Saturday, January 28, 2017

Road trip in North Island - Day 2

24 December 2016

My morning mate
The drops of mornings dew sliding on the tent before falling to the ground woke me up, the morning was really quiet. I stuck my head out of my tent and this Hare wished me morning. It was 530 am and the sun was already shining bright, I crumbled in my tent and managed to sit straight with my head sticking out, the mind, letting it all sink in from the previous day and reassuring a good today. I wished to sit there all day long, however I had a long way to drive today.

Whangarei Falls 
I quickly collected myself and a $2 coin for a hot bath, a luxury not to be missed. In the shower, there was a box to insert the coin and a red button next to it. Naturally, the mind assumed, drop the coin and press the button for the hot water. I dropped the coin and there you go, the shower opened, Oh shit, I am not yet undressed. That day, I broke all records of quickest undressing and in the next few seconds I was under the hot shower, looking up at the blue sky, feeling the cold breeze as I soaked in the comfort of the warm water.

Those long stretch of roads running towards the northern tip of the country
A good 1 hour of yoga in the sun is something I won't miss in this quiet space. I was looking forward for a muesli with hot milk breakfast, but for some reasons the stove din't want to work. After few failed attempts I settled for cold milk muesli. I was guessing it could be because of the dews that must have accumulated on the burner as I had left it open inside my car overnight. I hoped it gets fixed by evening and packed all my stuff into the car and hit the road around 9 am.

The beach towards the south east of Cape Reinga
Whangerai falls was a small detour on my way to the northland. Water falls are filled with positive energy, it made a perfect start for the day. This stop here helped me to drive the rest of the morning and dint feel like it was a all-drive day. I stopped at Kaitaia to refill the fuel and grabbed a sub for lunch (it-sucked). As I drove further north, the roads got narrower and very few passing lanes. I had to be mindful not to slow down the cars behind me, I took it easy and enjoyed driving, especially the scenic forest stretch. After this stretch, the roads are mostly long stretches, plain and no music in the car, a dangerous combination, so I decided to think aloud and sang songs loud to keep myself going. It worked!!

End of the road!!!
I reached the southern tip of 90 mile beach around 1:40pm. It was super windy carrying the loose sand with it. I and my camera were coated with layer of sand in no time. The sun blazing was draining me off, though I kept myself hydrated. I stopped at Lake Waiparera for some rest and shade. When I finally made it to Cape Reinga, it was 4 pm. This place is of great significance for the Maori, it is believed that the spirits make a trip to the coast before taking a leap to the underground and return to their homeland. It is truly a very spiritual place, which is very apparent in the vibes. I was happy for finally making to THE NORTHERN MOST TIP OF NEW ZEALAND and at the same time, felt very strongly inside me, the reason why I always wanted to come here. This one will stay with me forever, I am sure.

At Cape Reinga, towards east
I sat there on one of the stone benches watching the currents play as the Tasman Sea meets Pacific Ocean. The lighthouse, the rocks, the endless beach down south, the ocean ahead, and the end of the road, everything about this place is so deep, beautiful and yet there is a strong vibe of something beyond the reach of these 5 senses. I definitely knew that I'd be coming here again and again to leave something of me behind.

The magnificent Light House
It was time for a visit to Te Paki Sand Dunes. I wanted to come here as the last thing for the day to avoid the sun and the sand you roll over. I hired a sand board and started climbing up the dunes. The wind made it such a struggle reaching the top and the slide down was shit scary. I looked down and it was very close to a vertical drop. I set off saying a prayer and I was surprised how scared I was when I heard myself screaming on top of my voice and landed safely at the end of it. Few people before me had crash landed with the sand all over them. I dint want to go back for the second one.

This vertical climb man.
It was almost 6pm now, ample day light left to drive to some camp for the night. I enquired the lady who lent me the sand board, she suggested to drive up to Tapotupotu, the northernmost campsite. I was somehow keen to drive down south and stay at a camp I had passed by on my way, Rarawa beach camp. I was tired and was looking forward for some yumm dinner and hoped that the stove works. I had to feed on some cucumbers and tomatoes for the night otherwise, as there was no clue of markets anywhere nearby.

The patterns on the sand at Te Paki Sand Dunes
I reached the camp and quickly checked the stove and fortunately, it worked. I made a yummy tomato gojju with pita bread. While I was cooking, the lady in charge of the camp came along, I dint have cash to pay her so she suggested that tomorrow she'll return with eftpos machine. I said, sounds good, I'll wait. And was in my den right after for a good sleep. I am sure I dint take some time to reflect on the day then, but now, if I recall, it was such a fulfilling day for more than one reasons. I enjoyed my own company immensely while driving, those amazing views, the food and the list grows. Something inside felt different by the end of it.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Road trip in North Island - Day 1

23 December 2016

430 AM, I started walking towards the bus stop to catch the first bus to WLG airport. Though there wasn't much I was carrying from WLG, I ended up with a backpack, a daypack and my camera bag. Some layers on me though it was pretty hot even during that early hours. Sun was still rising up when I reached the airport, its a bonus if your Jetstar flight takes off on time, luckily in the next one hour I was in AKL. As expected Sun was dazzling hot and I managed to reach my friends place for breakfast. I din't want to relax yet, as I had a long day, to collect the car, buy food, tent, stove, canisters. 

