A Travellerspoint blog

September 2018

We are reunited with Jabula 1-9-18

sunny 15 °C

beautiful weather approx 15degrees

Saturday was an early start to catch the 8.40am flight to Auckland and then onto Tauranga to pick up the campervan, and begin a 7day North Island trip back to Blenheim, i.e. the last leg of the journey that we began so long ago.
Despite all the experiences we have had, how quickly we had forgotten that it is rare for everything to turn out just as we planned. psychological flexibility or ‘going with the flow’ are prerequisites!

So first change - fog in Auckland, meant our flight was delayed for an hour when ‘they’ would reassess. We needed to catch a connecting flight, so were put onto a flight to Wellington.It was quite a bumpy ride across the ditch, then a 2 hour wait for the next leg onto Tauranga. Getting onto the plane and there grinning broadly at us was my cousin Ingrid who was making a similar circuitous route to her hometown in Tauranga.We had already made a tentative plan to catch up, so this was earlier than planned.

It was great flying north over the North Island during the day- a first for me.Quite spectacular flying above Ruapehu with a thick covering of snow. Also Lake Taupo looks beautiful from the air.

In all of the negotiations, questions, advice, panics that we have had in the process of buying the campervan, travelling around Europe, then shipping it back to NZ, we had never met Paul - our ’man’ who made it all happen. He was there to greet us at the airport and then there she was!! All gleaming and ready to take us back home.Paul ands wife showed us the new compliances for NZ and then the handover was complete.

Our sat nav has unfortunately not become any more reliable in the southern hemisphere.Once we had fuelled the van (so easy once you can read the instructions), then it was locating a supermarket, or really a place to park in order to stock up the van. Shopping was fine as we needed no translation skills (or google translate) and then onto our planned destination.

Sal had been busy connecting with old neighbours, old friends that we really wanted to catch up with. Theoretically we were meeting with neighbours from home who had shifted to Tauranga end of last year around 4pm.So this campground was elusive. We were doing u-turns, 3 point turns in an attempt to find this place that the sat nav indicated was just here.Once again we had multiple devices to locate our destination. Not as crazy as being in a foreign country, but frustrating nonetheless. As luck was starting to have the upper hand with the day - this park is closed for winter. Next place had no room (or inclination I’m not sure), so it was onto Papamoa.

I had just completed the arrival process and Sal tells me we’re heading back to stay with friends.Luckily got a refund and then had a lovely evening with Karen and Alan getting up to date with all their ever expanding family.We really wanted to unpack the van, so opted to stay in the van overnight. Their neighbour kindly has allowed us to park in their driveway. So late in the evening we start our nightly routines-no water!!

Currently we cannot get the water pump to work. We assume it is something simple, but is frustrating. So this will be our first task, to find out how to get the water running.Sunday has awoken to grey skies and some moisture. It is forecast and expected. Fathers’ Day, to all the Dads out there, past and present, I hope it is a super day.

Posted by Sallyj66 12:17 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Bay of Plenty (of rain)


It was a restless night, we were parked under a tree and thus we had lots of noise with rain and wind.We could hear the sea quite clearly also, but it took some time for us to identify the loud crashing noise.

We were treated to a cooked healthy breakfast by Karen, such a pity to be hurrying off as we really wanted to enjoy the Mount and keep chatting. But this water system was a real worry and so arranged to drive out to Whakamarama where Paul lives and see what could be done.It was daunting to be driving on a road that has a scary number of white crosses on the sides because it is such a high accident area.

It was not easy to sort out what had caused our water to stop funning. All the usual ‘culprits’ were checked, and through good fortune we got it operational again. Somewhat disconcerting that we dont know what the issue is, but it is working and frankly that is the main thing for us at present. Plans for visiting friends and relatives were altered while we attended to this practical problem. The rain was torrential and although we were in new country it was difficult to enjoy as we needed to concentrate on the road intensely.

Back to Tauranga and we called in to visit my cousin Ingrid, that we had passed by on the plane trip.Spent a great time catching up on her family and we likewise did the same with ours.My other cousin, Jane called in with her partner Kerry, so was cool to spend time with whanau again.

This evening we will spend the night on our own at Papamoa Beach Resort. The sea is wild but the rain is now coming and going. It is a busy camp ground, but we are enjoying getting the van into order again. The peddles are on the bikes, we have them covered again, we have internet again, all the small things that make Jabula feel like our home.looking look forward to a good night’s sleep and having a fully operational camper.

Posted by Sallyj66 12:20 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Whakatane ( Ohope Beach)

White island And on the road towards Rotorua rain, sun


Our trip to Whakatane was very pleasant, and even more so, when we reconnected with Kate a Waihopai friend who had moved to the area during the year. She has been working extremely hard to bring her new property up to standard, in-between long shifts away from home working.

