Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Kawhia Harbour New Zealand Campervan Holiday

Kawhia Harbour
by Phillip Capper Flickr Creative Commons

Kawhia Harbour is a drowned river valley system in the Waikato region of New Zealand. Outside the harbour, waves pound on a black sand ocean beach, inside the harbour it is still and tranquil. Kawhia is a small town and is a great place to experience real, laid-back, rural New Zealand.

The area is steeped in Maori history- it is, in legend, the final resting place of the great Waka (ocean-going canoe) Tainui. Two buried stones are placed to mark the bow and stern of the buried waka.

Waka
by Phillip Capper Flickr Creative Commons


A well-kept secret of Kawhia is the dig-your-own natural hot pools on the ocean beach. Only accessible 2 hours either side of low tide, they are more or less straight down from the toilet block at the end of the beach.

To get a good feel for the area and it's history, you can take a harbour cruise on the 66-pax capacity 'Lady Kawhia.' These have a full commentary and take in most of the harbour, from around $50 per adult.

Kawhia's biggest day comes each summer with the Kawhia Kai Festival. Kai is the Maori word for food and this festival celebrates New Zealand's traditional dishes. This is generally the first saturday in February, and is a great event for visitors to experience the native culture and food from land and sea.



Kawhia Camping Ground has power sites available for your campervan, as does Kawhia Beachside S-cape.

For campervan hire in New Zealand, click here!


Author: Phil Wright+

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mystic Connecticut Motorhome Roadtrip

Mystic, population around 4000, is a small town in New London County, Connecticut. Historically, it is a leading seaport of the area, and boasts America's leading maritime museum, which is a must-visit for visitors to Mystic.

The Mystic Seaport, the 'Museum of America and the Sea,' is a big attraction for those who visit the area. It tells the story of the country's maritime history. There is a re-created 19th century village, tall ships, a shipyard and many other exhibits to tell you all you need to know and more about shipping in the US.


Mystic Seaport
by AMOC Flickr Creative Commons


There is also Olde Mistick Village to take you back in time, a quaint village with shops, restaurants and a visitor's centre.

At the other end of the entertainment spectrum, another big draw is the major casinos in the area- Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are huge centres which offer fine dining and musical and stage shows by international headliners.

Mohegan Sun
by grendelkhan Flickr Creative Commons


For those on the road, Strawberry Park Campground is conveniently placed for the Seaport and casinos- and is an award-winning campground and RV Park.



If you are looking go to Mystic, it is about 2 hours drive from popular RV Rental hub in Boston.

Author: Phil Wright+

Newport by RV

Newport is a fascinating place to visit for those interested in history- it has more surviving colonial buildings than almost any in the United States, amongst them the oldest synagogue and a quakers meeting house from 1699.

It is also a popular summer resort town, and notable American families such as the Vanderbilts and Astors would "summer" in Newport in their grand mansions, and Presidents Kennedy and Eisenhower would spend holidays there also.

Vanderbilt Mansion
by Tony Kent Flickr Creative Commons

Easton's beach is the main beach in Newport, and is wheelchair accessible. It has free summer concerts, rental cabanas, beach chairs and surfboards, children's playground, showers and many other facilities. It is known as 1st beach by the locals, and there is also a 2nd beach and 3rd beach, and Bailey's beach where the elite used to bathe when they visited their summer houses- it is still private, so no bathing here unless you are well connected!

Newport has a rich maritime history, in fact it was home to the America's Cup for half a century, and sailing is a favourite activity amongst locals and tourists.

Newport by Doug Kerr Flickr Creative Commons
Newport Cliff Walk is very popular and takes around 2.5-3 hours to do the entire thing. You can experience breathtaking coastal views, and catch a glimpse of the gilded era when Newport was a playground for America's wealthiest families, as the walk takes you past the Newport Mansions.



The Museum of Newport History is an interesting option for history-lovers, and for the shopaholics, the cobblestone shopping wharves are the place to be!

Newport is RV friendly- here is a list of RV Parks in and around the town. Remember $4 for the Newport Bridge, as it is a toll bridge, and Newport is on an island- only 3 bridges to get on and off, and the other 2 are at the other end of the island.

