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Posts tagged ‘turangi’

Only 41,851,439 more feet to go

Finally, the photographic evidence:-

090824 By the river

Husband risks life and limb.

090824 Husband and Jed

So I’m not sure what Husband was up to in this shot. He was either winding up for a rousing chorus of ‘I’m Every Woman’, or he might have been stretching.

090824 Jed and tree

Jed gets to grip with a tree.

090824 Wet dog

If there is any body of water in the vicinity, you can be pretty sure Jed will be straight in there.

090824 Still wet

More like a drowned rat.

090824 Contemplation

Jed considers his career prospects. Something outdoors, maybe in the forestry industry.

090824 Dusk

Dusk by the sea.

090824 Mt Ruapehu

I would hazard a guess this is Mount Ruapehu and a tufty rock. I should really write these things down (well, the tufty rock is obvious).

090824 Snow

Husband tries to talk Jed into sledding.

090824 Digdigdig

Background: mountains;
Foreground: Jed’s arse, as he attempts to tunnel to Ireland. He gave up after three feet.

090824 Floppy ear

Puppy strikes a pose.

090824 Husband

Husband works up a smile of sorts.

090824 Evening cloud

Evening closed as we drove north to Turangi, and I looked back to see Mount Ruapehu stalked by great banks of cloud.

090824 Mountains

Another one which doesn’t quite translate to print. We took a quick detour up Kaimanawa Road so that Husband could complain how cold it was at The Pillars of Hercules. This was the view at the T-junction giving back onto SH1.

090824 Sunset

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Ducks: a savage species

So the next post was to be an account of the great road trip home from Oamaru. I am pure MORTIFIED to be writing about it so long after the event. At least two weeks’ hindsight bathes the trip in a warm, rosy tint – what I can recall of it.

Although we were sailing the following day, we planned on hitting the road early. At least, that was MY plan. Husband being an off-the-cuff, extemporaneous, free-spirited, spontaneously impromptu, much like a dandelion in the wind sort of type (i.e. completely disorganized), he decided to plaster Her Goatiness’s kitchen around the time we should have been blazing a north bound trail out of Timaru.

Then he and Agent of Death disappeared in the Red Truck, and reappeared with a MIG welder.

For anyone wondering why a MIG welder was required for the journey home, I never quite got to the bottom of this. I asked Husband, and he said its purpose was: ‘to weld stuff’. So now you know as much as I do.

There followed some heated discussion about how to transport the MIG welder, along with three times as much baggage as I had arrived with – and that’s not counting the emotional variety.

Since the welder was roughly the width of the car, Husband suggested lashing it to the roof rack. Then he debated the merits of lashing the cool box to the roof rack – and the dog – or maybe the dog would fit IN the cool box – except the cool box was full of blue cod, lamb chops, abalone and dead ducks.

By this stage, I was all for lashing Husband to the roof rack, but we eventually fitted everything in the boot in a precariously wedged jumble of bags, MIG welder, cool box, camping chairs, and dog.

The journey from Oamaru to Picton was largely unmemorable. In Picton, we stayed in pet-friendly Aldan Lodge Motel (which I would have no hesitation recommending unreservedly but for their website featuring a picture of some slut with savage seventies hairdo in a bathtub. Our studio unit had a shower, which was thankfully accessorized only with a soap dispenser).

The following morning we were up at 05:20hrs to catch the 06:05 Interislander ferry. True to form, we set off later than ideal; tensions flared when I thought Husband was about to drive over a two-foot high kerb and let out a piercing scream; then – and I’m still not sure how we managed this given that every road sign in Picton directs you to the Interislander – the ferry, after all, being the whole POINT of Picton – we got lost on the way to the terminal.

But that was all so much dramatic tension: we made the crossing. We took our time driving up from Wellington and, about 30km south of Turangi, turned west off the Desert Road towards Mount Ruapehu. After driving a few kilometers up a gravel road, we stopped to introduce Jed to snow.

And here’s another, this time without the same extent of puppy talk and insane, spine-chilling cackling:-

That evening, we stayed at Creel Lodge. The following morning, I hauled Husband out of bed at 06:30 for a walk along the Tongariro River. Husband claimed he was still technically asleep, but that didn’t stop him bitchin’ about the hour of morning and how <expletive deleted> cold it was. He was more unimpressed than I’ve seen him in a long while.

