When I arrived in New Zealand I knew three things: my visa was good until November, Pat would be coming from Canada to join me for a few weeks, and we had decided to rent a campervan to explore the North Island. Our plans were loose, but that was the way we liked it.
We spent a few days in Auckland thumbing through our Lonely Planet, highlighting destinations. Sitting in Albert Park, we’d focus on towns with quirky attractions or cities with lauded microbreweries. It became increasingly difficult to plan routes, with more and more places catching our interest. Suddenly our relatively straight line to Wellington was filled with loops, zigs and zags.
Ready or not, our campervan booking was set, so we packed up and headed out of Auckland. In a manner that felt somewhat like throwing a dart at a map, we headed for Raglan.
This place was about as cool as it gets. Feeling like a mix between a Nova Scotian fishing town and an artistic co-op, we drove slowly through the streets soaking it in upon arrival. We camped out on a black sand beach and ate the 2nd best fish and chips of my entire life. There isn’t a whole lot to do in Raglan if you’re not a surfer, but that was alright by us after our action packed days in Auckland. We took it easy for a few days, just relaxing on the beach before heading back out on the road. Just before we left we got our first taste of how great New Zealand coffee is, stopping by Raglan Roast. (Where it seems nearly all of Raglan ends up around 8:45am).
After such a good time in Raglan, Gisborne (another beach town) ended up on our list.
Gizzy made the list expressly because of the sunrise. This town is often considered to be the first populated area in the world to see the sunrise! While this may not be technically true, it sounds pretty cool and we went along with it. We spent our first day scouting out where we would watch the sunrise and settled on Wainui beach. We drove over at about 4:30am, expecting to find a few other early risers but ended up having the beach to ourselves. We packed some strawberries and toast and settled in to the sand. While this was pretty traditional breakfast fare, we did have a little something extra. Pat works at a brewery in Canada, and brought a couple of beers all the way over to NZ. We cracked them as the sun rose above us, deciding that made us the very first people to enjoy a beer on November 25th, 2014.
The sunrise lived up to our expectations, a gorgeous array of pinks, purples, and oranges, reflected in the ocean. We cozied up in a blanket, and sat listening to the waves lap against the sand and watched as Gisborne began to slowly wake up. Joggers start coming by, families were walking their dogs, and children congregated on the street above us waiting for the school bus.
For a couple of non-surfers, these surf towns were pretty good to us.