Friday, 15 November 2013

Heading South

After another busy week flew by, Friday finally arrived & we were packed  & ready to pull out, keen to get on the road by mid morning. It was time to leave, after three weeks it was starting to feel very comfortable parked up alongside the garage. I could feel those little feeder shoots starting to take root; wine & nibbles each night, home cooked dinners, the house shower, all those comforts of home we often take for granted. It was great while it lasted but it was time for us to really “hit the road”. We said our goodbyes to Mum & Dad with a tinge of sadness, not too sure when we’ll be seeing them again, although I’m sure I’ll be able to fly into Napier occasionally to catch up.
I'm not too sure who was keener for us to depart....Mum & Dad helping us pack up
For a couple of days earlier in the week it was touch & go as to whether we’d actually get to the South Island at all this side of Christmas. I kept checking the Interislander timetable & booking system on the internet waiting for it to go live again after they stopped taking bookings because of the ferry that lost its propeller. In the end I decided to call the 0800 number to check & I was so glad I did. After an hour or so of being put on hold and passed from operator to operator the final guy informed me that the Interislander would not be taking any vehicle bookings this side of Christmas for either of the two remaining ships and most likely this would be the case until well into January. All available vehicle space had been taken by the prebooked vehicles on the ship that was now out of action.

And we’ve since learnt that the out of action ship is responsible for 48% of all vehicle traffic across the Strait with the Interislander.  The operator advised me to call Bluebridge, their opposition, which I promptly did & managed to book an 8am sailing this Wednesday. To hell with the Premium Lounge & roll on/roll-off capabilities of the Kaitaki, Bluebridge’s “Santa Regina” will do just fine! Once the media broke the news of the crisis about to happen Bluebridge’s bookings skyrocketed to where there is now only a few spaces left on some of the 2am sailings & some weekends until the end of January (and they have probably gone now too). What a diabolical situation this is, at the height of the summer season, both international & domestic tourists alike will find it just about impossible to cross with vehicles from the North Island to the South Island & visa-versa. Thank God (& touch wood) we got a booking & nothing will happen to it before we get to the other side.

After leaving Mum & Dad we headed out to Havelock North to say goodbye to David’s brother & his wife. While there David also found time to have a play with his nephew’s birthday present, a remote controlled electric driven Lamborghini ; a present that hadn’t even been given to Ethan yet and there they were, David & his brother, two grown men playing with it around the carpark. There’s always a little boy in there somewhere waiting to play.

We left Havelock and headed back across town towards State Highway 50, I had one more country church I wanted to shoot before we left the Bay and it was down Tikokino way. The Bibby Family Memorial Church has recently celebrated its 150th year with many descendants from the original farming family attending the celebrations from around the world. The church is located 9 kilometres up a narrow winding country road in amongst the rolling hills of sheep farming country & not too far from the upper reaches of the Tuki Tuki river & the Ruahine ranges.
A small flock of sheep were the permanent lawnmowers within the grounds of the church & they didn’t take too kindly to being disturbed although one was keen to keep a wary eye on me.
Back down on the plains we finally turned back onto the main road and headed south. We weren’t too sure how far we were going but had a tentative plan to stop somewhere around Woodville for the night. We had a couple of NZMCA sites in mind, one we couldn’t locate & the other was no more than a rough carpark beside a reserve which we weren’t at all happy with. We had noticed as we came across the Balance Bridge just before the Manawatu Gorge a car & caravan down on a huge grassed area beside the river.

We decided to check it out & found the entrance a bit further along the road. The rough track wound its way around and along until we too found ourselves beside the river. We checked at the gate & on the internet to see if camping was allowed and with no mention either way we decided that this would do nicely for the night. The caravan later left us but with a tent & a small van just off the track further on we had the place virtually to ourselves. It was a very dark & peaceful night although we did hear the odd train trundling by on its way through the gorge.

David was quick to get his spinning rod out when we arrived to try his hand in the pools just below some nearby rapids. He was pleased to land two trout in quick succession, both released & then to also hook at least another three.  He is either waiting for the big one or feeling very sorry for them as this morning in just over an hour fishing he hooked another 4 or 5 which he either released or they escaped.  I did get to see one of them landed from a distance so I know he is not kidding me (or you)

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