Pick up your motorhome from Boston RV Rental, only an hour and a half from Newport!


Author: Phil Wright+

Ahipara, New Zealand Campervan Trip

Ahipara is a small town near the northernmost point of New Zealand's North Island, with a population of not much over 1,000.

Ahipara
by Londiwi Flickr Creative Commons

Fishing is often at the top of the agenda for Ahipara visitors and locals, and you can go on a fishing charter to enjoy some of the best fishing spots in the country. Every year in February, the world's biggest snapper surf fishing contest is held at 90 mile beach which is just above Ahipara, so if you like snapper- get a camper and get up there!

Kaitaia Golf Course
is also located in Ahipara, and offers stunning views over 90 mile beach.

Shipwreck bay just outside of the town is a popular surf spot, as is the beach directly in front of the town- you can even take lessons at Ahipara Surf School!



90 Mile Beach is a draw for tourists, and Ahipara is located very handy to it, at the southern end. This makes it a handy base for anyone wishing to explore the Far North. Ahipara Holiday Park offers powered sites from NZ$32-40 for 2 people, depending on the time of year.

To get there, click here for New Zealand campervan hire!



Author: Rohan Marx+

Opononi, Northland, New Zealand by Camper


Opononi, a small settlement on the edge of the Hokianga Harbour, is known for two things- sand dunes and a very special dolphin. To get there, take State Highway 12 off State Highway 1 at the Brynderwyns heading north from Auckland.

Dunes across from Opononi
by markescapes Flickr Creative Commons

The sand dunes across the harbour dominate the view when you are on the water's edge at Opononi- they are on the North Head of the harbour. Many people take a water taxi or charter boat across the harbour to explore these mountains of sand, and slide down them a few times. Beware the walk back up!

Opo Statue in Opononi
by Alan Levine Flickr Creative Commons

Opo is a town legend in Opononi. A friendly dolphin, he spent the summer of 1955-56, enchanting locals and those who came to visit. An orphan, she began following fishing boats in early 1955. She was not shy like most wild animals and would play with balls and allow children to swim alongside her and touch her. Many came to see Opo, and she was officially protected by law on the 8th of March 1956- sadly, she was found dead the next day. It is suspected that she was inadvertently killed by fishermen using gelignite. Opo was buried with full Maori honours next to the town hall.



Opononi Beach Holiday Park is located on State Highway 12 and is a popular place to stay. The towns of Whirinaki and Omapere are nearby with guest house and lodge accomodations.

For Campervan hire in New Zealand, see here!



Author: Rohan Marx+

Teardrops on the Road

What is a Teardrop Trailer? The small, convenient trailer for camping enthusiasts- slightly more substantial than a tent, slightly less than a caravan. They are lightweight and streamlined, and often made by their owners to suit their exact needs. Plans can be bought or found for free on the internet on sites such as wikibooks.

Teardrop Trailers usually sleep 2, and have rudimentary cooking facilities. They can be powered by battery or even have mains hookups. Toilets have been dispensed with in favour of small size and weight- however, this makes it no less equipped than a tent- in fact, it is better equipped and requires no assembly!


Teardrop Kitchen
by Terry Bone Flickr Creative Commons

Teardrop Trailers have accrued quite the following, and there are forums and communities dedicated to trailer users and builders- such as www.tearjerkers.net.

A beautiful example
by dwstucke Flickr Creative Commons

I have to say I love the idea- less expensive than buying an RV/campervan, but less hassle and more weatherproof than a tent. Perfect!





Author: Rohan Marx+

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Coopers Beach and Surrounds- Doubtless You'll Love It

Coopers Beach by pennyd Flickr Creative Commons

As with many places in New Zealand, the best part of Coopers Beach is... the beach! Shaded by pohutakawa trees and protected by the worst of the Pacific ocean by its position tucked up inside the large Doubtless Bay, it is a pretty beach and safe for the family. The town has the necessities- a 4-Square, Liquor mart, butchery, hardware store, medical centre and a few other shops, plus a bowling club with other small towns not far away.