After a cup of tea and catch up we all piled into her wee Suzuki and hit on the idea of trying to catch a trip to White Island the following day. It has always been something I really wanted to do and now the opportunity presented itself. it is very weather dependent, not least because crossing the bar from the Whakatane River into the sea is quite hazardous and takes lots of skill. White Island itself is 50km off shore. There has been lots of stormy weather around and we had our names taken down, then the process is that we get phoned at night and given the skipper’s verdict if he thinks he can safely take a boat load of tourists out to the volcano.

We had a lovely lunch in the adjoining cafe, then Kate took us to meet her Mother, an extremely agile 80 year old who has just recently begun biking! I really wanted to sort our accommodation for the night so we booked into Ohope Beach Top 10 Holiday Park. Kate led the way over the hill, we had home made pizza for tea, and got our phone call-they would make a decision by 8.15 the following morning!

This part of NZ is stunning, and Ohope Beach is even more gorgeous. We got up very early to walk down to the beach and photograph the sun rising. It was amazing that with the terrible weather being experienced elsewhere in the country, we had such fantastic weather. Our phone call was -all systems go, so we hurriedly got ready then made our way to the tour company office.
Lot of safety preparations, which I think probably adds to the drama of the trip. The crossing of the bar is hair raising stuff. There was a big sea running and everyone had to be sitting inside for the crossing. At the entrance on a rock is a statue of a lady who gave Whakatane its name. Great photo but safety first, and just had to go for second best.
I think that there were about 20 on the trip, one quite elderly lady that I was amazed would undertake this trip.

Passed Whale Island on the way, which sounds a beautiful Reserve. Our trip was pretty rough with big swells, lots of people getting sick -poor things. Took 75 minutes. As we approached there was a big rain cloud just passing. Our weather timing has been precise. Getting onto the volcano was exciting with such a big swell. Three inflatable trips from the boat to the island, getting onto the ladder was about timing and taking a big breath and hoping for the best. The smell of sulphur is strong, which is why we all had gas masks, we certainly used them. Our hard hats were in case there was some rock falls or unexpected explosion. The activity is currently at a ‘1’ on a scale of 5, so no fears. Another worldly experience, the colours are intense, it is remarkably barren, the fumeroles belching steam, us all walking in a single file. There were 2 helicopters there also - $900 a trip! There have been a few unsuccessful attempts at making commercial venture on the island and we saw the remnants of these mining attempts.

The ride back was calm and fast. Lunch was provided. As we arrived back more heavy rain showers. Then it was on the road again. On the road to Rotorua. The road is very pretty, passed several lakes-had a cup of tea on the shore of Lake Rotomana. Smell of sulphur again and we have camped up at a ground opposite Whakarewarewa. Our first thing was to get into the thermal pool. More college kids here for a sporting tournament. Hoping they are ok, sounds like last night they were not that good .It is raining again

Posted by Sallyj66 01:16 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

A Geothermal Wonderland

walking on the moon


It rained overnight and we wondered about how we could make the most of our time in Rotorua despite the weather.

We really wanted to get back onto the bikes, so we unloaded them, put on the paniers again and loaded up for a day out discovering. Although I had been here once before the idea of visiting the geothermal activity still appealed. Sal and I located the bike tracks and it took us right past the Te Puia Geothermal Village. Of course we were there early, had a coffee and then joined a guided tour round the village. It was a great decision as we were guided by a knowledgable and personable young man. The professionalism of this young man was such a contrast to the ‘guide’ we had on White Island.

I find geothermal activity very exciting, so to see Pohutu in all her full blown splendour was just great. I got to see my first kiwi, needed to strain in the dark but once my eyes had acclimatised - there it was. Once our tour was finished we spent time revising sights and exploring further at our leisure. That was our morning well taken care of, so biked back to our van, had lunch, then onto the bike track again and into the town via a circuitous route through bush and geothermal areas adjoining Rotorua Lake. Biking through simmering, steaming landscape is stimulating and scarey .It had started raining quite heavily again, but the scenery was very special. The birds all have warm baths here, and they were in large numbers making the most of the warmed water. Sal’s bike had an issue with the brakes, so we found a shop to get that fixed.I needed a waterproof raincoat, so Kathmandu helped with that.

People are so friendly and helpful here. Once they found out about the bikes we got all sorts of helpful hints about tracks we could try out. We could easily stay for so much longer. Anyway on the way home decided to go via the “redwoods” trees that is, unfortunately the track was quite wet and muddy by now. I managed to fall over in the mud as a boisterous dog diverted my attention. I think i need to adjust my ‘expertise’ level somewhat. Suffice to say Rotorua is just fabulous. There is a huge number of things we could be doing but we need to make our way down the island for Saturday’s crossing.

Posted by Sallyj66 22:39 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

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