Paeroa to Lake Rotorua.

It was the fourth of July, and I was having my own celebration.


With the business side quickly done and a firm handshake from “the dork” (Lena was impressed with that) it was official, I owned a camper van. Lena showed me all the important stuff, like the toilet, the power, the gas and was off back to Levin. I am so grateful for her help, not only in choosing the Ducato but taking me to Paeroa with having to go back the next day. It’s a long way to we Kiwis, living in a small country.

4 July 12.46pm

The supermarket was across the road and I bought a few supplies for the next two days.  I had brought my pillow and a sleeping bag so I was very basically prepared.


I was about to fill up with diesel when the thought occurred to me  “Uh oh, no insurance!”. I spent an hour on the mobile sorting that. The 2 young ladies working at the gas station were clearly amused, what was this lady doing! I had been parked there for ages.

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So . . . . . .  to my first solo drive, carefully planned, to the adjacent gas station. We filled up, I climbed back in, started up, drove to the curb and realised, in my haste, I had forgotten to pay. The young ladies were laughing at me 🙂 Thanks heavens I realised or my first solo drive would be followed closely by the Police cars and sirens!

It was now 1pm, Lena had kindly left me her GPS and off I went, slowly and over a rather narrow bridge, holding in my breath and praying there would be no traffic. Not welcome to Paeroa but farewell!!


It was possibly the slowest trip, ever, from Paeroa to Rotorua. Had there been a cyclist on the road they would have overtaken me. Fortunately, the traffic was light and I didn’t hold anyone up, I would pull over if needed. At Waharoa, just before Matamata (home of the Hobbits), I stopped for coffee and a sandwich. I text Lena and she had stopped at the same place. Waharoa has a population of 10 (that’s not true, I just Googled and it is 400+). I also got my Lotto there, and won nothing.


Driving through the thriving metropolis of Matamata (population 7,500) I saw Hobbit buses and the Hobbit i-Centre but was not confident in parking so carried on, sobbing quietly at the missed opportunity. A borrowed photo will have to suffice . . . . .

I did see it with my own eyes though!

It rained from Matamata to Rotorua so I was pleased to know the windscreen wipers were efficient, I hadn’t thought to check. By now I was reasonably confident at knowing I was correctly positioned on the road and not once did I hit the rumble bars. Pretty good, I thought. I even managed to change the radio station and sing along with it! Going over the Mamaku Ranges was a slow process, by now the rain was persistent and visibility not good. Somewhere I saw a red car that had gone off the road and was lying sideways against a tree after going through someones fence (I read later nobody was injured). There was nowhere for me to stop and check, or I would have.


Fitzgerald Glade, not far from Rotorua

I could tell I was approaching Rotorua with the gentle smell of sulphur!!! I hadn’t travelled this road before so really, I had no idea where I was, although the GPS was giving me occasional instructions. I couldn’t get it to adhere to the window so it was lying on the passenger seat.


Then I was there, at Ngongotaha and at the Willowhaven Holiday Park. I had made it, safely.



At Paeroa

Paeroa is a tiny town, population 4,000, and famous for a soft drink (soda), L&P (Lemon and Paeroa). There are hot water springs locally and the “Paeroa” comes from the carbonated mineral water, the lemon is self explanatory . There really is a huge bottle there and I didn’t see it, hence the borrowed photo.

landpWhen we arrived we contacted the guy who was selling it on behalf of the seller and we able to see the Ducato immediately. While I thought the van was just what I wanted at first glance, I thought the guy was a dork. Lena took it for a drive in a rural area and eventually, with no traffic in sight,  I climbed up and drove. It seemed so long and so high to my little granny car.


Lena noticed an occasional “clunk”. I rang Leonie, my former neighbour who now lives in the area. She had kindly gone and looked at the Ducato some weeks earlier and now recommended a good mechanic to do an inspection. I called him, he couldn’t do it but recommended someone else in Thames. I was beginning to panic as it was after 4pm on a Friday and everything closes at 5pm.


We got to Thames (population 7,500 and the gateway to the beautiful Coromandel), Lena driving, left it to inspected and went for coffee. Next-door was the i-Site that was a very informative centre and we poked around in there until it was 5pm and time to go back. The mechanic thought it was mechanically sound and thought the “clunk” was the engine mount and it would be perfectly fine to get back to Levin.


We took the scenic route home, my phone battery died and on it was the “dork’s contact details. By now it was very dark.
I did some bargaining with the “dork” and achieved the price I was prepared to pay. He would take it to Thames for an independent warrant (he worked for a car dealership) and do 3 months registration. All good . . . . . . no! He requested the  funds had to be in the bank the following day, a Saturday, if not I would have to wait until Monday or Tuesday when they would be cleared. Lena had to go back to Levin on Saturday. Panic!! I had a few tense text conversations with him, very tense (on my part). Eventually I rang my bank and they promised me the funds would be transferred overnight.


Lena and I drove (in her Ducato) to the RV centre to park up for the night. There was a motor home club function happening and they were very welcoming (and a lively lot indeed). We were given soup and a bun and retired for an early night. I had hired a caravan ($10) for the night. I slept soundly. Exhausted. Emotionally.


To Paeroa

I have realised my idea about having a blog was more about the photo story than the words, I’m going to have to work on that one. With so many photos taken it’s difficult to choose. Anyway . . . . . .

3 July, up early to leave Levin before 7am on a cool, crisp winter morning. We stopped for breakfast/morning tea, admiring the scenery and the animals and then we off again, northwards. Here, I might add that I seem to have misplaced a memory card (how unlike me) so not all the photos I wanted are available. Not a bad thing, perhaps.


This is not Lena and me!


I loved these flying saucer clouds.


The first view of Mt Ruapehu is always special.

the desert road

No trip would be complete without a pylon to two!

Blog 4 We stopped briefly at Mission Bay, on Lake Taupo. We used to stay here in summer when I was a child. On a sunny day this is so pretty, today it was cold, windy and grey!


I hadn’t been north of Waiaraki in many years, this is timber country.

Blog Putuaru

I loved the corrugated art in Putaruru


We were nearly there, this is at Te Aroha and it was raining!


Our route.