Thoughts, tips, rants, pictures.
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Thoughts, tips, rants, pictures.
We’re just back from the bush – 3 days and 2 nights out on the beautiful Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk in Te Urewera National Park. Stunning views, amazing forest, sunshine and rain. The lake was FREEZING! Accommodation beforehand at the Waikaremoana Holiday Park, awesome boat ride to finish courtesy of Big Bush Water Taxis, and sore muscles soothed at Waikite Valley Thermal Pools. New Zealand at it’s very best!
Rather than putting money into dubious Carbon Offset schemes which take your money and do something unknown with it, we have initiated the regeneration of coastal bush and wetland at Ruapuke beach, roughly 40 kilometers from Raglan. We believe this carbon offset scheme is ethical, effective & fantasic!
Have you ever been faced with the ‘offset the carbon from my …’ checkbox when booking something? If you’re like me then the answer is almost certainly yes. And if you’re like me you’ll have thought, ‘I wonder where that money goes, I bet it doesn’t go to anything particularly good’. With this in mind we didn’t want to put our carbon offset in the hands of any external corporation or faceless body.
After a lot of thinking, discussing and talking we have a plan we’re proud of. Here’s a little video with my ugly mug in it explaining the rough plan. Don’t worry if its too long, I’ll explain a little below.
We’re really excited to be funding this project. We are putting in a significant sum of money. Waikato District & Regional Councils are adding a further 50% of our donation and also technical support. Local nursery and tree planters ‘Landscape Management Services‘ are providing and planting the plants. The Thomson family are providing the land. We will be organising and doing a lot of the mundane work such as transporting the seedlings to the site-not simple in this rugged landscape!
As well as offsetting the Carbon Dioxide from our customers’ adventures this planting will be bringing native habitats back to barren dairy land. We are planting pioneer species and hopefully over a number of years these will grow to be a mature native ecosystem providing a corridor to the Mount Karioi reserve. In time we should have the wonderful sound of native birds as they repopulate the land.
The simplest and most fun way to get involved is to book a PiwiWiwi Campervan. The revenue from our business is what’s funding this. If you want to make a donation direct to the project let us know here or during the booking process.
The seeds are being planted now. Around May the seedlings will be planted out on site. We’ll need help getting them there. If you’d like to help with this process then let us know.
We are very excited to be doing this. We believe we’re making the World a better place in a small way and that’s what life should be about. Please let us know what you think of this project, do you agree?
Freedom Camping (sometimes called Wild Camping) is allowed in many parts of NZ, however it is getting more and more difficult to find good, free camping spots. The rules changed in 2011, just before the Rugby World Cup, when a new law was passed that allowed councils to make up their own regional rules regarding freedom camping. This law also allows councils to hand out fines to people breaking their rules.
In general it is legal to park up and spend the night on public land, apart from in places where there is a regional by-law prohibiting it. Regions that have passed these laws tend to be the really popular places for tourists to visit e.g. Queenstown. Places where freedom camping is prohibited are usually very well sign posted. If you see a no camping sign, it’s best not to as you could well be in for a fine up to $200.
In some areas you will see a sign saying ‘self contained campervans only’. To be self contained your campervan has to have a toilet on board, a grey water tank to catch the water from the sink and a valid certificate of inspection. All of our PiwiWiwi Campervans are certified Self Contained, meaning that you can take advantage of some great freedom camping spots around the two islands of New Zealand.
There are lots of great camp sites in NZ. Our favourite places to stay are the DOC campgrounds. These are run by the Department of Conservation (DOC), are located in beautiful conservation land and are cheap! The standard campgrounds cost $6 per person per night. For this you get a field, a toilet and a water source – what else do you need? We tend to stay in these, or freedom camp, for a few nights. If we are staying in one of our HiAces we then book into a Holiday Park when we really need a shower. Holiday parks will cost anywhere from $10 to $25 per person, and have facilities such as hot showers, kitchens, laundry, TV lounge, book swap etc.
If you do come across a beautiful spot where you would like to spend the night, please follow these guidelines:
1/ Assume Nothing – Ask a Local. Make sure that you are staying on public land, and that you are allowed to do so. Ask at the nearest house, or check with the local i-Site (information centre).
2/ Use the Facilities – Leave No Trace. Public toilets are abundant in NZ, so there is no excuse for leaving toilet paper (or even human waste) lying around. Also make sure that you tidy your campground before leaving – make sure all rubbish finds a bin, or (better still) is recycled. If you see rubbish left by someone else, do your good deed for the day by picking it up and helping dispose of it correctly.
3/ Protect the Environment – Be Aware. New Zealand’s ecosystem is beautiful and fragile. Be aware of where you are parking and avoid damaging vegetation. Also be aware of the local fire danger, and follow the rules for open fires. Open fires are often prohibited during the summer months as the land is so dry a small spark can have devastating effects.
Finally, if you are travelling with a Tablet or Smart Phone, there are some great Apps available to help you find off the beaten track camping options.
• Camping NZ (aka the Rankers App). This is by far our favourite! It lists every designated camp site in NZ (including the free ones) and includes reviews of most. It also lists and reviews great free things to do, and the best paid things too. Well worth the $15.99 cost!
• CamperMate – also includes wifi spots, recycling bins, public toilets, petrol stations & supermarkets!
• WikiCamps NZ – includes backpacker hostels, points of interest, information centres & day stops.
If you are not travelling with ‘smart’ devices or if you feel like talking to real people for information, the information centres around New Zealand (called i-sites) are a great place to get information and advice.
After a bit of an update to this website I enlisted my beta-testers to check all was well. Not long afterwards Mum, umm, the testers responded with several important and embarrassing errors. I think they were not a result of the changes and so must have been online for a while. Nobody told us, they probably just shrugged their shoulders, lowered their opinions of PiwiWiwi Surf Campervans a bit and moved on. To try and convert this apathy into action I present the:
We don’t want a website holier than Swiss Cheese. If you find a broken link we’ll get you NZ$5 worth of Swiss Cheese. Of course there are conditions: 1/ You have to report the error to us accurately enough for us to trace it. 2/ One cheese award per error. You need to be the first to report it. 3/ Fair use and common sense policy applies. If, for example our website gets hacked by cyber-terrorist mice in search of a feast and every page returns an error then no cheese for anyone!
Good luck, Niall
We have made it all the way round both Islands now, almost every town and village driven through. Time to relax in Raglan for our last few days. The Sun has been hot, unfortunately I got injured so could not surf for more than 1 day, GUTTED!
But Raglan is still a cool town to chill out in, loads to see like Te Toto Gorge and Bridal Veil Falls. Cafés in town are all pretty good and not overpriced.
We did rent out some electric bikes from “SolarCycle” – see photo below – These bikes are awesome, they get you around any good surfaced road with ease. The Big hill up to Manu Bay – didn’t even feel it! Best recommendation for time in Raglan away from the Surf.
Being Raglan this is where the PiwiWiwi’s all come home so couldn’t miss this photo:
Rotorua…. Again. We really like this place, chilled out, good walks, biking etc. Stayed at the same DOC as last time round for 3 nights (Pictured above).
This time round we where doing a bit of shopping for people at home. We went into another “Jade” shop (loads around NZ) got chatting to the guys in there and they offered us to go back the next day and carve our own!!! We Spent two days in the shop learning the skills to carve our own pounamu. Sarah made an awesome “Mere” Moari Weapon. I made several different Tiki Necklaces. We had an awesome 2 days with the guys that worked there and they are continuing to let people come and carve their own stuff, so go in and chat to them. Lewis (Owner), Tommy and Joel were all great teachers.
