We had a great soak last night, finished the laundry, and got all caught up on this journal and email besides. Today was not a very exciting day, but we did get some things accomplished.
First we found a post office and arranged to have some shirts I left at the last campground sent to us in care of the motorhome company, for us to pick up when we turn in the van. Then I found out that the reason I have not been able to get any data on my phone is because my account had run out—the phone has worked because I have been calling free numbers. So I bought another top-off card.
Then we made our way into the motorhome base south of Auckland (without a GPS), and exchanged our nonfunctioning GPS for one that works. We also got a new battery for the remote that locks and unlocks the van—it quit last night.
We also got directions for the best way to get through Auckland to places north of there. Auckland is at a bottleneck, a very narrow part of the country. And Larry really doesn’t like driving in traffic. Unfortunately, I could not figure out how to program the GPS to take us along the suggested route. So we ended up doing a lot more city driving than necessary. (Tension, apprehension, and dissention have begun. Tension, apprehension, and dissention have begun. L) The new GPS is newer, and not all the commands are in the same places. The city was not a good place to learn to use it. But we got through.
We also got to where I had planned to go very early, like 1 pm. I have a hard time figuring out how long it will take to travel a given distance on the map, especially when it involves stops of unknown duration. Usually it takes less time than I expect.
Anyway, we have ended up at Tawharanui Regional Park, east of Warkworth. When I registered for the campground, I asked about toilets. The ranger said, "there are a couple over there," gesteuring across the road. When I walked over there I found a fence! See photo for the solution.
The end of the peninsula is fenced off with a “pest-proof” fence, and they have tried to eliminate all introduced predators and re-introduce native species, mostly birds, but also the tuatara, a lizard. They say there are kiwis in the woods here. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find out where the maps of the trails are. There were a lot of pukekos around before it got dark, but they are not exactly endangered.
We did walk down to the beach and watch the waves for a while—small waves, this is a sheltered bay. And it got warm enough for shorts and a short-sleeve T-shirt, for the first time in quite a while. It is cooling off tonight, though. No power, no internet tonight, but we are relatively self-contained.
(This is an interesting peninsula. Sort of by definition, the only way to learn by experience is to screw up – and even then all you may learn is that there is no redemption from what you did. The Maori and then the English screwed up by introducing a host of new species into an isolated – and fragile – ecosystem. Native systems took a big hit. The area here is an attempt to turn back the clock and restore a small fragment of what once was. The peninsula is fenced off across the neck. Once the fencing was in place there was an extermination program targeting the most noxious of the introduced species – possums, rats, and stoats – which was apparently effective. Then some endangered native species – mostly birds including New Zealand’s national symbol, the kiwi – were reintroduced onto the peninsula. It seems to be working in that populations of the threatened species are growing. It is such a small place however, that success will always be very fragile. L)
We have a week to see the Northland, starting tomorrow! North, to the equator! Except the land doesn’t go that far.