We were up early on Friday in Pukekohe, hoping to be on the road south early. We had a long drive, especially by our recent standards. We hoped to make it to Marton to stay with Wyn’s brother Ian to celebrate his birthday. It is about 450 kms down the road – mostly SH1. We were around at the repairers by 7:45am, something of a record for us. And we were a bit dismayed to see them still working on the car. An enquiry indicated that they were still putting it back together, and would need another hour and a half! Argghhhh!!! There was also surprise that we’d been told the day before that it was ready to be picked up.
We drove off in Suzi, thinking we might as well stock up the vegetable larder a bit while we were in the biggest growing area in the country. Just along the road we spotted a fruit and vegetable shop that we’d never seen before in our many excursions along Manukau Road. This is hardly surprising. Manukau Road in Pukekohe is manic. Just getting along it is bad enough, but getting off and on it requires nerves of steel and lightening fast reactions and preferable good brakes and rocket-powered acceleration. Plus there must be a sign per metre of its entire length. The street is a visual overload. Pukekohe is a nice place and generally relaxed. Manukau Road is just isolated madness. Going shopping there in an 8m motorhome requires strategy and planning and patience mixed with impulsiveness. We’re so busy with the driving that entire shopping complexes could come and go and we’d never realise it.
Thus we never discovered the best little vegetable shop in Pukekohe until our last day there for as while. They had good fresh vegetables and fruit at very good prices. So we loaded up. Next door was a butchers shop and they were happy enough to make some of the big packs into smaller ones for us. The greek lamb sausages would be good for breakfast with Ian and the bacon looked good as well. The bacon was thick-sliced; more like thin steaks! They are both opposite where a new Countdown supermarket is being built and hopefully both will prosper once people figure out that they provide much better value and quality.
We went back along the road to the repairers and waited until the car was ready. I set to putting the A-frame back on again. I should have realised something was amiss when I had to search through the car to find the mounting brackets that I’d left with them. These brackets bolt to the car towing lugs and project under the bumper bar for the A-frame to attach to. They didn’t fit on properly so it was back inside to ask for help. The answer was basically “What brackets?”!!!! They hadn’t even realised that there were brackets involved and had assumed the A-frame bolted directly onto the car. The guy we’d dealt with originally had gone on holiday and there had been a sizeable information gap down which our brackets had disappeared. The boss wasn’t happy and said we’d have to leave it with them for the rest of the day. We explained we wanted to be in Marton that night, and said we’d wait while they did it. He thought it could be done by lunchtime. Sometimes it’s very helpful having a motorhome. We just parked up in front of their building – highly visible and we could almost see them inside through the windows. They could hardly forget about us or put our job aside for a while. It was very frustrating but we made good use of the time, tackling some of the “office” work that needed doing. Things like insurance and IRD tend to get put off so this was a good opportunity.
Finally by midday the car was ready with brackets that fitted. By the time we had some early lunch and got hooked up we were finally on our way by 12.45pm. It was hardly an ideal way to start south, but south we went. There were a few showers of rain, and a bit of a cross-wind for a start as we zoomed down the “expressway”. Coming into Hamilton there were several signs telling us that trucks had to follow the truck bypass route. Unfortunately we never managed to spot a sign indicating where the truck route went. There were airport signs and SH1 signs and City Centre signs but we never saw the truck bypass one. We ended up heading for the city centre while trying to figure out on the map where we were supposed to be. Eventually Nev the Nav got us back onto SH1 and we followed that south out of town. Who knows where the truck route went! We were way past caring about that.
We zoomed on, through lovely Cambridge and on south. Wyn had another spell driving to Taupo. The lake was a picture, calm with a grey/black sky to the south. We carried on straight through. The bluffs around the lake were not as bad as we remembered them but I was a bit concerned that each of the 25kmph corners had a film of fuel. It was raining as well and the fuel rainbow was not a good look. We stopped at Turangi for an early tea of fish and chips and it was getting dark and misty by the time we headed on and up to the Desert Road. There was a holdup where the fire service were cleaning up a diesel spill – I wondered if it was the same vehicle that we had followed from Taupo. We zoomed on, stopping only for fuel at Waiouru and to swap drivers somewhere in the dark. Finally, at 8.45pm we made Marton, 8 hours after leaving Pukekohe. We were ready for a cup of tea with Wyn’s brother and some well-earned sleep.