Check them out – Rakai Jade Pounamu- Rotorua – Lewis Tamihana Gardiner (He is renowned as one of the best Pounamu/Jade carvers worldwide) Google him, his work and the Shop. Thanks Guys!
So we based are selves in Taupo for a few days hoping the weather would clear up to do the Tongonariro Alpine Crossing and Summit of MT DOOM from Lord of the Rings. We got up at 5am one morning to head up for the 20km hike but 110km winds stopped us from going up onto the ridge and all shuttle companies cancelled trips. We have a few friends that all say the crossing is well worth is in good clear sky, overwise not so much…. we will have to take their word on it as we didn’t finish it.
Taupo is a cool town to relax in, Huka Falls pictures above is a very powerful waterfall, Jet Boats do trips up on the river, loads of view spots to water to. If you head up the river towards Thermal Park you will find a FREE thermal river that meets the main river, very nice
Campsites, there are the obvious holiday parks. If your in a self contained I-site will tell you where to park, if not Reid’s Farm (ask a local/i-site) is a Free campsite that is basic but its free and you can stay up to 7 nights. Right next to the river, very nice.
We met some other Piwiwiwi(ers) at the campsite, Pictured below is us with Ocean Full of Fins, Grant, Devon and Sean. A Band touring from Canada and using the van as a tour bus. Google them!!!!
Forgotten Highway starts in Strafford heads to Tongariro National Park Via SH43.
Not used much anymore but is a sweet road to drive. You actually Leaves NZ half way through and head into a town with it’s only republic. Loads of places to stop and camp – free. We stopped at “Morgan’s Grave”. Leave yourself at least half a day to do it. Loads of Photo stopped etc. Check it out at a local i-site.
Have made it up to Taranaki Area. Drove up the Surf Highway, but we will come back to that.
Went up Mount Taranaki for the Summit walk. Wet was the word of the day, with cloud as the back-up. Couldn’t see anything hence no photos. We drove past the mountain one day looked amazing with no cloud and bet the views are some of the best in NZ so check it out on a good forecast day.
Surfing: Surf Highway from Hawera round to New Plymouth. Every Beach is a surf beach pretty much. My favourite was down “Weld Road Lower” 25 km south of New Plymouth. Nice break, just watch out for the rocks! South end of the beach has a really old ship wreck on the beach you can check out as well.
We got back to the North Island then headed straight up to Taurangi for a White Water Dam release down the Tongariro River with a few old friends. Only Release this certain dam 3 times a year so its an awesome grade 4 run.
We stopped off at the Army Museum on the way: here I ran Sarah over with a Tank and left her for dead.
Then off to the rafting !!!!!
It was a great trip, trr.co.nz was the company we went with. Look up “Natural Releases”, these are the Dam ones that not many people get to go down. We had a great laugh, followed up by beers and a BBQ on one of the beaches of Lake Taupo.
Kaikoura the home of Whale watching and Dolphin swimming. Unfortunately the day we were looking to go out the sea swell had come up so much no boats were going out. However Sarah got up at 5:30am to get some awesome photos of the Sun Rise! Yes I stayed in bed and watched out of the window
We have heard from a few friends Kaikoura is the best place for Dolphin swimming, If we had known that before we might not have tried in the other places……
I do normally smile honest……
Hanmer Hot Springs, we went on a roasting day…… Still really good, loads of pools to choose from, lots of different temperature etc. BUT if you down there in winter I bet it is amazing to sit in a hot pool with the snow on the hills around you.
Worth it for a day at $20.
Arthur’s Pass is the road that connects the East and West coast in the middle of the South Island, over a blummin big set of mountains. If your a walker head up here. The DOC campsites around Arthur’s Pass Village are all FREE and awesome settings, photo is one of our sites, right next to the river, no other vehicles around, just watch the flies.
Walking Option, if you can manage a long day – Avalanche Peak. 1900m peak, very steep in sections both walking up and the drops next to you, great views if you get a clear day. Might be one to miss on windy days.
We Loved Christchurch, stayed for a few days. It shocked us how few tourists now go into the city, in the 3 days we were there we only saw 10 (max) other campers, compared with the hundreds we see normally when in a city.It’s a city back on the raise after the big earthquake, its rebuilding, needs tourist help so make sure you go there!!!!January Christchurch hosts the world Busking Festival. This is the photo above, I got called up to hold a very tall uni-cycle (because I’m tall apparently). Hundreds of world class busker’s and you pay what you feel is right (so that could be nothing).Climbing – great single pitch sport climbing on the road to the top of the cable car, go for a drive, sure you’ll find it.Surfing – Check out South Brighton Beach – I loved it, just watch the undercurrents, I ended up 200 meters down beach after only a couple of waves in.
We had to share this! Sally and Andy travelled with us on the North Island in December 2013 then because of ferry issues took a larger company’s van for their South Island adventure. Here are their thoughts:
Dear Niall and Anna
Thank-you so much for your email and your kind comments.
We had such a great time in your van and really valued the care that you gave, not only to us, but to your lovely van too. Your level of customer interaction ensured a great start to our holiday; and we also appreciated the personal touches and high quality items in the van. The only drawback was that we couldn’t take our lovely van to the south island! Although we had a great time there it didn’t have the magic of the north island, or the weather!; We travelled in a useful van but it was a corporate vehicle, with no homely touches or sense of being loved.
We will definately write a review for you on Rankers and wish you both the very best for the future, both in business and in everything you do.
We loved NZ and hope to come back again and see you
Sally & Andy
Thanks Sally and Andy
On our way up to Mount Cook we stopped off at Glentanner park and took in a 2 hour horse ride to get some pretty cool views of Lake Pukaki and Mount Cook. Generally a good morning, even though I did get thrown off my horse when Sarah scared it with her jumper. Luckily rocks are a soft landing……
In the afternoon we went up in a helicopter over Mount Cook….. Yes these flights are expensive and kind of blew our budget well away but I can’t recommend this enough, especially if your never going to be here again, most of the flights get a mountain snow landing aswell (not on Mount Cook but looking over to it so great photos)
We then headed to the mount cook village and also took in a day walk up one of the many walking routes around the area. This is of course Free!
This is where we staying in Oamaru, Loads of free camping spots just South along the coast. We had Dusky Dolphins playing in the bay below us. Surf was a bit dumpy but I’m sure there’s people out there that would manage better than me
Oh and of course in Oamaru there are ………..
There’s two places to see them here, one you have to pay to see them, one you don’t not….. hard choice. Just bare in mind your best to stay around until dusk (ie 10pm) this guy was 2 meters away from us right up on the top of the cliffs. AND, DON’T GO ONTO THE BEACH!!!!!! (it stops them going home and feeding their chicks)
Dansey’s Pass, also known as the middle of nowhere. Good for going walking or just been out of it for a day. This is the DOC site, free. Right next to the river, good so swimming in if you don’t mind the cool mountain water. We were the only people at the site, felt like the kings of the camp
Made it to the South of the South Island (Half way round the trip now). We LOVE The Catlins!!!! So many free camping spots with amazing views and walks. Breakfast was here over looking Slope Point, no people for miles around……. Awesome!
2 Days in Milford Sound – Kayaks, Dolphins, Fur Seals, Kea’s and then there was the Landscape!!!!!
So the Drive to Milford Sound is amazing, we stopped for Lunch and got this amazing view. Oh and yes those are 3 Kea Birds that came to play with our van (or the tinsel)
If this isn’t a breed of bird saying they love these rental van’s more than other van’s then I don’t know what is………
We took out a kayak and paddled the whole length of the Sound (15km), setting off at 6am before all the tour boats get onto the water. Got to the Tasman Sea then a water taxi home (4 hours). We were soooooooo lucky, we got to see Fur Seal’s swimming around with us (that isn’t that rare) but then we had a pod of bottle nose dolphins swim around with us for about half an hour. playing in the wave are the front of our boat! The Video’s are amazing, Top recommendation for anyone going to Milford Sound.
