Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200005 New Zealand-N S

Monday 1 May 2000  It’s a dull day but Steve’s full of flu so we stay put and actually manage a short spell of sunbathing in the afternoon.
Tuesday 2 May  Off up the Northland coast with a short detour to the Warkworth Satellite Station visitor centre.  Free and quite interesting.  Tawharanui regional park has a marine reserve alongside the long sandy beach.  Again we manage a few hours sunbathing and enjoy wandering around the area.  Our regional park booklet even says you can stay free on the car parks in a self contained motorhome.
Wednesday 3 May  The ranger arrives to find out why we didn’t check into the campsite.  Explain about the leaflet but have to show it to convince him not to charge us camping fees!  Goat Island near Leigh has been recommended as another marine reserve with good snorkelling.  The island is very close to the shore and a marine university sited here.  It’s cloudy but having seen some pretty big fish from the rocks Steve takes to the water.  He reports sightings of snapper, paketi/spotty, blue cod and red moki.  Follow the coast as near as possible stopping for a stroll along the lovely Mangawhai Heads beach.  There’s definitely a feel of autumn now with trees changing colour, the nights dark before 6.00pm and only a short spell in the day when the sun is hot enough to sunbathe.  Our last sight of autumn trees was in October 1998 in Andorra!  Park for the night behind the Hotel in Waipu giving us chance to stroll around the small town.
Thursday 4 May   Stopping in town for bread we notice a long queue by a man selling fish from a trailer.  Taking this as a good sign we buy 2 bream fillets at $1 (35p) each and a kahawai which has been split in half, cooked then dried at $2.50 (85p).  Uretiti D.O.C. camp is directly behind the naturist beach.  $6 (£2) p.p.p.n. for camping, flushing toilets, drinking water and huts with cold showers and also a rope rigged up for you to use your own solar showers.  A very short stroll through pine trees to the vast white sandy beach which looks even better under the clear blue skies.  The beach is also used to train race horses and we are entertained by a few trotting past with sulkeys (special racing carts).  Enjoy a very long walk along the beach which runs parallel to the golf course in parts and return at low tide.  Time to start digging for tuatuas.  You stand knee deep in the water then wiggle either your feet or heels until you find a shell.  With luck you can then bend down and retrieve a tuatua.  I say with luck as you often find nothing, sometimes find a different shell or can find a tuatua but a wave knocks you over before you can pick it up.  Anyway it’s good exercise doing the tuatua twist and in no time we have over 40 in the bag.  Return after lunch to collect a few more tuatuas as the bag limit is 50 per person per day and we want to preserve some in vinegar.  The sea is pleasantly warm and it’s also a great way to sun tan your half moons!  
Friday 5 May  Having left the tuatuas soaking in sea water overnight to spit out the sand they are ready for cooking.  As soon as they are steamed opened we take the meat out and once cool drop it into a jar of sugared vinegar.  There are a few too many for the jar so Steve eats them for breakfast – yuk.  Anyway the sun’s shining so by 9.00am we are ensconced in our spot on the white sand.  By 11.00am the clouds have built up so we make a break.  Marsden Point is New Zealand’s only oil refinery.  At the visitor centre it’s free to watch the sound and light show, view a scale replica of the refinery, watch a video and study information boards.  We learn a few things but most of it is too technical for our redundant brains.  Whangarei is the largest town in Northland and having stocked up on groceries we explore the town basin.  It’s a fairly new pedestrian only area by the marina with lots of pavement cafes, museums and small shops.  Again very much on the Mediterranean style.  Clapham’s clock museum $5 (£1.65) proves most interesting with over 1500 different ones on display and we end up spending nearly an hour browsing round and being shown animated models.  Once again we have been given a contact this time through the "Free Beach Group".  David and Margaret live near Maungatapere and soon have us parked and wired up.  They hope to go to England in 2002 so have lots to ask us.
Saturday 6 May  It’s a dull day but we have been invited to stay and I get in some serious computer time as David is on the Internet.  I do my own work and help David & Margaret research for their trip.  Shame the weather is not better as they have a lovely swimming pool in the garden.
