Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Raglan to Kawhia Campervan Road Trip

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See 3 of the West Coast Harbours on this drive which takes only a day but takes in so much!

Day 1.
For such a small town, Raglan is famous the world over- and that's no exaggeration. If you don't surf, you are not likely to have heard of it but for the surfing community, Raglan is one of the world's Meccas.

Raglan Town
by Jun Kaneko Flickr Creative Commons

Tucked inside Raglan Harbour, it is a bustling but laid back beachside town which is perfect for a chilled-out holiday. There are many artists and artisans with wares on display, opportunities for outdoor sports such as mountain biking, paragliding, horseback riding among others, and of course the beach! Sheltered swimming spots inside the harbour and big waves on the coast.

For the surfers, the action happens on the coast outside the harbour- Manu Bay is famous for it's long left-hand surf break, and there are also waves to be caught at Whale Bay and other beaches along that coast.

From Raglan, head out south on Main Road and then turn into Maungatawhiri road until you can turn right onto Te Mata Road, the Te Papatapu Road. These aren't main highways, but a scenic route and will take you past the beautiful Aotea Harbour where you can stop for coffee from your camper kitchen and enjoy the view!

Turn right when you get to Kauroa-Kawhia Road, also called Raglan Road, and follow the signs into Kawhia.

Kawhia Wharf
by asgw Flickr creative Commons

Kawhia is a great spot to visit if you are interested in Maori History- it is the final landing place of the great Tainui Waka (ocean-going canoe) which is buried there, with stones to mark it's bow and stern. To find out more about this, you can visit the Kawhia Museum/Information Centre located on the waterfront in the town.

by Phillip Capper Flickr Creative Commons

A well-kept secret is the natural hot springs on one of the ocean-facing beaches just outside of Kawhia- go at low tide and bring a spade for a hot soak on the beach!

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

Happy travelling! For New Zealand Campervan Hire, click here.

Mystic to Stamford-the Connecticut Coast by RV

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A straight trip from, Mystic on the northeast end of the Connecticut coast to Stamford on the southwest end will only take you around 2 hours- but there are too many interesting things to see along the way to just drive on through! I have extended it into a 2-day trip which will take in the best of the coast and the Long Island Sound. This is a great trip for those interested in maritime history!

Day 1.
Mystic is best known as an historical seaport, and the Mystic Seaport is the USA's leading maritime museum.

Mystic Seaport
by AMOC Flickr Creative Commons

Mystic also boasts a picturesque Olde Village and some leading casinos, so make sure you have seen all this little town has to offer before you make a move.

Head out of Mystic on Allyn Street and get onto the I-95 S which will take you down the coast.

New London is not far from Mystic. Once a busy whaling port, it is now home to the United States Coastguard Academy., and is a pretty town with a lot of history.

Also along the way is Hammonasset State Park, Connecticut's largest shoreline State Park, and has over 2 miles of beaches for visitors to enjoy. So, if you would like to get out of your RV and get some fresh air, this is a great place to do it.

Hammonasset State Park
by Eugene Peretz Flickr Creative Commons

Once you have had your fill of nature, New Haven is the next place along the road. There is an RV Park, Totoket RV Park which is 15 minutes out of the city.

Day 2.
New Haven's biggest claim to fame is that it is home to Ivy League school Yale University. It's gothic architecture and history make the campus very much worth a visit. The city is one of America's oldest, settled by Puritans in the 17th century and was carefully planned, with a grid of streets downtown at the centre of which is the Town Green.

Yale Campus in winter
by Adam Jones Flickr Creative Commons

The culinary highlight of New Haven is New Haven-Style pizza, a Neapolitan pizza also known as 'apizza.' The two main apizzerias in town, Pepe's and Sally's, are in fierce competition and each has it's loyal customers. It is probably necessary that you try both so you can make up your own mind!

Sally's Apizza
by stu_spivack Flickr Creative Commons

The next town along, Milford, hosts the oyster festival once a year on the third saturday of August- so if you are in the area around that time, try to plan your trip to coincide with that- if you like shellfish. Long Island Sound is known to be rich in shellfish.