His mood lightened imperceptibly with the dawn and my offer of a hat. However, he was cast back into the black abyss of despair when I produced my cream beanie with the cutest little tomato-stalk design feature on the crown. He must have been really very chilly, because he also donned my baby-blue fleece. Regrettably there is no photographic evidence, but even if there were, I would not be allowed post it: Husband censors graphic images and any mention of his entertaining inability to process alcohol.

Later that day, we stopped in Cambridge to take Jed for another walk. Generally, Husband and I pride ourselves on being entirely responsible dog owners, but we let the side down at Te Koutu Lake Reserve, when Jed plunged into the lake and struck out towards a group of ducks. Husband and I were rendered useless with fits of giggles; we couldn’t even gasp a squeaky recall between the pair of us.

Jed’s such a great pussy that if one of the ducks had quacked sideways at him, he would have been out of the lake yelping and trying to crawl up my leg. Thankfully, none of the ducks savaged him – or us. We all arrived home largely intact in mind, body and spirit – although Husband’s sanity was mildly dented

Introduction to frozen water

090723 Logs

Although we emailed sporadically, and I met up with Helen when I passed through Dubai on the way to and from Ireland last year, the reality is we don’t know each other that well. Up to recently, all we had in common was a mutual appreciation for floating in briny water in a manner similar to giant gherkins.

Still, three months ago when Helen asked me to join her on a road trip during her week’s holiday from Dubai, I thought it was a marvellous idea. The open road, floaty skirts, the drowsy scent of pollen, floppy hats, sunglasses, takeaway coffee.

As the date approached, I got increasingly anxious. What if Helen and I ran out of conversation? What if we fell out over fuel? What if Helen bit Jed? What if my snoring kept her awake all night?

Happily, my fears had no basis in reality. On the Sunday morning, Helen’s friend Cathy saw us off with cheesy muffins and roasted pears with cinnamon.

In Tokoroa, we stopped briefly at the lookout point above the town, where Jed tested the limits of his digestive system with a MacDonald’s cheeseburger plus wrapping and an empty crisp packet.

We stayed with another two of Helen’s friends, Kim and Seamus, on their farm just south of Tokoroa. They have three boys, Kieran, Mossie and Padraic; a poster of the nine times tables on the bathroom door; and the ‘ladder of certain doom’ on the fridge. We spent the evening chatting over a bottle or several of wine.

Next morning, Helen and I drove on south, giving Jed a run at Huka Falls.

090723 Huka Falls

The Falls

090723 Helen and Jed

Helen and Jed

090723 Me and Jed

Me and Floppychops

We stopped in Taupo for lunch and a pair of walking boots for Helen (to wear). I also bought a Tongariro 260-T19 topo map, and a Kiwimaps New Zealand Compact Travellers Atlas with six large scale regional touring maps and nine city and town center maps. It was tremendously exciting to know my location.

We arrived in Turangi in the early afternoon and checked out our accommodation: a spacious two-bedroom chalet for $120 at Creel Lodge next to the Tongariro River. The bathroom door featured a map of recommended trout pools along the Tongariro River. It really inspired my bowels – although not as much as the nine times tables.

I had brought two mountain bikes on the rack on the back of the Hilux Surf. After check-in, we returned to Reception to ask about the biking trail to the Pillars of Hercules.

“Where does the trail start?” I asked.

“No idea,” said Richard.

“But it’s on the Creel Lodge website.”

“Really? What does it say?”

“Er. Two hour bike ride, easy grade, fifteen to twenty minutes drive from Turangi Village.”

“Sounds lovely. Be sure to let us know how you get on.”

I whipped out my topo map and located the Pillars of Hercules. We drove about 10km south on the SH1, then turned left onto Kaimanawa Road. We parked 2km up the road, and biked up a logging trail that ran to the south west. Considering Helen had never set arse on a mountain bike, she did exceptionally well.

