Tuesday, February 18, 2014

New Zealand Day 8: Surfing in Raglan

We woke to a lovely day.

B has apparently decided to start joining us in the early hours of the morning, which makes the lower bed a little crowded. I headed down to the cafĂ© to do some blog posting, and then we sunscreened up before meeting our surfing instructor at 10 AM. When I’d booked our campervan site, Solscape had asked if we wanted to surf, and since Raglan is surf city New Zealand, I figured we might as well try it!

It turned out that there had been some error in the bookings, however. We were set for a group lesson for Alex and me, planning to alternate in the water and on the beach with B. Simultaneously, a family had booked their 13 year old already-surfing son for a private lesson with the same instructor. Andrew was terrific, but it was hard for him to be both right next to the beach doing beginner instruction, and way out helping the young man refine his technique!

So, it ended up that Alex and the teenager split the lesson and I stayed on the beach with B and played in the waves. This was actually fine, as I am not that keen on getting smashed and churned around in the water, and even the small waves looked a little alarming to me. Alex really enjoyed himself and managed to get up to stand and then stay up a few times! I got some video, though again we aren’t able to upload that at this point.

Afterwards, we had some lunch in the van, making a good dent in the cheese purchased yesterday! We followed it up with a cranky violin practice, taking some video to send back to B’s teacher. (Yes, we are the crazy people who brought the violin on vacation. If B didn’t play for 6 weeks we think she’d lose a lot of ground and it would drive her nuts…she’s already hard enough on herself. We haven’t practiced every day, but we’re starting to get it back into the routine here.)

And then it was time to hit the road again. We drove into Raglan proper (over the loooong one-lane bridge again) and hit up the iSite, where they very helpfully 1) booked us for a tour of Hobbiton tomorrow; 2) called up info on the campsite/holiday park that I thought was our best bet; 3) called over to the Cambridge iSite to find out if freedom camping…ie outside of a holiday park…was permitted anywhere in the area; 4) directed me to the dump site so we could exchange water and 5) directed me to the coffee shop so that we could caffeinate/sugar up after all of the above!

Turns out I had to go back across the stinkin’ bridge again to get to the dump site, then one last time to come back into town. Had an interesting time trying to park the campervan, which after behaving pretty well yesterday, started stalling out again at reverse/first gear. We’re going to get the fuel filter checked next (first theory was a bad batch of diesel, but we’ve filled up again since this whole thing started).

We made a detour to see Bridal Veil falls, though at first, despite the signs, we couldn't imagine that we were going the right way! We were driving through fairly sparse, brown-ish farmland with lots of sheep and cows. Where could a 55 meter waterfall possibly be hiding?

We did come to a lovely bit of forest, however, where we spotted my favorite sign thus far: 

I think I'm going to start saying that to Brynna when I want her to clean up. Or maybe just to myself.

Here's the DoC sign, with the Maori name for the falls as well.

There was a gravel path and some lovely bridge and stair work. It's only about ten minutes to the viewing platform at the top of the falls.

We stopped to read the signs.

And then we were there!

We got B nice and tired out going down the 260 stairs to the base of the falls, and then back up again!

And had a geology lesson as well. The wall behind the falls is basalt (you can see the columns, like at the Giant's Causeway in Ireland) from a lava flow, and there's sandstone at the base of the falls and around the pool that has eroded away.

On the way back, Alex spotted this dead trunk that's now hosting a lot of other life:

This beautiful fiddlehead:

And what we think is another kauri:

It looked like it would be easy to head right through Hamilton and out the other side to Cambridge…turned out not so much. Google maps finally untangled us and we found our freedom camping site without difficulty—we parked for FREE on the shores of Lake Karapiro east of Cambridge, at the Moana Roa Reserve. Perfectly adequate, nice lake view, a little traffic noise (wasn’t a problem) and even has toilets so we can carry on the trend of virtually never using the toilet in the van. Which means we don’t have to empty it. I’m glad we have the bathroom, though, because we DO get a lot of use out of the shower! I think if Alex and I were traveling alone we could do fine with cold showers at the DoC sites and then hot ones at some campsites, but B would absolutely not tolerate cold showers well.

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