Sunday 7 May  After rain in the night we wake to a dry but dull morning.  The area around Maungatapere is famous for the stonewalls which look just like the Yorkshire dry stone walls.  Back in Whangarei we stroll down Quality Street a reconstructed old fashioned shopping arcade.  In the mall we follow brass plaques in the pavement telling the area’s history.  Out to the picturesque Whangarei falls 26.3 metres high falling over basalt cliffs.  A short walk gives us splendid views from the top and below.  Take the coastal road towards Russell but visibility is poor as the weather deteriorates.  There are a lot of shacks in the area most with loads of rusty cars in the garden.  Many of the beaches are inaccessible and most of the people we see are Maori.  Russell the first capital of New Zealand is steeped in history but in the pouring rain nothing inspires us to get out to see more.  Pull up early afternoon at a P.O.P. with power $5 (£1.65) enabling us to fester and watch T.V.
Monday 8 May     A clear morning and we can now appreciate the views over bays in both directions.  Continue to the end of the peninsula to catch the ferry from Okiato to Opua.  $7  (£2.35) for car and driver, $12 (£4) motorhome and driver and $1 (35p) each extra passenger.  Notice from their board that the motorhome price has been increased from $10 (£3.35) but not the rest!  We are now in the pretty Bay of Islands and yachts abound.  A short drive to Pahia to check out the Country Rock festival at the weekend and other trips.  Exploring accommodation options our drive takes us through Waitangi National Reserve and past Hururu Falls where we stop to make the short walk to the viewing area.  Back in town we book the special offer combined Cape Reinga full day tour and a half day Cape De Brett boat trip for $99 (£33).  Waitangi Marae has been opened in readiness for the big motorhome rally this weekend.  Club members in self contained motorhomes get a special site rate of $6 (£2) unpowered or $7 (£2.35) with power.  We take advantage of one of the last few powered sites available. Walk over the bridge to the Waitangi Treaty house commemorating the spot where the original treaty was signed.   By the bridge is Kelly Tarlton’s shipwreck museum within the ship "Tui" but as a lot of the treasure was recently stolen we pass.
Tuesday 9 May  At 7.30am the Dune Rider 4 X 4 bus picks us up for the tour.  Drive through Kerikeri past the oldest stone and oldest wooden buildings in New Zealand.  The rain stops before we arrive in Puketi Kauri forest.  Reduced by over 99% by early settlers the tall straight native Kauri Trees have no lower branches – perfect for logging.  Rejoin the main coast road stopping at a bakery in Taipa for coffee.  At Houhora the most northern pub in New Zealand beckons.  It was relocated from another area when business tailed off.  Whilst being towed by bullocks it travelled so slowly that it remained open for trade!     Anyway on to our destination reputedly the most Northern point of mainland New Zealand Cape Reinga and also the meeting point of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean.  Walk to the lighthouse for the obligatory photo against the sign showing we are now over 1400km North of the Southern most point.  We must have done a few detours because we have driven over 5000km to cover the same stretch!  Detour off the main road and travel down Te Paki quicksand stream.  Were the bus to stop it would be stuck in less than a minute.  The stream is surrounded by big sand dunes and we pull over to enable us to sand toboggan down them.  Clutching boogie boards we scramble up the sand and then lie on our fronts to sledge down.  Two Yorkshire chaps in their 70’s also have a go.  Great fun and the beauty is you don’t get cold and wet like with snow.  We even manage to come down "knee boarding" style.  The stream emerges onto 90 mile beach (actually nearer 90km) and we race along just below the water line producing lots of splashes.  Stop to give us chance for a paddle and we have just about walked the 50 feet to the sea when a big roller comes in which rapidly reaches above our knees and covers the dry area behind us.  These rollers can be a big problem and have caused people to be killed and cars to get stranded here.  One of the things which most surprises us is that regular luxury coaches also follow the same route as our 4WD.  Back on the main highway we stop at the Kauri Kingdom where trees up to 40,000 years old have been rescued from swamps, dried out and then carved.  This also gives the coach drivers a chance to hose the vehicles down with fresh water.  There is a world famous fish and chip shop at Mangonui which stands on stilts in the bay.  $10.45 (£3.50) for the two portions of fish and chips – chips $2 (65p) and fish sold by weight.  A nice fat juicy piece of fish and crisp non greasy chips eaten out of the paper overlooking the bay – in heavy rain.  Final stop at a fruit and veg stall run by Stuart from Ripon who has good friends in Keighley.  A good value, interesting and fun day out.
