Tag: Taupo

Campervan Adventures Part 2

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It’s been a while since we started our adventure driving Vera north from Christchurch. I don’t mean we’re still driving, just that I haven’t got around to continuing the story!

Where were we?

We awoke to a beautiful sunrise on the Kaikoura coast. Vineyards and rolling fields took over from rugged coastline as we drove towards Picton. Made a brief stop in Blenheim for a cup off tea with one of my colleagues, lunch in Picton then onto the ferry.

An uneventful but always beautiful sailing. The scenery is stunning especially as we sail through Queen Charlotte Sound but it was a bit chilly on deck so after a while we made our way to a sunny spot in the bar!

Onwards then to Silverstream where we parked up at Chris’. Somehow I needed to get in at least a 3km walk/run as I was taking part in a ‘March run streak’ which meant I needed to run everyday in March for at least 3km! The offer of wine was tempting but it would have to wait until after a run. I managed my fastest ever 5km run… nice and flat along the Hutt River! Then it was time for wine, dinner and a catch up with all Chris’ news.

We spent the next day at Nethui combining work with pleasure and plenty of opportunity to walk as we got the train in from Silverstream and then walked along the front in Wellington to Te Papa. It was a special copyright edition of Nethui with a keynote by Cory Doctorow. But more of that elsewhere.

We headed north the next day on a wee tiki tour of central North Island taking the opportunity to visit some places we hadn’t been to before as well as some old favourites.

Foxton; a visit to the Dutch windmill and a picnic on the windy beach accompanied by scavenging and very bold seagulls!

Taihape; quick coffee stop in the old post office which is now a cafe. New Zealand’s clock towers are an interesting study; they all seem to be of a similar vintage, equally ugly but strangely charming!

Taupõ; on our holiday in 2005 we stopped on the shores of Lake Taupõ for a cup of tea in the campervan we had hired. Where better to take a break after a wee walk in the bush to get my 3km run in!? Blackberries as a bonus too!

After a brief stop in Taupõ itself to get dinner we set off on the last leg home to Hamilton planning our next trip on the way.

A Day in the Army


An early misty Saturday morning saw Aonghas and I on the road south to Waiouru.  A scouting outing to the Waiouru Army Museum which, I have to confess, I only agreed to go on because of the skiing opportunity the following day!  A brief stop in Taupo for the loo and a coffee before the last hour and a half to Waiouru.  The views down the Desert Road were stunning and we had to stop a couple of times to take photos although the sun was so bright that it was difficult to see what we were taking photos of!  We met up with the rest of the scouts at the museum and went in to meet our host; he certainly set the mood for the day!  A dry, deadpan sense of humour that had the scouts wondering whether he was serious or not about the threats he made for any infringements of his rules!  Then we split into groups for our tour round the museum.  First stop was the Wall of Tears – this is a greenstone wall with water flowing over it and a visual and auditory roll of honour for those Kiwis who have given their lives over the years for their country.  It is the place where all new recruits are brought to pledge their allegiance and where Anzac ceremonies take place; a very moving but tranquil place to be.   After that we were taken around the exhibits which are meticulously presented, thoughtfully and artistically arranged and the attention to detail is amazing.  Our guide was one of the researchers and

designers and he was clearly passionate about his subject and he kept the scouts enthralled.  The mix of social mementos and military vehicles and paraphernalia was fascinating.  Our tummies were definitely

rumbling by 2pm and we were itching for our kai.  We should have had something to eat in Taupo but I had thought we were going to eat when we arrived at the museum and not after the tour.  Never mind, a little bit of hardship is character building!  the scouts and the parents were divided into groups of 5 and each group was given a RatPac .  A RatPac is a pack of food that will provide one soldier with all the food and drink he needs for 24 hours.  The scouts were asked to nominate a leader who was the only one who was allowed to communicate with our host.  He advised us to open the RatPac and start eating as soon as we could, “you never know when the bullets will start flying” – opportunist eating!  However, remember that there are 5 people in your team and you all need to survive if you are to be a successful fighting unit!  In the pack there were three main meals as well as muesli, tea, coffee, hot
chocolate, salt, pepper, chilli powder, onion flakes….. we had to get a cooking stove and firelighters and try to cook as much as we could as quickly as we could – add whatever you want to each main meal, you can eat in any order, but … remember to check that everyone in the group is happy to have chilli powder and onion flakes in their noodles because you are a team and you need everyone to be fit so everyone needs to eat.  Aonghas’ group seemed to forget that as they added chocolate powder and chilli to the pasta as well as sugar and pepper!  Our group ate well but Gus was still a little hungry!  Cleaning up was next and then down to the exciting part of the day; a ride in an amphibious vehicle around the swampy grassland. We all watched as the first 11 scouts donned oversized army shirts and helmets before climbing into the back of the

truck; we listened to the shrieks as they went

up and down over the bumpy terrain, in and out of the swampy bits and through the mud.  Gus went next and he looked a little nervous as he climbed in but came off at the end of the 5 minutes buzzing!  Martin and I jumped in the front of the next ride to get a front seat view.  It was very noisy but great fun, up and down what seemed to be impossible angles until ….. we came to a grinding halt stranded on the top of a big bank of mud!  Our driver tried every gear, reverse, forwards, full throttle, slow and steady – nothing worked so we had to abandon ship and pick our way across the bog!!  Very funny!

