Over­land­ing to Aus­tralia: Part 16

The De­fender is on its way across the equa­tor to the South­ern Hemi­sphere and the cou­ple's next des­ti­na­tion

Land Rover Monthly - - Contents - Story: Hay­don Bend Pic­tures: Me-an Bend

The De­fender is on its way to the South­ern Hemi­sphere and the hon­ey­moon­ers’ next stop

Hay­don Bend and his wife Me-an are en­joy­ing a hon­ey­moon with a dif­fer­ence – driv­ing over­land around the world in a De­fender 110. Each month LRM is re­port­ing on their progress. For their lat­est news see op­long­drive.com

Af­ter a 17-hour bud­get air­line flight which con­firms why we de­cided to drive around the world, we ar­rive in New Zealand’s big­gest city, Auck­land. The har­bour and green patch­work pas­ture greets us as we de­scend into a damplook­ing spring morn­ing.

The Pam­ina ship, which is car­ry­ing our De­fender down the Pa­cific, is due to ar­rive in a few days, so we set­tle into life as back­pack­ers, ex­plor­ing the city and work­ing with our agent to get the car re­leased as soon and smoothly as pos­si­ble.

Our first task is to get the cus­toms clear­ance. As we are tem­po­rary im­port­ing the car into NZ on a Car­net de Pas­sage, it is pretty sim­ple. We fill in a cus­toms dec­la­ra­tion form and sub­mit a list of items in the car and af­ter 45 min­utes we have a stamp in our Car­net.

Three days af­ter the ship has docked, our con­tainer is fi­nally un­loaded and taken to a com­pound where it will be in­spected by the Min­istry of Pri­mary In­dus­tries (MPI). It is time to find out if all the hours we put into clean­ing the car has paid off.

We are not al­lowed to be present at the in­spec­tion but Richard who runs the com­pound has a look at the car and tells us to get cer­tain things like camp­ing and fishing equip­ment out for in­spec­tion. He runs his hand un­der the wheel arch and looks in one of the hid­den dirt traps un­der the body and says that he thinks there should be no prob­lem. How­ever, we will have to wait un­til to­mor­row to find out as the in­spec­tors have left for the day.

Well, Richard turns out to be ab­so­lutely right. We re­ceive the call to say that our car has been re­leased from quar­an­tine. We're very happy to get the car through first time as it saves us any ex­tra clean­ing charges.

Next, we need to get the De­fender road-le­gal. For that we are re­quired to pass a War­rant of Fit­ness (WOF) test like an MOT and pay some road user charges and a levy. We visit the VTNZ garage, a chain of work­shops where you can get the test done and pay all the ap­pro­pri­ate charges. Not sur­pris­ingly, they don’t deal with tem­po­rar­ily im­port­ing for­eign ve­hi­cles very of­ten and John, the man­ager, is called to deal with our case. John loves his job and takes it very se­ri­ously. He turns out to be a good bloke and gets ev­ery­thing we need sorted in an hour, at a cost of £60.

Now armed with many stick­ers on the wind­screen, we hit the road head­ing for the surf town of Piha on the west coast. It is dark by the time we get to the camp­site but we set­tle in to our first night in the tent for a while. It is good to be back.

The next thing on the list is self con­tain­ment. In or­der for us to be able to free­dom camp, we needed to be fully self­con­tained for a min­i­mum of three days. This means enough fresh wa­ter and the same ca­pac­ity for grey wa­ter stor­age, hav­ing a sink which con­nects to the waste wa­ter and hav­ing a toi­let. We put the word out on Face­book be­fore we ar­rived in New Zealand to see if any­one knows if it is pos­si­ble to get the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for a De­fender. A gen­er­ous Land Roverlov­ing Kiwi called Melissa re­sponded and of­fered to lend us her spare kit.