Wednesday 10 May  Walk round the headland to Pahia to catch the 9.00am Dolphin Discoveries "Discover the Bay" trip.  The other 5 passengers were also on our coach trip yesterday and taking advantage of the twin tour.  On the fast jet boat we head out in the Bay of Islands.  The number of islands is in dispute but said to be 144.  A Maori guide tells us something of the history and culture and we have an underwater video camera which projects undersea life on to TV monitors.  Visit many bays and also Cape Brett Lighthouse, Cathedral Cave, and the Hole in the Rock.  Spot the rare sandy dotterill bird, gannets and cormorants.  In Paradise Bay we drop anchor and get a chance to use the sea kayaks.  Sadly we don’t see any dolphins or whales and return to Pahia for 12.30pm.  Walk back to the Marae to find a few more motorhomes have arrived.  
Thursday 11 May  Motorhomes are piling in thick and fast.  They seem to have no policy in New Zealand for the gap between vehicles and I soon feel hemmed in and short of privacy with vehicles lining up like a car park.  We escape to the Waitangi Motor Camp just across the road where they have a deal at $5 (£1.65) p.p.p.n with power, laundry, toilets and hot showers at 20c (7p).  Choose a large grassy pitch directly overlooking the inlet – worth the extra for space and a view.  Get stuck into the back log of washing but find it a battle drying it between showers despite the strong winds.  The rains become torrential and continue through the night with the wind rocking the van.
Friday 12 May  The rain finally stops.  Motorhomers Eve & Richard and Val & Graham pull in next to us and having been to the festival for the last 4 years they offer lots of advice.  Walk into Paihia to buy our tickets for the 11th Annual Bay of Islands Country Rock Festival.  $25 (8.35) per person includes entry to 6 venues over the weekend, festival programme and shuttle bus between venues.  4 Artists from Australia and one from USA will join the 70 New Zealand ones plus there is a separate line dancing programme.  Make it back to the van just before heavy rain recommences.  Notice that there are now almost 100 motorhomes on the Marae field. The rain eases in the evening and we stroll over to the Copthorne Resort where the large hall is almost full of aging motorhomers.  First act James Wood is poor but Terry Gordon from Australia a baladeer, sonwriter, bush poet and comedian with his own TV programme in Australia is excellent.  Onto the shuttle bus via the floodlit Hururu Falls to the Park Lodge which is heaving and has a mixed age audience.  Joy Adams and Yolande Gibson (Australian) are not bad.  A stroll up the road takes us to the Paihia Pacific Resort where Stephen R. Cheyney also Australian is very good involving the audiance in a very funny song about plucking a fluffy duck!  Most acts perform for 45 minutes with a 15 minute gap between them so the time flies by and it is midnight by the time we get home.