Spent these 6 days over New Year down in Wanaka and Queenstown:
For the Climber’s out there. Wanaka is awesome. Valley 12km north west has weeks worth of climbing, we only stayed for 4 days but wish had done more. ALL FREE!!!!! (If you can get hold of a guide book and have your own gear)
If your looking for somewhere to spend New Year’s Eve, Wanaka Lake front, Free Music Festival and Fireworks. The Bar’s opposite the Lake Park are a good place to chill out and meet random holiday people there for the night as well.
Queenstown has loads to do for the adventure guy. It can be abit overpriced for some things but we found LUGE RACING at the top of the Cable Car a great laugh. Sarah Won most of the races…… My excuse it I was going to fast into the corners and crashed (Good excuse I think)
So we worked our way down the West coast of the South Island over a few days. Parts of these days were VERY wet (as seen in the photo above) but you can still have good days in the rain…. The ‘Fox’ guides were bringing everyone off the glacier on this day because of Rock, Ice fall and the Rivers swelling up. But after a chat with a few of the guides they let us past to go explore the glacier ourselves…. (I have to say we are mountain guides for a living and do this sort of thing a lot so if your not DON’T go on the glacier by yourself: Disclaimer done :)) But we definitely recommend a visit and the guided tours looked really good.
There we also brakes in the rain, enough to get a few awesome moments of the trip in…. Skydive from 18,000ft with ‘Franz’ if you can’t manage that high they have lower jumps, Amazing campsites with views of the Southern Alps, Hokitika Town is the place to buy New Zealand Greenstone (Jade) and lets face it all the cool kids wear something round their neck 😛
Here’s a couple of the best photos below::::::::
Gold Rush Fever hit after Christmas…….
Not far from Greymouth is the town of Reefton and heading south on the coast road there are plenty of other Gold Rush Towns including a rebuilt Shanty Town. The Shanty Town is worth an afternoon visit.
If your looking for a laugh head to one of the DOC’s that hire out gold panning equipment and hunt for your own real gold in a river. We didn’t find any but people were pulling out small pieces to take home.
So we went out and Bought the decorations and BBQ and hoped for the Sun to come back out. Greymouth was very wet for days, but luckily at 2pm the sun came out for an hour. But that’s still long enough to get the BBQ on cooked and eaten Nice to decorate the van up aswell to have a home from home Christmas. Oh and of course Candy Cane’s are very yummy and hang well on the Christmas Tree……
Ok, so this campsite is completely in the middle of nowhere but totally awesome. Its on the Rankers Website, Free, owned by a local farmer, right next to the mouth of the Paturau River.
Its the Tasman Sea on the left side of the photo, Ok for surfing, just don’t hope for much if it’s a strong onshore wind (which apparently happens a lot). All the locals (all 20 of them) use the river to fish in. Not sure what it was but a guy pulled out a very big fish which went home for dinner for the whole family.
No toilets or water here, so must take your own. If your happy to do that Definitely recommend. It’s only a 35-40 km drive off the main road down a gravel track but that’s easy to do. Stay for a few days and relax with know one to bother you.
Found a cool DOC site just north of Blenheim on the Coast called ‘Whites Bay’. It’s definitely a top place to stay. $6pp, showers, drinking water, Surf Club right next to the beach (can see it in the photo over my shoulder).
There were only 5 other campers at the site, which we stayed at for 3 nights. Although the 13th December is a little before the peak season so it might get busier over xmas and new year.
There’s a cool out rock to swim out to on high tide or walk round to at low tide (better photos at high tide in the cave though) and the beach has thousands of Clams, Muscles and Crabs to eat, YUM YUM YUM. Don’t forget to get the sand out though…..
Arriving off the Ferry in Picton after a last minute Ferry Booking to make it down here before Christmas. Only had to drive down from Rototua to catch it…. Top tip, book earlier than we did if you know your going to the South Island. We managed to be the very last people off the Ferry which means nobody cares if you jump out of the van to take photos of the van and boat
The actual crossing is cool, make sure you get outside for photos when coming through the Sounds.
30km south of Rotorua on the SH5, there’s a place called ‘The Thermal Wonderland’. It has the Lady Knox Geyser here. Go in if you like and look around, the colours are meant to be awesome, but if you can’t afford it and want a FREE thermal swim, 200 Meters down the road from the entrance and car park there’s a small wooden bridge.
Park up and go for a swim in the pool. Two rivers meet, hot and cold. We spent almost 2 hours in the water (and that was on a very cold rainy day)
Spent a VERY wet day mountain biking around the Redwood Forest just south of Rotorua. We spent a few days up around the town but this day was our best of the lot. Just south of the town on the SH5. It’s a great place for all skill levels. If your not the best rider in the world check out the ‘Dipper’ route.
Don’t have a bike?? Don’t worry drop into the shop/café/store at the entrance to the forest and see ‘Mountain Bike Rotorua’. Great set of people (even on wet days) and they can sort you out for a good price.
So we took a tour out with Explore NZ on a 4 hour dolphin sighting and swimming cruise. Had an awesome morning seeing 3 different Dolphin Pods, however no swimming today because each pod had at least 1 young so we weren’t allowed in the water. We’re going to look at trying again in the South Island. We got back to the Van and Sarah just couldn’t stay awake any longer and curled up for a couple of hours, easy living.
First update from Matt and Sarah, from Tapotupotu DOC, on their long 97 Days in a Piwiwiwi Hi-Ace adventure around both North and South Islands.
“This is an awesome beach and campsite, we were over looking the beach for 2 days/nights, the surf here is great for beginners and has enough to keep the experienced surfers happy. If you make it to the north of the North it’s a must see and stopover.”
PiwiWiwi, the Raglan-based campervan rental company, has this week gained high acclaim. The tiny company has won two major awards: ‘Best Campervan Rental Company in NZ’ and ‘Supreme Winner’ for the transport category in the Rankers Awards. The awards are based on independent reviews, and PiwiWiwi beat opposition from all the big guys in New Zealand to take these prestigious accolades.
PiwiWiwi, run by Anna Cunningham & Niall Darwin, has been operating for just over 2 years. “We treat our customers the way that we like to be treated – as real people, not just numbers on a spreadsheet” says Anna. “It’s very flattering to read that people who travel with us like what we’re doing, and want to tell others about their experience.”
The independent travel review website Rankers.co.nz presents these awards annually. They go to experiences and operators which have displayed a consistently high ranking score throughout the year. Take a look at PiwiWiwi’s page on Rankers, it’s clear to see why they have won the award. Reviews from past customers are glowing.
Cymen Crick, one of co-owners of Rankers, says “We meet travellers person to person, as they explore NZ and ask them about their experiences here. All tourism companies for each category are eligible. No-one pays to participate, everyone is in. Some of this year’s winners hadn’t even heard of Rankers”.
Nick Morrison, the other half of Rankers says “These awards cut through the bulls**t and bring us back to old-fashioned values of hosting, looking after people and celebrating the individual.”
Anna & Niall claim that this award won’t go to their heads. “We’ll continue to provide good quality vehicles and great customer service, it’s business as usual.” says Anna. They celebrated in style with lunch out at Raglan’s ‘The Shack’ café, and it’s now back to the glamorous job of cleaning vans and preparing for a busy summer ahead.
For more information, get in touch.
