July 03, 2007

A Sidetrack

Inbetween Kawhai and Raglan

The above is the only photo I have of these two days, so forgive if me if this gets too wordy. It’s a shame really because I know we got some great pictures at sunset, but I just don’t know where they are.

27th-28th December – West Coast of North Island

We spent the night overlooking an estuary somewhere between Kawhai and Raglan on the west coast of the North Island. Our whole day we’d been battered by rain leaving not a lot to be seen of the sights, apart from an invigorated waterfall (one of a hundred called the ‘Bridal Veil’) and the blustery coastline. In fact, when we found this spot, we simply had to return to the car, and sit it out, as our attempt to enjoy a few beers with the ‘grey’ view was cut very short.

The last few hours of day actually brought some sunlight, so we did manage to gobble down our Salami Tikka Pasta™ in front of the sunset without distraction. It was around that time when the tide went out, and suddenly the whole bay in front of us was seen to be really shallow. It reached out over a hundred metres and was full of oysters and mussels. A little exploration revealed little else though, and the sun finally disappeared and the clouds cleared to reveal the southern hemisphere topsy-turvy night sky. Slightly tipsy tents were set up in the dark, although with surprisingly the least amount of hassle. A swift goodnight and I was out like a light, only to be awoken at 4a.m. to the sound of a vengeful shower and a strong breeze that battered the doorway.

Thankfully, the morning was much brighter, and less damp, the bluster drying out our tents better than we could hope for. With our breakfast arrived some Mauri locals, two ladies gathering shellfish, whilst two small kids sat bored by the car. They soon had something to watch though. Packing our stuff was easy enough, but trying to get the car back up the makeshift driveway was another thing altogether. The rain had turned the slope into a Herculean task (okay maybe not, but it felt like it) as even with a push, we couldn’t make over the final lip to the road above. The car limped back down the hill, defeated by the rain damage of the day before.

So, with typical Anglo-German teamwork (okay maybe it wasn’t typical) we did the only thing we could: build the road. Formulated from surrounding branches and gravel from the roadside, we lined our slide and either side forming a natural gripping surface for our tyres to glide up. Also, with the car being front-wheel drive, we offloaded everything out of the boot, and then prayed to the god of lucky breaks.

We braced ourselves behind the car and ran as it took a rush at the task. It stuttered once, but never stopped and we were home free and dry, and also a little bit mud-splattered.

The road to Kaikoura was at hand…


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