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Published: April 26th 2010
A gloomy start to the day. In the daylight we had a chance to look around the campsite we’d came across last night in the dusk, drizzle and gloom - in Ashurst Domain (no Shires here Sam!). The Domain grounds have training grounds, playing grounds, the camping ground and the cemetery ... right next door to the camping ground! Cosy! It wasn’t a bad site though, very reasonably priced (cheap!) - John was chatting to the warden, and he told him that they will soon be charging separately for showers as the locals keep coming over to use them and they’re using up all the hot water! For once the campers were not the ones getting the blame.
When we were talking to the lady in the Information Centre in Napier, she was telling us that they’re trying to stop all freedom camping - apparently people were just parking up along their promenade and staying for weeks ... people were even stringing their washing up along the pitch and putt fence! As it is, the Council are recruiting more security people to help keep the carparks clear and stop people dumping their rubbish and waste. It really is sad that
a few inconsiderate campers have spoilt it for the rest of us. Ah well, that’s life!
Our next stop was Palmerston North, famous for its Rugby Museum. We did consider going, but decided against it as we’d have to put up with being told how fantastic the All Blacks are and how they’re going to win the World Cup next year! (they really believe this!) Interestingly though, the NZ Rugby Organisation are NZ$16M+ in debt and it’s getting worse! Apparently its due to injuries - they’re still paying the injured players and are also having to pay their replacements. Hmmm!
The radio news is currently full of some other rugby news - league this time. The Melbourne Storm, the ARFL equivalent to Manchester United in England, have been found guilty of cheating (basically lying about what they’ve been paying the players when there is a wage cap) - they have been stripped of all their titles of the past 5 years, have had to return prize money and have been fined millions of dollars. This story has been unfolding for days, we’ve had fans ringing the radio station in tears - both supporters and those that supported teams
that lost to the ‘cheating’ team.
Talking of the radio news - the traffic news came on - and I’m not kidding, these were the 2 items: there was a report that someone has driven into a lamp-post, if anyone has any further details could they please ring the station and update them; and the plane from Auckland will be arriving 10 minutes early. I just stared at the radio in disbelief!!! Makes Radio Suffolk positively urbane Kate!!
There was some excitement in Dunedin (South in the South Island). A bomb was found in the International Airport 2 days’ ago. And then yesterday, a bomb was found on the motorway and all traffic again diverted. Late yesterday evening they were interviewing a shamefaced police inspector - apparently the bomb on the motorway was a pinhole camera that a student had taped to a bridge to monitor traffic (not sure how that was going to work, but still). They are still trying to work out whether to charge the student ... and what with!!
Ah, we did happen to come across a patchwork shop ... in fact I’ve never seen so many fabric and quilting shops as on
our drive today. Luckily for John we only went into one ... and I didn’t spend too much!!
Anyway, we followed the Wellington road and then cut off in a westerly direction across what looked to be a mountainous shortcut. It was mountainous ... very. What we hadn’t realised was that the road would be narrow enough for our van and little else, or that the road would twist and turn like a curly wurly - I think we did the whole road at about 15 kph and my heart jumped every time we met an oncoming vehicle! However, the scenery was absolutely spectacular, and it was easy to see why this was one of the film locations used for the Lord of the Rings - but sorry Jacqui, no idea what scenes (you’d probably know better than me!!)
We then got on the main road, which stunned us by being as windy as the road we’d just left, but luckily a little wider. I was amazed that it had the same speed limit, 100 kph, as straight, flat motorways. John was getting a little hot under the collar as the petrol light was on and we were
just climbing higher and higher across mountains with no sign of anywhere to pull over. Luckily he managed to coast down into Featherston before the fumes gave out! I had a great chat with the petrol attendant, who insisted on filling our van up for us (first time that’s happened!), - he was telling me that his great granddad had been shipped to NZ from India to fight in the Maori wars in the mid-1800s, on the ship over there was an outbreak of flu and the whole ship was quarantined and no-one was allowed to leave the ship until 60 days after the last death. John said he couldn’t believe all the customers stacking up behind us and the chap just kept chatting!! (I think I helped!)
We went off to see some vintage cars that John had spied further down the road - lovely to see as always, and all by a maker called Alvis. And then it was off to find the DOC site I’d found for the night - supposedly 38 klicks from where we were ... maybe it was, but the journey seemed to take forever, but here we are now, on the coast
right by the beach, and the only people on the site - maybe it was the sign saying ‘recommended for 4wd only’ that put them off ... by the time we got there, we decided we’d make it ... and now we know our van can ford streams! The uneven pitches however gave rise to the traditional clutch burning ceremony - reversing the van onto two large stones certainly levelled things out but the resulting noxious smell didn’t half linger!
John has been out on the beach with the camera and he brought back some lovely shells and driftwood ... don’t ask what we’re going to do with them (but we hope you admire them when you visit us at home!!).
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