Saturday 13 May  Walk to Copthorne to catch the 8.45am shuttle bus to Opua station for the "Soul Train" to Kawakawa on the Vintage Railway. The $10 (£3.35) 16km trip should take 45 minutes but we encounter numerous problems along the line.  With a chain saw they prepare wood as we travel.  The steam train grinds to a halt on the small incline and we have to wait for it to "get up enough steam" to proceed.  The track is slippery and they have to stop many times to sand the rails.  At one stop the engine blasts out some flames and sets the grass on fire.  Using water to extinguish the flames leaves us short on water for engine steam.  They uncouple the carriages and the engine sets off without us to get more water from Kawakawa station.  Much  time passes and the guard tells us it is only about 5 minutes walk to town so a number of us set out on foot.  Bit of a worry going over the bridges as there is nowhere to go if the trains comes back!  Arrive on the edge of town to be greeted by a possie of cowboys who were waiting to hold the train up – bit more like the train holding them up today!  The train line runs down the centre of the main street and line dances are performing their routines in the middle of it (so that’s why they call it line dancing).  Bands are interspaced along the street on the pavement and there’s a great atmosphere.  The train eventually goes back to collect the carriages but there are more problems and after 2 hours it arrives.  The cowboys escort it down the street whilst throwing "Crunchie" bars to the crowd.  (In New Zealand they have an advert where cowboys hold up a train to steal everybody’s Crunchie Bars).  Manage a bit of line dancing whilst checking out the artists.  Dennis Marsh performs well, thought he might be a distant relative of mine (Marsh is my maiden name) until I saw that he was a Maori – well they do call them "cuzzies" here.  Also performing are Brian McCullough, Cassablanca, Joy Adams, Reg McTaggart, Kitten, Morningside, Annette Hawkins & Country Drifters and the Serenes.  Thyme Zone are in the pub and we spend a lot of time there as they are a good band and the beer is only $3 (£1) a pint with 30% extra free.  End up taking the camera and video into the famous "Hunterwasser" toilets which making me feel like a bit of a pervert.  They have been designed by the famous Austrian and are decroated with unusual tiles which flow Gaudi style. The train leaves promptly at 2.30pm and gets us back without a hitch in 45 mintues.  Back at the Copthorne Resort we catch Reg McTaggart and then Brendon Ham & Back 11 Basix who perform the type of music we like.  Conclude that the basic country ballads don’t appeal to us as we like more variation in tempo or a bit of comedy in the acts.  Nip back home for tea before returning to find the place packed out with standing room only.  Kitten is just finishing and the attraction is Dennis March & Band who play a wide selection of songs.  Take It Back are next followed by Corinna Cordwell.  A young lass she has a huge vocal range and incorporates a lot of yodelling into her songs.  Last act Southern Cross are brilliant with Marion Burns playing an electric violin superbly.        
Sunday 14 May   Nice day so we walk to town along the beach.  At "The Odeon" we watch Country Joe who are terrible then give up on Annette Hawkins.  Up to Hururu falls where we enjoy Cincinatti, sit through the appaling Country Coral & Friends to be rewarded by the excellent Tree Fellers with Irish music.  Back at Copthorne in time to catch American Sally Burgess who has a good voice.  After nipping home for tea we catch the last wo bands Crystal Harmony who are good followed by Thyme Zone whom we saw yesterday in the pub but have now started to lose their voices!  What an amazing weekend.
Monday 15 May  A quick shop in Kaikohe en route to Rawene where we have a "Free Beach" contact.  Robin & Jenny Hoare are English and Robin once taught at Wellington Grammaer School.  They have an interesting indoor swimming pool which despite being small has jets for you to swim against, topped off with a sauna it makes a lovely leisure area where we chat and relax. 
Tuesday 16 May  It’s quite a sight to see the mists lift over Hokianga harbour to be replaced by sunshine.  Our early departure is postponed as we soak up a bit of sun before leaving late morning.  As we reach Opononi to view the Hokianga harbour mouth and the huge sand dune opposite the heavens open up.  Waipou Kauri forest has some of the biggest trees in New Zealand.  We walk to the largest Tane Mahuta – "lord of the forest" 1200 years old and 52 metres high.  Kai-Iwi lakes are a cluster of 3 lakes dedicated to different sports, water ski-ing, swimming and fishing.  With sandy beaches they would make a great stop on a nice day.  Pull onto a P.O.P. stop in Dargaville and enjoy a smorgasbord at the New Asian Chinese for $13 (£4.35). 
Wednesday 17 May  A pleasant morning for driving South near to the Kaipara harbour the largest in New Zealand with over 3000km of shore line. This area is the Kumera (sweet potato) capital of New Zealand and roadside stalls abound.  At Matakohe we visit the highly recommended Kauri & Pioneer museum $7 (£2.35).  A superb place with a collection of kauri gum, lifelike displays of the lives of kauri bush people, old school, church, post office, etc.  Steve gets a shock whilst viewing a Victorian room with mannequins as one turns out to be a real old lady in costume crocheting.  A couple of hours pass in no time then we head to Maungaturo to turn off for Piroa Falls.  Scramble down into the gorge and just as we near the falls we have to hop over two large stones.  Stepping onto the second one I slip and soon find myself taking an unrequired dip in the cold river.  When I manage to stop laughing I check to find no damage just cold wet muddy clothes and boots.  Fortunately the falls are worth the walk but should maybe be renamed Glen Falls.  South of Wellsford we turn West to gain splendid views down onto the Kaipara harbour.  Through Helensville then out to Muriwai Beach on the rugged west coast of the Waikatere.  Adjacent to the black volcanic sand beach are rare examples of pillow lava rock formations on the cliffs – or so the leaflet says!  Enjoy a stroll along the beach exploring a cave and then a walk along the cliff top.  South of here is where the film "Piano" was shot.  Just leave ourselves time to drive back to Devonport in the daylight to re visit Jenny & Ron.
