The journey of a thousand kilometers

We set off on Wednesday to drive from Wellington to Auckland to Whakatane. To Auckland to meet Cousin Grant for dinner, in town for only 4 days, and to Whakatane for Christmas.

We almost didn’t set off though – at the appointed hour early on Wednesday morning when I started the car it gave the single angry beep of no petrol and the petrol gauge light came on. The distance-left-on-current-amount-of-gas reading was 0kms. I was rather baffled – I’d done the pre-trip oil and tyre check and filled up with petrol just the weekend before. I began on a rant about someone syphoning our tank in the night although the car had been locked in the locked garage and there was no evidence of spillage anywhere. Our immediate problem was how to tell if we had any petrol – stick a finger in the tank?

We had to get on the road but we had to do something about this first – being half way between the Audi dealership and the petrol station we drove across to Audi (no signs of no petrol given how low the car said it was). The service manager had no staff to help us, no magic prong he could stick into a little control panel somewhere to restart the electronics no way of telling us whether or not we had any petrol, no replacement part for the dash panel out the back (but did have an exorbitant price and a delay until February) … just a question – how far does the car typically go on a tank of gas … yes knew the answer!

So I set the trip counter and we headed over to the petrol station to see if it would take any petrol. It took $3.50 so as long as The Mister had interpreted the click properly as being ‘tank full’ not that the nozzle wasn’t in properly and was kicking back … then we were good to go on a full tank. The Mister plugged his iPhone loaded with a Glee Marathon of 158 of their songs into the tape deck and off we set with great confidence … well, 20-ishkms of confidence until we got to the first petrol station off the motorway so I could fill up again, just to see how much it took that time.

About 7kms into our journey the petrol light went off. 10 seconds later the distance-left-on-current-amount-of-gas shot up from 0 – saved! Must’ve been moisture from the last time we drove when we’d got caught in torrential rain. The Mister dared to attempt a conversation about the car getting old and that we might have to think about …. DON’T SAY IT I cried! I wasn’t totally relaxed though as the distance-left-on-current-amount-of-gas reading was really high, higher than I’d seen it and the gas level needle was way over the full market – it took ages for each to start coming down so I was still worried that we had a false gas reading until that happened.

So with that drama over – we continued on our epic journey!

Brown Sugar Cafe in Taihape was having an excellent coffee day – enjoyed a couple of great flat whites and shortbread.

The Mister drove quite a bit of the journey for a change – we had to keep on moving and I didn’t want to chance driving fatigue.

We left SHI at Turangi and went up the western side of Lake Taupo which either of us had only ever done once or twice. The traffic was really light so we continued on up to Matamata instead of SH1 through Cambridge.

Everywhere on the side of the road, almost to the point of being distracting or ending up with sign blindness were signs about preventing accidents. Are you tied? How fast are you going? What are you thinking about right now? Are the kids annoying you? Is it raining? And in different parts of the country the signs had different themes – a fire engine and fireman in the central North Island, surf life saving characters around Hamilton/Coromandel and kiwifruit ones around Tauranga/Te Puke.

The massive kiwifruit structure in Te Puke has changed from a green one to a yellow one.

The western Bay of Plenty (around Tauranga) had the most traffic and the most ridiculous driving. The theme of who I assumed were locals was to pull out of a drive way or side road by just gritting your teeth and doing it without checking what was coming – I ended up putting my lights on full beam in the middle of the day – obviously no-one could see me giving the number of times I had to dispense an Audi enema up the back of someone who’d pulled out!

We followed a cattle truck over part of the Kaimai ranges – it had the rather clever but unfortunate number plate ‘ROAST’ – hmmmm, didn’t need to know that!

We rolled into a Whakatane supermarket car park and there was no doubt we were here – had barely stepped into the supermarket when we started to notice local fashion: no PJs this time but we saw 4 pairs of bare feet, 1 pair slippers, 1 pair socks before getting through the veggie section to the less than delightful sight of a chap in a leather waistcoat and bare chest in the meat department!

As we pulled into Mother and Father’s drive the speedo clicked over 1005 kilometers, and the Glee marathon had lasted 985 of those kilometers!


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