Have we got an off-road story for you today! But firstly, we shared a coffee or two with our new American friends before taking our farewell of them, asking the wonderful campsite owner, Phoebe, to take a group photo in front of their gorgeous floral camper-van before Ginna and Tyler headed south to Wellington today.
After breakfast, it was time for our second attempt to get to Rotorangi Lake, so off we headed along Highway 3, turning inland on another "hardly ever travelled NZ road". Before long, after going up and over the Rotorangi farmland, we were surrounded by native bush, among pine trees and happy to be seeing such an amazing countryside with such beautiful sights. We passed some guys working on a slip on the road, then just kept on driving. There wasn’t another soul on the road. Until, a little further on, we meet a large truck heading in the opposite direction to us. In a friendly gesture, Anna pulls over on a section of the farmland road to give the truck room to pass. We both wave and get the head nod back to say “thanks!”
But, as we attempt to get back on the gravel road, the fun begins. Cuzzie's back wheels start to spin. Anna looks at me and says “Oh no, I think we’re stuck!” I reply “Don't worry, we’ve got just the right tools! The orange ramps, they work brilliantly”. Grabbing them from behind the driver’s seat, I jump out onto the very wet, rather soggy ground into which we have sunk. “No drama”, I think to myself, “we’ll be out in a few moments, don't stress!” I jam the ramps under the tyres and jump into the driver’s seat. After all, given my muddy moments at Kaihoka Lakes, I consider myself a bit of a pro at this type of thing! Well, let me tell you, this time the pro was really tested!! As the wheels spun, we just got deeper. I then had to admit that it wasn’t going to be quite as easy as I had thought and the “no stress” moment flew out the window.
The spade was now needed to dig the mud away from the wheels and, as I leaned on the fence, suddenly I leaped into the air and yelled loudly. The bloody fence had an electric wire running along it and I had just been zapped!! The mud was now mixed with sheep manure and, with every ramp change and wheel spin, I got more and more mud and manure. Not only on myself but also on the ramps and the spade. Anna was in charge of making sure I stayed straight on the ramps and keeping them under the wheels, so she wasn’t able to stay that clean either.
After what felt like an age, we seemed to be making a little headway, but it surely wasn’t a “no stress” quick fix today. I even had to get the rubber front mats out of Cuzzie and put them under the wheels for traction as well! By this stage, we’d done nearly an hour of damn hard work. Then, just as we both thought we were getting to grips with the mud, I stalled Cuzzie! That made me cuss big-time! Time to have a re-think: okay, perhaps we should go walkabout to try and find a farmer. No, let's try just one more time!
As I revved the engine and got speed up, I made it onto the ramps (yippee!). As I look in the wing mirrors of Cuzzie, guess what? The local farmer comes by, driving a big red tractor with a huge bale of hay. Introducing himself as Craig, he laughs with us at our dilemma and compliments us on our efforts, then suggests hooking us up to his tractor with a chain and dragging Cuzzie out. "Ummm", I say “I’ve got this dirty, Craig, can I just give it one more try?" Now, we have an audience! Just what we need. I floored it one last time and Cuzzie and I were back on the gravel after a few skids in the off-road mud. Go Girl Power!!
I’m sure my farming background helped me once again and my Waikato farming family should feel very proud. Go Waikato and North Carolina girls!! Doubtless the local farmer, who gave us a nod of approval before he disappeared, would have a great story to tell his mates. In the end, we were both just relieved to be back on the road. Five kilometres further on, we were at the fresh water lake at last! Having washed mud, sheep manure and goodness knows what else off ourselves, Anna headed inside Cuzzie to make lunch while I got on with washing the ramps, mats, spade and all the other tools we’d used. At which point, it chose to start raining!! By then, I no longer cared about being wet, actually enjoying the refreshing feel of the rain, rinsing both me and my equipment clean. When Anna returned to tell me lunch was ready, we looked at each other, both still dripping wet, then just laughed and laughed and laughed. Holy crap, what a muddy morning!
Lunch was duly scoffed and enjoyed, by which stage we both needed a walk in the bush. The walk we had been planning to do for the past two days. In places it was pretty muddy underfoot, very much like being in the rainforest with Nikau palms, pungas and plenty of water. It wasn’t a long walk today but it proved a pleasant end to the afternoon. On our drive back along that crazy road, we took photos of goats and lambs, promising each other to pull over for no-one on the return trip, no matter what the circumstances! On the way to our campsite tonight, I stopped at Waipipi Beach to look out over the ocean, to show Anna my next planned beach landing and to go for a long, refreshing, windblown stroll, while Cuzzie perched high on the cliffs above keeping watch over us.
What a brilliant end to a crazy day, a day that neither of us would have dared dream about or, maybe, we'll have nightmares about! Campsite set up and dinner done, followed by a soak in a hot tub tonight as a special girls’ treat.
My smiles today:
Hot coffee with new friends.
Sharing information about South Island locations with them.
Mud and sheep manure.
Orange ramps at the ready!
Craig, the farmer, giving his nod of approval.
Cuzzie on watch duty at the top of the cliff.
My thoughts today:
Either you run the day or the day runs you!
With our complexions looking all the better for the application of some unintentional mud packs, it’s “Goodnight” from Red, Anna and Cuzzie. Ma Te Wa.