Monday, 25 March 2013

The Road to Port Jackson

As previously mentioned we have been getting conflicting information about whether or not we'd make it to Port Jackson with the fifth-wheeler in tow. So yesterday we took the ute up on a recce trip to Port Jackson just to make sure we were happy we could make it. Our rig length is 14 metres, our width 2.4 and height 3.5 metres including our satellite dome. We needed to make sure we could get safely around some of the tight corners & that there were no low overhanging trees.

See the two fishermen on the rocks; it's a long way down
The road follows an amazing, stunningly beautiful & rugged coastline, there are hundreds of monster pohutukawa trees lying at all different angles with huge trunks and limbs that have taken on a life of their own. It would be so beautiful to follow this road at Christmas time just as they all come into bloom; there'd be a swathe of red following the contours of the hills and looking amazing against the brilliant blue ocean & the dark green bush. For my overseas readers, Pohutukawa are known as the New Zealand Christmas trees.

The road to Port Jackson from Colville is only 26kms long but when our TomTom GPS said it would take two & three quarter hours we knew it was going to be slow going. There are many blind corners which we had to creep around, lots of very narrow sections and plenty of climbing up and dropping off the sides of hills with the ocean crashing in on the rocks below us. It's also a gravel road but luckily it has just been graded so there were no corrugations and it was a reasonably smooth ride.

Most of the way we felt the road was marginal but totally OK & we had convinced ourselves it would be fine as long as we took our time and both fully concentrated on the road ahead; I could see around the blind corners ahead of David to let him know if anything was coming & also was able to keep him posted on approaching cars & when narrow one way bridges & fords were coming up.

But once we got to Fantail Bay the road got very narrow and started sharply climbing up across a large hill. We both felt a little uncomfortable about here & had nearly convinced ourselves it wouldn't be possible, we just didn't want to put the van at such an extreme risk so early on in our travels & with us still feeling our way. We had also decided that it would be just about impossible for two vehicles to pass especially with the van on the back, if we met someone coming the other way. They would need to back up as there was no way we could. The blind bends were a major issue as you just couldn't see if anybody was coming and once committed to rounding them there was no going back. I suggested I could walk to each corner & do traffic control but that won't be practical as there are hundreds of them! But at least as we rounded some of points we could see a couple of kilometres ahead & pick out any vehicles approaching. We could then wait at a wider part of the road for them to pass.

And then there were the overhanging trees.....

We were nearly persuaded it would be OK when we got to the top of the last hill and saw the beautiful bay & beach of Port Jackson spread out below us.

That's Great Barrier Island on the horizon
We wound our way down the last stretch & again it was narrow & very tight. Once we got to the bottom & pulled into the DOC camp site, we both agreed as much as we'd like to do it, we thought it might be stretching our nerves a little too much.

But out came the camp managers, a lovely couple Jenny & Len, who I'd actually sent a photo of our rig ahead to, when I booked a site a few weeks ago (we were going to be there for Easter & it's a busy period for the camp so I booked in advance). They understood our concerns but talked us through it and convinced us it would be fine, they've had many big buses and campervans come in but come to think of it, they didn't mention a fifth-wheeler. They suggested we came in the late afternoon as most of the opposing traffic will have left in the morning and be long gone. We liked this idea & it was such a beautiful spot we had an about face & picked our site & said we'd see them soon! :)

How is that for a relaxing do nothing beach!
The trip home didn't seem too bad after that & we took special note of a few touch & go spots and talked our way through them. We were heading up there this afternoon but have decided to have one more night at White Star as we wanted to explore the farm a little more. Explore is right! We took the ute high up into the range along a bulldozer track & clambered down a steep hill and up another into the old White Star Gold Mine. More of that in the next post....

And here's the blog on the road trip, with the 5th-wheeler on the back- THAT Road trip

More photos here from the road trip.


  1. Looks like you are having such a great adventure! Have fun in Jackson Bay and talk to you when you get back xox

  2. Wow - can't wait to visit all these places in the Coromandel! Hope the trip to Port Jackson wasn't too daunting in the end. xx

    1. You can read all about it now, post uploaded; THAT Road Trip. Hope you're enjoying life back in that HUGE home :)

  3. Its great to go back down memory lane for us Shellie and you are giving us good info on other places to camp next time we make it up there. We will have plenty of reading when you post your next 10 days hee hee.

    1. You know me too well, another 11 posts uploaded! :)


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