Electric Travels: It’s just a hill get over it!

The drive from Motueka to Takaka in Golden Bay is a mere 55km but most of the journey involves the ascent and descent of the 791m Takaka hill.

Making our way ‘over the hill’

Following our observations during the National Park drive I made a point of checking what impact a 791m hill has on the car battery. Quite a significant effect, the most dramatic that we observed so far. I would not want to have been starting this journey with only 70-80km left in my battery because the ascent sucked nearly 90km of range out of it. If you cannot get up the hill you cannot get the feed-in of 70km that we enjoyed going down the other side. Lesson noted.

I should probably factor purchases into our fuel costs – while we were waiting for the car to charge in Motueka, Ruth acquired a new dress which she is modelling outside our cabin here in Pohara.

We knew that there was a free 22kw charging unit in Takaka, at the iSite which turned out to be ‘freedom camper central’. The free toilets, showers and general washing facilities draw them in like bees to a honeypot. A van takes up a lot of space and with the car parks having been painted by someone with impaired vision it was challenging, to pretty much impossible, to squeeze into the space that the freedom guys left for us freeloading EV guys.

The AC charging point looked like it was housing an established colony of spiders suggesting that the plug was rarely used. Best we check it out just in case we had to find an alternate charging option at the camp. After one of the vans kind-of-moved a little we were able to plug in and all was well. As we find at most charging points, we are asked all about our car. The questions are always the same, how much does it cost to charge it? what is the range? do you like it? how much did it cost? where can I get one? Our $12.50 fuel cost for 1,700km is turning into quite a strong selling point. Maybe the Govt should employ us as EVangalists now that they have ‘thrown in the towel’ on their freebate idea.

On a related topic, climate change, we have our fingers crossed that the weather remains benign while we are here in Pohara. Our little beach front cabin is already fortified by a pretty serious rock wall which would probably already be a totally inadequate barrier in a storm of even modest proportions. During our drive up to Farewell Spit I was shocked to see how many houses, old and very new, that are so vulnerable to sea surges and ultimately a rising sea. There will be a lot of unhappy people when flood maps get released and insurance companies pull the plug on providing cover to at-risk properties.

A section of the many km of rock walls hoping to keep the sea at bay. This one seemed to be focused on erosion where most of the others are hoping to stem tidal surges.

I decided to brave a brisk breeze and biked from Picton to Havelock after disembarking from the ferry. It was only 36km but a very pretty ride along, firstly Queen Charlotte Sound and at the end of the ride, Pelorus Sound. Ruth had gone on ahead and settled into our overnight accommodation and was surprised when I ‘breezed in’ earlier than she had expected and without any car paint on my clothing.

The F19 takes in the view of Pelorus Sound on the last hill before my destiniation.

Having ‘got over the hill’ to Golden Bay, we have been enjoying the area. We are staying in Pohara and biked into Takaka along a new cycleway which is a great example of (I suspect) creating cycling access without spending a fortune. Being largely rural, they have simply created a ‘super-shoulder’ beside the road. It is unsealed but a good cycling surface and appears to be very well used. It has removed cyclists from the narrow, shoulderless road and created a great alternative for the many residents who want to travel the 9km to Takaka without using the car. A lesson for Kerikeri?

The cycleway between Takaka and Pohara.

We undertook our first major hike of the trip on Sunday. The forecast for clear, calm and mild conditions convinced us that we should head up to Farewell Spit and hike around a couple of tracks that we had identified. It is a bit of an expedition to drive up there and the last few kms are over very rough and dusty roads. We accidently selected the correct hike as our first; Whakariki Beach where we could do a circuit out to the beach and tide permitting, along it and then back inland.

The Archway Islands at Whakariki Beach
Ruth enjoys a cuppa (I remembered to take the thermos) in a remote place.
Get in behind Ruth – sheep herding on our return trip.

We were greeted by a very friendly duck who decided that he/she wanted get into the car and check out the food situation. Ruth took over duck-patrol (she was able to pat it like a cat) while I searched for the required gear.

Whakariki beach turned out to be one of those gems that you were not expecting. There was a steady stream of tourists heading out to the beach but once we headed off looking for the exit at the far end we left them behind. In true Cliff fashion, I managed to wander off track on the return trip but we were headed in the right direction and eventually found the car park. As I pointed out to Ruth, I was only trying to make the trip interesting.

We then headed off on a more ambitious circuit of the lower Farwell Spit. 6km and 90minutes the guide book suggested. After three hours and 14km across Sahara like terrain (two steps up and one back on the dunes) with our water supply exhausted and Ruth giving me very dark looks, we finally stumbled back to the carpark. Remote, stunning, challenging, life threatening (for Cliff), are the words that spring to mind.

Ruth doing a “Lawrence of Arabia” on The Spit
It’s a sand spit get over it
The Caspian Terns did not appreciate our intrusion on their quiet time.

On our way home we headed into Collingwood (the welcome sign has been modified by some wag to Collingweed) and found a couple of cold sugary drinks to help stave off another bout of a dehydrated Ruth. Sleep came easy that night.

There is an awful lot of sand out there Cliff!

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