Two days after we’ve arrived in New Zealand I put my running shoes on for the first time this trip. After a long run down from the hill where our Marco Polo Backpackers lodge is housed I reach the beach of Orewa. It’s a three kilometers long stretch of sand. At high tide the ocean runs almost to the houses in front of the boulevard. At low tide the ocean reveals a beach of a hundred meter wide. It’s the favorite spot for active Kiwis to go for a either a run or a walk to keep their stamina up. For me it’s the best spot to sort out my mind: where do we want to go, when and how?
With every step I take in the squashy sand, bashing against the wind that makes Orewa a favorite kite surf place, the plan forms in my head. First go up north to visit Goat Island – a popular day-trip for residents of Auckland – then heading to the Poor Knight Islands – New Zealand’s best diving sport – and from there to the West Coast. As soon as we hit ‘the West’ we can hit the gas and drive South. Only stopping in New Plymouth (to surf), North Egmond (to climb Mount Egmond), Foxton (to visit a Dutch windmill) and Wellington, the gateway to the Southern Island.
New Zealand’s beautiful nature
On the Southern Island we will hit the brakes to enjoy New Zealand’s beautiful nature. By the time fall comes we will return North. New Zealand is beautiful, but it’s far from tropical. Especially on the Southern Island the temperature hardly rises above twenty degrees Celsius in Summer. It makes our Dutch winter the perfect time to go and to enjoy Kiwi summer. Unless you want to go snowboarding. In that case you want to go in Dutch summer, when there is snow on the mountains of the Southern Island. We want both.
Now I’ve made up my mind where to go, there is still one main thing to solve: how. We find an answer quickly. By car. We dream of a road-trip: open windows, arms hanging out of the car, wind blowing in our hairs and cruising around; following the sun.
Next day we take a look at a car dealer in Orewa: Alan Stuart Motors. Buying a car for only half a year might seem a bit decadent, but buying one is cheaper than renting one. And there is more: not all rental cars are allowed to cross from the Northern to the Southern Island. There is another option: buying a backpackers car, but both Mickey and I don’t know a lot about cars and buying a car that has been around countless times doesn’t feel to safe.
But safe or not, it looks like our only option when we see the prices at Alan Stuart’s. They are way above our budget. The owner offers us a little helping hand: ‘If you find a car, come by and let me check it. I don’t like people to be ripped off. I take a look at it. For free.’
We find our car the same afternoon. A nice Mitsibitsu Magna. When we take it to the garage the owner of Alan Stuart checks the car. It’s in pretty good condition. There is just one thing: the car really likes petrol.
Road-trip New Zealand
When he sees our disappointed faces he makes us an offer we can’t refuse. He has a Toyota Corrola station for sale for five thousand dollars. We can have it for tree, if we promise to return it when we are done with our trip, so he can sell it to someone else. He will give us a thousand dollars in return. It’s a price that beats every rental car we have seen. We take the car for a spin and in no time we are convinced. This is our car. To underline our connection with the car we give ‘her’ a name. Oesga, a Dutch shortcut for our first bought car together. (Onze eerste samen gekochte auto.) Our road-trip New Zealand can start.
I wrote this story in 2008; now I'm finally taking the time to translate it into English.