The last lap
13.12.2005 26 °C
With a crunch of metal and a whine of hawsers our ferry reved engines and headed back to Wellington, on Friday morning. We sat on the conservatory deck looking out over the Sounds as the boat chugged its way along. The trip is definatelty one of the most scienic I have been on, but it takes so long as the ferry is limited to about 5 knots in the sound, to prevent the wash drowning the houses on the edge!
We had spent the first part of the morning looking round Picton. Hard to see what was there apart from the ferry port. And I have at last found the crapest coffee in NZ. My long black was so thin you could see the bottom! I can't remember the name of the bar, but its bright orange and has tables out in the parking lot at the front of the building, and is next to a motel enterence... avoid it if you are a coffee snob like me!
Our trip accross was uneventful. The boat ran into some fog so we slowed a little but then that gave way to damp windy Wellington weather. We had satisfied our need to view everything by this point. So we headed out to Gemma's place again. We had been offered a real bed for a night and a chance to relax at her place. After a tasty curry... this time much more to my liking... we waved Mike and Gemma off for their weekend away and took liberties with their beer and DVD collection.
Next morning we had a lazy start and only managed to make it onto the road by about lunch time. We drove north up the west side of the south of the north island (this is getting a bit complicated... we might need to change direction). We headed along past a few coastal towns and made our way to Wanganui. This town is located on the Whanganui river. Now for some reason none of the locals refered to this as Fanganui unlike at Whakatane, which became Facatane... I am now totaly mistified.
We camped for the night by the river, a wide lazy looking muddy river, which has NZ's only steam drived paddle steamer still at work there. Nice way to spend the evening, stolling along the side of the river looking at the gardens of the houses lining the road and river.
Next morning we were up and at 'em. Nettie decided that enough was enough... she had had her fill of driving 300 km then stopping. We also realised about 5 minutes out of Wanganui that there was very little between there and Auckland. So we decided to cut slightly east and head back up via Taupo. It was a hot and sticky day as temperatures soared and the radio kept warning of rain and storms.
We stoped for a moment to look at a set of falls... nice... but we have seen waterfalls. We both just wanted to shift the van from south to north and have done with it.
After passing through a National Park, the name of which escapes me now, we rounded a corner and met up again with Lake Taupo. Our old mate from about 3 weeks ago. Children were swimming and adults watching, drinking beers and picnicing as we reached the shoreline at Turangi. So we stopped for lunch. All of a sudden the heavens opened and the promised rain fell. Within 2 minutes we were the only vehicle in the layby, the kids bundled into cars, beers necked and the drivers were probably parked at home and in the pub within 15 seconds of the first rain!
We took the SH1 up north, as this road appeared to be faster. We dashed through Taupo, and then Cambridge, Hurly, and Hamilton, making a bee line for Clevedon on the shore of the Sounds opposite Auckland. Our final port of call was Orere Point on the Gulf of Thames. A pleasant spot off the main tourist drag and a haven for bird watchers. It markets itself as the seabird coast.
We bedded down for the night after a tasty BBQ... why eat anything else when steak is $5 for 3 huge servings! By now the kms had clocked up to 4588km, around 500 of those had been driven in about 8 hours!
Day 24... our last full day. We drove along the seabird coast south, then headed back in land. Today would be a fun day with little driving. So heading back towards Auckland we doubled back on ourselves after last nights loop to Orore point. Carrying onwards we headed into Manukau city. This is the principal city just outside Auckland and is where the main airport is. However we had another night in the van to look forward to, so we parked up at NZ's only theme park. Like Alton Towers without the scary rides. We went on bumper boats, pirate ships, go carts, corkscrew roller coaster and log flumes. We also went on some gravity defying spiny thing... but that really scared the pants off of me.. so I thought it best to avoid a repeat performance. Based on this performance I gave up daredevil stuff and refused to go on the tower thing that dragged you up 18 stories high and then droped you... too much for me!
So we spent our last day... eating crap and making ourseles sick with icecream on rides and amusements.
Auckland tomorrow... and good bye to the van... and probably my last post too.... for this trip.
Time to save my work before I get d/c.