Destination North Island: Auckland, Mangakino, Wellington, Nov 18 – 24, 2008

Another excuse for a road trip.  This time dictated by a Kiwiburn (KB) work weekend out at the site on the Whakamaru Domain in Mangakino.

Big Tree

We decided we’d go up to the north island for the work weekend as we wanted to see our KB pals.   We’ve also been in the market for a 4×4 SUV and after doing our initial research, we decided that we’d most likely find the SUV that we wanted at a much more suitable price if we purchased it in Auckland.     There’s just more people and more competition there.

So we made a holiday out of it, flying up to Auckland and staying with our KB friend Shelley for a couple of nights.   We got to see a bunch of our Auckland friends during the evenings, BBQ’ing and socialising and reconnecting and having a jolly good time.

During the days of our short 72 hour stay, we rented a car and frantically ran around, looking at and test driving a couple of the SUVs that we wanted:  a Nissan Patrol/Safari, diesel, manual, 2 door-5 passenger, 6 cylinder, 4.2 cc, honkin’ big ol’ vehicle.   Capable of hauling over 2500 kg, this vehicle was going to be perfect for Wainui.  Turns out there aren’t many of these around but we’d found three to choose from.   New ones go for $30,000+ which is totally not our style; so we were looking at early 1990’s models which, depending on the condition, were selling for $6 – $15,000.

Now Bruce & I know very little about buying big powerful trucks.  It can be a nerve-racking experience.  But New Zealand makes it easy peasy!   The NZ Automobile Association offers a mobile pre-purchase car inspection service whereby they’ll send out a mobile mechanic who will do a complete 1 ½ hr inspection on-site for the mere sum of $140.   A small price to pay for such a potentially big financial commitment.   We had two trucks we were interested in and so we had inspections done on both.  And one came out with flying colors so WE BOUGHT IT!

Nissan Safari

Yes, Bruce & I are the proud owners of a very sexy, sea-green, big machine!  I love it!!!! We bought it from a lovely couple who’d kept it quite tidy and used it for driving to and from work.  They were easy to work with and very helpful in assisting us with getting it serviced at their mechanic and in getting everything done so we could pick it up on  Friday afternoon in time to drive it down to the Taupo area for the KB work weekend.  And yes, we are now a three car family as we’ll keep the van and the honda civic as they each have their useful purpose (and Ken, I know you’re giving us the ‘tsk, tsk’ face, but really, we NEED all three vehicles at this juncture of our life transition).

Shelley & KathyDr WindyKB Crew

The Kiwiburn work weekend was loads of fun.  About 20 folks showed up who hailed from all over the north island:  Auckland, Tauranga, New Plymouth, and Wellington.  We camped out in the paddocks and worked grubbing thistles, cutting bamboo, tested out art projects, and just connected and brainstormed about the upcoming festival in February.

 Cutting BambooMoving Bamboo

Oh, and we got to test out our new 4×4 in action.   One of our friends ‘accidentally’ drove his van into a ditch on the paddock.  And it was very, very stuck.  Nissan Safari to the rescue!  And thankfully we have friends who know how to drive 4wd’s and handle such things as we sure didn’t.   Kiwi and HiDive orchestrated the ‘rescue’ and our Safari made it look easy, pulling that van out like it was pulling out a kids toy car.   No stress, no mess.   Awesome!!!!

Rescue MissionRescue Mission2Rescue Mission3

We spent a night in Wellington at Dr Windy’s place.  Oh my, what a wonderful place she has perched on the top of a hill overlooking city below.  The vistas were amazing and we had a really nice evening hanging out and chatting.

View from WendysView from Wendys2

The next day we caught the morning ferry and made the long ten hour, enjoyable journey back to Christchurch, stopping along the Kaikoura coast for some nibbles and for some awesome photo shoots.

Kaikoura Coast

An excellent week-long, spring-time, much-needed adventure!