New Zealand: 4/16 – 4/22

(New Zealand) Titirangi [Housesit with Scooter & Gypsy] >>> Auckland >>> Laingholm [Housesit with Jack & Holly] >>> (Australia) Blackman’s Bay [Housesit with Crawford, Andy, & Hamish]

4/16- Found a buyer for Bingo Bongo!
4/17- Frisbee Golf and Starting our Laingholm Housesit
4/18- Van Inspection and Internet Work
4/19- Finalized the Sale of Bingo Bongo! Hooray!
4/20- Black Sand Beaches and Waterfalls on the West Coast!
4/21- Skyping Bonanza and Whatipu Caving Adventure
4/22- Goodbye New Zealand! Hello Tasmania!


4/16:
Found a buyer for Bingo Bongo!
+ Spent another morning with the pets enjoying the nice weather and breakfast.
+ The owner of the house, Paula, showed up a little after noon and we got to meet her and thank her for the lovely housesit. Then we headed into town with our van all packed up and met with another couple who wanted to view the van.
+ The showing and test drive went great and they said they wanted to buy the van! We didn’t get quite the price we were hoping for, but we didn’t lose much and in the end it was still a million times cheaper than it would’ve cost to rent a campervan for our 2.5 months of travel!
+ They wanted to get the van inspected before completing the purchase and since it was Easter weekend, that wouldn’t be possible for 2 more days. So until then Bingo Bongo was still ours!
+ Next up, we grabbed some lunch from Subway and then headed over to a park that was supposed to have some Ultimate Frisbee going on. It wasn’t in the cards for today however and there wasn’t a game happening. So we drove over to the hostel we’d booked for the night.
+ We debated spending one last night in our beloved campervan since it would be nice and wouldn’t cost anything. Auckland only had 2 small free sites though and since it was Easter weekend, we didn’t want to risk not securing a spot. So we used some of our Chase points to get a private room at a nice hostel in Auckland.
+ The hostel was called City Garden Lodge and it used to be the Queen of Tonga’s summer residence! How historic!
+ We were pleasantly surprised by our nice room in the upstairs tucked away in the back. It was very quiet and had nice views.
+ We had planned to cook dinner in the kitchen but ended up sharing a bottle of wine, watching the movie “Ghost in the Shell”, and eating Easter candy and then falling asleep by 9 pm! That’s the earliest we’d gone to sleep in a loooooong time!

4/17:
Frisbee Golf and Starting our Laingholm Housesit
+ In the morning we checked out of the hostel and drove Northwest up to the Woodhill Forest Mountain Bike Park. It was about an hour away but it was nice to see another area of the north island.
+ Unlike the hundreds of other people here to mountain bike, we were here for the Disc Golf course! The course was nice but not entirely complete with some baskets missing. This is because they had just had a massive music concert on the grounds and had to clear the whole area by taking out some of the shelters/huts and all the baskets! Still, it was fun to hike around in the woods.
+ After a quick lunch at Carl’s Jr., we drove all the way back down to Laingholm. This tiny town was even further Southwest than Titirangi and would be the site of our last housesit here in New Zealand. We’d be here until the 22nd when our 3 month Visa expired and then we’d be flying out.
+ Once we’d made our way through the lush greenery and the winding roads, we parked on the side of the street against the mountainside. Then we walked down their verrrry steep driveway to what we thought was their house. Turns out it was just their garage and we had to go around and down a long flight of stairs to their actual (much larger) house. Then we met the family and the dogs we’d be looking after. They were two yellow labs named Jack and Holly and were very friendly and excited to have new people to pet them!
+ We spent the rest of the day with the family watching the Rogue One Star Wars movie (they were huge fans and we’d only seen it once) and they even cooked us a nice dinner! So nice!
+ That night we watched a few episodes of a magic show on Netflix and then all went to bed about midnight.

4/18:
Van Inspection and Internet Work
+ We awoke in the morning to some really tasty bacon biscuits they’d made us. After devouring those we sat around talking and petting the dogs until it was time for them to leave and head to the airport.
+ We said goodbye and then spent the next couple of hours relaxing at the house with the pups until it was time for us to head into town.
+ We met the people interested in buying our van (Henrik and Merryl) at the AA center to get the vehicle inspected and then we all walked over to a nearby cafe to await the results. We had a nice time chatting as we got to know the couple. We were happy these people would be taking care of our Bingo Bongo! (They even introduced us to a song “King of the Bongo”)
+ As we’d hoped for (and expected) the results came back that the car was in great shape and nothing major was wrong with it. They weren’t sure if it had an oil leak or not and so Henrik and Merryl wanted to get a second opinion from another Mechanic. So we drove over there and the guy said he didn’t think it was an oil leak and not to worry. So the only other thing of concern was a tiny chip in the windshield they wanted to get fixed (even though it wasn’t immediately necessary).
+ Thankfully we had insurance which would replace it for free, but that work couldn’t be done until the next day. So Bingo Bongo was ours for another night!
+ We said goodbye to them again and drove back towards Laingholm. Before we reached our destination though we made a stop at Wendy’s and then Countdown to stock up on groceries for our last few days. Then it was back home to the doggies!
+ The rest of the night we worked on taxes, updated the blog and travel map, and ate a nice pork roast dinner. Just before midnight we finally called it a day and relaxed on the couch to watch some Netflix and enjoy some vino!

