01.06.2008 - 06.06.2008 13 °C
- as a brief note, this is the first in quite a few blog enteries I will be posting before I leave in the campervan. I obviously need to catch up from a while ago so if you fancy reading back on my thoughts of the times past, all the entries will be there. If you cant be bothered, I take no offence, read on from here. I shall be adding photos to illustrate all of the blogs once i have managed to shrink their file size.
The last week before we return our hire car, a few days before we then collect the campervan, our itchy feet got the better of us and we left Auckland on a tour of the Northland. Tent in the boot, petrol in the tank, I start off down the highway for a 2 hour drive to Whangarei. The New Zealanders posess some terrible driving habbits worth mentioning; every single driver, no matter at what speed will tail just 2 meters behind your car, another confusing one is the fact that very few signal or use appropriate lanes, this is due to it only being made a legal requirement last year, so you can often e surprised by a truck darting across 2 lanes in front of you to exit the highway.
Well after obviously making it safely to the first destination, I toped up my English Breakfast Tea level (something I could not do through most of South America) before driving to the outskirts of the town to some walks through the woods to a waterfall. The beauty of New Zealand is that these sorts of 'tramps' as they call them are everywhere and you immediately feel away from any sort of city sprawl. The waterfall was luckily void of picnicing people so we relaxed there for a while before going to find somewhere to camp for the first night.
A wet and chilly morning made packing the tent away a chore but i can be gratefull that unlike big heavy patrol tents modern ones dont take long to pack away and i was soon back in the warm car. On the road toward the Bay of Islands we decided to head to Paihia as it has a central view of the whole bay and, as it turned out, provided a handmade sandwich shop where I could get a never before seen sandwich combining egg mayo and tuna mayo inbetween the same two slices of bread... inovative i think you'll agree. The afternoons viewing of the Witangi Treaty Grounds was fairly interesting, giving a background as to how England drew these two unied islands into its empire, the answer... they asked us to!
This night saw the camp set up by a river which had what seemed like an incredibly high up swing hanging from a riverside tree, however it may be my lack in vertical stature that made it seem challenging to mount. Morning caled for an early departure as I had a long way to drive to the northern most tip of New Zealand, a swift change of plan partly due to the weather but largely the petrol costs (which are high here as well you'll be glad to know) meant we drove across the island to the bottom of 90 mile beach which is a very long beach you can drive along as the sand is so compressed. It isnt 90 miles long however, only a mere 60, and if the day had been slightly clearer we'd probably have been able to see the whole legth of it from where we parked. After another stint on the road we stopped for the night at a small town with an amazing view of Hokianga Harbour. The view made up for missing Cape Reinga at the top of New Zealand however beside the view the town boasted little more than a take away and a pub, so I had fish and chips from the take away and a pint in front of the open fire at the pub.
Deciding to head off even earlier this morning as the tent was freezing I got on to the winding road running through Waipoua Forest. A few stops for walks lead to a couple of trees which had been alive for around 2000 years and it is impossible to portray their size in photos or words, the girth they boasted was impressive to say the least!
Winding on down the road toward the museum, helping an old gentleman who had come off his motorbike along the way, we expected the museum to be a small review of the giant trees however it was a huge complex of various warehous sized rooms that wore out the whole tree experience rather quickly. With haste, being carefull to avoid the huge Hawks that sit by the road before flying away just in front of you, the aim was now to arrive at the Brick Bay sculpture park for 4 so we could get the last entry tickets before they closed at 5. 3:58 my wallet leaves my back pocket ready to pay the lady who will then hand over two tickets allowing us to walk the trail of sculptures, however the lady feels it is necissary to give a windy lecture on how this is the last entry and shes not sure if she should let us in as they close at 5. This was irritating to say the least, made even more ridiculous by the fact that even with time to enjoy the artwork on offer I complete the trail in an easy 45 min. This aside the trail was enjoyable and the artwork was nearly all by New Zealand based artists and often very interesting work.
After buying a catalogue of work and leaving the sculpture park, all that was left was to return to Auckland for a better nights sleep before returning our Jucy Rental car the next day. This now leaves me eagerly awaiting the collection of the campervan, hand spraypainted to an original design. To keep myself busy whilst waiting for the camper I guess I'll have to climb up a dormant volcano... you can just do things like that in New Zealand!