Thursday 18 May   Domestic day.  In the evening we go out with Jenny & Ron to "Monsoon" Thai restaurant in Devonport and enjoy an excellent meal. There is a board with 3 word puzzles and if you get them all correct you get a free desert.  We are foiled by the 3rd one which just says RROWS and turns out to be "A pain in the arse" which we think is very clever.  Over the road to the pub for a drink noticing that the old gas lights are being used in the street.  Although only a short ferry from Auckland when you are in Devonport it feels like a small olde worlde type village.
Friday 19 May  Leave at 9.30am to avoid the rush hour traffic and again have no problem getting ourselves through Auckland and out over the Bombay hills heading back to Tauranga. Our route crosses the Hauraki plains and through Paeroa where a giant bottle reminds us that this is the home of the "world famous in New Zealand" Lemon & Paeroa drink. A pleasant drive through Karangahake Gorge then out to the coast for a lunch stop behind Katikati Beach.  Reach Rosco Park – Ros & Maurie’s Nudvan P.O.P at Welcome Bay late afternoon.  . $5 (£1.65) inc power  
Saturday 20 May  Fernlands Hot Pools has been booked for the annual naturist swim $4 (£1.35) p.p. and we arrive at 11.00am.  Suddenly realise just how many people we have met in New Zealand when we are reunited with Geoff, Stronach & Judy, Malcolm, Grant, Rae & Ken and Nudvanners Lyn & Ray, Margaret & Des, Barbara & Warren and Peter.   There’s a very good attendance and we also realise how many naturists we haven’t met.  Very  little swimming is done but it is great to sit on the ledge and chat.  When the pool closes at 3.00pm the Nudvanners return to Rosco Park for afternoon tea.  At 6.00pm 12 of us pile into Peter’s motorhome to drive to the church hall. We make more noise than a big bus full of kids on an outing and all get the giggles.  Along with other people who have stayed over from the swim we enjoy a pot luck supper.  The return bus ride is even worse after the wine has kicked in. 
Sunday 21 May  A bad night’s sleep with 3 contributing factors – Steve watching the FA Cup from 2am until 4am, a nearby party (not ours) with loud music until 3am and my nose reaching record decibels when I snort and wake myself up!   Before we leave Ros kindly loads us up with Feijoas and Kiwi fruit which they grow on their block.  It’s along round of farewells before we head towards Hamilton.  Stop for lunch to find that we have left the cameras behind.  Fortunately Ray & Lyn are returning to Hamilton tomorrow and rather than a 3 hour return trip we decide to spend an extra day in Hamilton and wait for them to bring it to us.  We return to visit John, Pauline and girls Emma and Laura who are as pleased to see us as we are them.