4/19:
Finalized the Sale of Bingo Bongo! Hooray!
+ After feeding and walking the dogs in the morning, we grabbed some granola bars to go and headed out for the long 40 minute drive into the city where we had an appointment at the windshield repair center.
+ Dropped off the van at 10 am for work to be done and then hung out upstairs in their lounge watching a Kiwi tv quiz game show. After an entire hour they still hadn’t started working on the van (so much for an appointment!) but once they finally did start the work, it was completed pretty quickly.
+ By now, Henrik and Merryl had joined us and the 4 of us drove over to the post office to complete the sale of the van. After all the paperwork was filled out and filed with the clerk, it was completed. We’d sold our van! Bingo Bongo/Horncastle was no longer ours which made us sad, but we were also happy the selling process was over and that it was going to nice owners who would take good care of it.
+ Before we split up though, Corey drove everyone down to the Enterprise location at the airport where we were going to rent a car for the next few days and then we said our goodbyes to them and our van.
+ After we picked up the rental car, we drove all the way back to the house and got some lunch.
+ Next up we Skyped with Clayton, Kori, Corey’s Dad and Kori’s parents. We didn’t know everyone would be on the Skype but Clayton and Kori surprised us with the fact they were in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and had gotten everyone together to share in the big news- Kori was pregnant! We were surprised but very happy for the both of them and got to talk to them and the parents for a while about what had been going on with everyone.
+ Right when we’d finished with that call, we Skyped with Jamez and Sarah. We always have fun catching up with them and hearing about what’s going on back home.
+ By now, it was mid/late afternoon and Corey was really tired because he’d gotten horrible sleep the night before due to what we think was food poisoning from the chicken we ate at dinner last night. So he went up and took a nap while Liz worked on a puzzle, drank tea, and watched chick flicks on Netflix! Her version of a lovely afternoon!
+ That evening, once Corey awoke from his nap, we made probably the best spaghetti dinner we’d ever had and then listened to some stand up comedy shows on Netflix while we drank some wine and finished the puzzle together.
+ We then started watching some episodes of Brooklyn 99 but Liz passed out on Corey’s shoulder so we called it a night and headed to bed.

4/20:
Black Sand Beaches and Waterfalls on the West Coast!
+ In the morning we again took turns getting up to let the dogs out to use the bathroom and feed them. Then we eventually headed downstairs for good to pet them and give them another nice long brushing.
+ Then we put them on their leashes and took them for a nice long walk up the street and down into a scenic nature reserve to explore. Jack has bad hips and doesn’t walk as far so he and Liz turned around about halfway and Corey continued along with Holly. She still had lots of energy and wanted to go faster so Corey jogged with her for about 5 minutes uphill and back until we caught up with Liz again.
+ The master chef Liz wanted to make pancakes again so while she did that Corey showered and then we enjoy our yummy brekky. Liz surprised Corey and made him pancakes to spell out his initials. Sheer talent!
+ Next we Skyped with Liz’s Dad and Lyla for an hour or so and got updates on what everyone had been up to.
+ After some lunch we headed into town for Corey’s physio appointment. Although his knee was almost 100%, his ankle still bothered him occasionally so we decided to have 1 last check up here in NZ before leaving since it was still covered with the ACC case number. With that designation, it only costs $7 US to see a physical therapist!
+ From there we headed over to a nearby park to play some frisbee golf! The course was short with only 9 holes but it was a fun little activity and a nice park. Plus, we saw some Tui birds and a few parakeets too!
+ We started driving west towards the coast and made our first stop at the Arataki Visitor Center. This was located along the duly named “Scenic Drive” and the center had some really nice lookouts with great views in lots of different directions. Including over Auckland and Laingholm, where we were staying.
+ Piha beach was our next destination and it was famous for it’s black volcanic sand. Before descending all the way down, we had some fantastic views along the entire coast and a perfect look at Lion’s Rock, a huge rock formation offshore.
+ Karekare Beach and Waterfall were our last destination out here on the West Coast. The beach looked very similar but the waterfall was surprisingly beautiful! It even impressed Liz! That’s significant since she’s not the biggest waterfall fan and after seeing so many on this trip, it takes a special one to impress her now!
+ Once he got back, we enjoyed pizza for dinner and fed the dogs, and then Corey worked on the blog while Liz showered.
+ To end the night on a fun note, we cuddled on the couch and enjoyed the last of our Marlborough wine while watching the movie My Girl. A classic but we’d never seen it. We really enjoy these type of nights and they help us to realize just how lucky we are to be in this position.

