Friday, 21 November 2014

Mount Mad House

After a very wet night in Marton, the next morning dawned cold and extremely windy. A few in the camp who were due to leave decided to stay on as they didn’t want to venture out into the gales. We decided we’d be OK- and we were keen to keep moving- we’d take our time and see how we went. We were buffeted about quite a bit especially for the first 20 kms or so across the flat farmland but once we got into the hills it eased off a little. Then just south of Waiouru it became gale force again pushing us sideways with every violent gust especially as we crossed the Desert Road. Everybody we passed looked to be holding tight to their steering wheels and concentrating on the road ahead. What would a road trip be without pylons marching along with us!

We were going to stop for lunch at one of the rest areas overlooking Mt Ruapehu but decided against it when we pulled in for a loo break (have I told you, towing your loo behind you, is one of the major benefits of living on the road). The door was wrenched out of my hands and slammed against van with such a force I was sure the door window was going to have a crack through it. The van bucked and rolled with every gust- not so great when you're sitting on the loo- so as quick as we could we got moving again, stopping beside a stream further on, in what was about the only dip in the road and well protected from the wind.

It was with some relief when we finally pulled into the NZMCA Taupo Park near the airport. David felt his arms were dropping off from gripping the steering wheel so hard and fighting the gusts. Once again, like Marton, there were quite a number of vans in the park. We’re trying to get used to having more company than we’re used to down South. And we were a little disappointed that we couldn’t park in our regular spot- the west end of the park has been fenced off. I assume to let the grass recover before the summer influx. Oh well it was only for a night so we backed in under the tall tree remembering just in time to check the satellite reception , then having to pull forward a metre or so until we cleared the branches.

Aside from the busy parks there’s also been the busy roads to get used to, traffic everywhere and everybody going about their business without, what seems, any thought for others. Almost immediately we noticed there were no toots to thank us for pulling over to let people pass, unlike the South Island where 95% of people will toot to thank you. And there were so many cop cars on the road- obviously needed going by how many cars pass on double yellow lines. I think we might have seen about six police cars in all our time down South whereas there were at least eight on the road between Marton & Taupo.

It was a still a little windy and overcast when we pulled out of Taupo on the last leg of our journey back to the Bay of Plenty to catch up with our family before Christmas. We’re excited about seeing the family again after 13 months, especially baby Joel, who was only 9 months old when we left. But we’re a little apprehensive about being back on home ground again- how will we feel? Will we have missed it, perhaps we’ll want to stay…

We’re staying at the Mount campground once again, it’s nice and convenient and has the beach & Pilot Bay for walking, along with the tracks over and around the Mount.  The 5th-wheeler is booked in for a full service & a few extras early next week so we’ll shift over to the Harbourside apartments for a few days (we won't know what to do with the space!) and then back to the campground for another few weeks before we head to Napier for Christmas.

Unfortunately our usual site on the beach front is unavailable until we come back next week so we’ve taken a site in the Harbourside area near Pilot Bay. Unfortunately so have 100 kids on a school camp; their tents are all pitched below us with a marquee just below our kitchen window. So far they’ve been fine although there was a bit of hi-jinks going on until late last night. Someone must have sorted it out because suddenly all screeching and laughter stopped dead at 10:45pm.

This looks a little different to our usual bush surrounded sites
Not only is the campground busy but we woke up this morning to a passing parade of white sandshoes (sneakers), ten gallon hats, bum bags (fanny packs) and loud jackets. Two of the biggest cruise ships that ply the waters around New Zealand, sister ships Dawn Princess & Sun Princess had arrived in port early this morning. Guests who hadn't taken tour buses over to Rotorua were either walking around the Mount or along the beach boardwalk or shopping in town. Mt Maunganui is certainly bursting at the seams.

It is good to be back at the Main Beach and having Mt Maunganui on our doorstep again. I have missed walking the base track and first thing this morning I was off and around it, meeting two people I knew before I had got more than half way. I’m looking forward to walking to the top when this wind drops and the sun comes out for more than an hour or so. And hopefully the pohutukawa trees will burst into flower before we leave, everywhere the trees are smothered in buds with a hint of red showing. I missed the flowering last year and there aren’t any pohutukawas down south. There is plenty of flax down south though and lots of flax around the mountain and campground with dozens of flower spikes ready to break open. A feast awaits the nectar feeding birds.

One thing that surprised me when I saw the Main Beach was how white the sand was. It’s funny how you tend to take things for granted when you see them everyday. There was lovely white sand on some of the South Island beaches so it’s not like I haven’t seen white before. For some reason the Main Beach just looked very white yesterday.

It is great to be back and I’m sure we’ll settle down for the few weeks we’re here but we both commented after seeing the family yesterday, that we were good to go! Smile

Pilot Bay, Mt Maunganui

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