Saturday, 19 November 2016

Week 31 - Wellington to Napier

As the day progressed the weather seemed to just get worse, on top of the 7 more earthquakes and 900 aftershocks came heavy rain and 140kmph winds. It made me wish that I’d taken a nap through the day instead of watching Lord of the Rings. When it finally came to bed time we were left worrying about the people in Wellington CBD and the South Island. Kym and Kyle slept right through the night, I woke a few times when the bed moved due to a couple of little shakes, but the news when we woke the next morning wasn’t too great. Constant heavy rain had led to floods in central Wellington and around us out in Porirua, so we sat tight waiting for the rain to stop. When it did Kyle and Kym made a mad dash to the supermarket to stock up on supplies, just incase, this left me with Atlas the cat, praying that we didn’t have any bigger shakes whilst I was on my own!

Though being in New Zealand and watching the local news we have not only witnessed but experienced how nice the people here can be. Everyone has rallied together after the earthquake to support each other, offering places to stay, lifts to harder to reach areas, cooking meals and handing them out to people that are stranded with no food or water. It’s not something you see everyday in an emergency, but in New Zealand this kind of thoughtfulness just seems to be second nature and has made an unpleasant experience all the more bearable.  

The afternoon brought more heavy rain and strong winds which left us stuck inside one again. Though this gave us valuable time to re-plan our trip around NZ and shop for a car. We’re now planning on visiting the east of the North Island first before heading to the west of the South Island in 2 weeks time, this will not only give things time to settle in the South but we won’t be taking up valuable space on the ferries for people that need to get home. We finally found a good looking car too, but more on that later.

I’d been craving a carbonara for months and even though I could of got more than one in Asia, it just wasn’t a dish that I was willing to try. So I was well chuffed when Kym and Kyle said that they had got the ingredients from the shop, and I was even happier when Kyle said that he was going to use Mary Berry’s recipe to make it! It was bloody delicious, and enjoyed whilst watching Bear Grylls, The Island, after which I settled down for an early night after two poor nights sleep. 

Would you believe that we finally saw some sunshine the next morning? Yes, it was windy but the rain had stopped, perfect weather for test driving a car. We planned to meet Bradley in the carpark of a superstore called Warehouse, in between two other stores, but after half an hour of waiting we still hadn’t seen him or the car. Kyle walked around the corner and saw the tail end of the car, and the for sale sign disappear around the corner….what a nightmare!! Lucky for us Bradley is a nice guy and when we explained the situation to him on the phone he was more than happy to come back and meet us, in the place which he’s just vacated. You wouldn’t get that at home. I had a lie down in the back to check to was long enough to sleep in before Kyle took it for a test drive, and 10 minutes and a short bit of negotiating later we were in the garage exchanging ownership, leaving us the proud owners of Eric, the Subaru Legacy and our new home for the next 3 months. 
Next we had to fill our new car with all the things which we would need for life on the road. We managed to pick up a few essentials, including Justin Timberlake’s first solo album, but unfortunately our shop of choice had been affected by the current weather and was closed, leaving us unable to get what we needed and delaying our travel plans for yet another day. Thankfully, Kym didn’t mind putting us up a little bit longer, so we headed home to book the ferry and thank the lord we did, it started pissing it down, again, not too long after. Will this weather ever permanently improve? Where’s our New Zealand summer? 

The next morning was filled with all the promises of spring, but with black clouds looming in the distance Kyle and I knew that we had to get moving if we wanted to finish sorting out our new mobile home. Luck was on our side and we managed to find all we needed, bar a pan, in one shop. We didn’t make it in time to sort the car out, rain hit but Kyle was content sitting inside his new car putting up the curtains in the back, the rest would have to wait until we got on the road.

We couldn’t leave without saying goodbye to Dave, Lorraine and the kids so our last tea in Porirua was homemade meatballs enjoyed with all the family. Isla had plans before tea time and kept me very busy for a good few hours. Taking me back to our time in Cambodia, Isla and I spent the time learning our big and little letters, writing peoples names and making Christmas cards. It was a real delight and has given me more drive and determination to do something in the education industry once we’ve finished our travels, so thank you Isla. With a handy map from Dollar Dave we said our goodbyes and left looking forward to seeing them all again at Christmas.

