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The Troublesome Journey to New Plymouth – Day 18
Thursday 14th April 2005
I was to have a scare today that would end up costing me dearly, yet the day in itself was pretty good. So what could possible have happened to make today a potentially awful day?
The day started OK, in fact it could not have been much better really. I was headed in the direction of New Plymouth largely because this is where I wanted to go next. As it turned out, the drive was incredible, and very exciting indeed. I drove up and down the mountains, up some really steep hills and then down again the other side. The scenery was just fantastic.
The reason for me wanting to go to New Plymouth was the fact that it was a surfer’s haven, somewhere where I could perhaps learn a thing or two about riding the waves. Maybe I would just sit and watch the professionals. Either way I could spend some time at the beach relaxing.
In New Zealand the roads are often very steep through the mountains, and as such they have climbing lanes on such roads. I like the idea of this as my car is not the fastest or most powerful you will ever see, so having an escape route is a welcome relief from the seemingly-impatient other road users. As I pull in to these roads, everyone else races past me, including the logging trucks. These drivers are insane. It is also good on the odd occasion that I should meet a slower driver than myself, allowing me the option of overtaking (a novelty in this country with this car). However, although these roads solve a problem, they also create another problem.
Let me explain. When a road steeply inclines, a side road appears to allow slow drivers to pull in. This is all very well, but with my car I simply run out of power to take me up, backing up all the slow vehicles as I slow to an almost halt. This creates problems when the slow vehicles wish to pass me. By the time all the fast drivers have made it past, the extra road ends and I still have the slower cars backed up behind me wishing to pass. Also, if I want to pass someone, I can only use this opportunity when an extra road appears. But because I loose power so quickly going up the hill, I cannot overtake, and end up backing up all the fast drivers, much to their obvious annoyance. Never mind, it’s just not a very powerful car.
Anyway, en-route I found a lovely bay drenched in glorious sunshine. The tide was out and the bay was easily accessible. I took my time to walk about and explore whilst enjoying the heat from the sun above my burning head. I also sat on some rocks eating my lunch. It was bliss.
I was not too far from my destination at this point, and carried on with a full belly, onwards and upwards. It was only once I began to descend this particular mountain road that it happened. I could feel a vibration from the car, and it wasn’t from the road surface. It quickly escalated to an uncomfortable rattle as my teeth began to knock against one another. I knew something was wrong but risked driving the last few miles to the hostel.
I arrived at Shoestring Backpackers, but only just. The hostel reception guided me to the nearest garages, but I was only fortunate enough to be able to find a Peugeot garage. I expected the price to be high, if they would look at it at all based on the age of the car. But sure enough they looked it over, and it wasn’t long before the guy came back to me with a diagnosis, and a price. The former being a broken steering rod housing unit thingy, the later being around 700 NZ dollars. I was stunned and very unhappy at this point, but had to leave the car there overnight for the essential repairs and just had to take the impact of the cost on the chin.
For the rest of the day I sulked a little bit. This was a huge chunk of my money gone, and could affect what happens on the rest of this trip. I had a takeaway and watched some of the surfers for a while, then saw out the remainder of the evening watching television with a few of the other guests.
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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