Monday 22 May  As we have a day spare I make an appointment at the local Doctor’s to try and sort our my nose problem and my asthma which has also been bad recently.  $32 (£10.65) for a consulation and with the receptionist coming from Carlise and the Doctor from Derbyshire I feel quite at home.  Unfortunately he diagnoses chronic rhinitis and possibly a polyp both needing an operation.  This may entail a longer spell than anticipated back in England to get me sorted out.  Intent on getting my money’s worth I also get treatment for my facial acne and fungal infection on my back which end up costing $39 (£13) for prescriptions.  Fortunately because of the reciprocal arrangements we pay the same price as residents as after 1 year away from England we couldn’t buy any more travel insurance without first returning.  On the plus side the Doctor tells me that cutting out alcohol and dairy produce wouldn’t make any difference to my problem so I shall be putting that theory to the test tonight.  John’s working late so I look after Emma & Laura after school and get tea ready for everyone.  All is going well until we pick up our E-mail on John’s computer.  Major problem with our motorhome.  Chris and Marion collected it last Monday and only 2 miles down the road the gearbox was red hot and squealing.  Our friend Peter retrieved it and after it had cooled overnight found metal pieces in the gearbox oil.  It’s away for appraisal and repair but we could be looking at up to £2000 which is bad news.  Also bad for Chris and Marion who are renting a car and it could be another week before it’s back.  Even worse Peter tells us that after the test drive he found Chris to be the worst driver he had ever come across as he couldn’t reverse, was extremely erratic, impatient, didn’t use the mirrors and would not listen to advice.  (Don’t think Peter has ever come across a Kiwi driver before).  Spend time making phone calls and getting as much information as we can which brings to light an insurance problem.  I have paperwork saying we are covered on the RAC section of our policy for breakdowns in Europe offering up to £3000 car hire expenses if the vehicle cannot be repaired in 24 hours.  On the telephone our broker says that England is not Europe (well  I know a lot of Asians now live there but surely it is not now classed as Asia) and therefore is not covered and anyway in Continental Europe the cover is only £750.  This contravenes the policy sample we have in front of us but despite us phoning at our expense he says he will not discuss it with us in New Zealand!!! As we are in no position to research another policy to cover our unusual circumstances our action is limited and we are left fuming and frustrated.  Hit the bottle.
Tuesday 23 May  Having slept on the problem (or not slept as the case may be) we call back to Regency Motorhomes where we know owners Allan and Maxine.  Allan says the gearbox problem is either a failed component or the oil level was not checked at the last service.  We follow this up by faxing the manufacturers in America and also asking Peter to send us more information.  Head further south stopping in Te Kuiti to try to sort more things out by E-mail but the only computer in town is playing up and we make little progress.  Continue towards New Plymouth entering the Taranaki region on a scenic route through lots of gorges.  Follow the black volcanic sandy coastline getting glimpses of volcanic Mount Taranaki (a.k.a. Mount Egmont) which looks impressive through the clouds. Stop at a P.O.P. at Bell Block just North of New Plymouth $3 (£1) with power.  Steve phones Peter and finds out that our van problem was a blade shearing off the talk converter leading to new bearings, clutch plate and gear selector also being required.  Estimate around £1000 + VAT – ouch.
Wednesday 24 May   Wake to a beautiful sunny day.  We have booked an appointment to visit Classique Surroundings in Bell Block.  Noelene welcomes us to her private house with a magical garden containing water, bridges, dove cotes and hidden corners.  A huge garage is filled with 1950’s memorabilia featuring Marilyn Munroe, Elvis Presley and Cadillacs.  Well worth a visit.  It’s supposed to be $2 (65p) admission but Noelene doesn’t want any money but asks for a lift into New Plymouth.   Walking to the library we appreciate the wide streets and Art Deco buildings which give the city a nice feel.  Nearby Pukekura Park is excellent.  You operate a fountain and man made waterfall by a switch and there are many tracks to wonder along.  Cliff Richard performed in the adjoining Brooklands Bowl and we stand on the same stage but notice a distinct lack of audience. Drive along the sea front which is a bit dissapointing as there is no beach just big boulders.  Heading towards Inglewood we detour to drive around Lake Mangamahoe where we get a great view of Mount Taranaki.  In Stratford most of the streets are named after Shakespeare characters but we certainly don’t recognise them all.  Our drive to Dawson Falls takes us into the dense bush surrounding Mount Taranaki which also makes driving difficult on the narrow road with many blind corners.  From the lookout we get fine views over the Taranaki Plains but the Mountain is now shrouded in cloud.  A short walk to Dawson Falls then back to Stratford for the performance of the only public Glockenspiel in New Zealand which it is in action at 11.00am, 1.00pm and 3.00pm each day.  To music life size figures of Romeo & Juliet pop out of different places in the tower reciting their lines culminating in the balcony scene.  Great stuff.  In Hawera we make an appointment to visit another private museum this time the Elvis Presley Memorial Record Room owned by Kevin Wasley.  Another great find with treasures including 24 carat gold discs and an original autograph.  In fact the original record room which houses thousands of rare and expensive recordings has overspilled into another room with heaps of memorobilia.  Admission is by donation but it’s quite obvious that Kevin gets great pleasure just from showing off his collection.  Settle into a nearby P.O.P. where we are surprised to find the owners have a British Auto Trail motorhome.  Sadly the original owner had it made to ship to New Zealand when he emigrated but shortly after lost his leg in an accident and had to sell it.
