24 November 2008
From Matamata via
Monday morning woke up at a reasonable time, showered and dressed and got my breakfest from Sue, the owner of the Southern Belle. After that I left for a short drive to the town centre to become a member of the New Zealand AA so that I would get help if the campervan should have a problem. In New Zealand you become a personal member and when you are you have a personal insurance for every car you drive. In the Netherlands it is the car which have this insurance no matter who is driving the car. If you hire a campervan from an official New Zealand Renting Agency you don't have to get this Personal Insurance. But for the costs 80 New Zealand dollars, which is about 32 Euro no one should forget to be a member.
After the AA-office I went to the New World Supermarket in Matamata and filled up my fridge and the other hiding places in the campervan. After that had a cup of coffee and said goodbye to my host Sue and went up to the coast. The East Coast of the North Island with the first stop in Mount Maunganui. To see the beautiful white sand again. It was already a cloudy day from the start but dark clouds came together and within 15 minutes it was really bad weather with heavy rain and a lot of wind. I had to be careful on the road because the view on the road was bad and the roads are very winding and have many hills, and we Dutchmen aren't used to this situation.
A couple of kilometres for Mount Maunganui there was a roundabout and I took the wrong intersection. (Wrong ...? No, my destination was 2 times on the road signs). So I stopped at the gate of a pay-road, because I wanted to drive back to the roundabout but a big truck was right behind me, so I couldn't do that. The woman in the little cabin to collect my money understood my problem, opened the gate and I could make a 180 turn and got out via the exit-gate. Back on the roundabout I noticed 2 roads to Mount Maunganui and I took now the free road along the coast. This was the road with the best views of the area, but not this day with the bad weather. Still I enjoyed the last part of the ride. From a distance I saw the well known Mount Maunganui which I could remember very well. There was a big cruise ship under the Mount. A lot of passengers just got off the boat to visit the town and beach of Mount Maunganui. Took some photo's of this immense ship and the went on to the beach. View also the Mount_Maunganui_Wavecam.
This beach has beautiful white sand, but not today because of all the rain that afternoon. So I stepped on the beach on the place where the viewpoint with the webcam is and walked to the ocean, but halfway .. .it started raining again like a shower .... so I quickly returned to my campervan.
In the always busy and nice main street of the small village I parked the campervan and got myself a cup of coffee and some souvenirs. After that I left Mount Mounganui along the coastal road heading for Whakatane. After a few kilometres it went wrong again. I stayed on the road along the coast and saw a lot of expensive houses on the beach. But all of a sudden the road ended and I had to turn and drive some kilometres back. From now on I took more time to read the roadsigns.
When I got to Whakatane the rain stopped temporarily and I knew in which direction I had to look for the Whakatane Holiday Park (wonderful how you can find everything on the internet) and after a 5 minutes search I saw a roadsign to the Holiday Park. In the office I booked for 1 night and drove to the harbour. I had seen beautiful photo's of this harbour but those photo's were all taken on sunny days. The sea was very rough with high waves and still a lot of wind.
I went to the office of the agency of the White Island Tours but they told me that I had to come back at 19:30 because then the skipper would have decided whether there would be a trip the next day. So found a perfect restaurant with view of the harbour, had a good meal and went back to the office at 19:45. There they told me that there would be no trip the next day and that there was only a very small chance that there would be a trip on Wednesday. The sea was that rough that it would take more time to calm down. So back to the Holiday Park and early in bed. That night is was very bad weather, strong winds and heavy rain.