Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Gus goes the Distance!

Where are we now, December 28th? Okay, we're ALMOST in the current year...

So, we woke up at 90 Mile Beach (coincidentally, that's also where we fell asleep the night before), then began our journey to the north tip of the (north) island.

When Gus' tank was a fair bit below half full, we thought we should pull over to top up. The service station we had intended to stop at passed by just as we noticed it, so we decided to wait 'till the next town to fill up (because obviously it would've been a HUGE hassle to turn around a block away!)

We finally pulled into the next service station 40 minutes down the road, and this is where it got interesting...

Am I USED to paying attention to how high my vehicle is? No. Did I hit the "do not go under if you hit this chain" sign and pop off the sunroof? Yes.

Man that was awkward.

Oh crap, well at least we could top up while we were stuck under there. Ummmm... maybe not:


Okay. So we had to swallow our pride and ask the laughing attendants where the nearest functioning gas station was. 40 minutes south, they said. Yes, that station 40 minutes south was the station that we initially neglected to stop at because it was sooo inconvenient to backtrack a block. Well they should have a sign. A BIG NEON SIGN. With flashing lights.

But here's the kicker. We were only 25km away from the northern tip of the island, but didn't have enough fuel to drive that stretch and THEN backtrack the 40 minutes to the previous station. So, first things first, we (er, Lowell) attempted to re-attach the sunroof.

That didn't work, so we fashioned a very temporary plastic bag roof for fear of pending rain. It was neither pretty nor quiet (nor did it work).

In 40 minutes exactly, we arrived at the initial service station, and this is what the tank looked like:


This sign was on the door of the service station:

Could they not put that sign ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD?! Or perhaps make it into a giant neon pylon in the MIDDLE of the road. Apparently it's pretty important information.

One good thing that came out of all this backtracking was that we stopped to get pictures of an amusing sign. Always a silver lining...

Apparently there's no turning back. However, this is not the time for a theological debate...

So we were finally on the road again and eager for our first planned stop... sand dunes! We managed to navigate the campervan through a crowded parking lot (well, sand lot), and were rarin to slide down some dunes.

We attempted to slide down the dunes on our skimboard, but work it did not, so we ran back down to find a replacement.

We ended up renting a sandboard, but FYI, a "sandboard" is actually a glorified boogy board. We had two boogy boards in the camper, but the lady renting them out insisted, "No, they're sandboards". So we forked over the cash to rent one of them between the three of us when we could've had two for free. We're such suckers. Oh well, we know for next time.

All set. Now all we had to remember were the 3 sandboarding basics:
1. Go down head first.
2. Steer/brake with your feet.

(Julie Anne OBVIOUSLY missed the memo on rule #3, and as a result probably ended up eating a copious amount of sand!)

Enough of the little dune, we're moving on to the BIG one!

From the top, there was nothing but sand and sky to be seen...

Sandboarding down giant dunes is a HIGHLY recommended activity. You end up with sand plastered to every inch of your body, and lodged in places that you'd rather it not be lodged, but it was still a hoot.

We were forced to leave the dunes all too quickly as the silly service station scenario set us back a couple hours, and we needed to make it to the tip of the island then back to our campground before 8pm (technically).

This is our GPS (Jill is her name) showing us that we're almost at the very northern tip of NZ:

And here's Gus parked at the tip of the island! This is the closest he will get to his childhood home of Japan.

There was even a MAILBOX up there. I wasn't sure if it was actually a FUNCTIONING mailbox, but I just happened to have a ready-to-mail letter in my purse, so I took the gamble. If you receive that bright geen envelope, it was sent to you with love from the tipsy top of the north island!

And now for a series of pictures taken at this memorable destination:

(Lowell's head is actually holding my hat on. I had already rescued a little boy's hat that had flown over the rock wall, so I had already fulfilled my hero duty for the day).

From there, we cruised (as fast as Gus would carry us) to a town called Russell. Unfortunately the road to the tip was ridiculous (although to be fair, they have BEGUN the paving process), and the plastic bag sunroof didn't hold up, so the inside of our campervan was covered with dust.

We didn't arrive at our campground 'till 10pm (thankfully the kind owners waited up for us), so we had to motor our butts to get showered before the power was shut off at 10:30. We then placed the actual sunroof on the campervan and weighed it down with a box of our tenting neighbours' stuff (they offered it to us, we didn't just swipe it).

In the morning, dear Toby (a maintenance fellow at the campground) brought the appropriate tools and help Lowell fix the sunroof.

Thanks to his fine Kiwi heart, our campervan stayed dry inside during the whole ride home in the rain. We had fun water activities in Russell planned, but the rain forced us home instead. It's just as well though, this post is ridiculously long as it is...


Bloggy Mama said...

It's ridiculous how amazing your stories are. Ridiculous.
Also, for some reason my attempt to post on your story yesterday, I believe, didn't work... and now I forget what I was going to say.

Quinn And Zoe said...

Ok.. sandboarding looks like the most crazy fun activity on the planet!

marcandorkylie said...

nice adventuring! or "interesting lifestyle" as some would say.

it's nice to know that the very remote northern tip of new zealand is a beautiful beach.

i agree, the sandboarding looks fantastic. we got in some tobogganing this christmas, and while snow may be a bit more forgiving, at least next time kylie's feet wont get cold.

thanks to toby and company for keeping gus dry!

Anonymous said...

Sandboarding. What you do when you are board and there is no snow. And I have always wanted to see someone drive under those signs in a too tall vehicle - thanks for documenting that glorious moment!