Thursday 25 May   Chatting to the lady at the P.O.P. stop it transpires that her mother came from Keighley and has the surname Feather.  We had two cutomers Christine & Anne Feather and also knew of a builder called Ronnie Feather who could be related to her.  Back into Hawera for a quick look at the old water tower built after three destructive town fires.  Before it was finished an earthquake struck and it ended up tilted and had to be corrected with weights like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.    Today the list is hardly noticable.  As it’s a beautiful day we head out to Waverley Beach just in time to explore numerous sea caves and admire the hole in the rock before the tide comes in.  Unexpectedly it’s warm enough to sunbathe on the grassy cliff top.  A short stop in Wanganui to visit the Sarjeant Gallery more to admire the unusually designed building which makes optimum use of daylight.  An exhibition on the "Great Escape" grabs us more than the art work which looks to us like something a child could do!  Waikanae is where Barbara Knight’s (friend from Turkey who with Malcolm visited us in Nelson) parents live.  Unfortunately her Dad Fred is away but Mum June makes us welcome and cooks us a meal.
Friday 26 May  A very short drive from June’s is Waikanae Beach with Kapiti Island opposite.  We must return to the main road to drive further down the coast and call in at The Lindale Centre a complex of speciality shops.  Steve makes for the Kapiti Cheese shop but I am repelled by the smell and visit Kapiti Candies.  We crack up laughing in the National Geographic Shop when we spot a tester pot of cream for Thrush!  Pause for a coffee stop behind Paraparaumu Beach.  Back in Wellington we get to meet fellow full time motorhomer Doug Harrap with whom we have been making Internet contact.  Doug’s visiting his mum Marje in Miramar in we spend the afternoon chatting with them and arrange tentatively to meet Doug in town tonight.  Back to the excellent parking spot on Taranaki Wharf $4 (£1.35 overnight) where we leave the van and walk to meet Malcolm’s Mum & Dad, Gwen & Roger at Cafe Zing.  It’s good to see them both again and enjoy our generously portioned meals.  We are amazed to find out that Roger knows Doug as they were both in the fire service together.  Courtney Place area is buzzing with heaps of people, fancy street lights and numerous buskers.  Make our way to Molly Malones Irish Bar and head to the quieter area upstairs where Doug is most surprised to see Roger.  We have a grandstand view of the floodlit Bungee Rocket which with three cutomers paying $35 (£11.65) a time must be making a bomb as it is in constant use.  Return to the wharf having arranged to meet Gwen & Roger in the morning.
Saturday 27 May  I have been struggling with my breathing for some time now and each night get less and less sleep.  I have a Ventolin puffer following a previous "one off" asthma attack, brought on by smoke, but feel the same symptoms now.  This is my worst night and I still can’t get my breath despite using my Ventolin.  First thing in the morning we start to drive to Gwen & Rogers for advice on medical facilities but my attack gets so bad I can barely breathe and tears stream down my face.  A few more puffs of Ventolin get us to Roger & Gwens and into the car heading to the hospital.  Reach the hospital just as another bad attack strikes and in no time I am rushed straight through and put on a nebuliser and oxygen.  Over the next 2 hours I am given 8 tablets, more time on the nebuliser, lots of examinations and more ventolin.  The doctor diagnoses acute exacerbated asthma caused by chest infection, sore throat and aggravated by my nasal rhinitus.   She also mentions that New Zealand and especially Wellington are bad areas for asthma sufferers.  I am tutored about asthma and issued with a peak flow meter, ventolin, spacer, pulmicort preventor, and 2 different lots of tablets and told to return if my air flow drops below a certain level and to see a Doctor next week to check on my progress.  $50 (£16.65) for the hospital treatment and a further $49.20 (£16.40) for the first month’s prescription.  The Doctor says that providing I monitor myself I can still go for our planned drive to Eastbourne but to take things easy.  It’s a pleasant drive around the bay and we stop for lunch in a small cafe.  Roger & Gwen have asked us to sleep in the house overnight and this means that whilst Steve, Gwen & Roger go to the pub to watch the "Super 12" rugby final I can have a bath and an early night. 