Kym waved us off the next morning and after a quick trip to K-Mart we were soon on our way to Napier. Most of the journey took us along the central highways, but for a main road they were pretty much empty the whole way with more traffic passing us by than going in the same direction. with views of bright green hills, snow capped mountains, rivers, waterfalls and beautiful plants the journey was more of a pleasure than a chore, we even enjoyed a bit of Justin Timberlake on the way…though that was more to escape the music on the radio. (For you York folk it was like The Gallery on a Sunday night back in the day). Our first toilet stop was a little lake, I say toilet, it was more like a hole in the ground with a toilet seat, it stunk and worried me for what was in store at the camp site.

As we continued on round the mountains and along road side edges I started to get hungry, no surprise there, and after what felt like an eternity of vast land and huge roads we stumbled upon a small town called, Woodsville. True to New Zealand form when outside a big city, Woodsville, had all the charms of an old country town with wooden shop fronts and Western styled buildings. We had a quick bite and stocked up on coffee before continuing on our journey. 2 hours later we arrived at what we thought would be our home for the night, a huge campsite where you could choose your own plot and toilets that actually flushed, all that and it was on the sea front, a real treat we thought. As we were unpacking our oven and making our bed a nice Kiwi guy popped over to say hello and shattered our dreams, turns out “free camping” is illegal at that site as it is for camper vans only. To be fair we should have known, we were the only ones there with a car, I’m still gutted, I thought that he was coming over to offer us a beer at his nice looking camper.

Fear not! With directions to the “Freedom camping” site we made our way closer to Napier CBD to find a legal spot for the evening. What a come down after seeing what we could have had. “Freedom camping” is essentially a tiny carpark filled with backpackers in a mixture of cars all kitted out like ours, and when I say filled, I mean that there was about 70 cars in a carpark built for 50. We managed to get a spot on the edge, which wasn’t too bad, we had great sea views and an ideal wind break, perfect for making our first camping stove tea….pasta and sauce, talk about pushing the boat out.

We slept well-ish, I was a little cold during parts of the night and Kyle found that the floor was a little hard and he didn’t have much room to roll over, I beg to differ, he was wrapped up like a hot dog and snoring most of the night! On the plus side the site was surprisingly quiet, until people started to leave and beeped their horns non stop on the way out. Is there any need, really? At 7.30am we couldn’t take the heat any longer so it was a baby wipe wash, porridge on the stove and a 2 mile walk into the centre. Napier CPD is adorable, all the buildings are new but built in an old style, there’s all the shops you could think of, wine trails, art, a huge stretch of beach and plenty of mini golf spots. The people are beyond friendly, nobody passes you by without a wave or a hello, reminding me of the delightful people of Asia. As we needed to make plans for our onward journey we found a little cafe fit for cofee and some wifi abuse. The woman that served us was shocked and happy to discover that we are from York, being a Donny bird it reminded her of home, somewhere she’s only visited twice in the last 12 years. She gave us great advise on where to go and stay, along with some delicious cake.

Next we visited the Tourist Information and picked up some handy guides for the rest of journey in the North East, which include legal places to stay, before going to the sunken gardens, which to be honest were a little disappointing. The gardens were pretty enough, but the only think sunken about them was the fact that they were lower than the pavement!

So we spent the end of yesterday at the beach baking in the heat. It’s a shame that the beach is pebbled as it makes it a tad uncomfortable for sunbathing. Kyle once again braved the sea and had a quick dip, something I wonder if he will repeat. For tea we tried to replicate Mi Goreng, which wasn’t all that bad to be honest. We didn't sleep well even with the new mattress given to us by a kind stranger, it was either too hot or too cold, and when the wind blew it was hard to tell whether it was that or another earthquake. But today , after a quick $1 shower at the information centre, we will journey on to Gisborne where there’s a distinct lack of places to park your car and kip, so please wish us luck!

Love Carrie xxx