MAKE IT HAP­PEN

Lonely Planet Magazine (US) - - Journal -

GET­TING THERE

A num­ber of New Zealand air­ports han­dle in­ter­na­tional flights, with Auck­land Air­port re­ceiv­ing the most tra c. Na­tional car­rier Air New Zealand flies there from North Amer­ica, as do Air Canada, Amer­i­can Air­lines, Delta, Hawai­ian Air­lines, Qan­tas and United Air­lines, among oth­ers. Non­stop flights from Los An­ge­les take about 12 hours. Flights from the East Coast, not in­clud­ing stopovers, take about 16½ to 18 hours. You’ll cross the in­ter­na­tional date line, so when you ar­rive in New Zealand, it will be two days later.

GET­TING AROUND

Auck­land-based Clas­sic Campers rents retro Volk­swa­gen vans, as well as peo­ple-car­ri­ers, 4WD Transporters and Mazda Bon­gos. Rates for a clas­sic VW camper start at around $118 per day for a week’s rental ( clas­sic-campers.com).

New Zealand has a broad net­work of Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion camp­sites and RV parks geared to camper van stays. For in­for­ma­tion, and to find out about re­stric­tions on free camp­ing on public con­ser­va­tion land, see camp­ing.org.nz. When plan­ning your trip, keep in mind that the North Is­land spans 43,911 square miles – about the size of Maine and New Jersey com­bined – and has many one-lane roads. This coun­ter­clock­wise route is roughly 550 miles from start to fin­ish. Plan to spend at least a week on the road.

DE­SCEND­ING INTO THE DEEP­EST OF CHAM­BERS OF WAIT­OMO CAVES IN SEARCH OF THE LU­MI­NES­CENT GLOWWORM, PHO­TOG­RA­PHER JUSTIN FOULKES AND I SOON FOUND OUR­SELVES RE­CAST AS GOLLUMS, KNEE-DEEP IN WATER IN AN ECHOEY, PITCH-BLACK CAV­ERN. IN SUCH DARK­NESS, IT WAS AN IN­CRED­I­BLY TRICKY SHOT FOR JUSTIN TO GET – HE NEEDED AROUND 20 MIN­UTES FOR EACH EX­PO­SURE TO CAP­TURE THE STAR­TLING WORMS NEST­ING ABOVE OUR HEADS.

– MIKE MACEACHERAN

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