A Little Off the Top for Britzy Spears

Trip Start Mar 08, 2011
Trip End Jun 11, 2011

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Where I stayed
Top 10 Holiday Park

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Sunday, June 5, 2011

For the first time in three weeks, Amy and I are a team of two again because Adam flew home first thing in the morning, and we are about to conquer the North Island. Now that we are towards the end of our trip, we have decided to steer clear from the big cities as much as possible. That is why we immediately left Christchurch when we landed in NZ, so the plan was to high tail it out of Wellington as well.  But, the first thing we had to do this morning was to finally try the infamous Tim Tam Slam since we had a coffee/hot cocoa maker in our hotel room and a few Tim Tams left.  To properly perform a Tim Tam Slam you have to bite off each end of a Tim Tam and use it as a straw with either coffee or hot cocoa.  Amy tried the coffee method and found it delicious as the chocolate cookie melts and you get both coffee and chocolate.  I tried the hot cocoa method as I don't drink coffee and while delicious it was very chocolatey.  Not a bad start to the day. 

We wanted to make one last stop in Wellington, at the Te Papa museum which is a free museum about the history of NZ and the Maori people in particular.  The museum is heralded as being the best in the country, so it made sense to go before leaving Wellington.  We checked out of the hotel and I spoke to the concierge about where to park in the area.  There is some street parking, but it is hard to come by on the weekend, so she pointed out a few garages as well.  I had considered leaving Britzy Spears parked by the hotel and walking, but we had a long drive ahead of us and needed to get on the road ASAP. 

So we start to head to the museum and see the parking garage that the concierge recommended.  The clearance looked fairly low, so we looked around for signs to see if we could make it.  There were not any.  At this time a car pulls up behind us, also wanting to go to the garage, so after a brief discussion we decided to give it a try.  I drive slowly, but there is a decline in the road, and right when it looks like we would clear the garage and I hear a bang.  Whoopsies.  I put the car in reverse and pull over to the side of the road to take a look at the damage.  The roof of the car is cracked in each corner and there is a huge dent in the middle.  As I am looking at it, the dent pops back into place.  We immediately search for a phone to call up Britz to report the accident.  The lady on the phone seemed quite concerned and informed us that $7500NZ was immediately charged on our card.  Once the damage was looked at and it's repaired we'll be refunded the balance.  She was so concerned, in fact, that she gave us the address of the Britz location in Wellington (which was actually in the suburbs, in the wrong direction to which we were trying to go to later).  Looks like we are not going to make it to the museum after all and we are definitely not having our best day on the trip. 

We drive out to Lower Hutt to the Top 10 Holiday Park where the Britz office is located.  There is one person working the desk and he is maybe 21 years old.  He comes out to look at Brtizy Spears and to our delight tells us that the damage was not as bad as he was expecting (since the lady from Britz told him the story and that we were coming).  He told us that we could either wait till the next day to get a new campervan (and put another $7500 charge on our credit card for a second insurance plan) or keep Britzy.  I figured we might as well keep our current campervan as it drives fine and if we do damage it again, at least we will not have to pay twice.  So the guy gave us a plastic bag and some duct tape to cover the cracks in the roof.  We were well into the afternoon at this point and still had a five hour drive ahead of us.  We contemplated staying at the Holiday Park the rest of the day, but decided to continue on and not let this hiccup ruin our trip. 

The rain was starting to come down at this point (I guess it is lucky that we have a plastic bag on our roof so the inside would stay dry) as we searched for the road to take us to motorway 1 (as we were currently on motorway 2).  We drive for a bit and are finally back on track.  But we now realized that we had skipped lunch.  So we now needed to find a picnic area (which is not too difficult as there are usually stops for picnic lunches every 5 miles in NZ).  The only food we have left are a few pieces of bread in order to make pb&j sandwiches.  That was fine with me as I was still a little upset from my mistake in the morning.  After lunch we drive for a few more hours when we come to a grocery store.  We decide to stop and load up for this week as it is a good idea to make our own food to save some money.  Amy and I also have a week of camping under our belts, so we are smarter at selecting food options.  It was starting to get dark at this point and we still had a few hours of driving left until we would get to Tongariro National Park, which was our destination for the evening.

Tongariro National Park is a group of three active volcanoes.  It is considered to be the "best one day hike in NZ."  The hike typically lasts 8 hours and since that is about the amount of daylight this time of year, we knew we had to get there the night before.  As we got closer to the destination, there were signs everywhere to beware of ice (because the elevation was increasing) and other signs telling us the road is open (it is often not this time of year).  Even though the weather is fairly warm, in NZ the climate can drastically change in thirty minutes.  Add this to the fact that it was now pitch black and the closest camp site was the one we were going to that was an hour away, which all made the last hour driving quite fun.  I swore I would not drive in this country in the dark after our first night in the South Island.  Whoopsies once again.  After one of the more scary drives of my life (especially after getting into an accident that day), we finally made it to the Top 10 Holiday Park in Tongariro.  We talk to the owner of the campground as we are checking in and he tells us that we are lucky because the weather is about 10 degrees Celsius warmer than it should be this time of year.  Guess the drive could have been worse.  He also goes over the hike for the next day.  The bus would pick us up at 6:45 in the morning, drop us off at one end of the park, we would hike 19kms starting at an elevation of 1100m, climbing to 1900m, and finishing at 750m, where a bus would take us back to the campground.  Amy and I both look at each other and decide to pass on the hike as we will probably just do the beginning of it on our own.  We park Britzy Spears, who looks so sad as if she just shaved off her hair, and made dinner (with a bottle of wine that we got in Blenheim) before going to bed.
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