I avoided the gale force winds and rain of Wellington this weekend by hiring a car and heading up to Havelock North (approx 4.5 hours north of Wellington) for the weekend.
Must remember never ever to buy a car with automatic transmission, and especially not one that decides it might like to launch into the slamming crosswind over Mt Bruce.
So, I exchanged 12C with severe gales for 21C and sunny, which was perfect timing as the whole damp dark winter thing Wellington has been doing for the last month was really starting to get to me.
And to literally and figuratively on the road again? Priceless. I could feel myself starting to come alive again as I drove north, not even wanting to stop at the small towns (now large towns – when did that happen?) to look at the antiques, crafts, NZ made gifts, designer home wares, paua jewellery and merino clothing.
The trip has opened me up to travel again. It’s only 9 (!) weeks until I leave Wellington for Hamilton, Auckland, Melbourne, then Shanghai and beyond. The time has gone so fast, and I am crossing things to do (done) off my list, but I don’t think until I started driving today how wedded I felt to/in Wellington.
I think because I am there for a 6 month work gig, I have set that time aside to BE in Wellington, contained, systematically working, getting through the winter days, saving, saving; so to just to get in a car and go has been such a fantastic blast of freedom.
As I headed into Hawkes Bay proper (that is, my part of it), I felt the recognition in my chest on seeing again the folded hills, the green paddocks, the one lane bridges, the poplar trees and manuka scrub, the shingle river banks.
After so much time away, it’s funny which memories are jogged as I drive past different places.
I bought fruit from a roadside stand, in the time honoured fashion of folding my money into the honesty box, visited 2 separate farmers markets (because they were on and I was there) purchasing more apples, grainy dense bread, beetroot pesto, a gigantic head of broccoli and carrots to stuff into the car. I was also gifted 2 squash from my B&B hosts which spent the remainder of the afternoon rolling around the back seat.
In Havelock North I climbed the last 3 ridge lines of Te Mata Peak to the top and ended up wrapping my scarf around my head (so fashionable) in order to ease wind induced earache.
I succeeded in not getting blown off by the wind gusts, thankful for the mesh fence bordering the cliffs, and unlike someone’s hat which danced over the side and down the bluff.
I went for a walk in Napier and watched the waves which started from somewhere near Chile roll up exhausted onto the stone beach.
I took the back roads on my drive back to Wellington, realizing possibly too late that not only did I have dodgy automatic rental car, but that shingle roads were probably not really recommended by the car company.
Getting out of the car to take photos with my iphone (which I was also using as my source of music), I also realized that there was no signal coverage. Oops.
But, here I am back in Wellington again, safe and sound, and the car turned in and not any worse for all the miles (kilometres).
However the weekend has sparked that restless feeling in me again. Only 9 weeks left in New Zealand.