Anna Cunningham & Niall Darwin
A full list of the 2013 winners is available here
Press release from Rankers about these awards is available here –
Our friends at ‘Tusk and Horn Wildlife Trust‘ are running the Auckland Marathon in amazing Elephant and Rhino suits. Sunday 1st September they’re having a fundraiser here in Raglan. There will be bands, a cinema showing documentaries about the African Elephants and Rhinos they’re hoping to save. There will also be the unveiling of their outfits and a charity auction with, amongst many other things, a Long Weekend in a PiwiWiwi Surf Campervan going under the hammer.
Get on down to The Old School Arts Centre, Stewart Street, Raglan on 1st September from 5pm and be generous
From something small all the way up to the holiday of a lifetime, reviews help you get a feeling before committing.
Rankers is an independent review site for travellers in New Zealand. It collects reviews from visitors like you about what they’ve done in New Zealand. It then ranks the activities, companies, walks, whatever by category. At the time of writing, we have just made it up to second overall in the ‘motorhomes-campervans-rv‘ category. Read our reviews here.
We’re really happy to have made so many people’s holidays good enough that they took the time to give us such positive reviews. To all our past customers;
Niall and Anna
PiwiWiwi Surf Campervan Rentals
A website we here at PiwiWiwi Surf Campervans NZ love is ‘TED‘. It has videos of talks by intelligent, positive people on a wide range of topics from society and the environment to exploration and art. It even has some talks about the future of car rentals!
The talk I like most is this one by Nic Marks of the New Economics Foundation. He makes some very good points about changing the definition of ‘success’ and also of some very positive small changes to make your life better:
I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Hopefully we can talk about it at the start or end of your PiwiWiwi holiday! Get in touch to start your adventure
The air was crisp and clear, the snow clad mountains looked sparkling and majestic on the horizon. On the recommendation of some friends, we took the Inland Scenic Route (highway 72) rather than the faster Highway 1. With a bit of guidebook flicking and map flapping, a plan for the day started to emerge.
First stop – Sheffield and it’s Famous Pie Shop. This unassuming bakery is deserving of its name, stocking a mouthwatering array of home bakes pies, pastries, cakes and breads. We stopped for a delicious pie each, and then greedily Niall ate a second and I failed to resist one of their chocolate & raspberry brownies (by far the stickiest, richest most delicious brownie I’ve had for a long time).
Back on the road with full bellies, we continued to skirt the foothills of the Southern Alps with pastures on one side and the solid beauty of NZ’s longest, highest mountain range on the other. After a while we drove across a bridge, with the wide Rakaia River to the left, and the deep Rakaia gorge to the right – too stunning not to pull over & take a picture. There’s a community campground just after the bridge – a nice little stop to stop for the night, however it was far too early for us to call it a day so we hopped out and spent a little time exploring through the pines and down to the river bed.
Just 25km further along the road we reached Staveley. I’d noticed on the map a loop walk to the Sharplin Falls starting in the hills above this little village. Needing to walk off our pies, we decided to take a look. We were not disappointed. The easy (yet pretty steep) 45 min walk through forest to the falls was well worth it. One section takes you across a long gantry nailed to a rock face, with signs at each end warning you of falling rocks. The falls are an impressive, wide, gushing torrent of water (probably made more so by the amount of rain the area had received in the past few days).
Back down in Staveley, we popped in to the village store to see if they had eggs. They did (free range and local – perfect). The café looked great (comfy sofas and vintage tea sets) and the food even better, shame we’d eaten so many pies just a couple of hours earlier! We left instead with the eggs, some good coffee and a beautiful postcard by a local artist (which I must remember to write).
Onwards and south and next stop Geraldine. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see the world’s longest mosaic – a recreation of the Bayeux Tapestry – an impressive 42m long labour of love created by a father / daughter team. They had even recreated the last section that has been lost from the original tapestry, and added a bit more in the middle (all of which has been deemed historically accurate by art historians at Cambridge University). The mosaic is housed at the back of the family’s wool / knitwear shop, the Giant Jersey, which is also home to the world’s largest sweater (all 5.5kg of it). How can you drive past these gems and NOT drop in?!
By now the sun was setting, casting a golden glow across the fields as we continued our journey South, by now on the larger State Highway 1. A quick detour off the main road took us through the historic town of Waimate, but it was too dark to really appreciate the architecture. Further south we stopped in at Niall’s relatives near Omaru, before finally pulling up at a Campbells Bay campground in Kakanui which had been recommended to us. Parked up listening to the waves break on the beach below us, we both agreed that we had had the perfect NZ roadtrip day. A wonderful mix of stunning scenery and great little discoveries.
The end (let’s see what treats tomorrow brings)
Finally we got our things together and headed off for our long anticipated winter trip to New Zealand’s South Island. First stop Wellington, no messing around!
We have roughly 2 months and no particular itinerary. If you’ve got any suggestions of places we shouldn’t miss then leave us a comment below, cheers.
Here’s to a great trip
If you want to weave this festival in with a New Zealand roadtrip book a campervan or car with us. We can take you to Raglan from Auckland and even give you a 10% discount if you recommend us a good book when you book!. Get in touch for a price and see you there!
Here’s the official press release if you want more detail:
“Love reading? Harbour a secret desire to write a bestseller but haven’t a clue where to start? Then make sure you head to Raglan’s very first readers and writers festival taking place 10-11 May.
Featuring a dynamic mix of workshops, talks and interactive sessions with both local and national writers, Word Café Raglan aims to showcase and inspire reading and writing in all its forms.
Guest speakers include bestselling author Deborah Challinor, travel writer and blogger Megan Singleton, Nourish Magazine editor Vicki Ravlich-Horan and Letters of Frank Sargeson author Sarah Shieff.
Raglan’s very own award-winning children’s authors Sarah Johnson and André Ngāpō will be running a session on writing for children, while local writer Tui Allen will be presenting an introductory workshop on the ever-expanding world of self-publishing.
For children, a free storytelling session takes place at Raglan Library on Saturday afternoon, followed by a story-writing workshop for teenagers with Merren Tait.
And don’t miss Saturday night’s double bill of entertainment, featuring Cambridge e-book writer turned HarperCollins US author Julie Thomas, and some spectacular live word wizardry from Antonio Te Maioha.
Word Café Raglan takes place 10-11 May at the Old School Arts Centre and other locations around Raglan. Tickets for workshop sessions and author talks cost $20 per person. If more than three sessions take your fancy, take advantage of our all-day ticket for $60. Children’s sessions and Saturday night’s entertainment are free of charge.
For further programme details and to book tickets, please head to our website: www.wordcaferaglan.co.nz. You can also buy tickets through the Old School Arts Centre on Stewart Street, 825 0023.”
As regular users of our website will know, we strongly believe in protecting the natural world. Back in November we were fortunate enough to help activist and pro-surfer Dave Rastovich raise awareness for the critically endangered Maui’s dolphin.
Since then the discussion has continued but action by those who can make changes, most notably the Ministry for Primary Industries, has not happened.
Our friends at Dumpark (a collective of oceanographers, scientists and artists) have come up with this interactive tool to illustrate what can be done to protect the Maui’s Dolphin and its likely effects:
Pretty clear don’t you think? Us here at PiwiWiwi certainly think so. If you’d like to ask our Government to do more to protect these fantastic creatures their contact page here would be a good place to start.
All our vans have ‘visitor books’ in them. They’re there to pass on knowledge from one set of New Zealand explorers to the next. Sometimes our customers write fantastic tips on places to see and things to do. Sometimes they write nothing. Sometimes we get cool little pictures and other times orderly lists.
