While the focus of our current travels in New Zealand is the South Island, living in the far north means that we have to travel the length of the North Island in order to ‘start’ our southern adventure. We were not interested in rushing this transit through the North so have a few stops along the way planned.
We have two nights in our current destination which is best described as being not just off the beaten tourist trail but also being ‘out the back of beyond’. As I type this, at 3pm in the afternoon, I just waved to the only human that I have seen today, one of the few farmers in the remote valley who was heading past on a quad bike with his two dogs riding side-saddle.
Most accommodation that we stay in could be best described as a place to; sleep, maybe relax at and, often to cook our meals. This Airbnb is an old farmhouse that is still part of a working farm and in addition to our usual needs, which it meets very well, it provides a very unique experience.
This morning we did an 8km walk across the farm that included 4km through an impressive stand of native bush. After lunch I decided to bike to the end of the narrow and dusty road to view the other end of the valley. The road was challenging, especially the small mountain that I encountered along the way. It was so steep that my rear tire started skidding on the gravel surface. I was pleased to make it most of the way but eventually got off and walked the last few meters. In between times I have been reading the memoirs of one of the earlier settlers to add a little perspective to what the remoteness meant to those hardy people. For access to their properties and to get the cream out to the factories they relied on boats to get them to the nearest road some 20 or 30km down river. Even today, the access is road is challenging, especially when you meet a vehicle coming from the other direction, there is no room to pass, and if that is not enough for most of us modern souls, the nearest supermarket is over 100km away.
We have found it hard to get that ‘on the road’ feel with this trip but this remote destination suddenly has us experiencing things outside of our normal everyday life and we have started to get excited about the main part of our adventure.