Tauranga Tribulations

On Monday afternoon 15 June we drove into Tauranga, heading for the NZMCA parkover on SH29 just out of the city at Gargan Road. The traffic was all clogged up where we wanted to turn onto SH29, with a sign saying Road Closed, and someone turning traffic back. It was disorganised chaos. Eventually I left Suzi and went ahead and across the road, to learn that there was an accident further up the road. As it was beyond where we wanted to turn off, we were allowed through. We found the parkover, a simple fenced paddock just off SH29. For a start it was nice and quiet, but it wasn’t long before the traffic resumed and with it the noise. It was sunny and clear as we settled down. It wasn’t long before the sun set and we were headed for the first of many frosts.
We woke on Tuesday to a hard frost, and a clear sunny day with a cold light breeze. This was the day it snowed in Dunedin and I heard that my daughter was off school and Opoho was snowed in higher up. We had planned to get a thermal cover made for Suzi’s cab, and headed down to the upholstery place that was to make it. Here we met Mike who had conceived the idea, and the upholstery guy who was to make it. It turned out the vinyl was not in stock so we’d have to wait until the following day for it to arrive. Except it turned out the vinyl had to come from Dunedin where the airport was snowed in! Just our luck. I wasn’t too worried, knowing how rare it was for Dunedin to be snowed in for a whole day. On the way back to Gargan Road via Mt Maunganui we passed some hot pools at Sanctuary Point, and after tea we headed back there for a leisurely soak. Hot they were, at about 39.5 degrees. Luckily there was a bigger and cooler pool beside it. We stayed the night back at Gargan Road, where it froze again, so we had a leisurely start to the day. We got the call to say that the vinyl had arrived, and the cover should be ready after midday. It still took a while after that to get it all done but it was worth the wait. The aim of the cover is to wrap the cab, to keep it cooler in summer and warmer in winter, and to provide more privacy. We headed back to the car at Gargan Road via a pie shop, at last ready to leave Tauranga – heading for Rotorua. I got the A-frame all set up, for the first time since we arrived at Katikati. Our last check with the A-frame is to check that the lights work on the car – blinkers and lights. And they didn’t. They sort of half worked, sort of dim and only on one side. It was like the car had had a stroke. I fiddled with the plugs and connections, to no avail. It seemed we were not meant to leave that day, so we didn’t. We hunkered down for a third night at Gargan Road, protected by our new cab cover.
I’d made a call to get a recommendation for an auto electrician, and we headed down to Mt Maunganui once the frost thawed a bit. I made the mistake of trying to back up at the auto electricians, and succeeded in buckling the A-frame. So then we had no electrics and a damaged A-frame – things were going from bad to worse. The auto electricians soon sorted the problem with the lights, it was a faulty pin on one of the plugs. So that was the easy part fixed. They suggested some engineers down the road for the A-frame, so I loaded it into the car and went to see them. The boss man there was wonderful. He rebent the A-frame in a big vice, carefully checking it to get it back to its original shape as near as possible. And then he refused any payment. So now we were at last ready to roll, almost two days later than planned. We re-hooked up the car, filled up with diesel, visited the dump station, and headed east. Our overall plan was to go north – we were just taking a circuitous route, via Rotorua.

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