Stuck in the mud

Trip Start May 18, 2003
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Breakfast yesterday morning was on the Kahoe Farm porch with a view of the rising green hills in the background as the sun was beating down. Fruit and porridge has never tasted so good!

We decided to do a bit more walking in the area before heading to our next destination so we drove to St Pauls Rock; named for its resemblance to the dome of St Pauls Cathedral in London. On arrival at the makeshift car park I promptly parked on what I thought was solid ground until Sebastian pointed out that we were not very level. On trying to back out again to find a more even green it became painfully obvious that the car (still nameless at this stage) had sunk some five inches on the left side in some very boggy grass.

The next hour or so was spent trying to reverse out of this predicament and we tried everything from wooden planks/stakes under wheels to putting the car in neutral with both of us just pushing. At one point we even took the jack out to see if it could help 'lift' the deepest wheel out of the mud (okay, we were pulling at straws). I had walked back down the hill looking for signs of life at any of the residences but there was no one. The only person I saw was a women at the backpackers halfway down the hill, who informed me that the owners had gone out shopping for the day with the only car there.

On return to the scene of the bog another car had arrived but they had already set off for the walk up to St Pauls. Sebastian and I decided that we would ask them all the same on their return if they could help, as we were getting no where fast - only deeper! When they did return the grandmother took charge of the situation and told us to gather together some Manuka branches and stuff them under the wheels for extra traction. With the three of us lifting and pushing the car backwards, her daughter put it in reverse and the granddaughter stuffed extra branches under the wheel. We were still not moving.

After giving up all hope of shifting the car out ourselves the family suggested that they drive down to the nearest garage and send a truck back to pull us out. Less than ten minutes later a yellow four wheel drive came trundling up the hill and the friendly driver set about hooking up a long chain from his pick-up truck to the stuck seven seater people carrier. Within seconds he had pulled us out of the mud and when Sebastian asked how much we owed him he refused to take any money. Another example of Kiwi kindness.

When we did eventually get to go up to the summit of St Pauls the view was quite fantastic.

It was getting late in the day and we did not manage to find the correct access road from Taratara Road to the other climb we had planned for the afternoon. Instead we opted for another chip shop meal, but this time at the correct 'World Famous Mangonui Fish Shop'.

Our stop over for the night was in Ahipara, at the bottom of Ninety Mile Beach on the west coast of Northland. The Endless Summer Lodge ($17) was on a par with Kahoe Farm with an excellent view of the beach. If you are booking a room here ask for one with a sea view.

In the morning we set off to what is regarded as the most northern tip of New Zealand - Cape Reinga. The nearby Surville Cliffs are actually just slightly further north. In Maori belief, Cape Reinga was the departure point for the spirits of the recently deceased, who were said to climb down the twisted pohutukawa tree on the cliffs. The drive up was pretty easy going; the unsealed road was not as rough as I had imagined it to be. Rental cars are usually not allowed on unsealed roads.

On arrival at the cape the fog was atrocious. Visibility was down to less than twenty metres in places and sometimes the famous lighthouse just disappeared from view. This was most unfortunate as I was especially looking forward to seeing the clashing of the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea. A rare phenomenon that only occurs in a couple of places around the world.

We made the most of it by hiking down quite a steep route through the clouds of coastal fog to Sandy Beach. After walking back out to the lighthouse to see if the weather had improved we decided to give up on seeing anything here today and headed back down the road to the huge sand dunes.

A couple of hours and pockets full of sand later we were back on our way home to Endless Summer Lodge. We had so much fun sand surfing down the huge dunes that we decided to spend the day tomorrow at the bigger sand dunes nearer Ahipara.
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