You will pass through a few more places along the road- Bridgeport was home to famous circus promoter P.T. Barnum, and Norwalk also holds an oyster festival later in the year, so if you miss out on the one in Milford you might be able to catch this one!

Stamford is proud of it's economic soundness and low crime rate. It also boasts many parks and beaches along it's shoreline- for example, Cummings Park, which includes a beach, baseball fields, tennis and basketball courts, restrooms and a cafe.

For those staying in Stamford, the sights and sounds of the Big Apple are a short train ride away.

For RV rental, take a look here!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dargaville to Kaitaia New Zealand

For those who want to see the far north of New Zealand, a road trip from Dargaville to Kaitaia is a great idea- particularly with a loop thrown in to see the Hokianga Harbour and Opononi.

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Day 1.
Dargaville, a town of about 5,000 on the Wairoa River north of Auckland, is a great base for seeing some of the wild outdoors in the area- particularly the Kauri Coast, an area of forests which has some of New Zealand's largest Kauri trees, inlcuding the great Tane Mahuta, a famously huge Kauri specimen.

Baylys Beach, 13km from the township, is a small community which is the gateway to Ripiro Beach, the longest driveable beach in the country. Baylys Beach is a centre for beach activities such as surfing, land yachting, quad biking and others.

Once you have seen Dargaville and surrounds, make your way up the Kauri Coast on State Highway 12 to the Kai Iwi Lakes, along Omamari the Kai Iwi Lakes Roads. These lakes are a beautiful spot to spend a few hours or a night- there are camping sites at the lakes, but no powered sites so you must be prepared to rough it a little! Alternatively, there is a Top Ten Holiday Park called the Kauri Coast Holiday Park a bit further up SH12.

Kai Iwi Lakes
by Sids1 Flickr Creative Commons

The Kai Iwi Lakes are an idyllic spot for swimming, fishing, kayaking or just relaxing!

Day 2.

Now, continue northwards on State Highway 12. A good place to stop is Opononi, a seaside town on the shore of the Hokianga Harbour famous for being frequented in the summer of 1955-56 by
Opo the friendly dolphin. There is a statue and gravesite outside the town hall in her memory. Opononi is a great place to swim or even pop across the harbour to the huge sand dunes on the North Head.

Continua along SH12 until Rawene road, which goes into Rawene where you can take a car ferry across the Hokianga Harbour to cut quite a distance off your journey. Kohukohu, Rakautapu, Paponga, Birdwood and Kaitaia-Awaroa roads will lead you the rest of the way through some stunning scenery.

Kaitaia scenery
by Wendy Schotsmans Flickr Creative Commons

Kaitaia is the last major settlement before Cape Reinga, the northernmost tip of New Zealand. On average, it is the warmest place in the country. It is also where a lot of ancient kauri is extracted and manufactured into various things- so if you would like to get your hands on some beautiful furniture or giftware made from 45,ooo year old logs, definitely visit the Ancient Kauri Kingdom. You can also visit 90 mile beach from here, and walk the Kaitaia Walkway through some stunning native forest.

So, see a bit of the west coast of Northland.. for camper hire in New Zealand, click here!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Russel to Coopers Beach New Zealand Road Trip

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A trip from Russell to Cooper's Beach in New Zealand will showcase 2 of Northland's breathtaking Bays- the Bay of Islands and Doubtless Bay.

Day 1.

View of Russell from the water
by Anne-Lise Heinrichs Flickr Creative Commons

Russell used to be known as the "Hellhole of the Pacific" as it was notorious for lawlessness, prostitution and drunkenness as a major trade centre between the Europeans and Maori. Nowadays, it is a peaceful and picturesque seaside town, and on first glance does not seem significant enough to have recieved such a reputation! However, a trip to Russell museum will disabuse you of this notion- although small today, Russell, once named Kororareka, was at one point the country's capital and it's flagpole was behind the Flagstaff War in 1845.

If you have seen all that Russell can offer, it's time to get on the road. Many people take the car ferry from Russell to Opua and head north from there, as it is a significant detour to drive around by land. It is a good option as it operates every 20 minutes or so, takes 10 minutes to cross, and is $10 for a car and driver plus $1 per passenger.

Off the ferry, take Paihia road until it joins with State Highway 1 at Kawakawa, and then on to State Highway 10 towards Kerikeri and Mangonui.