Also in Doubtless Bay (Captain Cook sailed past and wrote in his journal "doubtless a bay") and not to be missed are:

Mangonui- This village on Mangonui Harbour has, by reputation, New Zealand's best fish and chip shop. If you are a New Zealander, you will know that this is NOT a feat to be sneered at. Try them! Also a great spot to fish off the wharf, and watch rugby at the pub.

Mangonui by Sids1 Flickr Creative Commons

Cable Bay- a very picturesque town a few kilometres from Coopers Beach, Cable Bay can be recognised by the dairy with the big icecream cone on top, plus the Croquet Club.

Tokerau Beach- this beach stretches for 18 kilometres and is perfect for those long walks on the beach. Diggin for shellfish is a popular and rewarding passtime at Tokerau!

Karikari Peninsula- Always worth a visit is Karikari Estate, a winery. Tastings are available, and sitting outside tasting wine and sampling the cafe's delicacies is an incredible way to spend an afternoon- the views from the Estate are stunning.

Karikari Estate by TobiasPMP Flickr Creative Commons

Whatuwhiwhi Top Ten Holiday Park is located on the Karikari Peninsula, and is a top quality Holiday Park with tent and campervan sites and cabins. A note: Free Camping (outside of designated campsites) is a hot topic in New Zealand at the moment, but in a self-contained camper it is still legal in many areas, as long as you leave no rubbish or waste behind and are respectful of locals and the environment.

The Doubtless Bay area, in fact all of Northland, is a campervanner's dream. To find the best deals on campervan hire, click here.

Author: Phil Wright+

Cape Cod: See It With An RV Rental

Cape Cod by NASA Flickr Creative Commons

Cape Cod, the fishhook shaped cape curling out into the sea off Massachussets just below Canada, is in fact an island, and has been since Cape Cod Canal was cut in 1916. Provincetown at the tip of the Cape is where pilgrims first landed in the New World, before shifting to Plymouth.

The Cape is a favourite holiday destination on the East Coast, and the reasons are many- one is the fresh seafood which is understandably a big draw for the foodies! It is blessed by geography, as it's shape curling out into the ocean gives quantity and a variety of beaches, from sheltered coves ocean-facing surf beaches.

Known for New England beauty, the Cape is popular for outdoor pursuits and visitors enjoy the quaintness and dignity of its quintessential New England towns.

RV hire is a perfect way to see the Cape- you can explore at your own pace and on your own schedule. It is impossible to write about every single spot of interest as there are hundreds- 115 beaches, and many, many other beautiful places. It is often the case with anywhere that the best place you visit is an out-of-the-way one that noone has ever recommended! However, here are a few things for your hit-list:


Provincetown by Harvey Barrison Flickr Creative Commons

Provincetown
This is the most lively resort town, so get there if you would like a bit of company and excitement. Painters, writers and of course fisherman have made it their home- and so has the gay community of New England! During the summer, its population increses tenfold- so if you are planning on going there during the high season which is expanding to include late spring and early fall, definitely book an RV site in advance- google will produce you a list of these. You could visit the spot where pilgrims first arrived on the continent, and learn more at the Provincetown museum. Whalewatching is another favourite.

Seafood
Seafood restaurants are scattered all over the Cape, and with fresh fish and lobster coming in everyday, how could you resist trying one.. or two, or three! Here is a list of seafood restaurants to contemplate.

Marconi Beach by Lin Mei Flickr Creative Commons

Coast Guard Beach

While a somewhat arbitrary choice, as there are many stunning beaches on the coastal side of the Cape, this one has been named in the USA's top ten beaches. It has amenities such as changing rooms and bathrooms, as well as plentiful lifeguards! During the summer, parking is not available at the beach- parking is in a lot off Nauset road for a fee, and a shuttle transports you to the beach. With soft sand, waves and facilities, it is a popular spot.

Less popular, and as such often less crowded beaches along that beautiful coast also include Marconi Beach and Cahoon Hollow.


