Backing out of tight spots

Snapper for dinner tonight. Not through any efforts of my own – unless you count navigating the bone-shaking, suspension shattering one-lane road to Port Jackson bay as sufficient effort.

Seems I was fairly singular in my luck of meeting a large, green articulated stock truck on the final eight kms of narrow, winding, sheer-drop-to-the-sea-on-my-side road. Seemed a little rough when I’d started out from Fantail Bay early enough to, I thought, beat any traffic.

Good news was the little pull-off  just before we met – the thought of trying to back my van (on mirrors and reversing camera) along that road was seriously scarey. Though in rather different circumstances two days earlier, I had managed backing out of a tight spot without damaging either self or others

The circumstances were quite different. Back then the danger was not so much disappearing over edge of road into sea as inadvertently wiping out a show of Audis and BMWs.

After leaving family in Auckland, I was staying with an old friend, Ruth, just out of Turua (near Thames) and had driven over to meet Waiheke Islanders Alex and Lesley Stone as they sprinted between exhibition openings in the Kaipara and at Waitakaruru Arboretum near Morrinsville.

That latter has been painstakingly created over about four decades in a disused quarry. The result is beautiful. Artificial lakes just coming alive with water lilies, bright rhododendrons, lush ferns, colourful colestemon – and sculptures, some permanent, others, like today, temporarily on show.

It hadn’t occurred to me that a launch would fill what was euphemistically described as “bus parking” with a clutch of tightly parked, rather expenive looking cars – nor that it was a dead-end rather than drive-through option. I’d driven too far in and could hear distant speeches of the “opening” kind interspersed with clapping as I tensely manouvred my very out of-place vehicle back to the entrance gate.

By then speeches were just about done – as were the nibbles and wine. But at least I found Lesley and Alex – who had his latest sculpture on display. “Form 2” is a scrummaging machine finished (this is the Waikato) in cowhide. When we get to it, Alex talks a couple of passing blokes into testing it out, To his horror it moves, several feet. The organisers haven’t filled a water tank designed to make the wooden structure too weighty to shift.

Another Waiheke Island, Chris Bailey, also has a piece on display and by one of the lakes, a group of Japanese-style drummers are thumping up an exciting rhythmn – colourful costumes reflecting in the water – until a swift rain shower halts play. The hide drums are easily damaged.

I’d never heard of Waitakaruru before but it’s worth a visit. Getting there – and back makes me think I might need a GPS. Dealing with written instructions or maps means swapping driving for reading specs. Doing that in the dark seems jeopardy too far so I borrow Lesley to navigate and we find our way back to Ruth’s like homing pigeons. Reward then was a G&T and dinner.

Now, I’m completely independent of any home-style luxuries. But I have my site with a view of the curve of Jackson Bay. I have snapper for dinner – courtesy camp proprietors Bill and Ann (more on them later); Bill has also helped fix the van door damaged by a vicious wind gust yesterday; the sun is out and I’m heading for a swim.

Life’s good.


About vjayne

I'm a writer / photographer usually based on Waiheke Island in New Zealand but currently traveling the country in "snail" - my mobile home and office. Along the way, I'm telling stories about the places I see or people I meet and building up a beautiful library of photos - of New Zealand's coastline and mountains, its walking tracks and wildlife. I'm happy to supply illustrated stories to New Zealand and offshore publications. My work background includes editing business and lifestyle magazines, crafting features on topics ranging from management and marketing to frogs and fashion, creating organisational narratives and promotional literature. Please visit my website for more information.
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