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  • Day41

    Pottery and Railways

    August 19, 2015 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    We awoke at usual time and packed up heading off at about 9am. Halfway across the car park I remembered I hadn't unplugged the electric cable. I hoped out and it was trailing behind us, so I quickly unplugged it from the van, threw it inside and drove off. We didn't look back to see what state the post it had been plugged into was in - fingers crossed it was fine!

    First stop was the Warehouse store in Whitianga to get an extra bag or case of some sort to put in some of the things we had bought and enable us to clear the campervan tomorrow. We ended up with a brightly coloured hard shell case which Tash picked and which was marked at $129 but at the till we discovered was reduced to $59 - even better.

    Then off to Coromandel Town - only about 43km away but 1.5 hours - due as we discovered to some very windy mountain roads. We were on the lookout for a cafe for breakfast but didn't find one until about an hour later in a small village - the only one between Whitianga and Coromandel as it turned out. The food and coffee was great - I had Spanish eggs with Chorizo, peppers, onions and toast.

    we set off the remaining12km (still half an hour) and stopped at the viewpoint at the top of the mountain, looking out across Coromandel, then down the hill and parked up in the town. We walked aroud some of the independent shops and bought a few things, then back to the camper and went to the petrol station where I got the gas canister filled up ready for return tomorrow. It was now around 1 so we headed for Driving Creek Railway, just out of town.

    On arrival we bought our tickets, despite the torrential rain currently falling and looked around the pottery shop and watched a video on the formation of the railway. The land was bought by an artist Brian Brickell initially because of the clay on site. He built a small railway to get the clay down the hill, then expanded it over the years. Eventually the debts on the railway needed paying off and so he started to take passengers and gradually increased it until it is as it is today, going right up to the Eyefull tower at the top. The railway is NZ'sonly narrow gauge and climbs 100m or so vertically during the ride.

    Scheduled departure was 2pm but a phone call from a group of tourists close by delayed this for a few minutes to allow them to ride. Ed and I sat right at the front behind the driver (though on occasion the train went backwards) and had a good chat with him about rugby he was going to the All Blacks game in Newcastle in the World Cup. The ride up took about 25 minutes and was excellent, it wound through the Forest with 3 tunnels, bridges, a zig zag section and spirals to climb the gradient. Wall protection used tyres and glass bottles embedded in the walls. Trees were marked on the way up, including some Kauri and lots of silver fern (silver on the underside). Variious clay pots also decorated certain areas. At one point the train went out onto a track supported from below out over the valley, then reversed back up the slope again, a bit like the Yeti ride in Disney's Animal Kingdom.

    At the top we got off and climbed the Eyefull Tower for great views over the bay. The driver gave us some of the history of the railway and the nature reserve that has been established there with lots of wild birds now living in it. Barry is now 79 and still working, with the whole reserve to be left to the Government when he passes away.

    After photos at the top we went back down, another fun ride. Ed and I at the back this time and we chose to ride facing backwards rather than turn the seat around. At the bottom we went into the shop and bought a piece by Barry, a book about him and a cup for Sam whcih it turned out was made by the daughter in law of our driver today. Ed got a clay penguin and Tash an egg cup.We then headed to the Top 10 site just down the road and checked in.

    In town earlier we had purchased some nit shampoo as Tash was convinced she and Ed had nits. Sam applied this to her and Tash, whilst I got a call in panic from the lady at the railway who had realised she hadn't charged us for Barry's pot. She came down to the site and I settled up in cash, much to her relief!. Meantime Ed had managed to climb up a climbing wall and couldn't get back down from the platform at the top - I ended up having to lift him off on my shoulders.

    We then went back to the van and applied nit shampoo - turned out Ed had loads as did Tash, Sam maybe a few and me seemingly none! we would have to reapply over the next few days. Needless to say, Ed didn't take the nit comb well.

    I temporarily panicked everyone by losing the van keys, to find them in my coat pocket! We headed to the Peppertree restaurant for tea (10% discount with top10 membership) and had a good meal (paella a popular choice). Then back to the van for a dvd from the campsite this time (Madagascar) then bed for our last night in the camper - have to pack tomorrow, nightmare!
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