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Anna's New Zealand adventures

Brenda's trails and tribulations

NEW ZEALAND | Sunday, 17 February 2008 | Views [739]

From Ahipara we crossed back to the Bay of Islands to Kerikeri, where we had arranged to spend weekend with one of Tom's old teachers. Was great being in a family environment again, though it did make me feel the most homesick since I've been here... Still, much fun was had visiting the chocolate factory (umm... free samples!) and I even got to have a bit of a history fix visiting the oldest house in new zealand and the waitangi treaty grounds. Having said that, the oldest house in N.Z. is only 20yrs older than Pip's house in England which demonstrates the strange absence of history over here. Even the Maori pas (defensive settlements- now more of a mound) aren't that much older.

Still the area round kerikeri was lovely- if strangely English, with little country gardens and cricket greens. We had a lovely couple of days R and R- messing about in the pool, having BBQs on the deck, watching DVD's and eating icecream. To say thanks we bought a big bunch of flowers for Tony's wife Faye who had gone out of her way to make us feel at home.

Back on the road,after a few disagreements and lively debate we headed for Russel where further up the ropad we dropped off James to do a walk he had in mind. Meanwhile we pitched up and went to the pub! Despite the extortionate prices (Russel v.pretty but also v. touristy), that are still probably less than in England, we had a fab night and slept soundly despite having taken a few more mossie bites.

Picking-up James we drove across the Northland peninsular to Hokianga Harbour where we camped at a little town spread along the seafront called Opononi. From the campsite (which had the cutest pigmy goats on to keep the grass short) we had fews across Bay to the some huge sand dunes which we had intended to try sandboarding on the next day... however Brenda had different ideas...

After taking her for a short morning drive to see the ancient Kauri forests, which were remarkable- the largest in N.Z was there with a girth of 16.7m, we all clambered back in car to go to harbour to catch boat across to sand dunes to board. However we suddenly realised there was no petrol left and had to coast her down the hillside to a conveniently placed gas station. With a sigh of relief we filled her up only to realise that she wasn't starting... the battery was totally dead, so we got a jump start which we thought would solve the problem but Brenda still only just went 20mph and we only just made it back to the campsite.

Something was seriously up with Brenda! We knew it was battery related as the central locking wasn't even working properly so thought another jump start would do the trick, so the next morning we got a jump of a tractor- no luck as everytime cables removed she just stopped again. Hmm... it didn't look like it was going to be a good day, not only was Brenda not working but it was raining so the tents were all wet when we packed them, we'd run out of tea bags, there was hardly any bread left for breakfast and I'd got no Valentine's day cards! Luckily I did have my AA card which I'd not too long before, so after quick buzz the local AA man- aka Bruce turned up and pointed to the alternator, which wasn't chraging. After a bit of tutting and frowning later he told us he'd have to take it away- but as he started to unplug it he saw a cable that had come loose and had melted, somehow shorting the alternator. He didn't think it would take a minute to fix so attached battery pack to car and while Tom and James drove to Garage to have her fixed up; Clare, Pip and I settled down in campsite kitchen out of rain with mug of tea, guitar and a good book ('Tale of two Cities'- Dickens was good choice for such situations as he takes a lot of reading to get into it but seems to be worth the effort as I'm enjoying it lots!).

With Brenda fixed a couple of hours later we were back on the road again. We needed to go on a long jounrey to re-charge the battery so headed straight down the coast through Dargaville to Auckland where Tom, James, Clare and I were going to see the England play a one day international agianst N.Z. blackcaps. Pip headed straight on to Cambridge on the bus as not a cricket fan, he planned on doing a bit of busking. I had a fabulous time at the cricket, was defiantely one of the best things I've done- we were so close and arrived a couple of hours early to pick-up tickets so we got to watch the team warm-up. Honestly they were stood catching balls right in front of us- I literally could have touched them! As ever I had a few favourite players but Cook was my champ and everytime he was batting/bowling I was waving the 'I'm a fan' banner we were all given at the entrance- deffo think he saw ;p The atmosphere was great and the kiwi-pomme banter was so much fun- it might have helped that we won but I think I'm definately into my cricket now!

Alas the high from the cricket was not to last and we woke to dsicover Brenda had a flat tyre; the journey from Auckland must have taken it out of the wheels, so after requisitioning a jack from a nice New Yorker staying in the hostel (thanks to my quite successful damsel in distress act) we put on the spare. Unfortunately it didn't match the other tyre so we had to get the old one fixed at tyre shop. That done it was about 10.30am and we gave Mark, who we met in Whitianga, a ring to see if he was at home (his farm is South of Auckland) and called in for a quick cup of tea. Was nice to see him and his family again and his house was lovely, with gorgeous views across Auckland. Despite an invitation to stay we thought it best to sort out Brenda's front wheels which had been pointed out to us as needing some attention at the local garage which he recommended and then get on down to Taupo before anything else went wrong! The guys at the garage were v. helpful and even told us the best route to get to Taupo which wasn't the most obvious but definately the best.

So... here I am in Taupo,and very jolly it is too. We're camped up at a nice little campsite which has good clean facilities and hot showers. I think we'll be here for a little while as there is much to do in the surrounding area but I'll let you know exactly what after I've done it!

I've been thinking about everyone lots- a few postcards are in the post, it's definately true that you miss home most when things start to go wrong but fingers crossed everything is sorted and I'm feeling much more relaxed now I'm here- something about being surrounded by mountains (even if they are volcanoes!).

love lots


p.s. mum this is another geothermal area- more geyser spotting I think and a geothermal power station which provides 5% of N.Z power! Occasional smell of bad wind though!

Tags: Misadventures


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