Day 11 - Monday

Ahipara Travel Blog

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My roadside picnic spot

Well, yesterday wore me out and I didn’t like it much. I liked everything I saw and all the places I went but I didn’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 couldn’t. I could see it and hear it but I couldn’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 didn’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 had picked up some bacon and eggs somewhere along the way and I made bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches next to a field of Pampas grass and a babbling brook with a view of the foggy mountains. It was very nice.

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.

Tane Mahuta, god of the forest, a huge kauri tree
I went through Omapere and took a nice detour out to South Station Rd. I think that’s the name. I meant to have a map with me as I type but I forgot it. I took one more detour out to the west coast a little further south then went on into the Kauri forest.

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 did more walks in the forest to see the Four Sisters and the second largest kauri tree. It was quiet birdwise but it usually is in the middle of the day.

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.

The Four Sisters
They are nocturnal so they are not seen during the day and they are not found in many places anymore. The only reason they are found in Trounson is that they manage ��" read kill, poison and otherwise eradicate predators ��" the land so that the kiwi can live in safety. So probably no kiwi walk.

Instead I am doing laundry. Hmmm…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 ��" not so great. I did pick up some breaded lamb chops that I may make for breakfast tomorrow so I won’t have to eat potato chips and Mint Slices for nourishment. This morning’s breakfast was so nice, maybe I’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, I’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.

Double rainbow, one of many
I know better now though! After a week, I just rearranged the inside to give me more room and made the bed just one bench. It’s narrow but it works. But then I took a ride and when I stopped, the bed was strewn all over the back. So I had to stuff the camp chair in between the two benches to hold the cushions in place. By the time I have to turn it in, I’ll have the thing all just how I like it! I wouldn’t have to make the whole bed up every day. I suppose it would be easier with two people but with one, you do a lot of crawling and tucking and tugging. With the full bed up, there is only room for one person to stand in front of the stovetop and fridge. The shower takes up a lot of space but I throw my shoes and laundry bag and garbage bag in there. I also hang my wet things up but there are no sturdy places to hang them so they tend to fall. It would be nice to have something to hang things on.

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 I’m doing 60 or so. I am the slowest thing on the road ��" 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 can’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 can’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. It’s been convenient at times but probably not necessary. Since it’s been pretty cold at night I’ve chosen to stay at places with powered sites. Most of the parks I’ve stayed at have showers. The shower onboard is not terribly cramped, I’ve seen worse! But there were nights that didn’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 don’t turn off the musak though because I don’t want to miss the commentary. And sometimes I would like to repeat what I’ve heard but there is no option for that. It does make an effort not to repeat things so you don’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 doesn’t seem to have great search capabilities but then I’ve only used them while driving! It’s hard to really investigate its options! Oh yeah, I need to look up NZ hand gestures!

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My roadside picnic spot
My roadside picnic spot
Tane Mahuta, god of the forest, a …
Tane Mahuta, god of the forest, a…
The Four Sisters
The Four Sisters
Double rainbow, one of many
Double rainbow, one of many
photo by: pinkpeardrops