090723 Helen gets to grip with biking

Helen gets to grips with biking

090723 Coffee break

I don’t know if you can tell from the photo (above) that the cold was bitter in the late afternoon. It was a gradual uphill route, and a section of the trail was overgrown, so we soon warmed up. The puddles were all iced over – Jed’s first introduction to frozen water. He was understandably cautious about this this dangerous, unknown and potentially threatening new experience: galloping towards the puddles and leaping into the middle of them feet-first.

The path eventually gave onto a crazy Kiwi swingbridge, suspended hundreds of metres above the Tongariro River below. Jed was entirely dubious: he ventured out a few paces before scuttling back to firm ground, gaining a little more headway each time; then shot past me in the middle of the bridge to gain the far side where the whole process started again.

090723 Swing bridge

090723 Jed

090723 Pillars of Hercules

We carried on to the Urchin Camping Ground, then freewheeled down the main road back to the car.

The following day, we got up early and biked up Tree Trunk Gorge and north (this time) to the Pillars of Hercules again. In a bizarre phenomenon, although we returned to the car the same way, it seemed to be uphill in both directions.

We were on the road by midday. I am delighted to report that by the time we reached Auckland six hours later, far from running out of things to say, Helen and I had barely even started

090723 The way back

32 PSI

On Wednesday morning, Husband rang as I finished packing the car.

“How do you feel this morning?” he asked solicitously.

“Terrific!” I said.

“Right, pay attention,” said Husband. “We’ve been discussing how to get you and Jed to Oamaru, and we think the best way is to parachute you in-”

“I’m driving.”

“You’re joking,” said Husband.

“Nope. Little road trip. <Jed: come! Sit! Good boy!> Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a ferry to catch in eleven hours-”

“What?”

“The eight o’clock. We’ll be with you sometime tomorrow.”

“But what about Jed?”

“He’s looking forward to it. <Jed: hup! Hup! GOOD BOY!>”

“Have you got food for him?”

“Course. Stacks of Tux, some dog sausage, half a cow carcass.”

“Is there enough money in the account-”

“Check!”

“Have you got music for the trip?”

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN YAY! Hey – how much air should I put in the tyres?”

“Niamhie, are you sure this is a good idea?”

“Absolutely. You’re so negative. Why are you denying my natural instinct? I was BORN to drive the open road.”

“What if you break down?”

“Eh, some bloke will probably stop.”

“I think you’re mad.”

“Get counseling.”

I mean, come on: it’s not as if New Zealand is that big. Why, it’s not even a fraction of the size of Australia. Well, obviously it is a fraction, but a very, very, very, very small one.

And we were off. We left the house at 09:30hrs, but only hit South Auckland at 11:00hrs after a pit stop to fill up on diesel and air.

I always underestimate the time it takes to get from Auckland to Wellington. Well, obviously, I have limited experience having only done it once before. The AA website estimates the distance from Auckland to Wellington as 658km, or 9 hours and 25 minutes – but they probably cater for the lowest common denominator i.e. tourists trying to locate the accelerator on a campervan. However, it’s a 40-minute drive from Henderson to Auckland Central, and the Interislander specifies check-in NO LATER THAN 1 HOUR PRIOR TO DEPARTURE TIME and they really sound quite snotty about it.

It was a foul day – driving rain. Luckily, I was prepared with Deadlyjelly’s Ultimate Road Mix, a solid foundation of Foreigner, the Erics Carmen and Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Crowded House, Matchbox 20, and Dire Straits, with a dash of Mister Mister and Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

I obviously took full advantage of Bruce, since Husband has declared the house a rock-free zone. He makes the occasional exception for Bon Jovi, Van Halen and Aerosmith – really, any rock band that relies heavily on lamé and/or spandex. However, the soundtrack of our lives mainly comprises female artists that sound as if they are preparing a compilation for their own funeral.

Driving through Kaimanawa Forest Park south of Turangi, the rain retreated and mist drifted through the trees. Jed was inspired to blow raspberries out the back of the car. The Desert Road was bleak and beautiful.

Apart from a diesel stop in Waiouairouaeaou and the odd five minute break to stretch Jed’s legs, I pressed on. So you will appreciate my joy when I discovered a bar of chocolate Helen had abandoned in the center console. In that moment, I loved Helen in a romantic and entirely inappropriate way. Probably just as well she was not present.

