Hello from New Zealand

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.


Qualcomm RV Show

See LTV products in person in San Diego, CA at the Qualcomm RV Show with Holland RV Centers on from May 3-6. Show hours: 9am-7pm. Contact dealer to confirm which products will be on display.

Event #392

What you do not want to miss at 5 California destinations

Going to California? Lucky you, because the golden state is over-the-top with contrasting scenery and every kind of attraction. It can be difficult to plan a route in an area where there is so much to experience. If you like to stay away from large cities but enjoy adventures that include a little bit of history, the outdoors, lots of local food, and sometimes wine, we can help you. These five destinations are in the southern portion of the state.

1. San Benito County

Located south and slightly inland from San Francisco, San Benito County has two towns – Hollister and San Juan Bautista. Hollister has all the amenities of a modern city. San Juan Bautista is historic. The Mission San Juan Bautista is the largest church on the California Mission Trail. Both towns are surrounded by country roads and rolling hills. Vineyards and row crops share space with cattle ranches.

Things you do not want to miss:

2. Solvang

Located north and west of Santa Barbara, Solvang, California, is more Danish than Denmark. The architecture is strikingly European with cross-beamed timbers and thatched roofing, hanging flowers, courtyards, windmills, and lots of bakeries. The Little Mermaid, a copy of the statue in Copenhagen, greets you on the main street.

Things you do not want to miss:

3. Oxnard

Along Highway 101 on the Pacific Ocean, north of Los Angeles, Oxnard, California, is the place to appreciate nature in close proximity to city living. Pristine white sandy beaches run for miles alongside gentle desert-type sand dunes.

Things you do not want to miss:

4. Temecula

Set inland, in the Temecula Valley, north of San Diego and south of Long Beach, Temecula offers a Mediterranean climate that is perfect for growing grapes. The many vineyards are small and predominantly family-owned. For that reason, the wine experience is personal, for everyone from winemaker to wine appreciator.

Things you do not want to miss:

5. Julian

Away from the coast, high in the Cuyamaca Mountains east of San Diego and just off the Great Southern Overland Stage Route, Julian is an old gold mining town known for its apple orchards.

Things you do not want to miss:

Basil Balsamic Bagel Burger

(Makes 4 servings)

Place the sundried tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside. After 5 minutes, drain the tomatoes and discard the water.
Place the sun-dried tomatoes and garlic in a food processor. Process until almost smooth.
Add the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Blend until the mixture is smooth. Set aside.
Preheat the grill to high (550-600°F/290-315°C) for 10 minutes with the lid closed. Using a pair of long-handled tongs, oil the grate by wiping it with a piece of folded paper towel dipped lightly in canola oil.
Grill the beef patties about 5 minutes on each side or until the internal temperature registers 160° F (71°C) on an instant-read thermometer.

While the patties are cooking, cut the bagels in half and brush each cut side with olive oil.
Toast the bagel halves cut side down on the grate until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Place the toasted bagel halves open-faced on serving plates. Spread all 8 bagel halves generously with the sun-dried tomato mixture.

Place 3 basil leaves on the bottom half of each bagel. Place the cooked beef patty on top of the basil. Follow with the tomato and mozzarella.
Leftover sun-dried tomato mixture can be kept in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to 1 week.

Other grilling and smoking recipes can be found in our latest cookbook, On The Road With The Cooking Ladies, Let’s Get Grilling, available on or bookstores everywhere!