Wednesday 19 January 2011

Making time

One thing I've tried to avoid over the last year is just writing accounts of my days: I did this, then I went there, then I ate this. I've read a lot of travel blogs and the ones like this are unutterably shit. So I've tried to be different; draw out themes and ideas that my travels present to me and that maybe mean a little bit more.

But that takes time and effort, and with my blog now about four days behind me, I'm going back to Plan A to make up time. Here's what you could have been reading for the last twelve months:

I left Hugh, Indri and Genghis on Sunday afternoon and drove south, planning to stop at Rotorua for lunch, on to Taupo and then across to Napier. Which was a stupid plan. With about four and a half hours' driving, and a couple of stops, I would see next to nothing along the way and arrive too late.

The stop in Rotorua was brief. It was always going to be, but about ten seconds after getting out of the car and inhaling the dense sulphuric air emanating from the all the hot springs in the area, I got back in and drove off. I don't have time to stop everywhere or see every place I want to see, which means you have to go with your instincts a lot of the time. And I instinctively don't want to eat lunch in a town that smells like a stink bomb factory.

Taupo seems nice, and a couple of friends will be arriving around 8pm, which is enough to get me on the phone to the ferry company, kick my crossing back a day and spend the night. I reward myself with a long hike up the river into the middle of nowhere, even breaking into a canter at times.

In the morning I decide I have time to take in the scenic volcanic loop drive around Tongariro National Park and go for a bit of a hike in the middle. The scenery is stunning of course.

Taranaki Falls, Tongariro Nat. Pk.

Mount Ruapehu, Tongariro Nat. Pk.

However long it looks like a drive in New Zealand might take, double it, they say. Hmmm. Halfway through the park and I'm thinking I don't even know what a New Zealand police car looks like, when I realise I do. There's one heading towards me about a quarter of a mile away.

Another one bites the dust

She's very nice, hands me my $170 ticket with a smile and an "awesome" (not what I was thinking) and I carry on at 100kph, a ridiculous speed for a long open stretch of road with nothing else on it.

This unexpected drop in velocity means it's gone 6pm when I finally get to Napier. The drive was stunning; winding through valleys and over mountains, stopping just the once for a powernap, as deep as it was brief, before I careered off the highway. With the mountains behind me, the vineyards of the Hawke Bay region begin, and it's a gentle, scenic cruise into town.

Boring wasn't it?

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