About Us

My photo
In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Wednesday 30 November 2022

Far to much traffic for our liking.

 30th November

Oh dear, we thought about dropping the pop top on the Toy before bed, forecast was for some strong winds overnight, but we were that tired from the poor night's sleep last night, it was to bed we went a tad after 9 pm and clean forgot all about it. So it was no surprise then, when the Toy started to rock and the canvas on the pop top started flapping that I was woken by it. Time was midnight! I woke first, nudged Ian (none too happy) explained my worry, and I'll say this about Ian, when he wants to move he can! Okay, okay... I hear you all are saying, I should have got up and done it myself but this poor lady is weak and feeble and hasn't the strength to either drop it down or lift it up, so I'm afraid it's all down to my 'man that can'! Anyway once closed we tried to resume our slumber, Ian fell asleep almost straight away, me I lay awake for what seemed like hours listening to the wind and beating rain. Of course, I fell asleep eventually and next thing I knew it was gone 7 am.

The route we chose today was back to Dargaville, then onto the SH12 to Brynderwyn, down the SH1 to Wellsford and turn off onto SH16 for Helensville. The plan was to get to Auckland and book up the Sky Tower Walk and possibly another Dolphin cruise. We could have gone straight down the SH1, not for us, another route was to be explored.

A signpost pointing toward Piroa Falls had Ian almost doing a hand break turn. Another Falls to see?

The tarmac road ended and onto another gravel road. Hmm, something familiar about that bridge we thought. Then it clicked! We had already been there, admittedly from a different direction but no doubt about it as we arrived.  No point in going again so turned around and headed back. See post HERE

Back on track, and it was all stop at another lookout. On the SH16 and oh for a clear and sunny day. Someone must have heard me because for the briefest of moments the sun put in an appearance just as I clicked the shutter.

More roadworks. Forget how long the sat nav tells you it will take to reach your destination, add another 30 minutes, and it would be nearer the mark. This time not traffic lights, just a cone in the centre of the lane!

The chap controlling the traffic was up the bank.

Bad weather was coming. You could see the darkening skies in the distance and the clouds took on a threatening formation of their own.

Before the deluge hit us in the distance were strange shapes. It was on the Kaipara Coast Highway 16 between Wellsford and West Auckland. Apparently it is an open-air park containing the biggest collection of large outdoor sculptures in New Zealand. Owner Alan Gibbs bought the property in 1991 to escape the English winter and over the past 25 years has transformed the 400 hectares into what it is today. It is open to the public but only on certain days. We knew little if nothing about it, I looked it up on the web when we stopped in Auckland.

The rain started and boy did it rain, lightening all around, and we knew we were in for a difficult journey into Auckland. Through yet more roadworks, wet horrible mucky roads, Ian was glad he resisted the temptation to wash the Toy yesterday.

And this was most appropriate for the conditions I thought, although I do find it kinda weird it was a house being transported by a boat haulage company!

Pilot car

Auckland, a huge city full of cars, confusing roads and idiots trying to beat the traffic by speeding along the hard shoulder. Where are the cops when you need them!

Argh... more cars than we have seen in months!

Trying to find a park for the night was almost impossible. The sat nav first took us to a multi story car park. On Ian's app it said suitable for motorhomes...hmm I don't think so! Height barriers??? Next she took us to a boy's athletic club, again I don't think so. By now Ian was getting cheesed off, I had had enough of the congestion, the one way system and being unsure which lane to take, so I was all for just leaving the city for good.

In the end we found a place on Taumana Reserve south west of the city. Tucked ourselves away behind the bushes next to the water, and breathed a sigh of relief that finally we could stop and chill. There are loos here but locked from 9 pm not opening again until 6 am. The gates are also locked so should give us peace of mind. One downside, the SH20 runs within spitting distance of where we are parked. Oh well, one cant have it all.

9 pm we had a knock on the side. It was the warden coming to lock the gates. He also informed us we were in the wrong place! But such a nice man said we could stay where we were for tonight but in future the only freedom camping spots were opposite to the toilets. That was the worst place in my opinion. The highway is almost your neighbour! Noisy of what!

Ian has also made a decision, not to do the Sky Tower walk, the wind is set to reach 40kph, even he would be scared at standing on a thin ledge at that speed held on by nothing more than a harness, and as for the Dolphin cruise, no availability until the weekend. So onwards and downwards, towards a walk I have been looking forward to for ages, the Karangahake Gorge historic walkway on the SH2.