Jenny and Digs spent the last half of December and the first half of January exploring New Zealand in ‘Piwakawaka’-one of our HiAce surf campervan fleet. At the end of their New Zealand adventure they grudgingly gave us their van back (I think they wanted to keep it – it’s a common reaction). While Anna chauffeured them back to Auckland in our super comfortable and quiet Prius I got the job of cleaning and preparing the van for our next guests. I thought I’d got the raw deal until I checked the guest book. Look at what they’d left for us:
We love it! Hopefully it can help give you some ideas of where you’ll take your PiwiWiwi on your adventure. Don’t worry, you don’t have to draw anything as elaborate! Just get in touch to take the first step towards making it happen
Come to Raglan on the 24th November or Piha on the 1st December to meet him and hear about the cause. There will be bands, entertainment, and possibly sun Check the event schedule on KASM’s web page for details.
There’s only 55 of a species of dolphin know as the ‘Maui’s. That’s a tiny number. They live on New Zealand’s North Island West Coast. The Department of Conservation and The Ministry for Primary Industries are asking for submissions on their latest threat management plan.
If you want to know more, a great place to start is here:
I’ve made a video for them:
I have also submitted my thoughts to them. I strongly encourage you to too. Don’t let this creature become only the second aquatic mammal to be made extinct by humans since the baiji (yangtze river dolphin).
Here’s what I have submitted to the Department of Conservation and to the Ministry for Primary Industries on the subject:
My name’s Niall Darwin, I live at 13B Uenuku Avenue, Raglan and this is my submission on the Maui’s Dolphin Threat Management Plan. I’ve also made a quick video for you, you can see it here:
I was at the meeting / public consultation held on 24th October here in Raglan. At this, as well as a lot of discussion, the TMP documents were available. These are crazy. Including the maps and risk assessment there’s well over 250 pages. That’s great but where’s the summary for the average busy layman? No one but those studying or working on this topic has time (and perhaps understanding of the subject) to digest all of this. The purpose of experts is to draw conclusions and summarise so that we, the public can make informed decisions.
Luckily the WWF have created their submission guide (http://awsassets.wwfnz.panda.org/downloads/maui_s_letter_and_submission_writing_guide.pdf). This is four readable sides of A4 and refers to a risk assessement – I’m guessing the 51-page document I picked up at the Raglan meeting, sadly they don’t specify exactly. This WWF document summarises very clear conclusions, and in their opinion the options presented in the TMP, even at their most stringent, are inadequate to save the dolphin.
Inadequate to save the Maui’s dolphin. Think about that.
Why are we being asked to comment on an inadequate set of suggestions? Why are we wasting everyone’s time? If we are going to do this, let’s do it and not simply pay lip service. Have you ever read Douglas Adams and Mark Cawardine’s ‘Last Chance to See’, the chapter on the Baiji dolphin? Its heart breaking and scathing of China. Well that’s us with the way we’re acting at the moment.
One of the conclusions of the Risk Assessment is that 95% of the threats to the dolphin are from fishing-related threats. Let’s deal with that. Let’s be proactive in enforcing the existing rules. Anecdotal evidence at the meeting in Raglan suggested that there were fishermen breaching these rules. Can we get VIS (I think that’s what its called – Vessel Identification System?) on all commercial fishing vessels? That way we can know where the fishermen are and this uncertainty is taken care of. The current way of policing it – some bloke who gets a ‘ute once every 2 weeks (or was it a month) who then get to drive it to get out on his boat to check up – is a total joke.
As well as enforcing the rules, it seems to me as though protection is required much further from the coast – 7 nautical miles has been mentioned several times. Why not err on safety and ban all netting within 10 nautical miles of the coast? Fishing is an industry in decline regardless of rules so don’t tell me that it’s bad for the industry.
The other 5% of the threats – mining and oil related – is somewhere I’m sure we can improve too but let’s work hard on that 95% for now.
I came to New Zealand (Yes, I’m a Welshman not a Kiwi) because of its natural beauty, wildlife and the respect with which it was treated – or so I thought. Let’s do this right. Let’s save this creature. I call on DOC, MPI and the whole of the New Zealand Government to do all it can to save the Maui’s Dolphin. There’s 55 left, its time to do and not to argue.
Whether you agree or disagree with me, please let New Zealand’s Government know here.
I was lucky enough to be bringing a van back from Christchurch with time to spare for some sight-seeing. The plan was to check out post-quake Christchurch, see some of the sights of the South Island and catch a few waves along the way.
A beautiful morning, a walk, some business taken care of and a surf check. Nothing doing so it was time to head inland. Christchurch had been nice but it felt good to be leaving the city behind, heading out for the ‘Arthurs Pass’ national park and into the real New Zealand. The Canterbury plains stretched out ahead as far as the eye could see. The sky was blue with just the occasional cloud. Soon snow-capped mountains appeared on the horizon and inexorably kept approaching. I then found myself among them, marvelling at the alpine beauty. While stopped beside a particularly beautiful lake for lunch, reading Scott Cook’s ‘NZ Frenzy‘ guidebook I decided to take on the walk to Halpins Creek falls.
I didn’t get there but I did have a great adventure rock-hopping in wetsuit boots up the raging stream absolutely alone. Each step was a calculated risk and finally a rocky waterfall – not ‘the’ waterfall I was trying to reach – beat me. The rock-hop back down the sunny, tree-lined gorge was just as challenging & enjoyable . I got back to the van a happy man, vowing to try again next time I’m passing.
Another few kilometres, another walk. This time an easy walk to the end of the Bealey Valley track then a rock-hop up the edge of the stream to a ‘false glacier’ at the valley head. As ever, nature likes to show you who’s boss in NZ. The scree slopes nosing into the stream look recent and powerful. Don’t mess with Momma N! What’s that on the snow? Looks like a Kea! Quick, grab the camera! No point really, the photos only show a dark blur. At least I know I saw one. With this knowledge and the snow-capped mountains looking still more beautiful in the evening light I was a very happy man on the walk back to the van!
Happy, but in need of a shower. Luckily Arthur’s Pass is a small, friendly kind of place. ‘The Sanctuary‘ backpackers has a hot shower open to anyone with a $2 coin. Bliss!
Enjoying the fresh-showered feeling and the crisp alpine sunset I spot some Kea and grab the camera again. This time they are very obliging and I get some great shots. What do you think?
By now its almost dark so I cook up a chilli and retire to bed a well fed, well exercised, happy man. I love van living!
Dawn and again on the advice of the ‘NZ Frenzy’ guidebook I set out on ‘the toughest day hike on the island’. A lot of huffing and puffing up ‘Scott’s Track‘ and I end up on a steep snow-covered ridge with a fair bit of climbing still to do. This is indeed difficult in normal hiking boots. Some perseverance and I’m at the top of ‘Avalanche Peak’, 1100m above my start point and 1800m above sea level. Views of mountains, misty valleys, snow and wilderness all around me. Magic. The markers for the route down are buried in a large, unstable looking snowfield so I inch my way back down the way I came. No time for tea because I’ve an appointment with high tide at Punakaiki rocks to keep
The drive over the pass and down the other side was full of superlative scenery, like a lot of the South Island. In fact, like a lot of New Zealand period. Sadly, I hadn’t left myself enough time to stop and spend time in any of it because I needed to be at ‘Pancake Rocks’ (the easier to pronounce nickname of Punakaiki rocks) for high tide. This is when the angry Tasman Sea bashes into them causing holes to blow, the ground to shake and tourists to say ‘oo’ and ‘aah’. Its good but crazy popular and touristy. My advice is go see the rocks but if you want a coffee, ice cream or much anything else stop at the next village along and pay a reasonable price rather than the tourist price.
