I Left Palmerston and made my way to Mangaweka, well just before, at a camp spot. Meet a German women travelling in a Juicy Van and she had about 2 weeks left in NZ and had had about 6 weeks already! I felt a bit sorry for her as the weather has been not great and lots of wet and wind, maybe it’s going to continue for a bit for her going on forecasts! But offered me her left overs from her meal and a glass of Sauvion blanc so a nice change to my routine.
Ohakune the next day with wet head winds and quite looooong sections of uphill working towards Tongariro National park and now joining with highway 1 and more trucks and traffic in general.
The loss of freedom camping and precautions is apparently related to farmers being told by authorities that any people using their land for camping they are libel to any health and safety issues arising so it is making it harder to just to do ones own way of travelling and camping at unofficial places, it is frustrating for me as it’s a concept I have grown up with. I understand the reasons behind why there is a strong ruling to try and reduce freedom camping and the like as we are having a huge increase in tourism and people wanting to access our environment but maybe there needs to be a moderate balance and helped by education and more facilities put in place.
So trying to break out of this curtailment and wanting to connect with the land and people more I approached a couple of properties to ask if I could camp on their land. The first was not possible because wasn’t really a farm just a property but the second was farm and Maori owned and ran by a manager who was happy for me to use the spare cottage at my discretion, with hot shower and working kitchen essentials! Not highly looked after but a roof and hot water and a friendly farmer and his children. The wind and rain the next day only really allowed about 50km but at least got to National Park and a camping spot at the backpackers, so again hot showers, kitchen and drying space. These places always have notice boards to pin up my flyers and talk to others sometimes.
Today was a good weather day with a tail wind so made it to a place called Pirongia about my longest day of 170km and days I’ll need to continue to make it by Christmas to Cape Reinga. Here a landlord of the pub allowed me to put my tent up in the large grass area for cars and use some facilities at no cost. Then another big day to Auckland and a camp site only 5 km from airport called Ambury regional park, a real unexpected gem, quiet, animals for children to see and be with. So then my next hurdle was to get across Auckland and to Helensville were I catch the ferry across the Waipara harbour where only about 10 days ago 7 people lost their lives trying to cross the bar to get out to sea and fishing. I’ll only be crossing the harbour at 5am! The people who run the ferry here are lovely and have let me camp for 2 nights so only had to wait a day instead of the week booking they normally ask for! A day of rest is good and needed. Christmas day hmmm……..?