Dixie Chick & Tartan Traveller hit the road...

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April 25th 2008
Published: May 6th 2008
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Goodbye to Auckland. A glimpse back of the city from the coromandel.

No one travels so high as he who knows not where he is going.

- Oliver Cromwell.

I had seriously begun to doubt if it would ever come. So much anguish surrounding Freedom, so much time and money, wasted. All the anxieties of my past life in Edinburgh, rearing their ugly head again and screaming round in circles in the pit of my stomach; all came to an abrupt end when the garage phoned and told me that Freedom was ready to collect. The worst of it all hit me then as I had a terrifying suspiscion that they were going to hit me with a bill for the remedial work, but no bill was presented to me and first thing the next day, I headed to Paihia to collect my travelling companion and friend, Dixie Chick Nick...

I cannot begin to describe the euphoria that carried me the way back to the Bay. It was like being reborn, again. I was quite possibly the happiest man in New Zealand for those four hours that took me back to my home from home. The feeling was unfortunatly short lived. Not due to Freedom, as one would be forgiven for assuming, but due to a rather impressive batch of tonsalitis. That night
Freedom viewFreedom viewFreedom view

Sunset in freedoms windows
I slept in Freedom for the first time in 3 weeks and woke about 3 hours later in a dreadful state of deleria. Shivering, shaking and close to convulsing I staggered to the toilet, fever set in, migraine from hell, could hardly open my eyes even in the dark, cold and hot sweats and a throat that would have kids running and screaming in the opposite direction if they had seen inside. This was the fastest acting case I had ever had.

My saviour and companion took me to the surgery in Kawakawa (where I always seem to end up from breaking down!) to the most increadible doctor that either Nicky and myslef had ever had the pleasure to encounter. This woman (whom we both refer to now as Aunty Jan) jumped between shreiks of laughter and serious diagnosis's with out warning or pattern. So much so that I even forgot I was there for antibiotics as we both just watched and listened in awe as she shook the roof with her almost inaudible hesteria that you could be forgiven thinking she was trying to contact dolphins out at sea with. Never before had I been given a diagnosis
Thermal fools!Thermal fools!Thermal fools!

The hot spa pools at waikite valley
of "Your Fu*ked!" by any doctor and I seriously doubt I ever will again too. Nicky and I shared our first intimate moment as she was offered a look down my throat and was kind enought o not run away screaming. I'm somewhat surprised that Aunty jan didn't get all the other patients queing up for a look! So, armed to the teeth with antibiotics and not able to swallow without writhing in pain, Nicky drove me back to the Pipi Patch.

I suppose that, considdering I have tried to leave Paihia Eight times unsuccsesfully on planned dates, I should have been ready for something to stop the start of our road trip. Tonsalitis too, well, Paihia you certainly are doing your utmost to keep me there. I should probably fear the idea of a final visit before I leave NZ properly under such circumstances. Four days later and having lost a good stone in weight, but fever and head and throat pretty much back to normal, we waved our goodbyes as Dixie Chick Nick and the Tartan traveller took to the road and headed south.

With a rennovation job for the inside of Freedom pending and a

Water boiling from the stream
few essentials we needed done, we stayed 3 nights in Auckland. The third was our first night in Freedom and we found a free site overlooking the Harbour bridge. It didn't feel like the trip had begun untill we left Aucklnad in our reerview mirror, heading for the Coromandel and to see Chris, Adam and Caitlin. Three of the original Paihia posse.

We stopped our first night in the Corromandel town and in out first offical campsite. It was dark when we arrived so set up and ate. Caught my first 'Moon shadow' here. Never had I seen the moon so bright that it cast my shadow infornt of me, pretty cool. The rest of the night was paralelled with Cat Stephens as my Ear Worm! God it was cold that night too. Having been so caught up in the trials and trinbulations of the Freedom ordeal, I had neglected to think about the change of the seasons. Realising all too late that planning a raod trip in the summer is all very well, but embarking on it in the Winter is going to be a much harder slog than one was imagining. Not just the temperature to deal
A river runs through itA river runs through itA river runs through it

The river in Taupo free campsite
with now, but the dark evenings. If we want to cook on our stoves for dinner in light, we need to be at a campsite by 5:30pm at the latest! So, wake up call of winter not dampening our spirits, we moved onto Mount Manganui to see the guys.

