So, I left you hanging on the news that I had a ‘campervan’, if memory serves. I left Auckland to go to my first WWOOFing farm – Willing Workers On Organic Farms. The experience was pretty cool, but left me feeling slightly negative about Germans. Leaving the farm on 17th November I immediately set out to visit Cape Reinga. This is billed as having a fantastic view out over the meeting point of the Tasman Sea and the South Pacific Ocean. ‘So?’ you may ask, well one is green and the other is blue (I forget which way round). There appears a seam in the sea, very interesting. The journey was to be a simple one, even without GPS I think I could have done it without sweat.
So I set out, the weather was a bit dismal, but I continued without concern as the words ‘of you don’t like the weather in Kerikeri wait ten minutes’ from Corren were still fresh in my mind.
The weather was not improving as I passed ninety-mile beach (a gross lie which I’ll ignore for the moment), so I continued without stopping to look at it. As the GPS distance ticked down to about 30km I hit some roadworks. Slightly more extensive roadworks than we’re used to in the UK. Rather than resurface one side of the road at a time they seem to just rip the entire road back to coarse grit and start again while cars and vans are still using the route. At first this wasn’t a problem, I was well below the advertised speed limit of 70km/h but still making good time and the surface was still quite good.
This did not last. The surface rather quickly degraded to a looser gravel surface and an max speed of 30km/h. This surface had also acquired a top layer of wet mud in the recent rain. This is where driving became more of an art than a science. Let me point out that my van is NOT a 4×4 and I had the distinct feeling that such a vehicle would have made life a lot easier. I was crawling along and at times I felt more like a rally driver than a lawful road user. On some of the corners the use of the steering wheel seemed to be more of a suggestion to the vehicles direction, rather than a direct correlation. In other situations I think this would have probably been a lot of fun – I’m sure that I’d like to try a rally driving day when I get back to the UK – but when two way traffic is a possibility on the road these conditions ‘focus the mind’. Stressful.
After an eternity of this slip-slide driving (10km) the repeated thought that I should turn back is pushed into a definite decision as I am faced with what looks like an impossible hill. I turn around.
However after a minute of GPS indecision – me being unable to decide where to go instead – I turn around again and brave the hill. Damn good job I did too, because in the next 400m (I kid you not) the road reverts back to the solid standard issue tarmac that we all know and love. A few minutes later I arrive at the Cape and park up with a sense of relief. I can hear the question that’s on your lips right now: ‘After that journey, was it worth it?’
I’ll let you decide for yourself.