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Published: November 27th 2006
Set off from our last stop Tairua? with the intention of stopping in another of the Dept of Conservation campsites south of Lake Taupo. Weather was fine if a little windy, drive down was uneventful apart from another pleasant meal stop (more 2nd breakfasts) We stopped at a cafe called Cat's Pyjamas in Katikati (aren't the town names fabulous). I had this ridiculous carrot cake topped with fresh strawberries (photo later). From there we drove down to Lake Taupo, stopped to get some info on local DoC campsites. By this time blue sky was disappearing but optimistic as ever we headed south looking forward to seeing Mt Ruape (excuse spelling) used as Mt Doom in Lord of Rings. Unfortunately by the time we had left Lake Taupo weather had really closed into heavy squally showers and thick mist covering even the nearby hills. Undaunted our intrepid adventurers proceeded ( at least the roads were reasonably straight). However the weather worsened and eventually any hope of camping was abandoned and the decision made to head for Napier (on Hawkes Bay on the South East coast. What we could see of the countryside lookeed terrific wild mountains and forests. NZ has a truly
Another Town another Breakfast
Cat's Pyjamas in Katikati - recommended
amazing amount of true wilderness (the other night on the radio there was a report of some guy who had gone missing and they had 7 different mountain rescue teams out searching for him once you get off recognised paths you're chances of being found should anything go wrong are basically zilch). As we neared the coast the rain at last stopped and surprise, surprise the sun came out! As we couldn't get inti the local Youth Hostel we stayed in a backpackers hostel inside the old prison (our room was a double take for Ronnie Barker's cell in Porridge complete with 2 bunk beds (Wendy bagged the top one)). The next day we joined a tour of Napier's architectural heritage - the town was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931 and rebuilt in the Art Deco style. It is the first really attractive town we've come across here wide streets , pleasant low rise buildings with loads of really neat detail with influences from Mackintosh etc (if you're interested look it up on the net) suffice to say it was 10 dollars (about 3.50 well spent). We then went for our now customary second breakfast (aka brunch) and found
a trult delightful place called Heaven's Bakery my mouth still waters at the thought. We then decided to explore the surrounding countryside and headed out of town in the general direction of the nearby coasts. We stopped beside a nice burn and noticed a "chain gang" clearing paths they told us there was a nice waterfall a couple of kilometres upstream an d there was - also a bunch of local kids plus a couple from Brasil leaping off the falls into the pool underneath (water much too cold for us so we set off for the sea side). Wendy suggested continuing up the valley as there appeared to be a road over the hills (mountains?) which would get us to the coast. SOme time later she was proved correct but only after another gravel track (and that was the good bit) expereience. Wendy went for a dip water still too cold for me so back to town for swim in local outdoor pool. This also proved to be too cold (it was almost dark by the time we sorted ourselves out. Back to our cell for a 2nd night then south towards Wellington tomorrow. Again hoping to find a
nice camp site en-route.
Woke up to blue skies and glorious sunshine ah its good to be alive on a warm, sunny November morn. After a coffee we set off stopping for only our first breakfast (coffee on its own doesn't count) in a town called Hastings - french toast, bananas, bacon and maple syrup - scrumptious!
However it was another false dawn - as we drove South and West the skies darkened, the wind got up and soon we were driving through a tropical storm - uinbelievable rain and horrendous winds. We drove on hoping to break through to the other side but no such luck. Drove over the last mountain pass between us and Wellington with the car almost lifting off the ground with the force of the wind. We were oart of a convoy of some 20 plus vehicles crawling slowly over this 1800 ft pass. But don't worry we made it (else how could I write this?). We gave up on our plan to find campsite and opted for motel in Upper Hutt some 45 mins north of Wellington. That's All Folks (at least for now)
The weather in this country
can be truly horrid - it wouldn't have disgraced Scotland in November and if it had been as bad as this at May Bank Holiday, (which is more or less the equivalent) I'd have been really fed up.
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