MAKE IT HAPPEN
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.
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