Captured my reflection on my way to the WLG airport
It was a busy day at friends place, so I took 2 trains to finally reach NewLynn around 230 PM, from where I was renting the car. It was all very simple, I was introduced to my companion for the next two weeks, a white Hyundai Getz. With the keys in my hand now, my heart was beating slightly faster. AKL traffic is crazy and I was driving for the first time, except for a couple of occasions during no peak hours. I looked at the gear, plain, it was an automatic car. But there was a +2 on one of them and I was like what is that, others were fairly straight forward, R for Reverse, D for Drive, N for Neutral. I ran back to this guy and asked for N instead of +2. He looked at me with a tinge of shock, I am sure he was now skeptical about my driving skills, I don't blame him. He explained all the gear options in one stretch. I returned to my car feeling silly. Got in and mumbled a prayer and placed his picture on the dashboard. I put my hands up, looking at him and said, you are driving me now. 

The view of Ruakaka beach from the SH1
Hesitantly, I hit the streets of AKL and as usual it was busy. I struggled initially but kept going. Fairly long stretch of roads helped. I managed to sail through till warehouse to buy the mobile holder, first need. The Christmas rush was maddening, the queues at the shopping malls were the longest I've ever seen and all I had to buy was this mobile holder for $8. Cursing my last minute plans, I returned to my car with the holder to do yet another silly thing. I dint know how to fix, after few trials I gave up and youtubed the video (yea, I did), and this li'l boy in the video explained me the rocket science. Well, again, I did feel stupid but was happy to get that sorted. Next stop, not far off, the tent, stove, canisters checked. Drove to PakNSave for food shopping. I dint take long, and it was 430 PM when I was all ready. 

I had two options, drive back to friends for the night and start next morning or start the road trip now. I quickly checked from the campsite manual, the closest campsite on the way to Northland. It was only a couple of hours ride and I started preparing myself for the leap. The motorway and the North Shore bridge. I braced myself and recalled the prayers once again and in the next 10 minutes, I hit the motorway. The small car did fairly well so far and I was getting along with it quite well, my eyes went in circles for the map on my mobile, speedometer and back to the road. I managed to take the exit towards North Shore with perfection and even before I could celebrate my victory, the next level of challenge was right ahead, the bridge. I straightened my spine again and my eyes was back in action taking rounds on the various navigation tools in front of me. The view from the bridge is amazing, I knew, but I would not dare looking at them now. I did well once again, and now I was on the SH1. Tan Tadan!!! 

The Sunrise at the Uretiti campsite, the next morning

This is how it is ay. You face a challenge, you sail through it and right at the end of it is the next one waiting. Its so similar to what is happening in my life at the moment. Anyway, I was now tired of sitting like a cricket fan watching a match between India and Pakistan, so I stretched a bit and lazed back. The small car struggled a bit to catch up on the fast lanes, I understood it early and so kept myself left and took it easy. Somehow driving on SH1 seemed easier, there was not much of Christmas crazy traffic just yet. Now that I got comfortable with the driving part of it, it struck to me that I was not listening to any music. I searched for the AUX cable slot, only to realise it would be just FM or no FM. I choose no FM option and the rest of the journey was extremely quite. 

View behind Uretiti campsite
It wasn't too late when I reached Uretiti Campsite which was adjacent to the SH1. I checked into my first ever campsite in NZ, it was fairly equipped with card options to pay, drinking water, chemical toilet and, and HOT WATER SHOWWWWER. Yes! It had hot water shower for $2. My joy had no bounds when I discovered this. I found a flat surface behind a bush to park and pitch the tent. I opened my brand new tent, Mono V2, which is a super light weight tent, ideal for hikers and bikers, it is water and wind resistant, which was sufficient to convince me to buy this. Only to realise, after having it pitched that, I can't even sit straight. ROFL, well as I just said, I could only roll on the floor and sleep, thats pretty much it. I came out of the tent, which is like put your leg half a step away and you are out of it. I looked at it and wasn't happy. A fellow camper passing by my tent, looked at me and exclaimed, BIG TENT ay. We both laughed. 

Hmmm, the bigggg tent next to my small car
I went back in with my mat and sleeping bag this time. I looked around to find some options to hang my torch and with few other things here and there, to convince myself that it is not so bad either. Come on. Now I was hungry, so got busy with other thoughts, my dinner is simple,  boiled sweet potato or Kumara (in NZ). Again, opened my brand new stove, chopped some kumara and chucked into the boiling water. I love my food, so enjoyed every bit of it followed by a glass of warm Almond milk. No luxuries compromised when it comes to food. And thanks to the stove, it seemed to do a great job, pat on the back. 