Sunday 28 May  Despite some deterioration in the night I do get some sleep and wake up feeling much better than yesterday.  Just getting ready to go out when Steve cricks his neck whilst bending down to put his shoes on!   What a pair of old crocks we are.  Between a few wheezes and splutters I manage to massage him well enough to go out.  In the Old Bank Arcade we catch the intricate detail and performance of the animated Old Bank Clock which tells the history of the Old Bank.  Down in the vaults below glass panels you can see the remains of an old sailing vessel the "Plimmers Ark" from 1850.  Heading North out of Wellington we pass a castle on the hill side which is a set from film "Lord of the Rings".  Kaitoke Park is a lovely spot with lots of grassy picnic areas, streams and a nice gorge.  It’s a lovely sunny crisp day but still chilly which is verified by the frost on the grass and ice covered puddles.  Well wrapped up we enjoy a walk and then Roger cooks up lunch on one of th electric BBQ’s.  Drive around Tunnel Gully trying to find without luck a village which has been created for the film.  Have to chuckle at another hard hitting road sign which say "Red means stop, end of bloody story".  A documentary about bad Kiwi driving analised this point and deduced that everyone goes through on stop because they are frightened the car behind them intends to go and would hit them if they stopped!  Catch a glimpse of the Prime Ministers house as we return to Roger & Gwens.  Late evening we drive down to the port to park ready for the 6.30am ferry.
Monday 29 May  We’re both feeling a little better when we drive onto the ferry.  A spectacular sunrise over Wellington bids us farewell to the North Island.  Approaching the Marlborough Sounds is amazing as it is almost impossible to see a way through.  The ship makes numerous manouvres to wind its way through this difficult and often extremely narrow passage.  An hour later we emerge into Picton Harbour on the SOUTH ISLAND and dock at 9.30am.  Breakfast by the shore and a fix of E-mail then back to Nelson avoiding the winding Queen Charlotte Way but still unable to avoid the numerous bends and hills between Havelock and Nelson.  Lunch stop at the very pretty Totara Flat near Pelorus Sound and then the rain starts as we near Nelson.  A few business matters resolved we retire to Brook Valley Motor Camp which offers motorhomers a special deal of $7 (£2.35) for a powered site. 
Tuesday 30 May   Heavy rain all through the night and no sign of it stopping.  Return to Nelson Sun Club to begin the big van clean up operation.
Wednesday 31 May  We have a dry morning giving Steve chance to clean the outside of the van and me to get some washing done.  Can’t believe how quickly the 6 months have gone.  Tomorrow we are staying in Nelson with friends so I will now summarise the facts and figures for our New Zealand tour.
    Number of different ones Number of nights
Homes visited   23    54
Park Over Properties  15    24
Free Camping   38    48
Naturist Locations  10    41
Dept of Conservation Camps  4     4
Motor Camps    3     9
Bach (holiday home)   1     4
Distance driven  9980 km
Litres of fuel used 1292
Cost of fuel  $835.94  (£278)
Cost of km pass $260.00   (£ 87)
Total cost  $1095.94 (£365)
 So to sum up our New Zealand tour we have had a great time and would like to come back in maybe 5 years to the North Island to explore more of Northland and the East Cape which we completely missed out.  The Kiwi hospitality lived up to it’s reputation – so also did the Kiwi driving!  Weather could have been better but then we would have struggled to get around and see all the things we wanted to.  As it is we have run out of both time and good weather.  With the £ going as high as $3.20 but always holding above $3 = £1 we have also found our money went a long way.  A great country for motorhoming and naturism.  We’ll be back.

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