Friday, 6 April 2012

Day 371: Good Friday, Floods and Apple Pie

New Zealand's full of sheep
I had this vague plan in the back of my mind to go to Te Urewera.  It's a wild and densely forested national park, somewhere in the middle of the north east.  It was problematic: the road might be washed out - the national park website is uncertain about this and so are the rumours flying round the hostel.  It would take a long time getting there. Suddenly realising yesterday evening that easter weekend was upon me, I thought I had better reserve some places to sleep and arranged a hostel in Napier.  If I sacrificed my writing time in the morning and left super-early, I might get to Te Urewera and on to Napier in a day.  Assuming getting there was possible at all.  All that to see a wood. 

Eventually, I decided it was a good thing I had not gone, because it rained most of the day in longish, heavy showers.  For once, I was glad to be driving an automatic, because my hand was constantly on the wiper lever, trying to adapt.  The road did not seem especially interesting, until I came over a pass and looked down on to a wide gorge with the biggest brownest muddiest river I have ever seen flowing through it.  Unfortunately, there was not a very good place to take a photo of it.  Once I got down to the river level, I pulled into a picnic site under a viaduct and discovered I could not see much from there, except for two dead sheep, with very impressive horns, occupying the middle of the picnic area.  I must be a strange kind of person because I was more interested than put off by them.  I sat in the car eating my lunch and wondering how two of them managed to die right here on a perfectly flat piece of unflooded grass, far from steep cliff faces. Maybe they had fought each other to exhaustion with those horns of theirs.  Other people kept driving in to the picnic stop, noticing the two dead sheep and driving off again.  In the end, I found this behaviour disconcerting and drove off myself to find an open cafe and do a couple of hours of work.

Flooded picnic ground
There are lots of people on the road for Good Friday, and work crews have obviously been hard at work to make those roads passable.  I drove along the edge of a lake that was trying to overflow onto the road.  At various places, I could see where the road crews had bulldozed their way through mudslides.  My goal is not to be around when one happens. I found a flooded picnic area I couldn't get into, but it is perhaps the most photogenic face of the flooding. So when are we going to learn that you can't just deforest, huh?   

This doesn't look so good either.  Actually, the photos in this post are a trail of destruction.
I got to Napier where the weather was beautiful.  I went for a long walk along the beach watching the high surf crash and throw the driftwood around, then back to my hostel at sunset.  So - it is really cool in the hostels 'cause there's all these people to socialise with (err, depending on their social skills).  I was down there making my dinner while a group of older people were sitting around eating a homemade apple pie one of them had brought.  I didn't think much about it till one of them asked me if I wanted a plateful and handed it to me.  Of course, I thought that was nice of her so I said I would eat it for dessert and took it to a table with my main course.  No sooner had I started eating but another member of the group walked over to my table and demanded to know what I was doing with the apple pie.  So I pointed out the person who offered it to me, then they nearly had a stand up row over whether I could have the pie or not while I protested that it was ok, I didn't have to have the pie!  The possessive pie person stormed off with the plate, dumped it out into the pie dish and presumably dumped that out into the bin.  Can you imagine?! Well then, I couldn't let the woman who offered me the pie go on apologising all evening, so I tried to change the subject of conversation to her group and their trip.  She didn't seem keen to tell me much about that (?), but she did tell me all about earthquakes, flooding and high seas, so it worked out.  Wow, what must it be like to share a room with possesive-pie-person though?! I have to have my own room so I can socialise at my discretion. (Actually, Napier YHA does have impressive architecture and nice rooms as well - 'interesting' co-guests not guaranteed!).

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