Today was a long travel day to get back over to the North Island. This morning was gorgeous and sunny, although a bit breezy, so we walked nearby the campground to Monkey Bay. It's a very short trail to a small protected bay with blue waters, limestone cliffs and bull kelp. Since the water was way too cold to swim, and there was no surf, we headed out of the campsite to get in one more wine tasting before the ferry.
When we arrived at Saint Claire's vineyards for the wine tasting, we sat at a sunny wooden table outside in the rose garden next to the grapes. They had four wines for tasting indoors and afterwards we enjoyed a freshly made bagel with locally caught smoked salmon, and a crisp cold glass of chardonnay. Erich loved the green-lipped mussels which were really good.
Too much time spent lingering in the garden over good food and wine meant we had to hurry to the ferry terminal in time for the 1:10 trip across the Cook Strait. Luckily we had fairly calm seas and clear skies to look around from the sun deck on top of the boat.
Once we arrived in Wellington, it was a scramble to get out of the city before rush-hour traffic (which really isn't much anyway, but you never know) and head back up north for the last week of our trip. We had hoped to try out fly-fishing before heading over to the west coast to check out the surf.
So what's it like living in this cushy camper for over three weeks now? I've lived out of plain old vans before, but this in no van. This is a high-end Wilderness Fiat camper and really, the best one we've seen since we've been here. Some are so tiny with only a little bed in the back, and some are massive RVs that take up the whole road and cannot make it into remote campsites, while others are just poorly designed so the passenger cannot get through to the back of the van without going around to the side door. Our camper is just under 18 feet long, and just over 6 feet wide which is a managable size for most roads and parking lots.
Basically, it's like living in a New York apartment as I always tell Erich. There are no modern day neccessities missing, and essentially, we have everything, plus more views, than we've got back home. There is a decent size bathroom (although we employ a strict no pooping rule unless it's an absolute emergency) with a hot shower and small sink. The kitchen is about the size of my college studio, with a four burner gas stove, oven and sink, complete with all the pots and pans, bowls, teapots, wine glasses, french presses, cheese grater, vegie peelers, measuring cups etc that you could ever need. Not to mention the vent and lights over the stove. And what's on the menu, you ask? Well, tonight was spinach and ricotta ravioli with a creamy tomato roasted mushroom sauce and pulled roast chicken breast with a side salad of spinach, cucumber, red pepper and avocado. Served with a crisp clean 2007 Mt Riley Sauvingon Blanc from the vineyard in Marlbourough. Last night was organic veggie curry with brown basmati rice and a local cloudy wheat micro-brew. And of course, the fish is always fresh and local. It's great that you can basically cook anything you want in this thing.
Moving into the back of the camper, there is a living/dining space with a 3-sided couch and pillows around the removable table where we eat a lot of our meals. Now this part is even better than home; fabulous surround sound speakers that connect to the stereo/ipod hookup (thanks mrs. stacie, we are rocking out to your tunes!) and the 22" flat screen tv and dvd player. At night, this space converts into the queen size bed we sleep in, complete with fluffy comforter and fleece blankets. The ceiling has three screened vents, and the windows are screened which is nice. In the back, there is a grill and lawn chairs and table for hanging outside of the camper. So, yeah, we could easily live in this thing for another few months no problem. Especially when we get to park on the beach and listen to the waves, or next to a raging river, or pull into a quiet field surrounded by mountains.
For tonight, it's a quiet campsite in Tongariro National Park in the woods, next to a stream. The cloud cover is keeping things warm and, unlike the south island, there are no black flies!