Parking in the city has never been much fun for me. I take the first available spot hoping I am close to the camera shop. As it turns out I am, not the one I had intended to visit but it will do. The bad news is another example of planned obsolescence, fixing it involves replacing the lens which, you guessed it, costs close enough to replacing the camera as to be.... I bite the bullet, I want a decent camera, I love taking pictures.
Now to find Kim, she is getting her hair done and will be ready this afternoon. I park at the New World Grocery store, buy some fruit and cheese and wander around, to the library (!) then down the streets among the throngs looking for the Turkish Kabob place again. On one corner is a Sadhu, a fellow dressed in , well it looks like nothing, a string around his waist hiding his privates under a scrap of cloth, presumably begging. He has a wild look about him and people are not looking generally. I do see someone snapping a photo, those tourists, honestly!
Up Taranacki street, which seems to get narrower and narrower. Kim has been staying with someone from Couchsurf.com and has a connection with someone else who will be storing some of her stuff while she travels north. It takes a while to find the place, perched up above Island Bay. What a view! We watch the ferry cruising towards the port, waves crashing against the rocks, the traffic on the road below and I see houses I noticed on my journey around the peninsulas.
Slowly make our way out of town, not sure which way to go, I head west then cut across to the Hutt Valley over an amazing road. Great vistas and switchbacks, climbing up and over a mountain pass. We stop for chai in Upper Hutt, the locals eyeing us with curiosity ( I hope) Then continue east now through Featherstone and Tauherenikau then turning north again at Greytown.
I spot a sign indicating a gorge and we are off another gravel road adventure through farmland and isolation to alonely spot where people come to jump off the cliff. The gate is locked so I climb over peering down to the water below. It is a straight drop. we follow a path down, Kim sits beside the river. I walk upstream taking pictures trying out my new toy, the water is cold, cold enough to overcome my inclination to jump in, it is soo inviting.
We collect twigs and branches for a fire, find a chunk of pine and make popcorn in my tiny pot. Sit by the fire late into the night talking about life, love and everything in between. The stars are magnificent, we even see one stream across before going to sleep. Kim wanted to sleep outside, her yoga mat not enough insulation we shared my mattress (chastely of course) and were awakened in the night by lashing rain pounding on the van, and unfortunately leaking in the side door.
As we drove out in the morning the side mirror fell off. The nearest town Carterton, had no wreckers and the message I got was no chance of replacement... Availed ourselves of the library to catch up on the endless email and continued north towards Taupo. I was more interested in a zigag route so at Pahiatu we went west towards Palmerston North then Ashurst onto Colyton Rd and north to Vinegar Hill rejoining #1 Highway. Stopped in Taihape the Gumboot throwing capitol of NZ. The major event takes place March 20, damn! Going to miss that one.
Then into the NZ desert at 1074 metres above sea level, a military training ground with heather in bloom at the side of the road and what appears to be miles and miles of scrub and not much else.
Taupo on Lake Taupo is a tourist town par excellence. All the possibilities exist here, any kind of thrill seeking will be satisfied. We elected to camp at a site with mineral springs and had a good soak before dinner and then bed. It was cold, real cold. Kim took the blanket and camped on the couch in the kitchen while I froze my ass off in the van. It wasn't till I had been in the springs again the next morning 3 hours after getting up that I finally got warm. Definitely a summer bag, there was frost on the ground till 9.
Not impressed with the library in Taupo, no WiFi and one needs to pay/join the library/become a resident to use the computers. They handed us a list of local establishments with WiFi and off we went. Kim bought a bus ticket and headed off to Napier/Hastings to the Steiner college and I went to visit Haku Falls. What a torrent that is! A massive amount of water churning through a narrow gorge out of Lake Taupo it flows north just south of Auckland the longest river in NZ. Jet boats racing up as close as possible to the maelstrom then speeding away down river for whatever they charge the thrill seekers.
Just up the road Craters of The Moon, a no brainer for this guy, $6 and a good walkabout 45 min.+ Steaming holes, sunken fumaroles etc. Lots of fun! Lots of pictures!
That being my break from driving I then drove straight through to Auckland.