I’m on my way to the Mahia peninsula, but it’s too long a drive for me to complete sensibly in one day, and anyway, my story isn’t advanced to the stage that I need it yet… so I’m parked up here for a couple of days.
I call this place ‘Wind in the Willows’. It’s on the side of the Waikato river, at the top end of Lake Karapiro.
Once out of Auckland I had my first stop pre-planned. There’s a service area just before the Bombay hills, and it’s is a top stopping place for me. I can get lots of things done all in that one place.
I filled the Heems with diesel, topped up my gas tanks, and filled my water tank. These are only small things, but they keep me happy. I knew my gas was desperately low, as I’d meant to fill that up before Elizabeth came over… but hadn’t got ‘round to it. And the water tank was the same… I was pretty certain I was down to my last cupful. I also got a few days’ supply of fresh milk and had the last ‘flat white’ I’m likely to see for a while.
I was now topped up with everything… my fridge was full, and all my tanks were all appropriately full… or empty.
There was nothing I needed in Hamilton on this trip, so I headed directly to my stopover, at the top of Lake Karapiro.
Crossing the Waikato, inland and away from the coast, I was struck by the advancing season. Where the hills have been cleared for grass and cattle, they are browned off. The bush is still green, but it looks dry, and dusty. The trees are also changing their colour… the rich green is fading away, and the extremities are golding. Where the ground is exposed it is parched and barren. They are clearly very near drought here and need rain. But I wasn’t lingering on the plains, as always, I was headed to water.
The journey here was straightforward. I’ve been here several times before, yet once again (I’ve made this mistake every time I’ve come here) I turned off the main Hamilton to Rotorua road a junction too soon. It didn’t matter. I took advantage of the facilities at the Horahora Domain (just as before), and eyeballed the road I wanted… the one on the far bank of the river.
The sun was low as I pulled onto the campsite, but I still had at least an hour before sunset. Looking for the best place to park up I ran through my normal checklist;
1. Stunning view
4. Clear of shading (for the solar panels)
5. Clear line of sight to the North-North-West (for the satellite dish).
Easy-peasey. I was on my spot within minutes… five ticks, and the sunset still to come… perfect!
The campsite is a broad strip, set in the trees on the backs of the Waikato River. There were only a few vans here, and no tents… and all the people here are from the NZ Motor Caravan Association… that means they are here for the wildlife, not the wild life.
As I set about making something to eat I was congratulating myself about how accomplished I was at this campervaning lark these days; nothing had gone crash-bang since I pulled out of Piha, where there had however been a small incident.
I’d stopped to video a quick sequence of me driving away. For this I needed my video camera and tripod and I’d opened two lockers to do this. I set up my camera, set it running,. called ‘action’ to myself, spoke a quick speech, and drove off waving to the camera. It all looked very controlled and orderly. However, inside the van, the entire contents of two lockers had escaped confinement the instant I had moved… and all my writing pads, pens, folders, books, notes, plugs, sockets and cables spread themselves across the cabin floor.
10 metres!… that’s as far as I had got, 10 metres! It wasn’t until I was parked up that evening that I discovered I had another problem.
As I pulled out the kettle for a cuppa I noticed that I had been careless… it looked like when I was packing I’d dripped my coffee jug across the cooker and the workbench. However, closer inspection showed that the drips were also all over the workbench light… in fact, they were coming from inside the light, and dripping out of it! I pulled open the locker above, one of two I use as a pantry, and the unmistakable aroma of BBQ marinade met me. My bottle of Soy Sauce had tipped and emptied itself in my pantry and run the length and breadth of the cupboard floor.
‘Gosh, darn’ I said.
The sticky stinking stuff was everywhere. I emptied the lockers, pulled the sodden grip mat from the bottom, and threw it through the door in disgust. The next half an hour saw me wash and rewash the lockers, and all the contents.
Fortunately, very little was actually damaged. But the box holding my last two chocolate fudge bars appeared badly compromised… so I ate them.
Eventually, everything was clean and back in the locker, everything that is except the grip mat and the three quarters empty Soy bottle… they remained on the grass outside.
Finally could I sit back and enjoy where I was. The scene here is utterly tranquil. They only noise is from the birds, the cicadas, the occasional splosh as a trout takes a wee snack from the surface and… that bloody generator!
The caravan with the generator was 140 paces from me (yes, I paced it out). To the guy’s credit it is a very quiet generator, but this place is so completely quiet that the sound of anything mechanical is incredibly intrusive.
Despite my spot appearing to have all five ticks, it turned out to only have four. The humming of the generator was getting to me, so I moved.
Soon, at twice the distance from him, the cicada’s overcame his low humming. Really… some people, hasn’t he heard of solar panels?
My new spot had another advantage… it didn’t stink of Soy Sauce.
So here I sit. Through the office window I see ducks, and swans, and the occasional expanding ripple from a feeding trout. The steep riverbanks drop down to the slow and broody river, where a gentle breeze is just enough to graze its otherwise glassy surface. The sky is clear and blue, and tonight it will light up again, the broad stroke of the milky way so bright it will hide the otherwise familiar constellations.
Until then… I have work to do. As I write this I have only just begun the Kurahaupo story. I have got it launched, and now I need to move this on. Next I will get the Kurahaupo to Rarotonga, and then to the Kermadecs. After that I need to write up their journey to the Tom Bowling Bay, at the very tip of the North Island, and get them on their way again towards Mahia. I want that to time my arrival there with theirs.
This is going to take more than the rest of today, so I’m going to stop here a little longer.
Never mind… I’ll try to cope.