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Diary 21

3 Dec.

Back in full tourist mode.
And in a car which is a little strange.
Having said that - given the construction I came through today I'm kinda glad that I'm not on the bike.

Having the car made other things easier.
After a couple of museum stops I went tree hunting.
Yes it's is mostly forest north of Auckland but I was hunting big trees.
After a couple of false starts up long gravel roads (yea - cars are cool sometimes) I found the proper places.

I've seen big trees before in California but that still doesn't quite prepare you for seeing the next big one.
I stopped at the biggest and then at the oldest.
I also stopped at the Kauri museum where they celebrate the cutting down of these majestic Kauri trees.

Ended up in Opononi.

Some of the roads on the way up reminded me of western Kentucky, the tight twisty roads along the top of ridges - then you look at the trees and realise - No it's not the US.

4 Dec.

Up and out early in search of breakfast.

Stopped at Kaikobe the first town and nothing was open - "Try Paihia"

Picked up a couple of hitchhikers who were heading to Paihia and knew the back roads.

Checked my e-mail then went to look at the treaty signing grounds at Waitangie where the original treaty between the Maori and Great Britain was signed.
It's good to be a tourist again.

OK - I'm lying.

I'm staying close to Auckland coz there's one thing left to do with the bike shipping - pay for it. So I might have to go back to Auckland tomorrow (Monday) and I want to be drivable to there.

And I'm tired of being on the road.
I want to be at home now.

Having left the bike I've started shedding bike gear that I won't use at home.
The helmet has gone - the replacement side pod was OK but as soon as I fitted it the opposite side pod started jumping out.
I replaced it with the matched replacement but that didn't help.
And I bounced it off the ground when the bike fell over - I was always going to buy a new one when I got home so, to save me carrying dead weight it went.

I thought about dumping the tank bag - but instead filled it with all the crap that was floating loose in the luggage and squashed it closed. The torn waterproof is next for the bin if I have any problems backing the gear.

I'll check the shipping folks in the morning and see what I have to do - my fear is that they might not put it on the boat if I haven't paid - then I have the hassle of a bike stuck here and storage charges,

If I was in the US I'd just go to Vegas and live in unreality for a week.


5 Dec.

Well I was a happy bunny yesterday.

Truth is I've been checking e-mail every few hours for the 'how to pay for the bike ferry' e-mail.
I'm not done with the bike till that's sorted.

Got the e-mail around 3pm.
"This much in this account and it has to be done overnight".
Gee - thanks.
Glad I stayed close to e-mail.
Of course the only bank I can use is not represented in Paihia so there's the twenty minute drive to Kerikeri followed by the strange introduction to the girl on the desk.
"Hi - I have to get a bunch of money into a Citibank account and you guys are agents but I don't have the money just a bunch of credit cards and if I don't manage to get the money into the account by tomorrow then my motorbike will be stuck here and I'll have to pay storage charges till the next ferry to the UK arrives".
Jess deserves a medal, or at minimum a hug.
She didn't blink.
She looked over the documents (the Proforma Invoice and the Bank Account Details) and said
"You have a local bank account?"
"No - But if I get a cash advance on a credit card I can do this with cash and it will go through overnight"
"Not a problem"

Ten minutes later it was all done.

Back in Paihia I returned the e-mail stating what I had done and what I had failed to do (they asked that the money transfer have certain references; ship, voyage, etc. but a cash deposit from National bank doesn't allow that) so I hope they realise that I have paid.

I assumed that when I'd paid I would feel some sort of relief and start to feel like a tourist again.
Actually I felt 'OK - I can go home now'.

There are still a couple of places I want to see and I have a few days left but I'm not sure I will really relax until I get the 'we got the money' e-mail.

6 Dec.

Checked out and headed for Cape Reanga.
The top of NZ.
The end, if you will.
This is where the sea on one side, and the ocean on the other, meet.
The meeting of the seas and the tides can cause some wild currents.
Unfortunately low cloud and rain can hide then from the view of the casual tourist.

I could have done the trip on the bike but the final twenty km of gravel would have been slow and hard work, not helped by knowing I would have to retrace my steps.

The car hire place specifically stated that I was not allowed to take the rental onto 90 mile beach.
If they had been less specific then I would have chanced it and done the 'famous' run down the sea shore.
In NZ the beaches are considered roads and many of them have speed limit signs.
The 90 mile beach is one of the classics but because of the detailed denial I only went as far as the stream you have to drive down to get to the shore.

Heading back south and looking at the choice of accommodation I decided to head back to Paihia.
There's a pizza house there that I want to revisit.

By 7pm there was no nasty e-mail from the shippers so hopefully they will load the bike.

I find myself spending more time thinking about home that thinking about here.
You know the way you feel on the last couple of days of a two/three week holiday, you're thinking about what you need to do when you get home.
On a six month holiday you do that for the last couple of weeks.

7 Dec.

Wandered gently down the east coast.

A lot of it is swampy where the sea and the trees have equal coverage.
Very pretty in a foreign tropical forest way.

Took a ferry across one edge of the bay of islands and, dodging Russell took my time heading back toward Auckland.

Ended up in Wellsford, having failed to find a pretty motel in a sea side village.

8 Dec.

My final full day in NZ.

Got to Auckland around noon.

This afternoon will be laundry and packing then I'll take a book and drop into the Cock & Bull.

Tomorrow I visit the customs agent to pay for their services and pick up the carnet.
Then head for the airport and by tomorrow evening I'll be in Sydney Australia.

Update - got the waybill by e-mail.
My bike is on the ship and the ship has sailed.
Great relief.

Diary 23