I’m the first to admit I’m a one-eyed, blinkered, biased South Islander whose magnetic centre is Central Otago, where I holidayed as a child, but a recent road trip around the Coromandel Peninsula forced me to concede that certain parts of the North Island actually do stack up against ‘my’ peaks, lakes and rivers.

The road up the west coast of the Coromandel Peninsula is right on the seashore

In late spring, we free-wheeled around the Coromandel Peninsula in a luxurious, new, fully self-contained Britz motorhome, nicknamed ‘the Ritz’, fulfilling a yearning to explore more of our own Aotearoa treasures rather than seeking adventures offshore. Our aims were to discover roads less-travelled and tracks less-trod, freedom camping where possible. The latter proved to be the most challenging of the three. Beautiful beaches like Opito Bay and Otara Bay are off limits to freedom campers, even when your fully self-contained motorhome is equipped with state-of-the-art bathroom and kitchen facilities that leave no trace in the environment. Fortunately we were armed with brilliant Campermate and Roadtrippers Apps, which pointed us in the right direction.

Gorgeous Tapu Bay, our first stop along the west coast of the Coromandel Peninsula

Before heading up the west coast of the peninsula, we loaded up at Thames with enough supplies for a month. We had a minor stoush in the supermarket about how much would fit in the Ritz, but we ended up stowing everything in his ample cupboards, fridge-freezer and rear storage compartment … so round one to Chris.

Chris relaxed and happy driving the motorhome

After cushioning the cutlery and pots and pans with tea towels to stop the clattering, the seriously big rig trundled along smoothly and quietly. Chris found the driving effortless with great vision from such an elevated position. “You just have to be aware that it’s higher, longer and wider than you’re accustomed to. The reversing camera is a great help with that,” he said.

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