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 five. And being from Hamilton we underestimated just how horrible Auckland traffic really is at five and at the beginning of a long weekend… After free flowing traffic for 99% of our trip we ground to a halt and crawled our way into central Auckland, making it to Coco with 14 minutes to spare.
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 is 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. We entered and braved more Aucklanders (who seemed to think shops closed for one day meant the end of the world and therefore they must buy entire store)!
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
After an amazing sleep in a Coco – we awoke and realised it was already 9am, we slide opened our 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 with Aunty Julie, uncle Richard and cousin Brad. This was only our second meal on our journey – but yet again it was accompanied with an amazing view. We packed up Coco, said our goodbyes and set off on our way. Once again we hadn’t planned where we were going other than north. Being Good Friday we had limited options on places which would be open but that was no barrier! 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 the Whangarei Falls.
Using Jucy’s hamap (Jucy.Rankers.co.nz) 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 morning we awoke, had a quick breakfast and set off on the road again. This time we knew where we were heading to – 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 – we were back on the road.
After hearing about the famous Friedensreich Hundertwasser toilets we thought we better stop in Kawakawa and check them out. As we drove into the town we saw a sign “watch out for trains next 1km.”
“What a silly thing to say, how could you need to look out for trains for 1km?!” Aaron exclaimed and we had a laugh. Until we drove around the corner that is, and a train was very casually driving down the centre of the main road… Turns out you do need to look out for trains in Kawakawa.
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. Lucy enjoyed the town where she actually appeared tall! We continued north to Paihia, what a beautiful place! We found a little “campervan only” camping ground set amongst olive trees and set up Coco. Next door was an adventure park/playground thing so 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. We should have let Coco cook… Her gas cooked hotdogs and steak would have topped the Thai at Paihia any day! However, 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 breaky 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. For New Zealanders – this is where it all began…
After learning more about the Treaty history, we jumped in Coco, cranked up some roadtrip music and set off on the two and a half hour hike to the very tip of New Zealand. It was like a massive convoy of tourist – 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 up on the side of the road, cooked us some lunch and sat back over looking the impressive Tasman sea. It was then the 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 adventure for the next thrill seeking activity – SAND DUNEING!
We carted Jen’s childhood ‘boogie boards’ all the way from Hamilton especially for this activity – 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 we realised that this sport was really dangerous!
Aaron being the ‘big thrill seeker’ – sent Jen up first. Jen realised how steep these dunes actually were and got half way up and rode down.Next up was Aaron… he set climb (Honestly, it was like Everest!), he got a third of the way up.. and was stuck up there for about 30 minutes. He failed to get the confidence to ride so slide his way back down his path on his bum! Tail between his legs!
Covered in sand, and feeling defeated, we did one last slide down the baby dunes and got Coco on her way! We thought we would aim to get Coco as far down the island we could before joining the end of the long weekend traffic jams – so the rule was just drive until we were sick of driving.
We saw signs for Mangonui – and we had heard reviews about the world famous ‘Fish and Chip’ shop so thought this could be a nice place to stop. We stopped at the very obvious shop over the water, the shop was packed (which was 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 kms 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!
We made the most of the free showers – and had another shower before hitting the road. It was the day we thought we were going to get stuck in queues with everyone heading back home, however we were pretty fortunate – the traffic was flowing and people were courteousWe 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. Back on the road, we headed back down thru Kawakawa but sadly no trains to both of ours disappointment. After checking Jen’s phone – she reread 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 – it was a lot nicer this town than the last. However the pub was shut so we took a look around the grounds and took some photos to say we had been then continued on the way.Just out of Whangarei we saw a sign with free coffee. Being coffee addicts we pulled in and saw State Insurance along with ACC had put on a roadside driver ‘refresh’ stop. We grabbed a nice complimentary coffee, sausage off the barbie and a bottle of water – which definitely kept us going on our journey home.
Traffic came to a stand still in Wellsford just out of Auckland – but got flowing again once we got thru the village, it was smooth sailings back to the Jucy Auckland City Depot in time for our 4 o’clock drop off. We were greeted by two big friendly smiles by the lovely Jucy staff who quizzed us on Coco’s adventure.
We had an amazing long Easter weekend in Coco. We conquered quite a few kilometers. Saw a good chunk of Northland. And we have definitely been converted on the way to travel, maybe in Europe we will do some ‘gla-camping’ 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 New Zealand experience more of what Jucy & NZ has to offer.
Thanks Jucy and your amazing team for allowing us use of Coco!
Aaron and Jen