestimated just how horrible Auckland traffic really is at 5pm at the beginning of a long weekend…
But before we knew it, the friendly Jucy staff had us all set up with Coco and we were on our way! Or not… Auckland had trapped us again and we began our crawl out of Auckland heading north. Destination?… Unknown!
Easter was upon us and we didn’t want to be lost and hungry on Good Friday, so all we knew was that we needed to stop, get food and stock up on Easter Eggs. We made out way of Auckland to see a big bright yellow Pak n Save to our left.
While we were in the neighbourhood, we did a quick drive across the motorway to Forrest Hill – Jen’s old stomping ground. We passed her old guide hall, house, vet and were heading towards play centre when we passed the water tower, also known as the ‘skating concrete’ back in the 90’s. Once we got up there it seemed like a perfect spot for dinner. We enjoyed our first night cooking in the back of Coco and enjoyed our meal with a stunning view overlooking Auckland city.
Following dinner we headed north to Jen’s Aunty Julie at Snells Beach. We found a nice spot on the driveway showed off Coco’s awesome features and had a cuppa and a catch up. Then it was time for our first sleep in Coco.
Park in Aunty’s driveway: $0 per night.
Ambience: 10/10 – nothing beats hospitality of family
Shower: Good pressure and free!
Day two: Roads and Beaches
We awoke and realised it was already 9am, and slid open the door to the sound of bacon sizzling – it was the ultimate cue to get up! We enjoyed an amazing breakfast of bacon, eggs and croissants overlooking Snells Beach, accompanied by an amazing view. After a Facebook suggestion by a friend we headed towards Tutukaka – we stopped at several beaches along the way, grabbed a nice mocha at a caravan in Mangawhai Heads, went for a few walks on the amazing white beaches and checked out Whangarei Falls.
Using Jucy’s hamap we pinpointed Whananaki as our destination for the night. Our first pick was the DOC campground (cold showers but only $6 bucks each), pulled up outside to a ‘fully booked’ roadside side. Our second option was the local campground (Whananaki North Holiday Park) – which had all the facilities and a HOT shower. We pulled in, paid our fee, set up Coco, cooked a meal in the back and had a glass of wine to cheers a great day two.
1x Camp Site at Whananaki North Holiday Park: $30 for two per night.
Ambience: 7/10 – Lots of people but all friendly!
Shower: Kiwi as, clean and 50 cents for 6 minutes!
Day three: To the Capital
This time we knew where we were heading – Paihia! Heading back down towards SH1 we needed to take a slight detour via Hikurangi, to visit the old pub Jennifer’s grandparents were supposed use to run “back in the day”. Finding it proved easy as the town wasn’t much bigger than the main road. The pub itself was closed and looking for new owners. We might have hung around a little longer to explore except the local police car had a beaten-up man in the back and Aaron was scared.
After hearing about the famous Friedensreich Hundertwasser toilets we thought we better stop in Kawakawa and check them out.
The toilets themselves were pretty impressive. The mosaics and bottles created a unique environment and it was nice to have a clean public toilet for once. We also checked out living space and wandered around the mosaics made of mirrors, tiles and pictures.
We continued north to Paihia, where we found a little “campervan only” camping ground set amongst olive trees and set up Coco. Next door was an adventure park/playgroundso we decided to give it ago. Turns out we’re more vertically challenged than we realised, combine that with a lack of balance and upper body strength and you find adult-sized adventure playgrounds aren’t that much fun. Time to move on.
Following the beach we made our way over to the main township, hopped aboard a ferry and set sail for Russell. Twenty minutes later we arrived in New Zealand’s original capital. We enjoyed a beverage in our oldest pub, a walk along the waterfront and watching a local skipper bring in a 132kg Marlin.
Back in Paihia we followed a toilet sign to no toilet (… grr…) then headed out to ‘treat’ ourselves to a Thai dinner and give Coco a break from her cooking duties. A visit to Countdown on the walk home to treat ourselves to ice-cream topped off an excellent day.
1x Campervan Park @ Olive Grove Campervan Park, Paihia: $30 for two per night.
Ambience: 9/10 – Nice, Quiet, Great setting among the olives!
Shower: Spacious, modern and clean – but most expensive at $2.00 for 4 minutes!
Day Four: To the Top!
We aimed to be out of the Olive Groves by 9am as today was going to be a big day – but we got a little carried away with another cooked brekky and hot drinks out the back of Coco. Once on the road we still managed to get to the Waitangi before all the tourists. We enjoyed exploring the historical grounds of Waitangi.
After learning more about Treaty history, we jumped in Coco, cranked up some road trip music and set off on the two-and-a-half hour hike to the very tip of NZ. It was like a massive convoy of tourists – all in campervans, rental vans or 4×4’s loaded with supplies. We passed a few of Coco’s siblings – giving the big Jucy wave to the other vans!
Once we got to the very top – we parked on the side of the road, cooked some lunch and sat back over-looking the impressive Tasman sea. Then it was a hike down the big concrete path to the iconic lighthouse and AA sign. We took some token tourist photos – climbed back up the hill – and set off for the next thrill-seeking adventure – SAND DUNING!
We carted Jen’s childhood boogie boards all the way from Hamilton especially for this activity, but it turns out there are only certain boards you could use when sand duning, sadly Jen’s barely moved us anywhere in the sand! So we caved and hired a board from the friendly board hire truck – this definitely got us moving down the giant sand dunes. Once we got our confidence up trialling ‘the babies’ we set charge for the ‘big dunes’. We stood at the bottom, looked up, it looked easy. It was only when we saw tourists fly down the hill smashing themselves up that we realised the sport was really dangerous!
On the way back, we saw signs for Mangonui. We’d heard about the world famous ‘Fish and Chip’ shop so thought this could be a nice place to stop. We stopped at the shop, which was overlooking the water and packed (a good sign!). We grabbed a feed of fresh kai moana, and sat in the back of Coco overlooking the lovely Mangonui harbour. People weren’t wrong about them being great fish and chips!
Some locals in the fish and chip line suggested the Hihi Beach Holiday Park as a place to park up for the night – this was as far as we would go after the km’s we had done today. We pulled up, found a park and headed down the beach for a nice walk down the bay watching a beautiful sunset. It was definitely a good recommendation.
Hihi Beach Holiday Park: $40 for 2x for one night.
Ambience: 8/10 – Bit dated, but lovely spot – wicked sunsets!
Showers: Again dated – but nice and hot – best bit – FREE!
Day Five: Reality. Home time.
We made the most of the free showers by having another shower before hitting the road.
We stopped at New Zealand’s oldest stone building in Kerikeri for a quick coffee and muffin overlooking the Kerikeri river, couple of photos and a sneaky look through the Kiwiana giftshop. After checking Jen’s phone – she re-read the text Jen’s mum had sent about checking out her family’s pub while we were up North. Jen asked “What was the name of the scary town we went to for the pub?” Haunted by the last visit, Aaron replied: “Hikurangi!”
Well it turns out we went to the wrong town! Fortunately Google maps showed us the correct town (beginning with H and ending with I) was on SH1 on the way home.
We arrive in the correct town – Hukarenui – to find only a pub and a museum. However the pub was shut, so we took a look around the grounds and took some photos.
We had an amazing long Easter weekend in Coco. Conquered quite a few kilometers, saw a good chunk of Northland and have definitely been converted on the way to travel. Maybe in Europe we will do some ‘glamping’, but when we are back home in NZ after our OE, we will be keen to take one of Coco’s cousins for another journey some where in NZ.
Thanks Jucy and your amazing team for allowing us use of Coco!
Aaron and Jen