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Wanganui or is it Whanganui?

NEW ZEALAND | Monday, 4 February 2008 | Views [788]

Well the City is Wanganui and the River and district is Whanganui, as if the place names were not hard enough for us to pronounce and understand.  We arrived at the large Victorian Hostel to find a lovely room over looking the River, which is affectionately known as ‘The Brown Snake’ due to it’s colour; it’s not dirty at all it’s due to the colouring that it picks up while on it’s way to the sea.  The Hostel owner was one of the most friendly and informative people we have come across, he knew where everything was and all the history of the area; including that at one time Whanganui was home to over 20% of the Maori people due to it’s location to the sea and hills up river.  We had a lovely day walking around this City, including the ‘Tower’ on the hill that we had been told to have a look-see at.  The tower can be reached by either the steep walk up the path, or by our route up through the old steel lift shaft.  The lift is reached via a short walk into the hill side and you pay $1 to travel up 65 mtr’s through the hill to the top point where you then walk up to the tower in order to gain free entry up the 275 steps inside. The views are certainly worth the small expense and effort needed to get there.  We spent the rest of the day walking around this very nice City, relaxing, shopping and generally chilling out.  We were heading out again up towards Turangi, our base for the A1 Grand Prix weekend.  Our Hostel host advised us of a very little known road that not many travel on; the road runs along the river out of Wanganui, very picturesque if a little hard to drive.  Hard to drive, too right; it had not rained here for over 4 weeks so you’ll have to imagine how dusty this gravel road was.  After a 3 hour drive we reached the main highway heading north through the National Park, we were greeted by a very strange sight; a Gritting truck that was actually gritting the road?  In summer on a massively hot day WHY grit the roads?  As we pulled over to call the AA due to our brakes ‘screaming’ at us and waited for them to come out, Em & I could not figure out

a)      Why were the brakes screaming?

b)      Why were they ‘Gritting’ the road?

The local AA came out in no time, no time for us to panic about the possible cost of new brakes and stuff; what was wrong?  The AA gent asked what was wrong and when I explained he just grinned and stated ‘Your not from around here, are you’ He explained that, the brakes were screaming due to a stone that had been through up; he didn’t have to do anything at all as it had fallen out when we pulled over.  He then went on to explain the gritting, they grit the road when it starts to ‘melt’ due to the heat; it helps traction and also reduces the amount of road that runs due to this heat.  As we carried on we became aware of what he had meant, we turned a corner and it felt like we had hit an on coming gust of wind; the van just died in speed.  We had hit the ‘melting’ road and the tyres where sticking to the tarmac, never seen anything like it; the road in front was looking so smooth where it had melted and traffic had travelled over the soft areas.  When we did get to the Hostel the van tyres where pure black and the tread had filled in some areas with the tarmac from the highway, all the underside of the wheel arches were full of splashes of tarmac and grit that had been thrown up while driving; we now knew way it was a ‘little known road that not many travel on’ But didn’t care, we were going to the Grand Prix tomorrow.

Tags: On the Road


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