Kerikeri is a nice place to stay for the night, and boasts a "Top Ten Holiday Park" which is great for campervanners. It also has New Zealand's oldest building that still stands, the Stone Store. For those with a sweet tooth, handmade chocolate boutique Makana Confections is worth a visit!

Day 2.

Onwards and upwards along State Highway 10 to Coopers Beach in Doubtless bay. As it is not far from Kerikeri, you will have plenty of time to see some of Doubtless Bay's delights. Lunch at the Mangonui Fish Shop, on Mangonui Harbour, is a must- they have by reputation some of the best fish and chips in New Zealand, and as any kiwi will tell you, that is not a claim to be taken lightly!

Famed Mangonui Fish Shop
by Phillip Capper Flickr Creative Commons

Coopers Beach is next along the highway, and is a pohutakawa-fringed beach which is safe for swimming. The town, slightly back from the beach, has a small shopping centre with hairdresser, superette, butcher, medical centre, hardware store, pharmacy and restaurants.

Cable Bay, a pretty bay with orangey-pink sand is just over the hill from Coopers.

The Karikari Peninsula encloses Doubtless Bay and it's views are best taken in with a glass of wine in hand, sitting outside the Karikari Estate Winery. It also has a Top Ten Holiday Park.

View from Karikari Estate
by TobiasPMP Flickr Creative Commons

See the Bays with a campervan hire!

Boston to Cape Cod Road Trip

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Boston to the Cape is a trip many make each year, often by ferry to Provincetown. But renting an RV and making a leisurely road trip of it is a great way to see a bit of the New England scenery and make yourself a cup of tea along the way. The drive can take anywhere from 1-3 hours, depending on traffic and where in the cape you would like to end up, and it is a great way for visitors to the area to really see Massachusetts.

Day 1.

Boston Common
by redjar Flickr Creative Commons

Have you already seen the sites of Boston? One of the best ways to get acquainted with the city is to walk the 2.5 mile long Freedom Trail, which leads you past 16 historical sites significant to the nation. Many of Boston's top places to visit are on this trail, so it comes highly recommended! You can take guided tours also, and learn a lot about New England's rich history.

New England Scenery
by Doug Kerr Flickr Creative Commons

Once you have seen Boston, you are ready to head for the Cape! I-93 heading south will take you out of Boston, and then follow in the footsteps of the pilgrims (although I doubt they drove on freeways) along the pilgrim's highway, also known as MA-3.

Take your time on the drive- there are places to see, such as Plymouth, the site of the first colony founded by the pilgrims. America's Hometown! As well as the obvious historical interest, Plymouth has 9 public beaches, the biggest one, Plymouth Beach, is a barrier beach guarding Plymouth Harbour.

You could stay here in Plymouth if the history takes your fancy- or, why not carry on to Sandwich, the first town across the Cape Cod Canal? To get there, change to the MA-6 just before the canal.

Day 2.

Today you continue along the Cape, and make sure you take the time to see all there is to see- wildlife sanctuaries, State Parks, beaches. Why not play a game of golf? Bayberry Hills Golf Course is just off the MA-6 on West Yarmouth Road. If you like fishing, there are not only great saltwater fishing spots but hundreds of ponds on the Cape to fish to your heart's content.

Further up the Cape, there are the ocean-facing beaches- Coast Guard Beach is on the USA's top ten beaches list, and for less crowds there are Marconi Beach and Cahoon Hollow.

So, take your pick of what to do on the way up the Cape- those are of course only a few activities and places that may be of interest.

Provincetown, MA
by Harvey Barrison Flickr Creative Commons

Provincetown is a great place to finish your road trip- right on the end of the Cape, this town continues the Pilgrim theme by being the first place they landed in the New World, before carrying on to Plymouth. The town is know known for it's resident artists, it's beaches and it's popularity amongst the gay community. Although a bustling destination, it retains the feel of it's fishing village roots, and most people explore on foot- hotels, restaurants, shops, galleries, cafes and nightlife hotspots are clustered together on Commercial Street downtown. It is also the capital of Whale Watching on the East Coast!

To start your road trip, click here for Boston RV Rental!