During the time we were in Taupo we were debating about going left or right. Left to Napier – Hastings or right to Whanganui. In the end, we chose left, giving us the chance to catch up with some fellow motorhomers who we hadn’t seen since earlier this year. It also allowed Sarah to visit one of the local tree nurseries intending to add some fruit trees to our son’s garden.
The Napier-Taupo Road is my least favourite road in the country. Not because there is anything wrong with the road. It just holds terrible memories from the days of our old business with the rental car company and breakdowns. I think at one particularly lousy point we went there and back again 4 times in the space of 2 months. Each time driving from Auckland to Napier and home again within the same day.
There are several freedom parking spots in town, we decided on Te Awanga a very popular place but one that at this time of the year has plenty of space. Located on the foreshore, it is an area that is seeing severe coastal erosion. On the day of our arrival, large swells were crashing onto the shore. At least the rain, that had caused the large puddles abated. Allowing us to get out of the van for a wander.
Just down the road from the camping area, the local takeaway drew us in with the smell of fresh fish and chips. We decided they would make the perfect lunch, taking them back to the motorhome, so that lemon’s and Sarah’s required tomato sauce could accompany them. These would rate as an 11 out of 10 indeed some of the best F&C’s we have eaten.
Not the greatest video (it will play the correct way) but while we waited for the fish and chips, I wandered across the road to look at the waves breaking against the old sea walls. The small settlement here of Haumoana is fighting a losing battle against raging seas as back gardens and houses are being swept away. Of course, the waves in my video don’t look anything like those when a massive storm rolls in.
A few weeks ago we brought ourselves a new toy. With clear instructions from fellow motorhomer and national authority on the said machine, Gaylene, AKA Mrs Wishy Washy. Sarah was keen to give it a whirl, so to speak. As it’s so lightweight, we carry it in the boot area then bring it into the shower. Where it fits perfectly, so it can drain straight into the grey tank. It does just a beautiful job spinning, So good in fact that the clothes are almost dry before you hang them up. Perfect for Sarah with arthritis in her hands, making manual wringing very difficult. Not long now till there will be Mrs Wishy Washy MK2.
You can see behind the washing machine a couple of fruit trees. We purchased these from Green Leaf Nurseries. It’s not really a place I would recommend that you visit in a 9-metre motorhome. Access to the nursery is down a one-lane access road, which is fine as long as you don’t meet anyone coming the other way. Anyway mission accomplished 2 trees for our sons garden.
The following morning it appeared that the rain of the last few days was going to hold off long enough for the two of us to get a bike ride in. For those that don’t know the area, the Hastings and Napier councils have invested a fortune in building cycleways. In fact, there are over 200 kilometres of trails around the two cities. The one we were going to ride part of today runs from Clifton to Bayview all along the coast. We had decided to cycle through to Clive and then return a ride of around 22 km’s.
To keep motorbikes and other motorised vehicles, there are places along the route where you need to squeeze through barriers or manoeuvre your bike through a stock gate. I guess it all add’s to the fun and makes the trail safer for those who ride it. Getting our bikes through the stock gate took a bit of practice.
There might not have been any rain that morning, but the wind had decided to come to play. Parts of the cycleway are like a large U shape so going one way with the wind behind was a breeze. Then a very strong crosswind across the top or bottom. Finally, the struggle into the wind for the next leg. Makes me glad that we have electric bikes when you encounter wind like that.
We arrived in Clive where we have stayed previously at the Evers Swindell Reserve although I don’t know if I would have been brave enough to stay there this time. With the river in flood from all the rain and the heavy sea swell, I would have been worried about the water lapping around the van during high tide.
After a short comfort stop and a quick bite, it was back on the bikes for the return journey. If anything, the wind was getting stronger as well as a little colder. Making us both pleased to have worn our coats.
Sometimes it’s like I ride with my eyes closed. I could hear Sarah yelling at me but had no idea what it was about. Turning around, I went to investigate seeing the signage for Pedersen Rd, the first time I have ever seen that even though we have ridden past a few times.
After the bike ride, we were joined by our friend Sally while her partner Adrian played in a bowls tournament at the Taradale Club. Where they had been staying, You can stay there for a small donation. Later in the day, a very familiar sight rolled into the camping area. When Adrian drove in, in their Bedford Bus. With him as always was Zac, their very old Border Collie. We spent a great evening having a shared meal and an excellent catch-up. Some people you meet on the road don’t seem to even want to give you the time of day, so it’s really special when you meet a couple like this who offer you their genuine friendship.
You can only stay here at Te Awanga for 2 nights before the council get ansty handing out $200 fines like confetti. So for us, it was time to move on the following day.
But before we got on our way, it was out to the Cafe located in Clifton for a cup of coffee in front of a blazing fire an enjoyable way to spend some time although they were swamped on a Sunday morning.
It was also amazing to see the new sea wall they have constructed that takes you to the small campground at the end of the road. Last year when we visited, we would have been too scared to have driven our motorhome down the severely eroded piece of land. It looked like the rest of the road was ready to fall into the sea at any time. Now with the new construction, it seems safe and secure.
A few years ago, we walked out to the gannet colony. A great walk and very rewarding to see the gannets, although rather smelly and very noisy. The track is currently closed after the rockfall at the beginning of this year. A quick check online shows that the company conducting the tractor tours down the beach hopes to restart operations late October early November. Let’s hope, for their sake, it’s all sorted in time for the summer season.
A quick stop on the way out of town at the Pump Track dump station which also serves as a convenient freedom camping place. While I emptied the waste, Sarah got chatting to a couple who had been parked next to us in Taupo. Disturbingly they had been awakened both by the trains during the night. But also by someone trying to steal their bikes from the back of the caravan. Thankfully they had a decent chain holding them in place.
We hadn’t planned on staying in town long, in fact, we only really came here so that Sarah could visit the tree wholesaler. Like our previous visits, though we took advantage of the local cycle trails again, leaving thinking how lucky the locals are who live here.
We had to be back in Auckland for another of my mum’s hospital visits, but it’s always nice to escape Auckland, even if it’s only for a few days. Driving back to Taupo for the night to break the journey we were accompanied by a light dusting of snow almost the whole way once we had crossed that first significant hill out of Napier. It wasn’t snowing hard, but the drop in temperature was undoubtedly noticeable. Made us glad we have a decent heater on board.
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