Thursday, 4 January 2018

Farewell South, Hello North

Catch-up; Happy New Year and welcome to 2018 folks! 

After Marfells Beach we headed into Blenheim and spent a couple of nights back at the Racecourse while we did a few chores and checked the weather forecast. The time had come to say a reluctant farewell to our South Island travels (for the time being) and prepare to cross back to the North Island.

We had the pleasure of meeting John & Judy, who pulled in beside us in their Cougar 5th-wheeler
Marlborough sunsets are magnificent, and during our latest visit, Mother Nature once again didn't fail to impress.

Chores sorted, and in readiness for an early morning sailing, we moved 20kms up the road (and 8kms from Picton) to our favourite NZMCA CAP (cost apply parking) at Koromiko for the night.

For just the second time in 8 sailings we boarded the Interislander for our morning crossing. We usually sail with Bluebridge, they are slightly cheaper but they had no Saturday morning sailings. 

Goodbye Picton :( 
So while we were at it, we decided to sail in style and pay an extra $45 each for the Interislander Plus, a exclusive premium lounge with free food, drink, wifi, magazines etc (well, this was going to be our last crossing for awhile we told ourselves). We usually buy breakfast and a coffee so it wasn't going to be too much more expense. And I can report that it was well worth the extra dollars; breakfast, morning tea and lunch were served buffet style along with cold and hot drinks including alcoholic beverages. In fact there was so much lovely food we couldn't partake in it all.

I had to leave the lounge on a regular basis due to me being a fair weather sailor and needing regular and long doses of fresh air. For some unfathomable reason I forgot to take my Sealegs tablet. I never gave it a thought until we hit the open Strait. And it wasn't even that rough!

But the beauty of freezing your butt off outside is you get the opportunity of searching for sealife- click to enlarge and see if you can spot it.....tiny, caught mid-air, centre left (and if you still miss it, like Mum & Dad, there's a zoomed in shot at the bottom of the post).

The last drag before turning, to head into Wellington Harbour, always seems to take forever as they overshoot the entrance before lining it up to pass through. Once the turn happens I can rest easy and my tummy settles as we run with the swell (you wouldn't believe we once had a launch would you?). It's a blustery day and we leave a few dozen sailors in our wake.

Ahead of us Wellington city looks stunning on a beautiful blue sky day and suddenly my peaceful spot on the deck is overflowing with passengers checking out the sights.

We get the call to head to our vehicles and we make our way down 7 or 8 flights of steps, carefully checking for the deck number we need before exiting. It's very easy to get confused in the bowels of the ship and we meet a few people who have lost their way and are coming back up the narrow stairway. We find the rig where we left her, sandwiched between two big truck and trailer units.

It's not long before we're off-loaded and following a long line of random vehicles that are weaving their way through and around numerous port buildings until we finally exit onto the busy city waterfront road. We turn north and quickly settle into the new norm; fast and furious motorway traffic. "Welcome back to the North Island, there'll be no leisurely stroll along up here, thankyou very much!"

We head to the relatively new NZMCA Park at Plimmerton where we find ourselves a spot for the night. After a cup of tea and a brief discussion we decide we're out of there too. This was definitely the shortest stay ever at a park.

We were actually intending to head to Tauranga but we had a change of plan, the only problem being we were on the wrong side of the island, usually this wouldn't have been an issue (and it still wasn't really) but with the Manawatu Gorge closed indefinitely it meant we'd have to cross the Pahiatua Track; a winding, narrow, but perfectly adequate, road over the Tararua Range. Had we changed our plans earlier we would have left Wellington and headed into the Wairarapa over the Rimutakas.

Heading up the Kapiti Coast
And that was how, 4 hours later, we found ourselves parked at Napier's NZMCA Park. A park that we would never usually stay at because we have our very own private POP (park over property) in town.

We'd decided to surprise Mum & Dad and detour to Napier for a week. They had recently won a couple of places in the Napier Garden Competition and we wanted to attend the prizegiving with them when one prize winner won the Supreme Garden award.

They received a first place in the first time entry section and a second place in the vegetable garden section and while they didn't win the big one, we were thrilled and very proud of them that they'd been recognised (and especially Dad who is the prime gardener) for their efforts. Pretty good for a couple of octogenarians (Ok, not quite octogenarian). 

The morning after arriving in Napier, and once we'd taken down Dad's carport sail and poles, we shifted from the NZMCA Park to our very familiar concrete pad in suburbia.

A week later and with just two and a bit weeks free before we needed to be back in Napier, we headed off to another very familiar campsite, our 'home base' at the Mt Maunganui Holiday Park.

We were a few weeks closer to Christmas on this visit than the last, and the campground was extremely busy, especially in the Oceanside sections. 

We settled into the Harbourside section of the campground overlooking Pilot Bay which is just as lovely and not quite so busy....

...if you don't count a couple of school camps that came and went while we were there. Actually it was really nice to be back in amongst people again, have a few laughs with other campers and generally feel the good vibes that are part of this crazy resort town.

The very first visitor to our door (within 5 minutes of setting up camp) was this super cute but cheeky thrush who invited itself inside at any opportunity or stood on the step silently staring us out if we didn't feed it. It had a shy fledgling hiding under the van that it took any titbits to. 

The Mount was looking at its best with shades of deep red splashed across its flanks as many of the large pohutukawa trees (NZ's very own christmas tree) that grow around Mt Maunganui/Mauao were blooming or just about to bloom. 

It felt good to be back on home soil (sand), it was just a pity I had to rest my foot as I couldn't make the most of  the walking tracks, although I did manage to limp two circuits of the Base Track before we left.

We had a very busy two weeks catching up with family and friends, dinners and BBqs to attend, Christmas shopping to take care of and ticking off annual appointments with Drs and dentists etc.

And it was a lovely surprise to have our good friends Amanda & Paul arrive for some fun and frivolities. They brought their 5th-wheeler down from Pyes Pa where they had been staying and parked beside us for a few days. We'd last seen them in Mapua, Nelson over a year ago, so we had a lot of catching up to do.

And it's definitely a small world when you own a fifth-wheeler, friends who came to see Amanda & Paul were also looking for us (not knowing that we were parked together). They are new owners of a 5th-wheeler and are good friends of our Southland family's parents (who live in the Bay).

Most afternoons and early evenings, we watched from our van, a number of para-gliders ride the thermals after launching themselves from the top of the Mount.

They rose and dropped, dipped and whirled on their way to their landing spot on the Main Beach. They'd then haul their gear back up the track to the top and do it all again. From our vantage point it often looked like they were about to land on the Oceanside Twin Tower apartment block.

More to come from the Mount soon...

And what did I see from the top deck of the Interislander- a Common Dolphin, in fact I saw half a dozen of his mates too but they disappeared very quickly, he rode the bow wave for a short time.


  1. Love your parents' garden. Those cushions look so inviting, wish I could laze away afternoons there with a nice cup of tea ;). We too love bromeliads and have a collection at home. My other half is the one with the green fingers, he creates a self sustained jungle like garden that only needs occasional watering in very dry season.

    1. Thanks offstone, and yes the summer house is a lovely spot to sit and watch the birds or cool down on a hot summer's day (although it's 33c today and way too hot to be out there). Your jungle would be a cool garden to have, I love tropical plants (some of those bromeliads are from our old house).

    2. What a stark contrast, only days ago we had unusual 22c in KL, the lowest I've ever experienced. I had to put on extra jacket to keep me warm in bed and thought I was in NZ in dream :). I have a few bromeliad drawings, if you're interested, please check your mail box ;)


Thanks for taking the time to comment, it's much appreciated.