I was gutted here 'cos I had been keen to Visit the White Island Volcaneo ever since arriving in NZ. Now, having embarked on the first real serious road trip of my life, I am slowly learning the true reality of budgeting. $175 was unfortunatly too much for the Tartan Traveller to allow himself to spend and decided to hope rather that he would be able to come back this way on the return to Auckland when finally leaving NZ. 😞

With the offer of an actual bed for two nights Nicky and I were filled with glee! Not taking anything away from Freedom but it had been icy cold in our first few evenings. So a few days on the Mount, indoor cooking and sightseeing (a place that once again I have already seen round, but not meaning to sound dissmissal) and heading onto Rotorua. There seeing rainbow

A feet of human brilliance!
springs, (again...) and again not taking sanything away from a repete performance as we got to ssee a Kiwi up close and personal. I also managed to get lost in feeding fish for ages, thinking about how good they would taste! We luckily stumbled onto the best campsite ever that night. Out of town and hidden away. It was an ordeal to find it though and having just watched the film "welcome to the jungle" at Adams (which is kinda "The Blair witch" meets "the descent") and getting a tad lost in the rural country, topped off by a 4 second gllimpse of some kinda weird, large dog in the headlights assuming the attack position, we were releved to get to the campsite, which turned out to be a right wee gem, in Waikite Valley.

Waking in the morning to a thermal spa resort that is free when you camp doesn't get much better. Open air hot pools with steamy back drops in the middle of the country that is lord of the rings with only you and your buddy in them... awesome. We could have stayed their all morning, afternoon, evening... But alas we knew we had to
This rocks...This rocks...This rocks...

Stalectights (SP?!) in the underground caving system.
head on towards Taupo, where I was determined to fish in the trout capital of the world, seeing as I couldn't extend to the expense of the live volcanoe out at sea.

We found a free campsite at Taupo which has been a great wee spot. A stunning river right on your doorstep to wake to each morning, fish a plenty to see and awesoem walks. We walked to the Huka falls the next morning and investigated sky diving and fishing after. I was gutted to learn how expensive the fishing was here! $90 an hour and a minnimum of 2 hours. So if you wanted to fish and you wanted say 3 hours it was gonna cost you over a hundred pounds. Gutted 😞 It just wasn't happening. Weather and bookings prevented Nicky from a sky dive too so we headed back up north a tad to Waitomo where Nicky was keen to see some of the caves. Having already been caving I didn't feel like it so much but there was a cheap option and having been so despondant about the cold, dark nights, not allowing myself to go to white island and now the fishing, i

Canabalistic, Feceas glowing, maggots, with their fishing lines to catch their pray. they're only called glow-worms for the tourists!
really had to get myself into some activity. We booked in to the Glow-worm cave and after nearly running out of petrol on route and finding another great wee campsite, we rose and went for an icy trip through the cave. Not as adventurous as the previous one but still good to be doing something and good fun.

Headed back to taupo right after and met up with lou (another original paihia crerw member). A trip to the cinema and back to the free(zing) campsite. Nicky booked into a jump the next day and Chris (Our 3rd member of the road trip and another original paihia crew memeber) arrived in the nick of time to come and watch her too. She did great, not too nervous and loved every bit of it. We had no idea which one she was coming down and having belived we had her, I shortly found out that we filmed someone totally random! Hey ho...

Great night back at the campsite, totally clear view of the heavans, pitifull but welcomed attempt at a fire, two sattelites, one shooting star and a few drinks. My kinda mioments. Lou left us the next day and

The underground tubing ion the very cold cave waters
the three of us started to get excited about doing the tongariro crossing (Mount Doom from lord of the rings) which has some of NZ's most spectacular scenary. A little trip into the information office shattered yet another of my hopes as we're due for storms for the next week. AAHHH!! 😞 The only light at the end of the tunell is that I might get the chance to try these things on the way back when I head to auckland to leave for South America in September. Fingers crossed to that as we pass Turangi, the fishing is cheaper...

