The Gift Of Togetherness
Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
144Trip End Oct 06, 2013
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Our relationship will be put to the test, yet again. This small camper van, just the two of us, one month, the steering wheel is on the other side, they drive on the other side, it is a standard and neither Vic or I can remember the last time we drove a stick, with, as you guessed it, the gear shift also on the other side
Out on the open road first thing next day. Vic does a great job of driving, tough, winding roads, narrow bridges and manages to keep us on the left. This is the some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen, so lush, green hills dotted with sheep and cattle, ragged coastline, stunning beaches and it is all endless
Our first campsite was in Tutukaka (most of the NZ towns have Maori names which are proving difficult to remember)- it was here that Vic was hoping to get a dive in near the Poor Knights Island which is supposed to be the site of one of the best subtropical dives in the world. Because of sinister 3 metre swells, two of the dive shops aren't taking people out and the third, which has a larger boat, is taking people on the one hour journey out but is virtually guaranteeing seasickness and it's going to lesser, but sheltered dive sites. They also advised us that the weather would only stay the same or worsen in the near term. Now, I think I am starting to sound like a weenie here, nervous diver, can't handle those tiny confined crawl spaces in the bottom of caves, paralyzing fear on a SkyTower walk, and now I'm desperately trying to think of a graceful way out of this joy, BUT, the Vicmiester proposes that we may want to hold off until the winds die down and maybe continue north and hit this dive spot on the way back
Back to the campsite- I liked it. We are surrounded on two sides by emerald green hills and beside a beautiful pasture with about 50 or more cows milling about. Cows....cows it turns out, are the roosters of NZ!! The competitive mooing started at about 4am- thank goodness the clocks went back an hour for daylight savings so we seemed to get an extra hour sleep???
The next day has us lost- go figure but you can't fake running out of land. Now the woman in the tourist booth said "everyone misses that road, even a GPS will send you that way". I did get a sense that she picked up on the flared nostrils Vic was sporting and was trying to help a 'sister' out. Women will do that you know (editors note: to be fair we didn't have the greatest map but following the directions of my flustered navigator put us squarely on the end of a short pier admiring a large body of water that was between us and where we wanted to go- this resulted in immediate termination with cause, and a GPS unit was hired on although, eager to continue playing a role, DH now dutifully repeats everything the GPS girl says?).
Russell, not Paihia, for lunch it is
We were batting zero for two in Kiwi sports on the eastern coast so we crossed to the other side of the island in search of better weather only to be informed that the surfing lessons we had hoped to sign up for at Ahipara would not be happening due to downpours. Knowing when we were beat, we spun the camper van around and started to head south in an effort to outrun the storm activity. Along the way we came across Captain Pete and his trusty boat in Opononi who, for a small fee, would ferry us over to a number of large sand dunes for some serious sandboarding action
Taking advise from one of the local Tourist Information girls, we then headed for the "must-see" Waipoua Forest or more specifically, the giant kauri trees Tane Mahuta, Te Matua Ngahere and Yakas. Te Matua Ngahere or Lord Of The Forest, in particular, is a notable kauri tree that is the largest in New Zealand by girth and the second largest by volume, and is estimated to be from 2,000 to 3,000 years old. Vic mumbles "nice tree" and we were off again.
Since we were now heading south back through Auckland we did the rel'ees thing again with Ian and Margaret and even had a chance to share a glass of wine with second cousins Jess and Sean (and his wife Catherine), and third cousins Ian and Liam, and even Fudge, the dog. On the other side of Auckland we dropped in to see another cousin, Robert, and his wife, June, the dancing machine. Another round of great/funny stories, both old and new, made it really tough to leave. These visits made me see how much I probably missed in not having extended family nearby while growing up. Great people that I'll never really get a chance to know as well as I would like to.