I strolled around the campsite before calling it a day. The Ruakaka beach was right behind the camp. It was already dark by the time I returned. I grabbed my books and off into my den and, ready to get transported to an all-together different world with my books. I had been reading Ringing of the Cedar book for a while now, but Tales beyond the Known was a complete surprise to me. After reading the first few pages, I realised why this book had to come along. It is a book filled with grace and love. I was in tears within minutes filled with gratitude, at the end of the day everything came along so well. All the drama around driving, will I be able to do this, that, if so, then what, where, then, everything seemed such a waste of time and energy. At the same time, I was still trying to believe the fact that I was here today. 

As the campsite was right next to the SH1, the vrooms of vehicles continued one after the other, as long as I remember into the night. The wild hares, a few I had spotted while cooking, kept hoping around my tents and here I was tossing around my tent reading my books and soon dozed off under the stars. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Road trip in North Island - Setting the scene

December 2016

When you have a desire, you visualise it, work towards it and then let go. Letting go is not giving up but dropping the feverishness of achieving it. Intention, Attention and Manifestation, this is exactly what I’m talking about and this trip was one the best examples I could possibly use to reassure myself for the rest of my life, that using IAM technique anything can be achieved. For several years now, I wanted to do a solo road trip, so this is how I imagine, what happens. All our dreams/ideas/thoughts/intentions, will start its journey from your consciousness towards higher consciousness. And then different forces, call it nature/angels/people-who-have-crossed-over-to-the-other-side/masters will act on them and make every effort to manifest it. This dream of mine, took a similar journey and my angel, my guru, like he always does, assured me that this too will be instrumented, the most beautiful way. And it turned out to be the most fulfilling trip, leaving me humbled, spellbound, forcing me to remain a student trying to comprehend nature’s way of nurturing you, when you let her do. I am totally bowled over by the unfathomable amount of grace showered every minute on this trip.

Me at the norther tip of New Zealand, Cape Reinga
Before, I write any further, I must mention, and you may have already sensed it, that this post is heavily influenced by some of the books, people and situations that happened in my life in the recent past. So, necessarily, this travelogue will stress the emotional journey I experienced on my road trip. It will, for sure, be philosophical, spiritual than any of my previous posts. Someday, I might write about those books, people and situations. But for now they all mean one thing, NATURE.

Alright, now, Christmas break was around the corner, New Zealand with its perfect summer and long days, looked like a good time to travel. And somehow I was very particular about traveling in the North Island, and for some unknown reasons I had this random list of places I wanted to visit, I don’t know how they got into my head.

I remember visualising, going to the northern tip of New Zealand and click this particular picture, visit Rainbow falls in Keri Keri, imagined myself strolling on the streets of Napier in the evening, and ending the trip with Tongariro Crossing. So I came up with a crude plan, starting from the Northern tip, driving down to central and explore the west coast. You notice, Napier was not in the plan.

My initial plan
But me being me, wanted to do a safe, extremely economical, boring bus journeys which meant staying in hostels, not being able to travel independently. Somehow every time I tried to book the bus and hostels, the idea dint sink in, so I dint book any. I booked my return flights from WLG to AKL. Friends warned me that there won’t be any stays available as this is the busiest time in NZ.

In the next couple of weeks, I found myself browsing for rental cars. Again, friends put me off when I shared this idea. They suggested to take driving lessons and what not, I was now slightly skeptical about the whole idea of driving and booked the classes thrice and for some reasons not one happened. I said fine, I am renting a car. Go to hell with lessons and DL, I am sure I won’t crash into anyone nor would get killed on road. The week before Christmas, I booked for one of the last few rental cars available in the market.

“Don’t you get bored to travel alone ??” – a friend asked. I consider myself extremely blessed for the fact that, I love my own company more than anything. And traveling alone, I tell you, is the best gift you could give to your-self. Of course I don’t mind a good company but this one was meant to be a solo trip for a reason.

This awesome li'l car which gave company all along this trip

Two days before the trip, everything was ready, but ONLY in my head. The list of things that I needed to buy in AKL and WLG, things to be packed, campsites to stay, camping food recipes, books to carry, how and where to drive. At this point, I heard my mind saying to myself that this is not going to happen. Too many open points, not enough planning and above all driving, anxious and like a loser, I had second thoughts. I had foreseen this happening, so before my mind could trick me with reasons to drop the trip, I knew what to do, I reminded myself, the flight tickets I had booked several months ahead and lured it by recalling images from my visualizations. Works like charm!! See, the problems and solutions, all lie right here, inside me.

Some amazing reads during my road trip were from these tow books
I finished shopping in WLG the next day. Rolling my finger on my books and my fingers stopped for these two books, which accompanied me to the trip, again the best stories one could read while on a trip. My roomie and her kid had just arrived from India, not getting distracted I packed my bags and off to bed as usual at 930. I would miss my room, my bed, my yoga mat and my prayer corner for the next 2 weeks. Feeling grateful for all the luxuries, I put on my prayer beads and before securing one of his pictures in my bag, we grinned.