This, as I am sure you have guessed, is part two of a two part series. I recommend you go back and begin at the beginning and read part one. If thats just not your style, allow me to bring you up to speed. Erin and I had just rented a camper van from an agency in Auckland, New Zealand and driven it to Cape Reinga. We had just seen The Cape and started heading back to Auckland to see the sights along the way and eventually return the van. Now, let us resume.
We now began our scenic drive home. On the way to Cape Reinga we had seen signs for the sand dunes, after some quick research in the guide book, we decided we had better stop and see them on the way back. We pulled into a little parking lot at the edge of where the lush green trees met the golden brown sands. From a distance it reminded me of home, it looked like at the edge of a field where the green spruce stopped on a razors edge and was replaced with golden wheat. I grabbed my water bottle filled with the previously boiled water. It was now still kinda hot, like bad tea, ideally it would have been cold.
We jumped out of the van and wandered into the dunes. A few hundred yards from the parking lot, across the dunes, there was a small patch of trees. Erin and I walked toward it, the whole time joking about it probably being a mirage. We made it to the oasis then wandered up the side of a tall dune and surveyed the area, the dunes went a lot farther than I would have expected, we were also very close to the ocean, so we decided to head that way. We climbed down the dune to a rather well traveled trail to the ocean. My water bottle kept falling out of the cargo pocket on my shorts so I decided to just leave it beside a unique rock and grab it on my way back. In hindsight that was a bad idea.
We walked toward the ocean on the sandy trail which eventually turned into a flowing stream about five inches deep and twelve feet wide. I like a nice wide shallow stream, its just so pleasant to walk in. Suddenly coming upstream towards us was a bus. A greyhound style bus, right through the stream, spraying water out each side. It was cool to see, and a little surprising. I was obviously a little confused. It stopped a few hundred feet in front of us and a bunch of people got off holding body boards, then it all made sense. It was a tour company doing sand boarding, it looked like a lot of fun. Erin and I watched for a bit and then continued our trek to the sea. We eventually made it, and went for a swim. Actually Erin swam, I’m kind of afraid of the ocean so I just waded in about waist deep.
We started heading back, the heat and salt water were starting to get to me and I was really wishing I hadn’t set down my water bottle. I eventually made it back to my water, which I had left in the sun for a few hours. I drank the nearly boiling water while we headed back to our van. Since then I have instituted a personal policy of never leaving equipment behind on a trail, either I bring it all the way or not at all.
After our sand dune excitement we headed to our campsite. It was basically a few grass parking spaces surrounded by trees, just off the main road. We had some dinner and went to bed.
The next day we had two things on the agenda, see the Kauri trees and return the van to the rental office in Auckland. We first went to Kauri Kingdom to learn about the trees and their history. The Kauri tree grows large enough that they were able to carve a spiral staircase inside of one, just to give you and idea. From there we went to a nearby Kauri forest, to see some live ones.
Last thing on the docket was to get the van back to the rental agency before 5pm. We pulled into Auckland at about 4:45 and I realized that I had no idea where the rental agency was. We were very low on gas, my intention was to return the van with as little fuel as possible since we pre-purchased the last tank of gas. It was also rush hour. My heart was racing, and my knuckles were white. We didn’t have any form of GPS so Erin was searching through the map trying to figure out where we were and where the agency was. Then the low fuel light came on, I was stressed and about to have a stroke. It was now 4:58 and I had admitted defeat and came to terms with us renting the van for another expensive day and needing to put fuel in it. It was now a search fro the nearest fuel station and a way to get out of the traffic. Suddenly Erin spotted a grocery store that she remembered was across the street from the rental agency. I made a quick right, and sure enough, there was the agency. I zipped into garage as an employee was starting to close the big overhead shop door. I pulled into the stall and yanked the parking brake as the clock on the dash rolled to 5:00. We were safe, although it was kind of a jerk move to come in that late when the employees are supposed to be done at 5. I apologized for cutting it so close and explained the situation to the rental agent. He thought it was kinda funny, though I’m sure by now he was tired of the usual “I’m not from here and I dont know my way around” excuse. We unloaded our gear, and out of the corner of my eye I spotted a lighter tucked away in a little cubby hole beside the stove… that was upsetting. Oh well, it was time for the next adventure.
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