4/21:
Skyping Bonanza and Whatipu Caving Adventure
+ Today we enjoyed Skyping with a whole bunch of family and friends from back home.
+ First we spoke with Corey’s mom and celebrated the good news about Clayton and Kori.
+ Next we spoke with Liz’s mom and brothers and most importantly: Tumbles! We always loved talking to them of course, but we missed Tumbles so much that it really made our day when we got to see him on video and see how happy he is at home with everyone. We’re so thankful to have Liz’s family to take care of him and play with him!
+ Finally we caught the elusive Bigfoot. And by that I mean we managed to skype with our friends Doug and Heidi from back in Jacksonville! We’d been trying to make this happen for months! We had a bunch of laughs and had a good time catching up on everything.
+ By the time that had finished it was about 4:30 in the afternoon! Whew! How time flies.
+ Corey wanted one last adventure in NZ but Liz was content to relax at home with tea and her British TV shows. So Corey took off to explore the Southwestern coast in the rental car. First he stopped in Huia and took in the views from the impressive lookout situated atop the cliff.
+ Then he drove all the way to the end of the gravel road (fording a river along the way!) to Whatipu. With the sunlight rapidly fading, he hiked out into the Wetlands along the Whatipu Caves Track and explored 4 different caves! One of them had an entrance so small and tight he literally had to army crawl on his stomach to fit through the rocks. Pretty creepy doing that into a dark cave when you’re the only one around!
+ Once he’d satisfied his exploration bug, he drove back to the house and reunited with Liz and the puppies.
+ To get through all our leftover food, we had a series of 3 dinners that night and finished our wine too!
+ Before we could relax for the night, we had to do laundry, pack up our bags for our flight the next day, and then tidy everything up around the house!
+ We finally finished everything after midnight and then passed out for only the 4 hours we had before the morning alarms would go off.

4/22:
Goodbye New Zealand! Hello Tasmania!
+ We groggily forced ourselves out of bed at 5 am to start our long travel day to Tasmania, Australia!
+ It was still completely dark outside as we got breakfast ready, fed the dogs, packed the car (walking that incredibly steep driveway about 4 times!), and left the house. Then we drove to the Enterprise location and dropped the car. Since the shuttle wasn’t around to take us to the airport yet, we stood there eating our pre-made pancakes out of a plastic zip lock bag (Corey insisted on squirting syrup into the bag and mixing it around of course)! Backpacking at it’s finest!
+ When we did make it to the airport and through security, we made our way to the airport lounge to take advantage of the free wifi, food, and drinks. Oh how we’d missed these Priority Pass lounges! Since it was still so early, we only ate breakfast and chose to skip the free Brancott wine. It was a tough choice though because c’mon, free Brancott Wine!
+ We were really sad to leave New Zealand and couldn’t believe 3 full months had already come to an end! We had a 3 month tourist visa and had used up every single day! New Zealand had been the #1 country we’d wanted to get to on our Round-the-World tour and it had certainly lived up to expectations. Both the North and South Island had so many stunningly beautiful areas to explore and fun activities to try. We’d been mostly lucky with weather throughout and had done pretty much everything we wanted in the South while missing just a few things in the North due to the weather and time running out. Still, the trip had been a huge success and our van Horncastle couldn’t have worked out any better. Having the freedom to roam around and explore whenever and wherever we wanted and then the Self-Contained certification to sleep in some amazing locations. We loved New Zealand and could see ourselves returning here one day soon or maybe even moving back one day!
+ Our first flight was to Melbourne Australia and took about 3 hours. It was the largest plane either of us had ever been on with 10 total seats across, broken up by 2 aisles. We had meant to work during the flight but ended up just playing games and messing around on the planes touch screen the entire time. Whoopsie!
+ During our 3 hour layover in Melbourne, we were forced to wait around like low class regular folk in the food court! There wasn’t a priority pass lounge so we could not live like kings during this layover. Thankfully we came prepared with pre-made sandwiches and snacks at our disposal.
+ After a bit of a delay at the gate, we finally boarded the plane and were on our way to Hobart, Tasmania to meet our next Housesitting family!
+ When we arrived, we were met by one the homeowners Julie and her kids who had graciously offered to pick us up. Then they drove us back to their house.
+ We would be here for 2 weeks watching over 2 cats named Hamish and Andy as well as 1 dog named Crawford. Then we’d probably take about a week to explore the rest of Tasmania afterwards.
+ That afternoon Julie and Peter showed us around the house and we got familiar with all the pets. That evening we all had a really nice dinner they’d prepared and then we watched some Australian Rules Football on the telly before bed. The game was nothing like American Football except for maybe the tackling part. Otherwise it was an almost non-stop crazy mess with tons of scoring. Really fun to watch though!
+ Finally around 10:30 or so we all went to bed. We were super tired from the lack of sleep last night and also with the time change, it felt like it was almost 1 am!

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