In Hunterville, I pulled over to give my puppy a trot and he lifted his leg for the first time. I am not sure whether it was because I had been on the road too long, or I was tired, or because it was a gorgeous evening with late sun tinting the country with a sepia glow, but I got quite emotional thinking about my little dog growing up and how Husband was not there to see him balancing confidently on three legs.

Coming into Wellington, I called Husband and asked him to book me on the 20:00hrs ferry that left in 45 minutes. The Interislander had closed Internet and phone bookings, but there was plenty of space when I rolled up to the check in booth. The Hilux Surf was the only car, dwarfed on all sides by articulated lorries.

Dinner was a smoked salmon sandwich I had purchased in a BP Connect in Paraparaumu. I had prepared a description of my falsely advertised soggy sandwich featuring the faintest trace of salmon flavour. In fact, it was a superb and supremely salmonly sandwich and I am hard pressed to recall a more satisfying meal. I will also seriously consider serving up Bluebird crisps for dessert the next time we have guests.

Although I was prepared for it, in the end Husband ensured I did not spend an intensely unerotic night sharing the boot with my dog

The Invisible Grotto of the Travel Crate Door

Husband left for Oamaru this day last week to catch the last weekend of duck shooting and partake in some serious alcohol abuse with the Outlaws.

I did not join him because my friend, Helen, was over from Dubai. She had asked me to accompany her on a three-day road trip to visit her friend in Tokoroa, and then to Turangi. Kind of like Thelma and Louise, only without the attempted rape, murder and mutual suicide pact; and if I spotted Brad Pitt I was resolved to tell him to wipe that self-satisfied smirk off his gob, although the gay cowboy theme rather suited him.

On Tuesday night, I returned home tired and grumpy after the 350km drive from Turangi. I unloaded the mountain bikes, fed the dog, unpacked my bag. I was scheduled to fly to Dunedin on the 09:55hrs Pacific Blue flight the following day.

Then disaster struck; although it didn’t STRIKE so much as creep up gradually like tentacles of doom as it gradually dawned on me that the door of Jed’s travel crate was missing. I mean, at first I thought it was just hiding playfully. When it did not respond to my summons, I searched the house and determined it was temporarily misplaced. Finally, I resigned myself to the fact that the door had vanished from the face of the earth without a trace.

Although Husband provided telephone support, he was – and it pains me to admit this – he was of limited use. He had no idea where the door might be. He had no recollection of putting it anywhere in particular. He refused to consider leaving Jed with the Other Outlaws. He was unnecessarily negative about the possibility of hiring a crate at 22:30hrs. He looked up Trademe to see whether there were any large crates for sale with a ‘buy now’ option. He suggested I send him the crate dimensions and he would ‘make a door’ and courier it up to me the following day

So instead of leaning on Husband when the pitch of panic reached critical levels, I called Pacific Blue.

Since I had purchased a budget ticket, they would neither reschedule my flight nor refund the fare.

Bastards.

And so my average success rate with catching public transport has dropped to 42%. I take comfort from the fact that this is the first time I have missed a flight due to a disappeared door. Give me some credit: my usual style is to turn up at the airport and THEN realize there was no door.

At least I didn’t have to worry about packing. I went to bed instead, where I had nightmares about turning up at Auckland Airport with a makeshift door constructed of welded paperclips and chicken wire affixed to the crate with baling twine and hardened Wrigley’s Juicyfruit.

The following morning, I awoke dark and early and formulated a cunning plan.

Well, I did not want to hire a crate because upon his return, chances are Husband a.k.a. ‘Sniffer’ will walk into the Twilight Zone that is his garage and find the missing door lying in the middle of the floor, or surrounded by hundreds of lit candles in a grotto in the center of the bench – in much the same way as he solved the Mystery of the Missing Marriage Certificate, which was not really that mysterious in the end – or, for that matter, missing – although it was indeed a genuine marriage certificate (although issued in Ireland so you never really know).

For much the same reason, I did not want to purchase another crate.

And so I did what any sane, rational person would have decided to do under the circumstances

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