A quick lunch and doze down by the beach and its on the road again. From Greymouth to Charleston the road hugs the coast giving beautiful views of points, bays, beaches, coves, the lot. Unfortunately to a surfer’s eye, the onshore was killing the surf. Even around Westport’s more sheltered headland there was nothing worth getting wet for.
So there was nothing for it but to drive North and get back to reality. What a drive though! Buller Gorge, (bring your DEET and protect your tea from Wekas) Murchison (‘Commercial‘, a pub/restaurant with free WIFI and a good vibe) and finally for today Hope Saddle lookout. By the time I’m there its already dark but there’s still a fantastic show of stars to look out at.
Dawn and solitude. Marvellous. 360 degree views over forests to snowy peaks. I now had a deadline-get to Wellington in time to hook up with a friend and head on a surf mission out to Cape Palliser. That meant getting the 2:00 ferry. With my scheduled meeting (yep, work, even on my ‘holiday’) in Nelson that meant going not stopping. All I could do was dream about next time as I passed Pelorus Bridge’s enticing forest walks and river swimming holes, reminisce about campfire cooked beach meals as I passed the stunning Aussie Bay and press on.
Picton and the ferry terminal reached with little to spare. In 10 minutes I’d bought a ticket, made lunch and got on the ferry. Easy as! The ferry ride’s no more comfortable than any other but the views are astounding. Queen Charlotte Sound and Tory Channel drifted by while I reflected on the great time I’d had in my 3 1/2 days on the South Island. Far too short a time, I could easily have filled 3 1/2 weeks! For now; onwards and Northwards, here’s to some waves and some free camping in the wilds of the Wairarapa.
In case you want to see them all again, here’s the gallery:
We had a great couple of days filming for this movie. The whole experience of working on a film was new to us. Luckily Juan, Little Lapin and everyone else involved were there to show us what to do. Here it is, I hope you like it:
did the filming, editing and other hard work.
The music was provided by up and coming Raglan artist Little Lapin. Not only has she donated the title track to her latest EP, “Yellow Brick Road” but she also makes a cameo in the movie. Ben King did the production on the track.
As well as Little Lapin we’ve managed to catch a few other locals in action. Check out Sunny riding one of her husband’s Raglan Longboards Mal and ‘Daffy’ doing some mad spins.
We couldn’t have got a better day for filming. Still, sunny and glassy. You wouldn’t believe that this was filmed in the middle of winter would you? This film is one idea of a perfect day with a PiwiWiwi Surf Campervan. When will you come over to New Zealand and find your perfect days?
We’ve made a little surf movie featuring a PiwiWiwi Surf Campervan, a shortboard, longboard and of course some surfing! We’ve put a soundtrack on it. Well actually, we’ve put two soundtracks. Niall likes the noisy electronic one, Anna likes the more chilled out song. Which do you prefer?
This soundtrack comes from an awesome album by BT called ‘Laptop Symphony’. Its full of up-to-the-minute electronic dance music (EDM) that Niall loves. Of course, re-reading this in 2015 it will simply be some awesome old music.
The music here is Lemon Jelly’s classic ‘Nice Weather for Ducks’ which was considered up-to-the-minute when it came out back in 2002. Its a fine and silly album, well worth checking out.
The Go Pro Hero 2 HD and all other equipment featured in & used to make this movie (except the stills camera) is available to rent from us here at PiwiWiwi Surf Campers in Raglan.
The other equipment includes our ‘magic banana’ longboard. This is a 9’0″ by Herbie Fletcher and is made from ‘flexlite’. It weighs next to nothing and while not quite as good as a Raglan Longboards Mal is pretty cool.
The board I’m surfing is an EPS epoxy Webber Afterburner. Its 6’4″ x 19 1/2″ x 2 1/2″, a thruster and I get on with it very well. It paddles nicely and once on the wave cuts, carves and drives just like it should!
So which do you like and why? Or what would you prefer if neither floats your boat? Let us know please
Tee-hee! On a recent roadtrip to Northland we had to stop in on Waipu, just to laugh like little kids at its name. The place is actually a nice little town with plenty of Settler history, Op-Shops (charity shops) galore and a very friendly vibe.
Keeping with the theme that brought us here, Waipu Cove’s toilet block seemed immensely photogenic. It was a great way to show off our Go Pro Hero 2 camera’s ability for taking photos. Sit back & enjoy:
The winter has been keeping us indoors and sometimes out of the surf too with shorter, colder days. Yesterday gave us a taste of what’s to come. We had a beautiful sunny day here in Raglan.
We were down at Manu Bay filming for a short PiwiWiwi Campervan movie and it was magic. There were nice 2 foot glassy, offshore waves with not too many people in the water.
Luckily we ‘needed’ some surf footage so I sneaked a quick wave or 6. It was great. Long, lazy walls and consistent. An attempted noseride or two on a fantastic borrowed Raglan Longboards Surfboard. Another great thing:
The sea and the air are warming up. The land’s waking, plants are shooting, birds are nesting. Its a wonderful time to be in New Zealand.
Will you be coming over? Get closer to nature at some of the fantastic DOC (Department of Conservation) Campgrounds. Get closer to the Surf in a PiwiWiwi Surfcamper. Get in touch and book a PiwiWiwi holiday now.
By answering our Facebook question. I’ll give you a hint. Up until a few days ago its been raining fairly consistently. That’s all for now, I’m off to enjoy the sun Get in touch and good luck with the competition.
The first of our GoPro Hero 2’s arrived this week so we set off test it immediately! Here’s our first attempt. Not bad for a novice cinematographer of limited surf ability on a mushy day!
You can now rent them when you rent a surf campervan or campercar from us, PiwiWiwi We offer GoPro Hero 2 cameras with waterproof housings, adhesive mounts for surfboards, FCS plug mounts, handlebar mounts for bikes, suction mounts, helmet and SD cards. Phew! That’s a long list. If there’s anything more you want with your GoPro rental, let us know (our vans already have a kitchen sink).
If you want to know more about these cameras, check out GoPro’s own website here.
Just one of the improvements we have for the coming summer here in New Zealand. Seek. Find Surf. Video!
When they hear our name a few people, well actually a lot of people, say, ‘Oh, PiwiKiwi, what’s that mean?’. We then have to explain no no no, its Piwi Wiwi..
We’ve now faound an actual PiwiKiwi, or more accurately Piwi The Kiwi. A Kiwi clearly not happy with being merely a member of an endangered species. A Kiwi who has done its best to endanger itself too. It was found with two broken legs and part of its rehab is shown here:
I’m not sure how its doing now. Does anyone have any news?
Anyway, we’re the Pommy and the Welsh imitating Kiwis, PiwiWiwi. We’re not actual feathered, nocturnal, flightless birds like Piwi The Kiwi. I hope that’s cleared things up!
Quant à l’entreprise qui en location de voiture en Nouvelle-Zélande offre camping-car pour le surf, piwiwiwi sera votre meilleur choix pour vous de combiner le camping-car et surfer
Was die Autovermieter in Neuseeland Wohnmobil Angebot zum Surfen, wird piwiwiwi Ihre beste Wahl für Sie das Wohnmobil zu kombinieren und zu surfen
This looks crazy!
Try not to drink the water…
Like most Surf-check websites it does far more than this. It has merchandise, advertising and of course some useful content too!