The Story of the Little Boy and a Lost Dog


Well, it must be time for another missive.  It seems a long time since I had time to put finger to keyboard and, in truth, I haven’t really got time now, but since I have lots of more pressing, less interesting things to do, it seemed like as good a time as any!  I am frantically trying to get everything ready for yr 12 camp which is in two weeks time in Raglan.  It promises to be a great camp but the planning has been fraught with pitfalls and unavoidable delays and so I am not nearly as organised this close to the date as I would have liked to have been.  Never mind I am sure it will all work out in the wash, as they say in Yorkshire.  Mindful of the problems I have had with yr 12 camp, I am making sure that preparations for yr 10 camp are already well under way.  We’ll see what happens, sometimes when much of the planning relies on third parties, all you can do is do what you can and then go with the flow.

This weekend, was fortunately a relatively quiet one (just a squash tournament and Squash Development squad training for Lachlan, and two hockey matches and Hockey Development squad training for Gus), and so I have had a chance to get on with some work.  Wet weather also made it easier to stay indoors, although I was itching to get out on my bike each time I have looked out when the sun replaced the rain for brief periods.  I must get out, even if just on the wind trainer for some sessions as I have signed up to be in a two women 6 hour relay mountain bike race on the 11th September and desperately need some fitness.  I’ve had a sore knee for a while now so have been reluctant to do much even if I had had the time.  Must get to the physio and get it sorted….

The next few weeks are going to be hectic; Lachlan is also in a team for the Day Night Thriller in Taupo – he is riding with the Young Guns again in the 12 hour race, and then I have to take him straight to Turoa for the Secondary Schools Ski Champs before driving back for the yr 12 camp.  If it’s fine on the Sunday, I’m quite tempted to fit in a day’s skiing but that would mean a late night just before going away for a week at camp – not sure the old body is up to it!  That same weekend, Aonghas has rep hockey presentations on the Saturday and a rep hockey tournament in Auckland – Nigel will have to do that one!  Next weekend he has three hockey matches – always busy but having fun.  Lachlan had a good win in the tournament this weekend – a couple of losses first, the second of which he should have won and he knew it so was pretty cut up about it.  He just needs to learn not to dwell on mistakes, forget and move on – easier said than done!  In both matches he won the first game and then lost the next three, then when it came to the last match, he won the first game but maintained control and won the next two so came home a much happier bunny!  Gus maintained his goal scoring record to score twice this weekend for his school team– he has still to score in the reps, but has come pretty close and also set up goals for others to slot home, so it won’t be long.

Last weekend, I took Aonghas down to Hastings for his first squash tournament – that was a mad weekend following a crazily busy week.  High-tailed it out of work as the bell went to get Gus and drive down to Hastings for a Masters and Juniors tournament with some of the Lugton Park crew.  Stopped in Taupo for a Wild bean coffee, sushi and pie and then had to pull over for a toilet stop for Gus just before Napier.  Arrived in Hastings after a four hour drive with half an hour to spare – felt good, but then drove up and down the street and round in circles, looking for the squash club.  Asked in the fast food places if anyone knew where it was and drew a blank.  Eventually, spotted a couple sitting on their verandah having a smoke and asked them and they pointed me in the right direction – about 200m from their house!  Google Maps GPS had got me to the end of the road but didn’t go quite far enough!  Gus had change into his squash kit in the car so was ready to go as soon as we walked in the door – he literally went from the car to the court and played his first ever squash match – what a boy!  He made me so proud – just got in there, well outplayed by someone several grades higher but ran for everything and stayed positive.

However, the happy boy was not happy for long after we got to the motel to find that he had lost “dog”.  We searched the car, the bags, went back to every place we had stopped to ask the way but to no avail.  Gus was distraught – he has had “dog” since he was a baby!  He could be distracted from thinking about him for most of the time over the weekend especially when we went out for pancakes for breakfast!  But he had moments when he remembered and he just sobbed – what can a Mum do in the face of such devastation?!  Tournament over and we headed into Napier for breakfast on Sunday morning, constantly scanning the side of the road for signs of dog – call me mad but Gus was convinced we would find him.  It had been dark and raining on the way down and I really couldn’t remember where I had pulled over for Gus to go the toilet, but that was the only time dog could have escaped!  Gus, on the other hand, had a clear picture in is head – he had peed over a ditch, with a wire fence and a paddock opposite, just before we had pulled over he had seen a white church on a bend.  All I remembered was that it was wide enough spot to pull over. After a great breakfast – Gus had his favourite again – what else but pancakes? After a weekend of crap food and no veggies, I enjoyed Eggs Florentine with heaps of silver beet, tomatoes and mushrooms – yummy!  After brekkie we wandered along the sea front, arranged to meet the others at the Hole in one at Taupo and then headed back along towards Hastings on the same side of the road that we had driven along on Friday night – no joy.  I still wasn’t sure where we had stopped but Gus was still hopeful and so we set off back towards Taupo.  Driving along and suddenly Gus shouted out to stop – he had spotted the church and the bend and a wire fence and a paddock – he insisted that I turn around, so I did.  He jumped out and ran down the side of the road, definite that this was the spot, and then we saw a little grey lump on the ground, picked it up and there he was – wet, bedraggled and very smelly but it was dog!  One very, very happy boy climbed back in the car, wrapped dog up in a “blanket” (the windscreen cloth) and smiled all the way home!  We stopped in Taupo. Just in time to see Brendon and Chris trying to hit golf balls onto the  “green”  in Lake Taupo – they all veered off into the wind well away from the hole. Gus was desperate to have a go so I gave him $3 for three balls; the first two just made it into the lake but, with a bit of coaching from the experts, he hit the third perfectly and it just missed the green by a few metres!  Nearly as big a smile as finding dog!

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