If this van’s a rocking ...please help us

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
Catchpool, Rimutaka Forest Park

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Saturday, October 16, 2010

I woke to find out that it wasn't a crazy dream, Andrew did actually think that his underpants had been stolen. So I checked the washing that had been dumped in a pile on the passenger seat last night and unsurprisingly I found said underpants in the leg of a pair of combats as I started to fold everything.  We had a piece of toast in the camp kitchen and a cup of tea before we hit the road to Wellington.  We drove through town upon town down the SH1, I wrote the blog while Andrew concentrated on the road.  At 1pm we arrived in Wellington and decided that as we still weren’t sure where we were going to camp tonight that we would make for Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand.

It was free to get in but the car park was expensive, but after what we’d heard of different people’s experience in Wellington with car break ins we (Andrew) were a bit concerned, I say concerned downright paranoid might be nearer the mark, so we parked there.  The museum was huge and covered five floors.  Everything was covered from Natural History through Maori Culture through Historical Art.  We wandered around mesmerised by the sheer scale of the place.  We were blown away by the first exhibition we entered which had as its centrepiece the only Colossus Squid on show in the world.  We watched a film showing how it was caught and then prepared for exhibit.

We were also amazed at how interactive the museum was and lots of times we found that we were holding kids back so we could have a go on some of the screens.  We looked at each other and said "How old are we?" as we tried to decide which type of animal would be best to take to another planet to help us survive.  I also loved the exhibition which told the story of immigrants coming to New Zealand, some in the Gold Rush, some as refugees escaping war and others with the hope of better prospects and a better way of life for their families.  You were able to listen interactively to people from Burma, Iraq, Somalia and so many other places telling their own stories.

We left having spent about 4 hours in the museum and had to fork out 15 Dollars on car parking fees which we reconciled against the fact that we hadn’t paid anything to see some amazing stuff so it wasn’t so bad.  Time was getting on so we decided to try to find a camp for the night, we stopped off at the nearest campsite to Wellington CBD, Hutts Park Top 10 Holiday Park but at 44 Dollars it was a bit too steep so we made in the direction of the DOC camp towards Baring Head at the end of the peninsula.  As we took the wrong turning we had a scenic cruise through Days Bay which was nice and offered a good view of Wellington across the bay.

Back on the right road eventually, the wind had started to howl so we made the hard decision to stop at a chippy and get fish and chips instead of having to set up the camp stove where it would be impossible to cook anything.  We ate them from the bag in the front seats of the car with our fingers and they tasted great.  I even buttered some bread and we had a few chip butties too.  We got to the camp site and the wind had got even worse.  We sat in the back of the van listening to weird noises rattling on the roof, it looked like the back mirror was going to rip off at one point but Andrew chanced getting blown away and got out to change the angle of it.  (Andrew Edit the trim around wear the rails for the roof rack are had actually been blown off but I managed to get it fitted back into place. It was like all hell had broken loose for an hour and the van wouldn’t stop rocking.  (Andrew Edit - In hindsight it lasted all night and our van has soft suspension so the van was properly rocking looking, for once the saying if the van is rocking don't come knocking was cast aside as I was genuinely worried. I watched one tree get blown over and I could hardly stand up outside).

It was like Australia all over again, we had left the beautiful warm beaches of the North and ended up in the cold and rainy South – completely the opposite from home.  We holed up in the van for the night under what has now become two duvets and a blanket.  We do have the backup of one more duvet if it gets really cold on the South island courtesy of Wickeds good will pile. So tomorrow we leave for the South Island on the 6.15pm ferry after a quick tour of the city – and again it’s Sunday so lets hope there is some free parking to be had, because the ferry has put us five times over budget for the day already, and that’s even before we eat!
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