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New Zealand in a campervan – Napier and Dannevirke

A challenging journey

The drive from Taupo to Napier was challenging but stunning. I have only a couple of photos of the trip which is a shame because it was spectacular.

We stopped, to recover from the journey, at a winery/cafe/gallery and had cake and coffee. Her we met two English couples who were combining driving, cruising and the train journey from Picton to Christchurch for their New Zealand experience. I can recall that conversation as if it were yesterday, but not the name of the place we stopped at. Which is why I take photographs of everywhere I visit, signs and all, except here. Possibly because the journey had traumatised me with rain and poor visibility and those precarious roads.

It may have been the Linden Estate Winery or River Valley or neither of these. I have included the links because I have just spent hours on the internet looking for the place we stopped at. All I can say, it was after the challenging mountain drives and in the valley, and pretty much the first place to stop on this drive. And you will need to stop, after the drive. The other couples in the cafe were with me on that one.



New Zealand rarely disappointed me on this trip, yet Napier just did not do it for me. I had been looking forward to seeing all the Art Deco buildings, and yes there were plenty of them. However it all seemed a bit run down. There was a lot of refurbishment going so perhaps I caught Napier at the wrong time.

So many of the Art Deco buildings were ruined by modern shop fronts.

Look up and you can see the beauty of the buildings.

We didn’t linger. We only had three days until the ferry crossing to the South Island, and we had plans to meet our new friends in Wellington. Back on the road.

Heading south

We were on Highway 2 and again the landscape changed as it so often does in New Zealand. The road was straight and there were no big mountains with windy roads to navigate. We travelled through small towns with Ma and Pa shops and no campsites. We skipped Norsewood, a town settled by Scandinavians in the 1870’s, although I was tempted to stop and take a look around given my Norwegian heritage. If I am ever that way again I would make sure I made time to visit this unique village, a little bit of Norway in New Zealand.

Dannevirke, by comparison was much larger, and like Norsewood, founded by Scandinavians.

Dusk was falling, we needed somewhere to park up and then we saw a sign for a campsite. On locating the house of the site manager and paying in advance we were given a key to the gate and the facilities.

We drove for 10 minutes or so through a forest and found this. A complete contrast to any other site we had stayed on. This was not a Top Ten site with thermal heated pools and luxury kitchens. This was basic camping.

We were possibly the only people there. There were a few static caravans on the site and these interesting chalets. We never saw another person while we were there.

The toilets were reminiscent of 1970’s camping holidays with the Guides. Basic, cold, peeling paint and spider webs. The communal kitchen was underwhelming. Looking at the website now it seems Dannevirke Holiday Park has had a much needed makeover.

The location is beautiful. The wildlife abundant. This is a get away from it all campsite.

Although it seems the wildlife could be dangerous.

How could Bambi be so bad?

We slept so well, no light pollution, no people, no noise at all. Perfect. Well rested for our long and challenging drive to Wellington the next day. I am glad we stopped off at Dannevirke.

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