And wildlife

A hidden gem, and wow, what a tree

 29th November

 It wasn't good. Staying at a recreation ground had its downfalls. A family arrived in two cars, children piled out, crikey how many were in those cars? They were as good as gold, played nicely all together, had pizza all sitting around the table (great manners) and didn't bother us one bit. On the other hand, off road bikers roared past constantly, cars turned up slamming doors, playing loud music and at one point, when a car pulled up right beside us, I got a bit jittery because the solar blanket was hooked to the outside of the Toy. Ian decided to bring it in and as he was doing it, the guy cleared off. Had he been eyeing up the solar blanket with the idea of grabbing it? Anyway, finally all went quiet until midnight. More cars and vans turned up, I could hear what sounded like rubbish being thrown out, and very loud talking. Horns sounded and finally peace was restored as they zoomed off. My sleep was fitful after that, Ian's only marginally better and in the morning a pile of concrete stones had been deposited nearby. We didn't stay long. Up and away by 8 am.

Lots of roadworks, mainly one just takes care but this time it was traffic light controlled. We seemed to be there forever, nothing coming and then a lone lorry came past. In front of that was a pilot vehicle. He stopped turned around and flashed the lights for us to follow. Gosh never had a personal escort through roadworks before.

And then more road works, this time the cones were being placed.

Had about 140 km to do to reach Dargaville. We decided to stop for coffee at Arai Te Uru lookout and signal station. A bit of history HERE Wow, what a landscape. How many folk stop at the lookout and go no further.



Well they miss all of this,

The place where the signal station used to be.

Back on the road and near to the coast was Northland Forest Park. The oldest Kauri tree has its home here and the one in particular we wanted to see, Tane Mahuta. Okay we had seen the tree back in 2017, I was interested to see if it was still healthy. Kauri die back  could wipe out these magnificent trees and the NZ conservationists are doing their damnedest to protect the forest. What a loss to New Zealand if this tree dies. It's already reputed to be over 2000 years old and should continue to live a very long life if protected from that awful disease. In place are foot cleaning stations going in and out of the forest. You can't bypass this, no other way to get in.

A short walk over a boardwalk and you arrive at a clearing. Wow, I forgot just how impressive this tree was. Got Ian to stand in front hoping to show how wide the trunk was, It doesn't do it justice but think on this. 13.8 mtrs round, stretch out the girth and it's as long as a 45 ft narrow boat!
Some facts.

About 40 km from Dargaville one of those brown information posts pointed to Kai Iwi Lakes. Instantly we both agreed it would be the perfect place to stop for lunch. Crikey, what was that? I think I need my eyesight checked because I'm sure I saw two Ostriches as we travelled along that road, hmm, maybe should also cut down on the vino. We have seen Emu's, both of us as we travelled on the East coast, so why not Ostriches. I believe they make good eating, healthy too, so are they being farmed for Christmas? One hell of a big bird. Try getting that in your oven!! (looked this info up and proves my eyesight is perfect, and I was not inebriated. Apparently they were farmed for the ladies fashion on wanting feathers)

 Lake Taharoa, fabulous place. It has a beach for swimming, the water felt warm, I know because I stuck my hand into it. We were eating lunch and two young girls came over to see us. So chatty, wanted to know if we were going swimming, how long were we in New Zealand for and was amazed at how small the Toy was for living in. Gosh, they were lovely. So far I have found the Kiwi children (and Maori) to be very pleasant and respectful.

At Dargaville we shopped. Found The Warehouse and purchased swim shoes and Ian a new selfie stick. He’s happy now especially as one of the reasons for having it was for when he climbs up the Auckland Sky tower to walk around the outside. (not booked yet but hope to do so soon) I have chickened out. You can see the reason why by clicking this LINK

Stop for tonight was at a low cost camp ground at Clinks Gully. Nobody there apart from a caravan. The lady stepped outside to greet us, not the owners of the site but caretakers. I happened to mention that onions appear to be in short supply, we had been trying for two days to buy a couple. Bless her she went back into the caravan and returned with two for us. The question was asked as to where we had stopped last night.When we said the recreation ground at Kaikohe. She pulled a face. "You never stayed there, did you? she said incredulously? "You're lucky to have come away unscathed!" Hmm, this could be a warning to anyone else looking for a free camping spot. Leave that place well alone. Anyway this site is lovely perched high on the hill overlooking the beach. It has a camp kitchen so good opportunity for Ian's cooking skills to be resurrected. It's going to be chilli and rice. Oh, and it was a reasonable price, just $12.50 each. But if power was wanted, another $12.50 just for that. We decided not to go for power but what we did was to empty the fridge into the camp kitchens fridge so that ours could be switched off, and also used their electric kettle every time we wanted a drink or hot water.

 Weather again is turning horrible. High winds and torrential rain forecast for tonight and to think the New Zealand summer starts on the 1st December. Maybe miraculously it will be all change for the better.

And wildlife,

Blog Archive