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Published: February 2nd 2006
Homeward bound 8-10/01/06
We finally decided to get back on our bikes and head off; the object of the journey, meeting our niece, has been accomplished and so it's time to go home, very slowly. Incredibly I was the first person awake and managed to get a cup of tea and toast in complete peace before anybody else got up. We loaded up the bikes and set off towards Russell amid photos, loads of shouts of "Bye", "See you in Britain", "Don't fall off, again" and two rather confused toddlers who hadn't fully realised that Uncle Vernon, the "Muppint (muffin) Man", wasn't coming back.
The road into Russell was much easier on the way back and we only had to get off and push once (near the Transfer Station for those who know the area). At the wharf the bikes were put onto the bow of one of the passenger ferries and we went across the water to Paihia, I don't know if this will be the case all over NZ, but we haven't been charged for the bikes on any of the ferries we have used so far - excellent!
We stopped for lunch in Paihia and to replace my
Spirit of New Zealand
Taking part in the tall ships race out of Russell
sunglasses, which fell apart two days ago and were fixed by the lens being superglued into the frame, the lens then developed a crack and it's not going to be long before they're in bits again.
The road to Kerikeri is hilly (there's a surprise) and we had to stop often for a breather. As we got near to our destination I found that I felt incredibly tired; not muscles aching kind of tired, but that I really wanted to go to sleep there and then tired. It was weird, we stopped at a roadside kiosk and bought some plums which seemed to supply enough energy to get me the rest of the way to the hostel.
We cycled up the drive to Kerikeri Farm Backpackers amid a flurry of barking and then saw a German Shepard Dog tearing down the garden towards us, making enough noise to shake the oranges off the trees. We stopped and let Rocky continue barking and check us out until Claes appeared and showed us to our room. The bikes are going into the shed and with a burglar alarm like Rocky they should be fine. The hostel has a swimming pool and we
cooled down in it before dinner.
We spent a day looking around Kerikeri before heading north again.
We set off towards Kaitaia but because of the heat we decided to stop at Kahoe Farms Hostel where we got the last available room (a small double which is usually let out as a single room). There is a quite a menagerie at the hostel, including Chester, the incredibly cute miniature kunekune pig who trod on my foot (he may be only 14kg, but with small trotters this is still quite a painful experience). The hostel is run by Lindsey and Stefano, her family have owned the farm for 5 generations and she came back from her OE with a football mad Italian chef, so having discussed the merits of Man City we decided to try of Stefano's pizzas for dinner.
"Right, we're definitely going to leave tomorrow...maybe" 11-16/01/06
We had to borrow some milk for tea off Tom, a fellow backpacker, as our bottle had mysteriously disappeared overnight, we also had no breakfast as neither of us fancied porage made with water and we had no bread. Later in the morning we walked up to the rock pools which are
on the farm land; they were amazing, three pools carved out of the soft, volcanic rock in the middle of native bush. Because the pools are on private land you have to be staying at the farm to use them so we had them all to ourselves. The water was mighty cold, so we did the, by now traditional, "Ooh, ooh, crickey it's cold" Pommie Haka, but once we were in we quickly got used to the temperature. After about 45 minutes another couple of people turned up so we headed back down to the farm.
Stefano had done our shopping for us, so we had milk for tea, food for dinner and beer for...well drinking really!
The next morning we were up early to catch the 4x4 tour up 90 Mile Beach to Cape Reinga. Photo opportunities included a Merc half buried in the sand and competitors in the National Surf Championships. Just after we left the beach we stopped to do some sand boarding, which is a great sport where you get to spend about 10 minutes struggling up a really steep sand dune carrying a boogie board, before taking less than 30 seconds to get back to
the bottom lying on said board. We have finally found a sport where it pays to be lardy as we both made it to the bottom of the dune and into the creek whereas the lighter ones in our party didn't even get down the dune. Unfortunately there are no photos of our prowess as we were both having way too much fun hurtling down the dunes to stop and get any pictures.
Cape Reinga is the point at which the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet, you can usually see the join really easily, but we happened to be there on a very calm day so it wasn't obvious.
On the way back we stopped in Manganoui for dinner at "the best fish and chip shop in New Zealand" which was great for the omnivores amongst us, Vern tells me the gurnard was great, I can only comment on the vegetable roll which was very hot.
On Friday the 13th we got roped in to help collect a new member of the menagerie, a black sheep provisionally called King Kong. On our return to the hostel we closed all the gates and got KK into her pen, it
took about five minutes before she was out of the pen, into the paddock and testing all the fences. Having made sure she couldn't get onto the road we left her to check out her new surroundings.
In the afternoon we went to Coopers Beach with Stefano and James, we finally got to try boogie boarding with proper waves; when you hit a wave right, the feeling of weightlessness and the speed with which you hurtle towards the shore is amazing.
When we got back to the hostel there are two people from Bognor Regis sitting in the kitchen - small world or what?!!
At about 9.30 in the evening Stefano stuck his head around the kitchen door and said "Anyone up for a game of football?" Enough of us registered an interest for him to turn on the floodlights and we split into two teams for a quick match.
At this point I should explain that Kahoe Farms Hostel really does have a floodlit footie pitch, albeit one which is only big enough for 4-a-side matches, and it holds the first match of the year in NZ every year.
Our side consisted of two good football players (Chris and
Matteo), one who used to turn out for a 5-a-side team (Vern) and a fat, useless goalhanger (Heskey, no sorry, I mean me). The opposition was Stefano, two very fit Germans (Patric and Chopper Harris (Ursula)) and Jo who had about as much idea of how to play football as me but was a lot fitter and faster.
We played first to 5 and lost 5-4, after a change of ends we won the next game 5-4, thanks mainly to some spectacular defence by Matteo and some cracking goals from Chris, including a great long shot and a splendid toe punt from a prone position after a particularly dodgy Stefano tackle. My main role was to confuse the opposition and supply the ankles for Ursula to kick; in return I ran into her so I guess we were evens really.
So it all came down to a golden goal, sadly the lack of a Russian linesman may well have contributed to Patric scoring the winner. It has to be said that the referee (Chester) ran a particularly "trotters off" game, in fact he spent most of the match eating clover with occasional squeals when he got hit by the ball
(Collina he ain't).
The following day King Kong was back and very attached to Ruby (another Kunekune pig); in honour of her escape KK was renamed Liberty. Presumably Egality and Fraternity will follow.
Back where we started from 16-18/01/06
We finally got on the bus back to Auckland on the 16th January, three days after we first decided to leave. The bikes were tied onto the top of the trailer and we took the easy way down SH1 to the big city. We spent a couple of days in Auckland, doing shopping and finally getting to see the latest Harry Potter film, but our main task was to have our final Hepatitis B jabs. At about 100 dollars for the pair they were considerably cheaper than the Japanese Encephalitis jabs we had to pay for in the States.
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