Posts Tagged ‘Waikato & the King Country’
Our first destination after Auckland was Raglan, which is in Waikato, and where Robert and Chuck told us about a world class left point surf break (Jeremy brought his surfboard on the trip and will sell it when we leave Australia). Raglan is about 3 hours drive from Auckland; it is directly west of the town of Hamilton on the Tasman Sea. The drive down is really beautiful, with acres and acres of farmland, and, unexpectedly, lots of cows. We were expecting sheep coming out of every corner, but we got cows on the way down to Raglan. And let me tell you, THESE cows are happy cows. Those California cows ain’t got nuthin’ on NZ cows.
We pulled into our first “holiday park,” which is very similar to KOAs in the US. There are RV sites with power and water (which is where we stay…our van has a plug-in that powers the microwave and outlets), “self-contained” units (cabins with kitchen, bathroom, etc.), tent sites, and many other amenities, like showers, bathrooms, wi-fi internet (for a fee), etc. The fee for staying in the holiday park depends upon which type of site you use. The power sites seems to go for between NZ$26 and $32. The big difference between holiday parks in New Zealand and KOAs in the US is that in NZ they seem to be located in really prime locations…imagine you roll into a city/town/village. Then imagine where they might put the million dollar condos in that city/town/village. That’s where the holiday parks will be. And, they all seem to have trampolines for some reason. The Raglan Kopua Holiday Park (www.raglanholidaypark.co.nz; 07 825 8284) is no different. The campground is located right next to a beautiful black sand beach (and yes, it has a trampoline). We pulled into camp right at low tide and took a walk along the bay towards the ocean.
After our walk, we headed across the bridge from the camp towards town for dinner. The sun was just setting and as we turned back towards the camp after crossing the bridge, we caught this:
“Town” in Raglan is pretty small, basically a collection of shops along 3 blocks or so. Robert told us that Tongue and Groove was the one cool place in town, and that it was. Great food affordably priced (We both had the steak sandwich…remember those happy cows? Well, they make happy beef), cute people, and lots of vintage furniture. Jeremy and I were musing how all these little surf towns seem to have the same flavor…a laid back attitude oriented around the ocean. Raglan was no different.
Unfortunately the weather the following day was not conducive to surfing at all—heavy rain and wind. The forecast looked like the surf wouldn’t be good for several more days, so we packed up and headed out of town; we’ll come back through on our way back to Auckland.
Jeremy was still a little nervous about driving on the opposite side of the road in heavy rain, so we hung for a couple of hours most of the day in a cafe across the street from Tongue and Groove, called Blacksand, waiting to see if the weather would let up. Again, great food (we shared a beef burger…mmm) at good prices. After a few hours of reading magazines, we figured that if we couldn’t do anything active that day because of the weather, we might as well get a little further south, so we decided to drive the backroads over to Kawhia, the next bay south of Raglan, in Waitomo. On the way, we stopped at Bridal Veil Falls, which was the perfect rainy-day weather hike: short, protected by a tree canopy, and steep (on the way back up), so we got a little bit of a workout. Honestly, It wasn’t the most spectacular sight we’ve ever seen but it was a good distraction while the weather was dreary.
We finally got into Kawhia a while later (unexpectedly, the backroads from Raglan to Kawhia included a long stretch of dirt roads, which made driving our huge van very slow). Happily, the trip was worth it because our view from the Kawhia Beachside S-cape (www.kawhiabeachsideescape.co.nz; 07 871 0727) was spectacular. We set up camp and ate our dinner while watching the tide roll back (sensing a theme here?).