‘Surfline Travel’ has lots of great articles and photos about getting out and seeing the rest of the world’s breaks, not just your local one. So it was pretty cool to see that they picked New Zealand as their ‘Best Bet’ for a surf trip in April. Tolerate the brief advert at the start of the article and enjoy the rest of it:
Having shared a last surf with a couple of happy customers, Ewan & Mairi (check their blog here, its pretty cool), I was chilling out waiting for them to turn up from the beach before taking them back to Auckland. Instead three Aussies turned up & introduced themselves as the crew behind ‘Smorgasboarder Magazine’.
Smorgasboarder magazine is a free Australian surf magazine. Despite being free, its far more than a collection of adverts. They have great articles about real people & grass-roots surf culture. They got in touch a while back saying they were planning an ‘All Black’ edition & naturally we were stoked that they were interested in talking to us!
We weren’t expecting them out of the blue but I think we gave a reasonable account of ourselves. I’m not sure the pictures will look so flattering, check their website in a month or two to find out!
They were great people to chat with, telling us tall tales about injuries in the line of duty & of meeting legends such as shaper Geoff McCoy. They had a great outlook too. Regardless of the success or otherwise of their magazine they were thoroughly enjoying meeting interesting, motivated and happy people. That sums us up too. Good people, good times
Piwiwiwi have had a very busy first summer. We’ve gone from having no practical experience of running a rental company to our 50th customer & so far they’re all happy ones too. We think we’ll have a little celebration!
Our 50th are a couple who are almost exactly who we designed our vans for. Surfers (one committed, one learning) coming to see New Zealand’s awesome offerings – be that mountain, beach, national park or surfbreak. As well as the van, they’ve taken a couple of our rental boards. With these all stored away safe n sound with the PiwiWiwi system they’re all set up to go explore. We can’t wait to see them at the end of it to hear their stories & see their photos. We’re going to have to be patient – they’re not back until almost June!
To keep us sated we got to see some great shots from an Italian couple whose fine two months in a PiwiWiwi surfcamper has just come to an end. Enjoy these & check andreadipietro.com for more.
As well as all this, we’ve been asked for a camper car. So its time to get to work: Progress will be updated as it happens but I’m hoping to do a ‘work’ trip to evaluate it very shortly. Mahia? Shipwrecks? Gisborne? Who knows yet? I’ll follow the swell, that’s the beauty of being here with your own accommodation & transport all in one PiwiWiwi package. It will be a suitable reward for hitting 50 customers.
Wherever I go, I’ll struggle to match what I’ve just surfed this morning on my trusty bonzer. Bought from creator of the Bonzer, Malcolm Campbell in Oxnard California. Which, oddly enough, is where our lucky 50th customers hail from.
Anna was bringing a van back up from Christchurch leaving me in charge at PiwiWiwi base.
I decided we needed to test our new bike carriers before we could give them the thumbs-up for customers. We met up in a lovely little DOC campground, ‘Urchin’ in Kaimanawa Forest Park. A day of great cycling through podocarp forests left us happy, hot & sticky. Luckily, we found Turangi’s hotpools. The pools were fantastic, exactly what we needed. Refreshed & clean we also got a clue about a free-camping spot down by Lake Taupo.
This turned out to be a carpark by a jetty & was a great place to chill out as the light faded. We ate our noodles, played with the camera & watched the world go by. Next day, Anna headed homewards in the van & I headed to Taupo to try out the mountain bike trails at Wairakei forest, near ‘The Craters of the Moon’. Fine riding followed by another fine night in the wilderness, this time in Pureroa Forest Park. I got back to Raglan to find I’d missed a
Ah well, you can’t win them all! It had been a fantastic & getaway: Wilderness; mountain biking; good times & cheap! It also proved the bike carriers. Quality’s the way to go & these Thule’s are fantastic. If you need to rent bike carriers, insist on the best or just come to us where you know that’s what you’ll get.
Enjoy the few photos we took:
This is almost fits into the category ‘NZ travel guide’. I think calling it a ‘mini documentary’ is a bit optimistic, but it gives a mellow feel for the waves & coasts here so watch away:
The other videos from ‘Pure New Zealand’ offer lots of nice little insights into this wonderful country. Together they make a good starting point to guide your New Zealand travel planning.
If this has given you an urge to find out more about surfing in New Zealand try going through some of the breaks on these surf-check sites:
Hopefully you’ll have picked up on the fact that we are trying to be as environment-friendly as possible here at PiwiWiwi. Most rentals companies don’t care about the fuel consumption of their vehicles: ‘The customer only chooses by the price of the rental, why should I care?’, is their advice & philosophy. We try to be different. If we are encouraging people to use our vehicles then we should try to encourage them to burn as little fuel as possible in the process. We try hard to offer top-condition, economical vehicles. Our entire fleet are manual transmission because these are far better on fuel than autos.
However, there’s always room for improvement. So we’ve got ourselves a Toyota Prius hybrid to trial. It has many, many things going for it including fantastic economy, space & refinement. Its a little like driving a spaceship. It only runs the engine when it feels it needs to so silence doesn’t mean it’s stalled!
Anyhow, if you’re interested in what’s special about Toyota Prius & hybrid cars in general check here for some links. If you’re interested in renting one, click here to let us know.
Right, I’m off to go check the surf. Silently…
As surfers we all know that ‘What If?’ feeling in the back of our minds. ‘What if I get caught in a rip?’, ‘What if my legrope breaks?’, ‘What if I’ve just bitten off more than I can chew?’. The Coastguard is one of those charities that exist to help you in those situations. Risking their lives to help save yours should the unthinkable happen, they do a fantastic job.
Tonight’s (Monday 2nd January 2012) charity auction at the Kopua Campground gives you the chance to give a little back & help them. All money raised goes to the Coastguard. Bring your cheque books, roll up at 6:30 & be prepared to be entertained by Julie Hanna’s auctioneering skills while bidding for some great prizes. There’s surf lessons, a harbour cruise & of course the PiwiWiwi holiday.
See you there!
For some reason the original of this post isn’t working. So here it is again. Sorry for the duplication…
so here we’ve put in a few common ones just so Google doesn’t miss us! Please comment on this post with your own ideas if you think we’ve missed some:
Of course the correct way to spell it is:
Campervan rentals for Surf adventures – making surf travellers happy campers!
A quiet Thursday night in Raglan. I’m out on my bike enjoying the beautiful sunset after a surf at the beach. Fiery orange over Mount Karioi. Subtle purples, pinks and peaches over the inner harbour. The moon’s reflection on the near-full tide being broken as small fish leap escaping bigger fish.
As I cycle home I hear the sounds of blues coming from ‘Vinnies’. So I drop in for a pizza & listen to Chris Thompson singing about his travels in Ireland, San Fransisco and good old Hamilton while playing some great blues guitar accompaniment (slide, pick, lots of good sounds). There’s a gig going on at the YOT club too – ‘Flip Grater’ who was making some lovely noises but you can only be in one place at a time. Next time Flip!
To cross from New Zealand’s North Island to its South Island (or visa-versa) you need to get a ferry across the Cook Strait. This is one of the most beautiful ferry journeys anywhere on earth so think of it as a cruise not just transport!
There are two companies that run ferries on this route. Both sail between Wellington on the North Island & Picton on the South Island. Both have online booking facilities, cost roughly the same & take roughly the same time. So try both for prices:
To help you, our vans are classed as campervans. They are 4.9m long.
Here’s a couple of photos of what you can see on the crossing & nearby. We love visiting this area:
The PiwiWiwi crew had a couple of reasons to head over to Mount Maunganui: Niall had promised more help with the ‘Rena’ oilspill cleanup; we had a car to collect and Anna hadn’t left Raglan for a week or so & needed a break. We’d heard a lot about ‘The Mount’. People seem to love it, but to us it always sounded too built-up for our tastes.
