Going home (Ngongotaha to Levin)

I was slightly dismayed by the teeming rain, I had a long drive ahead.


I was very mindful that I was ‘attached’ to the site and that unattaching was part of the routine I needed to do before I hit the road. There seemed quite a lot to retain in my rather apprehensive mind – undo the power, roll it up, put it in the compartment and lock it, remembering where that key was kept. Turn off the gas, lock the compartment. Make sure the toilet was closed (that one very important), lower the satellite dish and the roof vent. Push each of the cupboard doors into the locked position (not that easy with long nails), have all the curtains tied back, check there was nothing that could become a missile and lastly, put the step inside (I did leave a step in the middle of the outdoor parking at Wellington airport on a very wet and windy day, it must have looked amusing, just there, alone). A thank you to the managers and a wave: it was 9.50 am and I was going home!

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I haven’t driven in Rotorua (Sulphur City) for many years and it was very different from the last time. I got into the right lane, stayed there, oblivious of the rain and the traffic, and drove out of town. Once I was on the highway, I found a pull in area and had a coffee. I had been driving for at least 15 minutes! Lena rang while I was there, I welcomed that. It was 10.18am when I departed again.


It’s not a difficult drive from Rotorua to Taupo, reasonable roads and not much traffic, no major towns. I was surprised at how much of the forestry had become dairy farms, some still in the process of. I guess they hadn’t heard that the price for dairy had slumped badly. If they had, I would imagine they were rather annoyed.


The land looks so naked, stripped of it’s pine trees with one of the timber mills in the background.

I didn’t call in to Taupo, I really would have liked to but I was aware that I would have the parking issue that may involve small spaces and reversing. There is now a new bypass so I sailed on by.


On a clear still day Lake Taupo is beautiful. Today wasn’t one of these. 😦


I stopped at the “picket fence”, named for the fishermen standing in the lake at the outlet of the Waitahanui stream, catching fish. The line of fishermen could be loosely visualised as one. The lake was still choppy, the weather breezy and it was cloudy. I used the “bathroom” in the van, parked on the side of the road and felt very amused. I did have to ask Lena, via text, if the loo flushed without electricity 🙂 It was 11.20 am and I had travelled  94 ks in 1.5 hours. It was going to be a slow trip!


The ‘Picket Fence’ (not my photo).

I was beginning to feel reasonably relaxed driving as I went through Turangi and on to the Desert Road, which is only 60 kilometres in distance.  It is called a desert because of poor soil quality due to many volcanic eruptions and altitude, and has some interesting scenery. There are wild horses, the Kaimanawa Horses, released by settlers, the New Zealand Army uses it for manoeuvres (it’s not uncommon to see Army vehicles) and there are the 3 beautiful mountains, which are active volcanoes.

Mt Ruapehu, Mt Ngarahoe and Mt Tongariro

Mt Ruapehu, Mt Ngarahoe and Mt Tongariro

Mt Ruapehu’s last decent eruption was in 2007. I received a phone call from one of my daughters who was working on the ski fields at the time, “MUM, Ruapehu’s erupting, come and get me”. She was rightly terrified but nobody was hurt in the eruption, thankfully.
The road is quite winding and steep in sections and I was feeling slightly concerned about the lack of power. This was the first time I had driven a diesel vehicle, I knew it wasn’t turbo, but it didn’t feel quite right. It was a slow journey to Waiouru, at the end of the Desert Road and I pulled over frequently to let the traffic pass me. It was cloudy, I didn’t get to see the mountains.
I pulled into the gas station at Waiouru and had to get the handbook out to see where the lever was to open the place where you fill it up with diesel. It must have a name, I have no idea what it is. I asked them to check the oil (again a look at the handbook) and it was almost out of oil!! I was so very thankful that I hadn’t gone any further, if I had I likely would have blown the motor!!!!!  Again I had two lovely young ladies to help and have a good laugh with.



The Ducato drove much better with the oil top up and I carried on to Taihape, a mere 28 kilometres away. I managed to find a parallel park with no car behind and without the possibility of someone parking in front of me and went to McDonalds for a burger. It was now 2.16pm and I had travelled 222 ks (138 miles) from Rotorua. 🙂


Taihape is the gumboot capitol of New Zealand!

From Taihape onwards, to Levin, I didn’t stop. The weather improved and my only concern was going over the rather narrow and longish Whirokino Trestle bridge, not far from home. I arrived home at 4.20pm. It had taken me 6.5 hours to travel 360 kilometres (223 miles), a journey usually talking 4.5 hours!!


The bridge is old, long and narrow. It going to be replaced. During floods, the water can come up to the bottom of the bridge.

I was home, feeling very pleased with myself and pleased to see my Phee! ❤