Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Into Northland


A Crash on the Road to the Bay of Islands

The following day I decided to head for Russell in the Bay of Islands via a quiet coast road that was un-made but scenic. After branching off the main road I came across a wandering cow in the middle of the road. A farm was close by to I road up the front door and knocked. A Maori answered the door and didn't seem that interested. He asked me "what colour is it?". "Was it red?". "no", I said, "it was black". It looked at me like I was an idiot. He meant what colour was the tag in its ear not the colour of its coat! In any case he wasn't interested and the cow remained unmolested.


After that I crossed the Helena Hills and came down to the village of Oakura and had lunch overlooking the sea. It was very quiet down here. Shortly afterwards the tarmac road finished and gave way to a rutted dirt road of gravel and rocks. Before I knew what was happening I'd gone over the handle-bars and found myself flat on my back in the middle of the road. I was covered in dust, had a grazed bum and a cut on my head which was drizzling blood down my face. I hadn't been wearing a helmet. I picked myself up feeling a bit dizzy, but more or less fine. The bike looked fine too, but I tried wheeling it I could see that the front wheel was heavily buckled.

At that moment a fisherman turned up driving a pick-up and towing his boat. A quick chat followed where the situation was appraised and summarised. He suggested that he give me a lift all the way back to Whangerei as the chances of getting a ride the other way was slim and he was here right now. I accepted. We lifted the bike into the back of the pick-up where I was surprised to see a large Tuna fish. The bike went on top of it. I jumped into the cab beside him still gently bleeding. I was to be driven back the way I'd come. A waste of 40 miles effort!

I asked about the Tuna. He told me to keep quiet but he'd caught it illegally and was driving it to a small airport where he would sell it and it would be flown directly to Japan. Blimey!

When he dropped me off I lifted out the bike which was now covered in Tuna blood. He recommended a pub for me to stay in and after checking in I wheeled my bike around to a bike shop to see what could be done. The guy said he could fix the wheel and I should come back the next morning.

I then spent a long time in the bath soaking away my aches and pains. I spent the evening propping up the bar. My odometer said I'd gone through 2000 miles today.

On the Road to the Bay of Islands 2

After picking up the bike, which had only cost 24 dollars to have the wheel repaired I rode the more conventional route to Russell. The ride was a bit tedious as I had a sore neck and shoulder from the fall. I was however determined to get to the Bay of Islands.


Whilst having lunch at Tawai I almost had an altercation with a local Maori. He seemed to think I was paying too close attention to the spat he was having with his girlfriend! I was sat outside the pub and they were in a car just in front of me. I couldn't avoid seeing them. They calmed down eventually and just as they were about to leave he waved me over. I was a bit apprehensive but he placed a small package in my hand which turned out to be some nice Thai flower heads. He told me that they weren't properly dry yet so I needed to wait a few days before trying them. Pretty friendly I thought.


After that it was a long climb over to Kawakawa and then a five minute ferry ride at Opua and a short hop around to Russell, a town on a beach. I arranged to stay in a Samaritans Backpacker place and then spent the time walking around town. I walked up Flagstaff Hill to watch the sunset - this is the site of a Treaty in 1840 between the British and the Maori.



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