The Far South of the North

Yesterday (Thursday 1 October) we reached Wellington. It was easy enough. We drove down SH1 almost as far aswe could go without ending up on a ferry. It was a lovely morning in Levin and we took our time getting going. Wyn hung a few clothes up to dry and I took Suzi round the corner to fill up with diesel. It was close to midday before we swung out onto SH1 to continue south.

At least in Northland they have the decency to erect signs saying “Uneven Surface” on their bumpy lumpy roads. Heading down to Wellington was a bit like being at sea on some parts. It looked like they’d sealed a route through the paddocks about 50 years ago and left it at that.  OK I exaggerate but at times we had to reduce speed to about 80kmph to stop the bouncing and bumping. I love the bit over the hill from Pukerua Bay. It’s the entranceway to a large city and it’s a shocker. I wonder how many tourists stop thereabouts and get the map out to see where they missed the turnoff to the motorway or took the wrong exit or just where the heck they are because common sense tells you that it is not the main entrance to a city the size of Wellington.

We’d decided to stay at a campervan park behind a hotel in Newlands, only about 5 minutes short of the ferry terminals. Previously we’ve used the Te Papa car parks but now that we’re about 2.5 carparks it’d cost almost as much there as at this place. We took the right exit for Newlands and almost immediately were faced with a split in the road. Somehow in the panic of trying to decide which one was the right one we took the one on the right and realised it was the entry back onto the motorway. With the car on the back and in a rush to meet Wyn’s son Leon in town this was not a good thing. However we all stayed fairly calm; all three of us – me the driver, Nev the Navman and Wyn the navigator who was trying to make sense of it all. We hurtled down the hill and exited at the bottom with Nev telling us we needed to do a u-turn and me thinking there was not much chance of that. But bless are the roadmakers. They had created a spot to turn back and rejoin the motorway north. So we did and were soon heading slowly back up the hill – it’s steep. We were soon back at Newlands and got ourselves into the hotel/motel/campervan park place. They have a large sealed area that they cram as many motorhomes on as they can by the looks. Luckily it isn’t busy so we have a bit of extra room.

We parked Suzi in our corner and unhitched the car and took the bikes off the car and headed into the city in fairly quick fashion. We met up with Leon at Te Papa and had a good catchup over a coffee therein. After a quick shop around the New World across the road we headed back to Suzi and settled in for the night. I’d seen on the news in the morning pictures of the tsunami surge at Tutukaka but unfortunately it wasn’t repeated in the evening news. We had wondered how some of those Northland bays and harbours had fared and the video of the surge in Tutukaka looked interesting.

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