We found another wee gem of a backpackers in Turangi. Rained heavily, sounded like a the little drummer boy was on Freedom's roof all night long. Annoyingly I realised when waking that if I had driven a meter further forward he wouldn't have bothered us, as I had parked just under the reach of a tree. Clever boy... 😱 The three of us found a cheaper boat rental and went out on the southern end of Lake Taupo the next day. Now i'm used to not catching fish and enjoy fishing just as much as with or without success,
Nicky and JohnNicky and JohnNicky and John

Ok, time to throw yourself out of a perfectly good airplane!
so time out on the water was a joy. Now what did amaze me was catching something I never even imagined. Sod's law would have it that the only fish we saw that afternoon jumped in front of us right as we motored gayly out of the harbour. If you also believe in such things perhaps making tuna sandwiches for our lunch on the boat was an ill-fated omen and the only fish the gods allowed us to have on board. But to actually catch a rock, to hook a stone, and bring it on board had the Travelling Trio in hysterics for half an hour and was a catch I doubt i'll ever manage to repeat!

Onward... Due to a bad weather forcast for a week, we had to rule out the National Park and the Tongariro crossing. Gutted 😞 😞 I had wanted to do this since I had arrived in NZ and yet again I had to swallow missing out on something I had been eagerly anticipating. We found another free campsite on route to Wellington and settled in for the night amid a suggestion of thunder and lightening in a forest in the middle of
What a catch!What a catch!What a catch!

The first and last time I think I sahll accomplish this.
know where.

With nothing else really planned to see on the North Island we decided to head to Wellington and spend a few days. I had started to suffer from a really bad back and wanted a proper bed for a few nights. Freedom was in need of a Bio-metric choke spring (what ever the hell that is?!) and i was really keen to see an old friend Sarah, whom I shared a flat with in Edinburgh whilest at art college about 10 years ago. So, packed up and Chris decided to take us on a different route that went by a few places where "Lord of the rings" was filmed. What we encontered was probably the most spectacular road in the world. Now, this road took us all quite by surprise and we all went through the emotions, surprise, shock, denial... what we encountered was the most increadible windy, narrow, steep, cliffed with shear drops for kilometers, no gaurd rails and turns that were so sharp I was barely reaching 10km/hr rounding them. heaven help us if we came head to head with another vehicle on one of those corners, there was barely ebnough room just for Freedom to curve the bends. The road gods however were smiling at us and each time we did pass a car it was at places that it was just possible to do so. The scenery however was spectacular and well worth the fear of inevitable impending death at every turn. After what seemed like an eternity, we reached the top and started the descent, which was just as impressivly terrifing and exciting at the same time. Bridges that looked like they would collapse and rockslides over the road. Possibly one of the highlights of the road trip so far and i'd put money on no other road in NZ even coming close to rivalling it.

Now, speaking of betting... Chris, ha ha! On the very next day of him stating that he intended to sleep every night in his tent until we got to Wanaka, and we bet $10 on this, he lost due to, and not because we were in some scary forest or because we were in a thunder storm or it was sub-zero temperatures, but because it was a damp night in a back garden of a hostel in Wellington and his tent was a little unstable. Now, in his defence, he debates the clarity of my truth here, but we head now for the South Island and I am $10 up. He is cowardly contemplating making the same bet for the south island.

I met up with Sarah and her friends for some drinks and hada great evening remeniscing on times of old. She had some gems of photos that brought memories flooding back of a great time of my life, nostalgic heavan. Hopefully she and hef man Andy will come down to QT for my 30th in august too. So, here ends the first chapter and my time on the north Island. In a few hours we shall be on the boat and for the first time for all of us, Team Freedom shall be on the South Island.


7th May 2008

Great reading!
Loved reading this, wee man - and glad to know that Freedom's doing well so far! Looking forward to the next chapter already. All love Papsy

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