A Day in Tauranga Traffic – Thursday 9 April

We needed to get a few things sorted with Suzi, so arranged a visit to Country Caravans who are Traillite agents. This meant a trip through Tauranga which looked a bit complicated – and our map was outdated. This was a job for Nev the Nav, and we gave him his head. It was chaos approaching the harbour bridge. The bridge is a bottleneck anyway. So they are busy adding lanes to it to double the capacity, and building flyovers and all sorts of fun stuff. Trouble is that this makes it even more of a bottleneck in the meantime. And I used to think Port Chalmers is blighted by all the port traffic hurtling through. It is but Tauranga is even worse. It is two ports on either side of the bridge, with logs and containers going in all directions from all directions. There is one roundabout that they all seem to have to go through at least once to go anywhere. Add in any traffic between Tauranga and Mt Maunganui like commuters and shoppers, and it is not a roundabout for the fainthearted! It is a two lane roundabout, which normally make me nervous. But this one is semi permanently clogged by the trucks so somehow it is not so bad.
Anyway, Nev found Country Caravans without much drama, and the lovely folk there sorted us out as much as they could. We had already spotted a Burnsco shop on their road – a motorhome accessory shop is a bit of a novelty for us. We tried to find oven racks and roasting dishes and vacuum toilet o-rings. And looked at bargain BBQs. And only spent $8 in the end which was a bit of a miracle. Next door to Burnsco was Supercheap Autos. Again I managed to go in and out and spend only $8 – for a truck-size front window sunscreen thing for Suzi.
By this stage it was approaching 5pm, and the start of a holiday weekend. And I wanted to get more diesel from a truckstop on the other side of the main road. Our old map showed a roundabout along at the far end, so I figured we could go along there, slingshot around the roundabout and be lined up for the truckstop – this was a 4-lane road lacking opportunities to pull across to the other side. We headed off west, working out as we got closer that the flyover had sprung up since our map was made. The road split and I guessed that the SH2 lane was most likely to lead to another roundabout and the opportunity to come back the other way. Wrong! As we started up the flyover we saw that the other lane had lead to the roundabout we had wanted. Too late we realised that we were on the road to Whakatane, heading west. Up ahead we could see that both west-bound lanes were clogged up. There was no traffic heading into Mt Maunganui, and a weighbridge pull-off area on the other side. A quick slow-down/hurtle across/u-turn and we were launched back the way we had come. Back across the flyover we filled up at the truckstop. Then it was on back towards Tauranga, with the road almost clear. It seemed everyone else was somewhere else, and we found many of them clogging up the expressway heading towards Katikati. Two lanes of expressway end at Bethlehem with a roundabout, traffic lights, and a single lane through the shopping centre. Surprise surprise it bottlenecks and banks up for kilometres back along the “express” way. It probably does that every weeknight when people are wanting to get home. So we crawled and we stopped and we crawled. As soon as we were through Bethlehem the traffic was sorted out and it wasn’t long before we were back home out the back of the packhouse. Although not before a quick detour to the supermarket in Katikati to discover that they were out of marshmallow Easter eggs. My only hope lay with the Easter bunny.

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