En Route to Taupo, New Zealand October 7, 2007
The Super Bowl happens roughly every week on this side of the world. It’s called Rugby. 7am, Sunday departure morning. Church bells are ringing, the sun is rising above the bay, a handful of faithful churchgoers are donning their best clothes for service and virtually the rest of the city is packed into their local pub glued to televisions to watch the New Zealand All Blacks kick the pants off the French. Heather and I are nestled in our warm bed, curtains drawn and hoping to sleep until the last minute before 10am checkout. Skip to 10:05 and we’re in the parking lot loading the last bag. Hoards of people begin appearing with angry, sad, disgusted and frustrated expressions. The French have just shut out the New Zealand All Blacks in the final moments. Pissed fans are throwing their gear into trunks stocked with champagne bottles that go unopened because there is no reason to celebrate. “Save ‘em for next week lads and hopefully the English will kick the shyte out of those Frenchies”, a voice carries across the parking lot. I told Heather to get in the car quickly and let’s get on the road before the pubs clear out into the streets so we can beat the traffic.
A few kilometers outside of town, we spotted a Lavender farm.
Heather insisted we turn around and stop. I didn’t mind since they advertised selling THE best coffee brand in their café.
After a relatively quick stopover, a peek around the lavender farm, several more photos and two lavender ice cream cones later, we were off again.
Heading back north a few hours we happen across about two dozen 1920’s Model A Fords grouped in a parking area roadside with owners milling about. This is just too curious on a Sunday morning so we pull in for a closer look. “What’s going on Fellas?” I ask in my least obvious American accent? We have stumbled across the Hawkes Bay Model-A Car Club who has gathered for their monthly club outing.
A few minutes later we have been asked to tag along for their pilgrimage, parade style no less, up the highway and then up a private road on someone’s property leading to the top of one of the highest mountains in the region for “lunch with a view”. We accept and jump in the parade line while traffic passes by gawking at the 70+ year old vintage cars and we feel like celebrities.
Arriving at the base of the mountain we are instructed to leave our rental car.
“Oh, that’s ok, we’ll follow along with you guys up the mountain” I explain. “You’ll never make it in that car mate, it’s just not fit to go up this road and the land owner just said there’s no way they’ll let you try”. We’re in no position to argue and we’re too excited to question why so we jump in the vintage cars and set out uphill. As we ascend they explain that these old cars are meant for steep gravel roads like this and we quickly understand. Only a 4wd truck with heavy torque could make this climb along a narrow gravel road cut with deep ruts and tight turns. One wrong move and we’re plummeting over the side.
Arriving at the top we are so high, we can see past every adjacent mountaintop in the area.
The ocean we left behind us 100km earlier is in plain sight and we can see even further in all directions. Unfortunately, the wind pounds us at roughly 60mph like a hurricane and it is impossible to shoot any video footage without gusts rocking the camera in my arms. I climb the highest rock to get a panoramic shot from the pinnacle and am nearly blown off the mountain. Literally. We descend a bit to a warm, forested area for lunch and what a treat.
No hotdogs or paper plates with this crowd. They break out plenty of chairs china and a terrific spread of food including hot water for fresh tea and coffee afterward. We spend some time filming a bit on the club and the awarding of this month’s “boobie prize” to the person who did the dumbest thing on the trip.
then pack up to head down the mountain with some new friends. We’re sending them the picture we took for their newsletter. They took a picture of us to put in it too.
Thanks for a great day mates!