Hello from New Zealand

Arlene & Rod Smith
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Hello from New Zealand or, as the natives greet you, “Haere Mai”

After extensive touring in the USA and Canada (Nova Scotia to San Diego and Vancouver to New York), we decided to ship our Leisure Travel Vans Freedom 2A to our home country and continue the lifestyle. Shipping from Long Beach, California to Auckland was all organized by Steve Curl, a Kiwi living in L.A., and after 3 weeks we were clearing New Zealand Customs and going through the compliance procedure for The Department of Motor Vehicles. We were able to keep our LTV all complete, standard factory specification. As the van weighed under 3.5 tonnes, this meant there was no need to change the steering to right hand drive as we drive on the left side of the road.

Waiomu beach east coast road
Old and New socialising with South African import

We have now happily relocated from Auckland to Omokoroa, settled in the beautiful Bay Of Plenty surrounded by Kiwi Fruit, Avocado, and Citrus orchards.

Omokoroa, ready to leave home
Whangamata harbor side

Our last trip on the road was along the coast of the Coromandel Peninsular, a 300-mile circuit and a must for overseas visitors as this is one of our scenic drives.

The first stop was the town of Thames, a historic 1800’s gold mining area with the usual tourist museum and the 1865 Brian Baru Hotel, one of the few hotels left from the raucous mining days.

Brian Baru Hotel Thames

Here guests can stay the night and experience “Ghostly” and ” Murder Mystery” plays. The world’s best Fish and Chips are served at the marina, though this is a claim made by most seaside resorts! Traveling along the west coast, we observed extensive damage to the road caused by a recent cyclone in the Pacific and, yes, we do have some stormy weather down here. The road passes through numerous holiday villages popular in the summer months with seasonal visitors and permanent locals who enjoy fresh rock oysters, mussels, and saltwater fish.

Lake Taupo Marina
Whangamata harbor entrance

Coromandel was the next stop, another old town where artisans are evident with their crafts on display/sale as prominent “No Mining’ signs decorate the roadside. Leaving Coromandel, the road climbs over the range to Hot Water Beach. Dig out your own hot pool on the beach, allowing the hot mineral springs to seep up through the sand.

Maori carved meeting house Whakatane

Driving the winding road along the east coast through the holiday resort towns of Matarangi, Onemana, Opotere, and Whangamata all native Maori names which sometimes take some pronunciation by tourists. All these locations have white sand safe swimming and surfing beaches. The hills behind the resorts are of native bush ferns, flax, and commercial pine forests.

South island lake scene
Thru’ South Island mountain pass

We must now return to Omokoroa to enjoy the rest of our summer. Even the winter here is great. We may even get a frost!

Thru’ South Island mountain pass
Whangamata up harbor view


Rod & Arlene Smith.


Arlene & Rod Smith

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