One of Those Days Part 1 (to Kaitaia)

Monday turned out to be one of those days where things went wrong and just kept getting worse. It was the 13th of July but let’s not get suspicious about things. It dawned a lovely sunny morning – time to be moving on from our RV park in the bush behind Paihia. There were a few things to be dried out first, like mats that had been outside. And water tanks to top up and blogs to update. We decided to head first to the dump station at Kerikeri to get rid of the grey waste. Plus there was the car to hitch up. It was the middle of the day before we were ready; the last thing was to check the lights on the car were working off the connection to Suzi. Nothing! Not a flicker or a blink! Darn. Memories of trying to leave Tauranga… So, wriggle the connections, out with the tool kit and try to deal to the plugs. We got back to weak one-sided blinking. Tried a bit of CRC – no improvement. We needed an auto-electrician again. A phone call found out where one was in Kerikeri so we decided to tow the ailing car to there – the blinkers on Suzi are high and visible over the car anyway. We’d lost at least an hour by this stage. On the way into Kerikeri as we rounded a roundabout I spotted the car blinkers behind brightly blinking. Yahoo. We pulled over and a check showed that all the car lights were working as they should. Great, no more worries…. yeah right!

We found the dump station but it was not one we could use with the car on behind. We went to start the car to unhitch – we’re getting slicker at this by now. Except when I went to start the car there wasn’t any start. Not a click or a whir or anything. The battery was flat as a very flat thing. I couldn’t figure how, it had been disconnected in our usual towing process. I supposed there must have been a short in the trouble with the wiring. We could have gone round to the auto-electricians, but the day was getting on and we weren’t getting much further north. We decided to leave the car hitched on, forget about using the dump station, and head north anyway. We could recharge it overnight at the camping ground, and there was a dump station there. Everything would work out…. yeah right!

At last we headed out of Kerikeri, going north. It was a lovely day and there was lots of new places to see. We reached Doubtless Bay, keen to try out the fish and chips at Mangonui for late lunch. Mangonui turned out to be a turn off the main road, so we had to count on finding somewhere big enough to turn ourselves around since we were towing a dead lump of car. There was nowhere to park, and the road seemed to be getting narrower and narrower, and we passed the fabled fish shop. We drove on hopefully, and found ourselves back on the main road – it had been a loop. We quickly ruled out going round again and cut our losses and kept going north. We came across a lovely looking bay and beach at Cable Bay with a dairy and a car park by the beach big enough to park and turn in. The dairy was out of pies so we went back to our mobile home and made sandwiches for our very late lunch. We sat eating it enjoying the view of Doubtless Bay and the beach with golden sand – although we decided it was more terracotta. We patronised the dairy for icecreams and went for a walk on the beach – it was just too nice to pass by. The colour wasn’t from sand; the beach was a mass of shells. The day was getting on by the time we dragged ourselves away and headed on. The road eventually left Doubtless Bay and headed inland although this far north ‘inland’ is a bit debateable – nowhere is far from one coast or the other – the island starts to get seriously thin up here. There was a gorgeous sunset as we headed across to Awanui and then we went a few kilometres south to Kaitaia. Kaitaia was bigger than we imagined but we passed quickly through – anxious to find the camping ground at Ahipara. Ahipara is 12 kms west of Kaitaia and at the bottom end of 90 Mile Beach. We found the camping ground, and drove in, hoping we could get a site that we could drive on to with our dead car on behind. The manager told us where we should be OK, and it looked like we’d be fine, so long as we dodged the overhanging trees. There were a couple of tight turns and I misjudged the last one a bit and the car jackknifed a bit and the A-frame got a bit buckled again. Oh darn! We got Suzi parked and got the power on and Wyn and Laura set about setting up and getting settled in. I set about surveying the damage and trying to get the car unhitched. The buckling was worse than the first time, and it looks like the towing lugs under the car are bent as well. Getting the brackets off the car was a mission, but eventually I got everything to pieces. I’d checked with the manager about whether it was OK to run the generator for a while, it has a lead to directly charge a 12V battery. One thing with that though is that the generator must run at full power, no eco setting. Even though we were away from other campers, it did sound noisy.

A check with the satellite dish found no signal; the one bit of overhanging tree was in the way. This really wasn’t our day. After an hour or so, I silenced the generator. I tried the car again – nothing. Well nothing that is other than a strange noise deep under the engine somewhere dark. It was a sort of electrical noise, something trying to do something. I figured we’d fused the flux capacitor or something serious. Because I could, I dug out the battery charger and plugged it in. It didn’t seem to be charging much. With my (obviously) slight knowledge of things electrical this did make me wonder if maybe the battery wasn’t flat. But I left it charging – at least something was trying to make things better. Better would be a good thing to be. Here we were with a dead car that we couldn’t even tow anywhere any more. The car was making strangled electrical noises and was refusing resuscitation efforts. Our plans of making the trip to Cape Reinga the next day were out the window, and after that the weather was looking to deteriorate again.

Apart from that it had been a good day. And in the absence of TV reception we had a nice evening enjoying home-made pizzas and chatting. We decided things probably wouldn’t look as bad in the morning.

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