Day 11 - Monday
Ahipara Travel Blog› entry 9 of 12 › view all entries
Well, yesterday wore me out and I didnâ€™t like it much. I liked everything I saw and all the places I went but I didnâ€™t like the feeling that I was rushed and in a hurry. So today I slowed down. I got up in the morning and tried to find the 90-mile Beach but I couldnâ€™t. I could see it and hear it but I couldnâ€™t get there so I missed the sunrise. I was packed up and on the road by 8 am merely because there was nothing at the campground. So I headed south towards the Kauri Coast. I made sure to veto my GPS when it tried to send me a way I didnâ€™t want to go. I stayed on what they call the Twin Coast Discovery route.
I went towards the ferry crossing in Rawene and somewhere east of Broadwood, I stopped at a nice spot on the side of the road and cooked breakfast.
I came across a weird sight today. On the fence along the road were animal skins, hanging as if to dry. I stopped to take a picture and saw that they were pigs. Just so happened that there was a man on horseback just coming up to them. So I stopped and asked him why they were there. He said that is was a pride thing. They were wild pigs. So I assume that someone was very proud of the number of pigs they had shot. The birds were having a nice meal. I scared off a harrier when I walked up.
I went on to Opononi where I picked up some more groceries and took in the view of the sand dunes across Hokianga Harbor.
I went to visit the tree they call Tane Mahuta, Maori for the God of the Forest. It is the oldest living kauri tree, somewhere around 2000 years old or so. It used to be taller but a local guy told me that four or five years ago, it was struck by lightning and is shorter now. It is still an impressive tree whose diameter is about 40 feet. (Well, whatever 13.8 meters equates to!) I saw only one bird in the forest but fortunately for me it was a new one, a tomtit.
I kept running into a French couple. They were around 30 years old and just finishing up a 7 month world tour. They had a month in NZ and were headed to San Francisco next and then home to France. We had parked next to each other one night and then ran into each other again a couple days later.
I planned to stay in the motor camp near Trounson Forest Park because they hold nightly kiwi walks so I went and checked in at the camp. Sadly, they need at least 4 people for a kiwi walk so it is not to be, at this time. This was probably the only chance I have of seeing a kiwi.
Instead I am doing laundry. Hmmmâ€¦not what I would have chosen. The motor camp is empty, just me and one young guy who is bicycling through NZ staying in a tent. I bought a meat pie at the office for dinner ï¿½ï¿½" not so great. I did pick up some breaded lamb chops that I may make for breakfast tomorrow so I wonâ€™t have to eat potato chips and Mint Slices for nourishment. This morningâ€™s breakfast was so nice, maybe Iâ€™ll do it again tomorrow.
Tried to get on the internet tonight but when I saw they had dialup and a y2k mouse pad, I passed on it! Maybe tomorrow.
Thoughts on the campervan:
Overall I like it. Given that it was the same price as renting a car, Iâ€™m way ahead. Nights in the campgrounds are only $15-20 for one person. Driving the thing is basically driving a heavy cargo van. My driving has a tendency to fling things around in a car. It is exaggerated in the camper. It has a much higher center of gravity than a car. I think I finally have everything pretty much battened down. First it was the pots and dishes rattling, then the laundry bag sliding back and forth in the shower. I had to rearrange the bed so that I doubled up the cushions. I slept much better but that left the table top on the bare bench and sometime today it hit the front with a bang.
It has no get up and go. I hardly ever get it to the speed limit but I am beginning to realize that the speed limit here is not the safest speed to go. Sometimes the limit is 100 and Iâ€™m doing 60 or so. I am the slowest thing on the road ï¿½ï¿½" well, except for the herd of cattle I came up to today! No wait, I did pass someone once! Otherwise, I am obsessively looking in the rearview mirror to see if there is anyone behind me since I am probably way below the speed limit. Even on the most desolate roads, I look. Luckily the roads now are very empty. I canâ€™t imagine it in high season. It has not traction either. A couple times I thought I might get stuck in grass because after the rains, the grassy areas here have a swamp under them! I did a bit of spinning the wheels before I got out. I had to quit using the seat belt properly. I kept hanging myself, every time I reached for anything or even leaned forward to get a look at something. I cannot use the shoulder strap anymore! Not the best place to quit but it canâ€™t be helped.
I debated whether to get the van with a toilet/shower or not. For $7 a day more I decided to get one. Itâ€™s been convenient at times but probably not necessary. Since itâ€™s been pretty cold at night Iâ€™ve chosen to stay at places with powered sites. Most of the parks Iâ€™ve stayed at have showers. The shower onboard is not terribly cramped, Iâ€™ve seen worse! But there were nights that didnâ€™t get as cold as I thought and I would have liked to stay somewhere other than where I stayed.
The Kruse radio is excellent. I am a bit tired of the musak though and I miss silence. But there is little chance of silence in the camper since it sounds like a semi. I donâ€™t turn off the musak though because I donâ€™t want to miss the commentary. And sometimes I would like to repeat what Iâ€™ve heard but there is no option for that. It does make an effort not to repeat things so you donâ€™t keep hearing the same stories. Which is probably for the best since I tend to drive in circles!
I also recommend the GPS. Other than the driving directions, it has parks marked in green so whenever I see green, I aim that way. I have ended up at some golf courses though. Not sure why they are green! It doesnâ€™t seem to have great search capabilities but then Iâ€™ve only used them while driving! Itâ€™s hard to really investigate its options! Oh yeah, I need to look up NZ hand gestures!