Cape Cod Wetlands by Tim T. Flickr Creative Commons

Hiking Trails
The Cape has many of these, and it is a great way to get a bit of exercise and fresh air away from the towns and beaches, as well as enjoy the beauty of the area. Beech Forest trail in Provincetown is a popular one, but take your pick- the short scenic ramble of Eagle Point in Brewster, or see how glaciers have affected the landscape by walking the Small's Swamp trail in Truro. Here is a helpful list of trails on the Cape and surrounding area.

That's just a quick pick. There are numerous other beaches, towns, historical points of interests and activities to be seen and done on Cape Cod- Start your Cape Cod trip with Boston RV Rental
.

Author: Phil Wright+

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Van for All

Motorhomes and camper vans come in many shapes and sizes, and the line between a vehicle for getting from A to B and a vehicle for getting from A to B and sleeping there can be a fine one. What makes a van a camper van?

According to Toyota Reviews, they can be loosely classed into groups according to their functionality (note these are terms used in the USA! Campervans elsewhere can refer to a much wider range of motorhomes).

A cargo van is just a van with nothing in it- not even seats. It is used to transport cargo- but can also be the basis for your own little mobile home sweet home.

A Camper Van is converted to be useful for camping- mattresses, maybe even a kitchenette. Typically a home job.

A Class B Motorhome is a fully fledged and kitted out motorhome that has been built into a cargo van chassis. To be included in this category, it must be equipped for the needs of basic living- eating, sleeping, and toileting. This includes grey and fresh water holding tanks.

So there are many degrees of kitting out that the humble cargo van can take. You could put some mattresses in the back and call it a camper van, or have it fitted out completely into a Class B Motorhome. Mini Class C Motorhomes are genuine motorhomes that can be mistaken for Campervans or Class Bs due to their compact design, making them look similiar to a cargo van.













To rent any type of motorhome in the USA, click here!

Author: Doug Brown+

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Kiwis Escaped to the States

New Zealand campervan company Escape Rentals has expanded right across the pacific to open a branch in California. After 2 years, 100 of their graffiti/art/colour- covered vans are on American highways, and the company is expecting that number to grow.

Andrew McGregor, one of the company's founders who is heading up the San Francisco division, told voxy.co.nz that as they are a company that rents to tourists, San Franciscans are not the target market- and a good thing too, as their idea of a motorhome is very different to that of a New Zealander! The land of huge winnebagos is a bit taken aback by Escape's small, simple and bright vans which are made for exploring the roads less traveled and tripping on a budget.

However, some in the US do love them, and the vans are proving popular amongst the same tourist market that they are aimed at in New Zealand- backpackers from Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK and other parts of Europe who like to get more for their money and a bit of adventure thrown in.




For Escape and other Motorhome rentals in the USA, click here!

Author: Phil Wright+

NZ Natives for Campervans

Have you ever wanted to really get the feel for a country you are visiting? To be less of a tourist and more of a traveller? NativeParks.co.nz is a site for that type of visitor. Also for the budget-conscious kind, and admittedly the two often go hand-in-hand.

Native Parks is sort of a club, sort of a directory. membership is $75 for 2 years, and this covers your motorhome (whichever you happen to be using) and everyone in it. With your membership you will receive the directory of 88 private sites around New Zealand, where you can park your campervan free of charge.

The service is available only to self-contained vehicles, as the sites (called 'Motorhome Havens') vary greatly in the facilities they offer. Some sites offer power hook-up for a fee, and these are indicated in the directory. Around half of the Motorhome Havens provide up to 5 sites for those travelling in groups.


Koru by Abaconda via Flickr Creative Commons

the Havens are privately owned properties, and the owners are benefited by meeting interesting people from all over the world, possibly promoting and networking their business, and they also receive a free subscription to Native Parks should they wish to travel.


Pohutakawa by sids1 via Flickr Creative Commons

No bookings are taken, so there is a risk there- but according to the website, Motorhome Havens are not often full and they are well distributed around the country so it will likely be possible to find an alternative.

For more information see nativeparks.co.nz, and for great deals on campervan hire in New Zealand click here.

Author: Phil Wright+

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