By Tuesday the weather had reverted to being more typical of the North Island summer – or lack of it. It was raining. This day was Valentine’s Day and Wyn’s birthday and the day we were going to Auckland. So we were up early and away by 9am. We spotted a popular cafe in Mokau and stopped off for morning coffee. Then headed on to Awakino and inland to Te Kuiti. We intended to try to find the Shell truck fuel stop but stumbled onto the BP one first so filled up there. Then headed on to Otorohanga and Te Awamutu. Te Awamutu has one of the few public motorhome waste dumps for miles around and we found it and found we could use it without disconnecting the car. Bonus! Across the road was a cafe/cooking school. Double bonus! We were able to stash the vehicles not far up the street and walk back to the cafe for a very nice lunch.
The afternoon was getting on by the time we headed to Hamilton. Hamilton seems to have had a number of ideas on ways to get vehicles through the city. And it seems to have always caught us out, one way or another. This time was no exception. We were almost through to the north side when I exited a multi-exit roundabout one exit too soon! Darn! Eventually we did a big loop to get back to the roundabout to get to the correct exit. (And then realise that the wrong exit would have worked just as well without all the grief!) And from there on it was clear that the highway north from Hamilton is definitely a work-in-progress. Parts were good and parts were very bad. And parts are going to be very different. Eventually it became expressway and finally motorway. Traffic was light and soon we were over the Bombay Hills and into Pukekohe. Manukau Road is now more manic than ever, and beyond that was roadworks that threatened to detour us. Soon however we were parked up down the back of the Club carpark.
After some sorting out, we headed back onto the motorway and into the centre of Auckland – for a BBQ. Traffic going north went very smoothly but we ran out of luck about Greelane. From there is was bumper-to-bumper and first and second gear driving. Maybe all that was a big back-up from a temporary speed restriction to 70kmph at New Market.
It is all the more exciting travelling on Aucklands motorways because they change so frequently. And Nev our Navman is stuck on a 2007 map. Even if we wanted to pay the extortion they wanted for a map upgrade, we are now denied that option for our 2007 Navman. In some parts of Auckland a 2007 map is arguably worse than none at all. In any case, it makes it more exciting – never sure what new roads have sprung up by magic.
We wandered around downtown looking up at all the tall buildings and the rushing traffic – feeling like country bumkins. Our hosts took us north over the Harbour Bridge for a late BBQ at Torbay, up the North Shore. This is on the east coast and thus opposite the west coast where we started out that morning. It seemed a long way from Fitzroy Beach in New Plymouth to Torbay in Auckland, in several senses of the words.