Wednesday was a 29th of February, that 4-yearly rarity. We only wanted to move home – not far, sort of just across the Manukau Harbour. Except nothing in Auckland is that simple. We (alright I) spent too much morning mucking around and by the time we’d visited the nearby dump station the afternoon was well advanced and rush-hour traffic was upon us. The plan was to travel separately, Wyn in the car following close behind me in Suzi truck. I had Nev the Navman with his 2007 maps and his fixation with motorways. Nev is oblivious to 5 years of rapid motorway development in Auckland – which makes navigation a lot more exciting. We’d gone to the AA for up-to-date Auckland street maps and these were 2009 vintage! We needed to connect the Northwestern Motorway with the Southwestern and neither the GPS nor the street map had any idea of specifically how to do this,
We did have our walkie talkies which were slightly better than nothing. I could tell her “I think I’m going to try to get left” a fraction of a second before diving desperately for a gap in the traffic. And she could comment on my habit of going through on orange lights from her vantage point stuck back at the last intersection. We took the first exit after joining the Northwestern Motorway – as planned. Then faced with a quick choice of lanes after that, I was talked into going left by Neville. In the debrief we worked out that Nev was trying to entice us back onto the motorway. I panicked for a few blocks, convinced we’d end our days circling Auckland and thus missed an obvious opportunity to get back on track turning right. Eventually I found somewhere to pull over and we had a conference.
I remembered my phone with maps and we were able to work out how the roads connected with the Southwestern Motorway in 2012. With a bunch of left turns (my favourites) we were able head south. Traffic was getting heavy but we didn’t care – at least we were on the right roads. Remembering the sequence of turns (and ignoring Nev) we made our entry onto the Southwestern Motorway with sweaty palms and racing hearts. This was like home territory now, the Mangere Bridge and then our exit. Neville made one last attempt to lead us astray before I remembered that he didn’t remember where Ambury Park was. I contemplated throwing him onto the road for Wyn to run over as I reflected on how he’d been worse than useless. Maybe one instruction in twenty had actually been helpful. His days are numbered.
Ambury Regional Park had become our safe haven in Auckland and we were soon settled in and calming down. We cannot speak highly enough of the hundreds of thousands of Aucklanders who dice with Auckland traffic daily. We cannot imagine why they do it, but we have to admire them.