Saturday 18th started very early – about 12:30am when strong winds arrived from the south-west. We were all woken by the noise and rocking as the winds buffeted the camp and Suzi. We were under trees and small bits of branch were hitting our roof. They sounded bigger than they were but we wondered how secure the trees were. I had to go out to secure a plastic tarpaulin over our bikes that was whipping noisily in what was a gale, and was happy to get back inside out of the wind. The winds the weekend before in Paihia were nothing compared to this for us. We worried about the possibility of the wind force increasing, but after a while it seemed to be abating and eventually we dropped off to sleep again.
We woke in the morning to find the wind had dropped to just strong gusts. There was a bit of debris around the camp, lots of leaves and twigs and small branches. We had to be at Kaitaia airport by 12.30pm. We had time for a quick visit to the Kauri factory/showroom at Awanui just past the airport. They work on kauri dug out of swamps after being buried for 45,000 years. The biggest log (17m around?) was kept whole and stood up and a spiral staircase was carved inside it. They then built their showroom around it.
The wind was still gusty at the airport, and it was a cross-wind which is no fun for landing or taking off. But the plane (the only one for the day) was still expected. The news of the day though was that Christchurch airport had been fogged in all day. Laura was due to fly via Christchurch, so her travel beyond Auckland was uncertain. The hope was that if Christchurch remained closed then she could get to Dunedin via Wellington. The little plane arrived, and we said our goodbyes. Then she was off. As soon as the plane was in the air it was crabbing sideways to counter the strong cross-wind but it was up and away. By the time she got to Auckland things were looking better in Christchurch, and she did get home through there, after another delay getting out from there with more fog issues. We could follow her flights via the internet – as good as watching the boards/screens in the airport. Plus she could keep us informed on progress via texts – mobiles are wonderful things. We were relieved when she finally told us of her arrival in Dunedin after 7.30pm – it had been a long trip which started at 11am the previous day.