We ar­range to meet Melissa at an event called Brits on the Beach. We don’t re­ally have any idea of what to ex­pect but are in­trigued by the name. It turns out to be a small gath­er­ing to show­case the best of Bri­tish cars with a feel very sim­i­lar to a May Day vil­lage fête. There was ev­ery­thing from clas­sic Mi­nis to Massey Fer­gu­son trac­tors and a few Landys, too. It was in­ter­est­ing to get a for­eigner’s per­spec­tive on what be­ing Bri­tish means. The New Zealan­ders' in­ter­pre­ta­tion of this is Mor­ris danc­ing (some dancers un­der the age of 30, may I add), May­pole and a dog agility chal­lenge called Scruffs.

Get­ting a self-con­tain­ment cer­tifi­cate turns out to be pretty straight for­ward when you have the help of a lo­cal. We show the bloke our kit, pay the fee and he gives us a blue sticker which cer­ti­fies that we are re­spon­si­ble campers and we are all set for ex­plor­ing New Zealand.

We make our way steadily north on the east coast of the North Is­land from Auck­land, ad­mir­ing the stun­ning bays with boats a-plenty. We hop from bay to bay, driv­ing no more than 20 miles a day for a week, camp­ing and fishing in idyl­lic places. We meet Melissa again at the most northerly point in NZ at Cape Reinga for a drive down the fa­mous Ninety Mile Beach. Melissa is bring­ing a friend, Veronika, who has pre­vi­ously trav­elled from Auck­land to Paris in her Td5 110. We should have plenty to talk about around the camp fire. Th­ese Kiwi birds love their De­fend­ers!

We wake early to get the tides right for our cruise down the beach. Ac­cess to the beach was a lit­tle un­ortho­dox as we drive down a hard-packed sandy stream bed, meandering through mas­sive dunes. Af­ter about a mile we round a cor­ner. The tide is high and on its way out. The waves are big from the Tas­man Sea and the sky grumpy. It feels like our first ad­ven­ture in NZ as ev­ery­thing prior has been tar­mac or gravel and pretty sure-footed. Off we go.

The sand is hard but it takes us ages to travel two miles, due to the con­stant stop­ping to get pho­tos and to treat Melissa to a good brew. We start to mo­tor down the beach and it be­comes a lit­tle mun­dane so the cruise con­trol gets set to 50 mph and we chew up a few miles. We meet up with Veronika about half­way down and head to the exit of Ninety Mile Beach, fa­mous for be­ing only 55 miles.

Pin­ing for a fire and a bit of a wild camp, I do a map study and lo­cate a beach off the beaten track. We have a group chat and it turns out Veronika has been be­fore and rec­om­mends the dunes as a good bush camp. The beach is de­serted and we head off to the dunes early to find a camp spot and test our soft sand driv­ing. We find a spot, col­lect some drift­wood and have a big cook-up and some lo­cal wine. The weather was a lit­tle Bri­tish but we have had a great few days. It was es­pe­cially good to get off road again and get some lo­cal knowl­edge from the ladies.

We con­tinue our jour­ney as a triple De­fender con­voy, vis­it­ing the old­est Kauri tree – which is some 2000 years old – and other places of in­ter­est. As we reach Auck­land again, it is time to say good­bye to Veronika and Melissa for now.

Out first few of weeks in New Zealand have flown by. The Ki­wis are a very prac­ti­cal, help­ful and friendly bunch. They seem to ap­ply com­mon sense to the rules so not to let it hold them back. They are also su­per-friendly and wel­com­ing. We are re­ally im­pressed with the coun­try so far and can’t wait to see what more it has in store.

End of Ninety Mile beach. Start of the 3 De­fender con­voy.

Our ship dock­ing in Auck­land – the con­tainer with our De­fender in­side be­ing off­loaded

Our camp amongst the sand dunes

Cape Reinga - the most northerly point in the north Is­land

Carv­ing on the largest Maori war ca­noe

Karikari Penin­su­lar

If you’re gonna be a bear, be a Griz­zly. If you’re gonna for­age, for­age for oys­ters

Long ex­po­sure shot of a water­fall

Around the camp fire in the sand dunes

The blue badge of re­spon­si­bil­ity. This self-con­tain­ment cer­tifi­cate al­lows us to free­dom camp in NZ

Above: Gan­net and Gan­net colony at Muri­wai Beach

Clas­sic Land Rover at Brits on the Beach

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