Backpacking Pensioners travel blog


Kapiti Island - no trip today

The crazy golf course at Porirua

Kapiti Island

The beach at Paraparaumu


Today is Sunday and we are travelling north to Paraparaumu so as to be ready for our trip to Kapiti Island tomorrow. This is the second time we have left this campsite after 3 nights of stay and it has been memorable, not least for the admirable sentiments of energy saving. The toilet block has a very sophisticated lighting system which switches on when you pass through a light beam, and the light stays on for 3 whole minutes. Unfortunately if you enter the block at night when the light is already on, and are still, (let us speculate), in a cubicle when the light goes out and it is now very dark, it can be a problem as both of us found out. The time of 3 minutes is also a little insufficient for the 5 minute shower. If you are lucky someone else comes in and the light comes on again. I guess I am not as lucky as I would like to be.

We may be coming back to Wellington but not to this camp site. I believe I left a pair of reading spectacles at the post office on Friday and unfortunately the post office does not open at a weekend so I will not be able to enquire until Monday.

The first 12 miles of the 29 mile journey was along the SH1 motorway which made a nice change and it was still a scenic drive. We then cut across a headland and descended to drive along the cliff side, (no stopping or overtaking), right alongside the ocean for 6 miles; a lovely experience on this beautiful day. Once we reached Paraparaumu we left the main road and drove past the big out of town shopping area to the city centre and the beach, in search of our chosen camp site; and it wasn’t there. My impeccable navigator had made a mistake but, Shhh, don’t tell anybody.

After a drive south along the ocean road we telephoned the camp site to learn it was just a further mile along SH1 from where we had turned off, so after skirting a few housing estates we eventually found our way back to SH1 and booked into the camp for 2 nights. Once installed on site we telephoned the captain of the boat which will take us to Kapiti Island and booked our passage. Tomorrow we must telephone again after 7am to learn if the weather is conducive. If the captain decides it is not suitable to sail to Kapiti we can rearrange our permit for another day within a 6 month period.

Monday morning and our alarm awakened us at 6.50am bringing back memories of our working life. At 7.10am, after a very rainy night, I learned from the captain that the rain will continue throughout the day and visitors to Kapiti are being offered the choice of going or not; and some have elected to visit. On further questioning the captain informed me there would not be much wildlife venturing out today because of the rain and we decided to give today’s trip a miss and stay in bed. This decision brought back the memory that we had retired.

Today was spent writing blog journals and naming photographs whilst watching the much needed New Zealand rain fall. It was a very productive day, especially as on this site we are unable to watch TV due to the dense tall trees that surround us. We also managed to change our permit for Kapiti to tomorrow, but failed to learn if my spectacles had been left at the Wellington Post Office.

Tuesday morning was a copy of yesterday only this time the captain informed that as well as rain the wind would be gusting at 35 knots during the afternoon and we had no choice; the boat will not be going to Kapiti. After another long lie in bed, life can be so unfair, we drove to the main town of Paraparaumu and visited a Computer Shop which had internet facilities. To our delight and surprise this shop proved to have the fastest uplift of photographs to the internet we have yet encountered on our travels, taking less than a minute per photograph; the worst place we have been took 5 minutes.

After shopping we drove back towards Wellington as far as Porirua, an industrial town to the north of Wellington. The ‘roadworthiness test’ of our van has still to be carried out and because of our size we have to go to a major testing centre. At Porirua we wandered around in the van until we saw the VINZ sign, (Vehicle Inspection New Zealand), and joined the cue of vehicles. The inspection was quicker and less costly than on our arrival in New Zealand and after a 20 minute walk we collected the van and a certificate of good health. We had also purchased a web cam for the computer during our walk in the locality, so the inspection time proved to be more costly than I had imagined.

The camp site was not a nice beach site as I had believed from the write up, but situated high up the hill at the back of town with a nice view over an industrial area. Still it was cheap and we could get a good TV reception which is important as tonight the NZ version of ‘Dancing With The Stars’ is on, and we have become quite involved in the programme. I was still unable to get in touch with the post office where I believe my spectacles may have been left, but our Immigration Officer contacted us and is prepared to post our passports to a camp site of our choice; not too bad a day after all.

Tuesday morning and I phoned the post office at 8am, opening time, and the tele/centre lady still could not get them to answer the phone. I explained my frustrations and she e-mailed the manager for me. Within 5 minutes the manager telephoned and I learned my spectacles and case was indeed at the office; a result at last.

Before leaving Porirua we visited a ‘crazy golf’ course by the harbour side which had caught our eye yesterday. The cost was £4 each but the course proved to be even better than we had expected. The theme was one of ‘pirates’ and one hole was played along the deck of a galleon and another through a cave, (not a real one). It goes against the grain to blow my own trumpet so I won’t tell you who won this episode of our contest.

At Wellington we parked by the docks and visited the DOC office to change our Kapiti Island permits from Tuesday to tomorrow, Thursday. Then after retrieving my spectacles from the nearby post office we re-visited the Te Papa Museum where the café tables overlook the harbour and treated ourselves to a cooked lunch.

The drive back to Paraparaumu was again very pleasant and the 6 mile journey alongside the waves on our left, and cliffs on our right, was just as great a thrill on this third journey as it had been on our first.

Tonight we are on a different site at Paraparaumu, this time it is along the northern beach road and we do get TV reception. Tomorrow the weather is going to be good as it will be on Friday, but the prospects for the workers getting a good weekend are low. One thing we have learned in NZ is if the weather forecaster says it will rain in the afternoon, it is better to take your raincoats with you in the morning and sun screen for later in the day.

The last task is to get Sylvia to set our phone alarm, (these new fangled machines are beyond me), for 6.50am. Just like work, isn’t it?

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