Approaching from the industrial estates of New Zealand’s largest port – Tauranga – you see Mauao (The name for the mount in Te Reo – the Maori language) & begin to feel that this is somewhere special. The campground‘s slightly more expensive than most in New Zealand but it’s worth it. At the back of our van was an unbroken view of white sand and turquoise ocean, with a tiny swell giving a tease of how good the surf can get here. To the front was Mauao, 232m straight out of that ocean. Stunning! With no surf to be ridden (the Coromandel was working perfectly, we just had commitments here) we walk up Mauao dodging fitness fanatics of all ages running up & down the mount. The view from the top is fantastic. To the South is the city, to the North nothing but beach & forest. East is The Pacific, West a collection of islands & inlets with the sun setting through clouds & the water a polished steel.
After taking all this in we trot back down & spoil ourselves with a succulent Turkish kebab on the beach (oh & dolma to start, baclava to finish) then head back to our PiwiWiwi van.
After a fine night’s sleep (we always sleep brilliantly in our vans!) we’re off to work – Niall on a boat over to Motiti island & Anna back to the PiwiWiwi office.
It was only a one-night affair but we liked The Mount. Very different to the New Zealand we know & love, being built up & busy, but very much the same with its breath-taking & varied natural beauty.
do a quick article saying that we now had cars to rent out.
that they are 5 seater wagons so you can take friends & lots of gear or a friend & a superfluity of gear.
that with their efficient engine & manual transmission they’d give great fuel consumption leaving you with more money for your holiday.
that like our vans they have USB charging points & a quality stereo with aux-in so you can have your sounds, camera, phone, iPad, whatever else you travel with plugged in & cooking & don’t have to constantly plug in wherever you stop.
all this & then hope you came banging on our door asking to rent one.
Its all true but without us letting anyone know we’ve already rented the first car out.
PiwiWiwi – Campervans for Surf adventures – now does cars for surf trips, camping trips, weekend trips, shopping trips, fishing trips, city trips, in fact road trips of any flavour.
We’ve been asked a couple of times where’s good to camp in Raglan. To save re-typing it, here’s a summary:
There’s four campgrounds in Raglan. They are:
These three are all well run by great folk & all cost about $20 a night. They offer far more than my very short descriptions – check out their websites to find out how much more.
All these options are great – you’re spoilt in Raglan! Enjoy them all, see which is best for you and leave some feedback here.
Here’s a daft picture we found ‘out there’:
It was at the end of a useful (German) article on airline fees for surfers.
I’m sure most of you know the phrase ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ (Do you fully understand it? Wikipedia doesn’t seem too confident!). Our town, Raglan, is renowned for living with this as a core value thanks to Xtreme waste amongst others. Us at PiwiWiwi try to live in this way too.
When converting our vans to PiwiWiwi spec we used materials that many people would have called waste. They are:
Instead of buying new, we bought old wetsuits & cut them up to make these neoprene guards.
We needed a small shelf for shortboards to rest on when stored in our van. We used the old bed boards (which were pretty useless as beds) as our raw materials for these shelves.
Our vans now have a boxed-in area high in the back which holds two good-sized boxes for better storage & easy access. As with the shelves, we used the old bed boards as our material here.
The 240v cable was giving us two problems: 1 It was a mess just kicking about loose in a locker & 2 Its far too easy to drive off while still plugged in to a site’s power supply potentially causing lots of damage. Adressing both these issues we made a cable tidy with a warning to unplug on it. When you unwind the cable you put the tidy on the driver’s seat. This makes it far less likely you’ll hop in & drive off taking half the campsite with you! The material for this was some aluminum coated plastic, an offcut from our local signwriter & otherwise destined for landfill.
To really let people know we’re in business in Raglan we made a big sign for the side window. This is just an old real estate sign that having sold one plot of land was going to sit in a hole in the ground for a hundred years or so. We cut it down to size, stuck some letters on it & gave it a second life. In fact, it still says ‘Ray White’ on the back so maybe we should charge them some advertising fees?!
Finally for now, some straps with Velcro on were getting worn out. Rather than replace the whole strap we unpicked & sewed new Velcro on. Time consuming maybe, but the result is as good as new & waste reducing definitely!
Of course there’s a few more things we’ve done around the house (like a wetsuit dryer made from old CPU fans & coat-hangers) but that’s not really relevant here!
We have made the front-page of our local newspaper! We are absolutely made up, its brilliant!
You can read the article here
We’ve been making a fuss of our board straps but sometimes its hard describing something. A picture tells a thousand words but even that doesn’t seem enough. So here’s a sweet video of them in use:
Or, if you prefer the old amateur version, complete with whiter-than-white legs here it is:
Three shortboards go in in under a minute & the longboard takes about another 30 seconds. It really is that easy! Boards safe, secure and out of your way. What could be better?
We realise that our name can be hard to say & spell so here we’ve put in a few common ones just so Google doesn’t miss us! Please comment on this post with your own ideas if you think we’ve missed some:
Of course the correct way to spell it is:
Campervan rentals for Surf adventures – making surf travellers happy campers!
My first car was a Volkswagen Beetle. An original air-cooled VW: Engine at the back; not one of these new-fangled Golfs in drag. Even if it hadn’t have been a ‘Wizard Roadster’ conversion it would have been awesome but because it was it was the most awesome thing (to a 17 year old) in the world. Awesome? Yes. Reliable? No. OK, it was 20 years old & driven by a teenager but it was still about as trustworthy as weasel trained in investment banking.
My first Toyota was an old, neglected, nearly dead MK1 MR2. I got it cheap (£300 cheap) because it was rusty & had been unfortunate enough to be in a shed when the shed fell over. But it still worked & it worked well. Its eager engine & pin-sharp handling encouraged me to drive like a teenager again, the engine rarely below 3000 RPM & the tyres usually complaining. Despite this it was reliable. True, it was only 17 years old but those were 17 hard years*. My second Toyota was another MK1 MR2, nearly 20 years old, boy-racered up with stiff suspension, racing steering wheel & a bit of on-track history. It cost twice as much as the first – yes £600! – & I kept it for several years. In this time it was worked hard. It went hard around the Nurburgring’s Nordshleiffe (16 laps & one trip over the kerbs in a weekend,) & survived. After getting it a tow hitch & then starting a scrapyard I regularly used it to tow other MR2s around the country.
Despite all of this it never once missed a beat, never used oil or water, never let me down. It finally died when a friend crashed it on track at a drifting event. I’d still have it now but for that.
Back to VWs.. I bought a T25 (aka T3 aka ‘Brick’) Westfalia as my first campervan. My old friends from my early Volkswagen days said it was the best one to have. I loved the ‘camper’ side of it but I got sick of the fact that the ‘VW’ side of it meant I had bought a hobby not a vehicle. Oil pressure issues, gearbox issues & finally a cambelt tensioner that stranded me on Christmas Eve just outside Freshwater West (after a surf session that bagged my best ever wave there ). I got a ‘short engine’, rebuilt it & sold it. Enough VWs for me!
*Yes, they do sort of now but I believe it’s still built by Westfalia.
*I sold it to a friend who got plenty of good use out of it before (I think) turning it into a track-car.
Spring in New Zealand has officially sprung (as of 1st September), the days are now longer than the nights (as of the Equinox on 22nd September), and the clocks have gone forward (as of 25th September) which all mean that summer is just around the corner!
We were treated to a taste of Summer last week with beautiful clear skies and the warmest weather we’ve experienced since we arrived here in June. As we were basking in the glory wearing shorts and t-shirts and eating breakfast, lunch and dinner on the decking, along came a nice big lump of swell.
This is what Raglan dreams are made of…
In Raglan this morning