Sunday, 29 November 2009

Heading South

After 3 weeks crossing North Island we are now in Wellington awaiting the ferry to South Island tomorrow - we are on a large 'holiday park' in an industrial area near the terminal and being Wellington the rain is probably appropriate.
However this is all in complete contrast to the last month which has been generally fine or hot and seen us finish exploring the remote Coramandel Peninsula and enjoy a swim and snorkelling in the Pacific at idyllic Waikawau,stay with a friend of Sarah's in Omokoroa and then stay in the Tongariro area.
Here we successfully completed in superb weather the Alpine Crossing including a very tough side ascent of Ngaurhoe a snow capped and occasionally active volcano that involved some arduous scrambling on steep loose scree with a very strong wind. Sarah was remarkably tough and rose to the challenge and we were both rewarded with superb views, aching limbs and sunburn.
A few days in a very remote corner of the Ruahine Forest Park on an empty backwoods Department of Conservation site was sublime with the added excitement of a rather precarious cableway to cross the river, no other visitors and some excellent walks.
We have only used 3 'proper' sites so far as the DOC ones suit us better being generally empty, well away from anywhere and providing the necessities of a loo and water. At Broken Hills we saw glow worms and wetas in old gold mining tunnels, parrots were flapping in the trees and kingfishers were as common as starlings back home.
The van seems to trundle on reliably with fuel around 50p a litre and an mpg usually over 40 even after the slow going on the many miles of gravel roads we have covered - dust everywhere after these but they do get us to the quitest spots.
Contact with home has been maintained - sounds like the weather has been its usual if not worse autumnal self.
Yesterday at Feilding we saw a range of old British car makes in a vintage rally and met an old kiwi guy who last year took his 70 year old Austin round Australia and 5 years ago had toured Europe including Pembrokeshire ending up in Fishguard! Plenty of inspiration there.....
A week ago we celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary so lucky old me - for Sarah perhaps the jury is still out!

More pics again at the following link :

http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/sjarratt5/NorthIslandContinues?feat=directlink


Sunday, 8 November 2009

On and Off the Road

Well a fortnight ago we received confirmation that the van had arrived so we collected it from the freight depot after it had passed Customs and quarantine inspections - all expertly handled by our shippers Taurus Logistics of Christchurch.
We then completed the formalities to get road legal, joined NZAA and sourced and fitted gas bottles. After a trial couple of days away we are now finally heading south as we have booked a ferry to South Island for the 1st of December - it feels rather surreal to be in our familiar and comfy van in such a superb country - the coast round to Thames passing Miranda was postcard perfect.
The last few days have been spent in the Kauaeranga Forest Park on the Coramandel Peninsula enjoying three good walks including a long day up to the Pinnacles and nights spent on simple DoC sites with long drop loos and a stream for water - all to ourselves.

The semi tropical jungle of tree ferns, vines, creeepers and kauri trees is remarkable and the bird life very varied. Tracks are hard going in places but generally well marked although being only a couple of hours from Auckland this is apparently a popular area so the standards are likely to be high. Keeping in touch may prove harder from now on although libraries have good free internet connections - we love to hear from people back home and have put more pictures up at the following link