We spent the morning shopping in Auckland, arranged for a new ISP, and visited an Internet café to let the folk back home know that we had arrived safely. Brigid was insistent on buying a small ‘cafetiere’ coffee-maker, rather than drink ‘instant’ (women – don’t you love ‘em!).
As it was getting on for lunchtime, and we now had a larder full of food, we decided to try and find a pleasant spot outside the City to make some sandwiches. Takapuna, a sheltered beach resort just north of Auckland, seemed to fit the bill. As we ate our ham and cheese subs, we thumbed through the Rough Guide. Rather than go back to Piha, we decided to drive on to Leigh where there was a recommended restaurant and campsite.
Leigh turned out to be a little bit further away than we anticipated, and the Saw Mill Café was closed during the week, out of season. Driving to the campsite at Pakiri Beach with dusk creeping up on us, we got our first taste of New Zealand’s many unsealed roads. At first we thought it was just a patch of unfinished roadworks. But after about 10 kms, it became clear that this road was never going to be finished. The most alarming things about these gravel roads, are that they are bumpy and uneven, and dip away sharply at the edges, the surface is corrugated on the bends, and they are sometimes extremely narrow, which, I might add, doesn’t seem to bother the locals a bit. They hurtle past in a cloud of dust, forcing unwitting tourists into the ditch. However, we soon got used to the symphony of pans and cutlery clattering in the back of the van.
We meant to ring the campsite at Piha, and tell them we wouldn’t be back for a few days … but, somehow, we never got round to it.