Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hiking and Hitch-hiking

The easterlies were predicted to get stronger, so we motored across the way from Smokehouse Bay to Kaiarara Bay. We made it past a mussel farm (floats with strings of mussels hanging) into a well-protected bay. The hills protect from an east wind and the holding is in about 9 meters of water over a muddy bottom. We can attest to the stickiness of mud after a dinghy adventure ashore.

After settling into our new spot, we went ashore for a nice hike with the "Gypsea Hearts" - having to pull the dinghy through the mud and throwing out the anchor with the hopes that the tide would come in by the time we returned. We had a great walk through a Kauri forest and saw some pretty birds and interesting flora. There were lots of mud slides along the path that had been recently repaired. Many tracks on Great Barrier Island have been closed down since a major storm in June 2014 caused all types of land slides and destruction on the trails and roadways. We went up to one of the DOC (Dept. of Conservation) huts and across a cable suspension bridge. Upon our return, we all had a good laugh when Sandy said, "Good thing you put out that anchor Rankin." The tide had continued to go out and now the dinghy was even further up in the mud! We decided we could sit and wait awhile before we had to wade out in the stuff. We waited about an hour and the water came in just enough that we thought we'd give it a shot. The slimy, mucky stuff definitely would hold an was a chore walking through it and dragging the dinghy into deeper water.

The next day, Rankin and Sandy had arranged for a rental car so we could all go on a motor tour of the island. They had done it a previous year and enjoyed it – so we thought it would be fun. Plus it was predicted to be a rainy and cloudy day – not good for hiking on muddy trails. We dinghied across to the next bay – Fitzroy Harbour, one of the larger towns on the island and the next bay over from where we both were anchored. Luckily we made it between showers for the dinghy ride. We got the car delivered and Rankin who gets the driving on the left thing, would be the designated driver.

The gas tank was pretty low and the only place to get fuel on the island was on the southern end of the island in Tryphena. All the roads (or really road) is very curvy and narrow. Thank goodness there isn't much traffic on the island with its 800 or so year-round inhabitants. We headed south. After fueling the car and ourselves up we decided to continue all the way south on a road called Cape Barrier. We went until we could go no further and started to head back. It was a rainy day and as mentioned earlier, the roads aren't exactly straight nor wide!

Around one corner came a bright red rural postal car – and we were headed in the opposite direction. Luckily Rankin is good at this left hand drive thing – so he didn't swerve into the postal car, but went to the left....only the road seemed to run out and the culvert gave way. Slowly the car slid off the road and down the embankment. Ooops. Thank goodness for the lush growth along the road that kept the car from sliding further down the embankment. The postman, Tane, came to lend a hand helping to get the doors open and us out of the vehicle – all the while Rankin keeping his foot strongly on the brake. This seems to be a common occurrence on these roads and all the locals knew exactly what to do. We all got safely out of the car and the driven back to the "gas pump/store" by the postman (with a few mailboxes filled along the way.)

We then waited there for what seemed like hours as the rental company was trying to find one of the two trucks on the island that could pull the car out. After awhile, it was determined that they couldn't get the car until the next day. The only way back for us was either a ride for $140 or our thumbs. We took our chances on the kindness of Kiwis and our thumbs. Because there were four of us though, the first person to stop could only take two – so the "ladies" went first. Sure enough over the next few hours and about five rides each – the two sets of hitchhikers made it back to Port Fitzroy. The last ride had all four of us in a very comfortable van!

It ended up being a sightseeing day filled with a bit more adventure than we anticipated but it all ended up okay. Nobody was hurt. We got back before dark. We saw a lot of the island. And today when the van was pulled out – there was no major damage and it could be driven. We met a lot of very interesting folks along the way and found that the Kiwis are really truly kind people.

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