Posted by: dammer145 | October 26, 2008

Camper time!

Today was going to be a bit of a shift in our holiday – we were going to move away from the luxury of hotels and restaurants into the world of camping!

We got up and had breakfast again at the Mecca (I had the blueberry and banana pancakes, Anouk made me feel all guilty and went for the yoghurt and fruit). After that we checked out and left our luggage at the hotel – the shuttle service to Kea Campers wasn’t coming to pick us up until one o’clock so we had a couple of hours to fill.

Anouk very much wanted to go and visit Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World. We hopped onto a taxi and soon enough we were on the other side of Auckland. The first part of the Kelly Tarlton’s descibes Robert Falcon Scott’s effort to be the first to reach the South Pole during 1911-1912. Soon we were in the middle of Scott’s expedition – artifacts, films and facts described what his trip was like and his despair when he found out the Norwegians had beat him to it.

After that we took a ride in the Snow Cat which took us through the penguin enclosure. Here they had all kinds of penguins, including the yellow-faced emperor ones. Other interesting things to see after that were turtles being fed, very large stingrays, a dead architeutis dux or giant squid preserved in alcohol, and some pictures on the life of Kelly Tarlton, an expert on maritime recovery and conservation. This aquarium pioneered the walk-through acrylic tunnels that are now common throughout the world, and we could see many endemic New Zealand fish through these here. After the tunnels were a dozen or so more tanks, containing fish like sea horses, clown fish (i.e. Nemo), lion fish and a large collection of lobsters.

Even penguins need a decent shower.

Soon we were back in a taxi towards the hotel and, after having a bite to eat at the Soul bar, sure enough the shuttle bus was there at one o’clock sharp. The driver took us to the Kea Campers depot which was about 15 km north of Auckland.

Once there a very kind lady called Chantal made us very welcome and, after having signed all the necessary documents, showed us our way around our spanking brand-new -looking camper, a Ford Transit that had been especially modified. I had more or less forgotten what we had ordered, but it had just about as much luxury as our hotel room the night before – a microwave, a television set, a DVD player, a radio, a nice and wide bed, a fridge, loads of storage space, camping chairs, camping table, cutlery, all towels and bed linen, a shower, a toilet, a gas-powered stove, air conditioning, etc. Ahem.

We needed to stock up on some food and other stuffs so, armed with a stack of discount vouchers we had received at the Kea depot, we headed for Food Town – the supermarket a bit further south. Anouk, as usual, went supermarket frenzy and bought loads of “productjes”. I also got a new pair of shoes from Foot Locker as the old ones were quite literally falling apart, along with a nice sweater as well.

Shortly we were heading south towards Waitomo – the home of famous caves containing glowworms and ancient Maori art. Towards about 7 o’clock we arrived the Waitomo Caves Holiday Top Ten Park – a long name for a lovely camping. The lady at the reception proved to be very kind and sorted us out a nice spot close to the facilities. After having sorted out all our bags and having stashed away all our clothes and food in the right places, we set off to the communal kitchen to make ourselves our hotdogs.

After having eaten we went back to the camper to watch The Whale Rider – a kiwi film we borrowed from the reception for free. I think we made it about 30 minutes through the film before we were both snoring away.

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