21.01.2011 30 °C
The space-time continuum is not a constant. It seems like only a few weeks ago we were worrying about how we could survive for seven months with only the stuff we could pack into four suitcases. Now we are getting rid of equipment we’ve been using and worrying about how we can get back to Canada with only four suitcases. (Worrying means Paul can’t see how it will be done and Gwen is figuring it out as she eats, sleeps, walks, shops and performs the myriad of daily actions she already has on her plate.)
Picton, our last stop on the south island was a blur. We arrive with 3 nights accommodation already booked and paid for so we had time to relax and hike our last “Great Walk” in New Zealand. This all happened quicker than you could sneeze and it is where we all came to grips with the idea that you can’t travel forever. We started to sell off our camping supplies and fellow travellers were more than happy to take our stuff. We did not want to throw out good equipment and knew that others could use it. Anyway, the highlight of Picton for us was the Queen Charlotte Track.
This is one of the nine great walks in NZ. It was the fifth that the Allores tackled and also beautiful like the others, but unlike the others it was a little more commercial in that at points, you could take a short detour off the track and be at a bed and breakfast, coffee shop etc. It was a bitter sweet walk as it was the last bush walk we’d be doing in NZ and was a definite sign that the end was in sight. Regardless, we did enjoy it. We packed a lunch, drove to the track and walked on the track for about 3.5 hours and enjoyed the views as well as the conversations that we shared.
You may have picked up by reading our blog that Gwen and Ayden will never be sea-dogs as the motion on the open sea makes them a little queezy, well we made the mistake of checking the weather for the ferry crossing from south island to north island. The weather forecast was for gale force winds and a possible cyclone. Yeah … cyclone! Even Paul was feeling a little queezy anticipating the 3 and a half hour ride. The saying, “Expect the worse and hope for the best”, was what we were telling ourselves and as you are reading this blog, you know we were not sunk. In fact, the ride back to the north island was calmer than the ride we had to the south island.
Lounging on the Boat
Getting up at 5:45 is too much.
The bad weather started about 20 minutes after we were back in the car and heading to Turangi, the agreed meeting place of the Allores and the Muirs.
Joy and Bruce Muir are retired teachers from Ontario that we have worked with in the past. They are currently doing a 3 month travelling trip in New Zealand and maybe Australia. (Horrible floods in Australia may change that. It’s a sad thing to see places you’ve visited under many feet of water and makes you thankful for what you have.) Back to the blog . . . We met with the Muirs for dinner at the hostel they were staying at. We were lead to believe that they were going to make a simple meal for us to share however Joy and Bruce pulled out all the stops and made an incredible international meal of appetizers, buttered chicken, greek salad, dessert and drinks. This made us feel quite welcomed and made Paul feel that he should have worn pants with an elastic waist to accommodate the middle section expansion.
It was delightful to share stories and pictures as well as reminisce about our places of work. Time seemed to fly and before we knew it we had to say our goodbyes for we needed to drive a little further north to the town of Taupo to get to our accommodation before the staff locked up the office. We are looking forward to getting together with Joy and Bruce back home and continuing to share our New Zealand adventures.
The next morning we did a little more souvenir shopping and closed our New Zealand Bank account. The bank account was our computerized connection to New Zealand and severing that gave us another reminder of the end of our trip. The teller sensed this and said we could keep the cards as a souvenir and she would just deactivate them.
The drive to Mt Maunganui , our next stop in our drive up to Auckland to fly home, was marked by a 3km drive through loose tar covered gravel, that pelted our car’s undercarriage mercilessly and a stop at the Redwood Grove in Rotorua. We have been there twice before and we ate lunch under the huge redwoods as a nice reminder of how beautiful our own country is. The car started making a horrible screeching sound about 50 metres from the driveway of our bach. Yeah 6 and a half months and 25000kms of driving and with only 4 days and 300kms left, the car gives us a fright. Paul took the rental car in for a check up at a local garage and discovered that a stone, from the ‘loose tar covered gravel road’, had got inside the brake shoe. The mechanic popped off the wheel and took out the offending piece of hardened minerals and put the wheel back on. He only charged $10, so we were greatly relieved to know that we were going to be able to continue our trip with the same car.
We are staying for 3 nights in a bach in Mt. Maunganui. The bach we are staying at is ‘sweet as’. A rather modern bach that looks far from any cottage that we have ever been in (it is more like a home). We are enjoying living in a bit of luxury.
Our objective at this destination is to finally actually swim in the ocean around New Zealand. You will be happy to know that we successfully accomplished this! On a warm sunny afternoon we made the 5 minute walk to Maunganui beach and spent some time playing in the waves and sand. What a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. Believe it or not this was the first time that we have actually gone for a swim in the Pacific Ocean off the shores of New Zealand! As we enjoyed the warmth of the sun and fun of the waves we could not help but to compare life at Maunganui beach with the life we will be living in Lindsay in a week. Needless to say we are really appreciating the sun and summer weather while we have it! (30 degrees Celsius!!!)
Our other task while staying at the bach is packing for our flights home. We stopped by Jenn and Tim’s New Zealand home and picked up the two suitcases that they were storing for us. Now that we have all 4 cases we can start to figure out how to fit everything we have collect on our journeys into the cases and at the same time not go over the 23kg weight limit per case. Thankfully there is a lot of space at the bach where we can spread out and organize with ease.
Our drive to Auckland was relatively uneventful, but guess what? IT WAS RAINING!!! We wanted to go to a nearby beach, but the weather is uncontrollable. We just saw on the news that heavy rain and possible flooding is expected for NZ tomorrow, (our departure date). We will probably try the museum in Auckland tomorrow as our flight does not leave until 8:55pm our time. That’s right we are leaving tomorrow and we may not be able to make anymore contact until we are home.
So signing off from New Zealand, we will see you all as soon as we can. Thanks for reading the blog and making comments.