Sunday, 23 January 2011

You have no idea what real rain is!

North Island to Stratford

Imagine standing under your bathroom shower full-on for 24 hours – that is what the weather has been like for the past day. We had no idea that there could be so much rain in the sky. A tropical cyclone somewhere in the China Sea has been responsible for dumping the most enormous amount of rain on the North Island over the past 24 hours and as we write this, it is still raining and on the TV news is a major story about the floods and rain all around us.

Fortunately in our little world of the van, we have (all but for one very wet moment) managed to remain dry and snug whilst proceeding down the Forgotten Highway – one of New Zealand's great roads. Were it not for the rain (an insufficient word), then there would be hundreds of photos of mountains, gorges, valleys, streams, waterfalls, daring

Tangarakau Gorge

Tangarakau Gorge Waterfall

The Tangarakau Gorge and a waterfall on the far side

driving round tight mountain bends, bumpy gravel tracks etc. Instead there are a few damp photos for you to view and memories for us of a great landscape, much of it stretching into the mist


Hills behind the mist

hills behind the mist

and of a road going up and down like a big dipper and where every corner is sharper than a hairpin bend.

High wall of the bluff    Isolated Road

and of the Hobbit’s Tunnel (aka Moki Tunnel), a long single track tunnel built in 1936 where you hope that having started in, you do not meet anything coming the other way!

Hobbits Hole Tunnel 

There is no doubt that we missed a lot, the highway is littered with historic sites, many some distance off the main road. It is an isolated and harsh area (it took 31 years to complete the railway which hugs much of the highway) of New Zealand but we shall remember it as a very challenging and extraordinarily rainy day.

The “wet moment”? When we got to our camp site, I had to stop at the dump to empty the tanks – we did not do it this morning when we started out because it was raining! I got soaked and the drying room was put into good use.

ps – it rained non stop for 41 hours – heavy rain, not just a miserable dribble. The met office records show that in the first 24 hours there was 150.2 mm of rain. The bad weather made the headlines in all of the national news programmes with numerous pictures of floods, landslips and other disasters. The rain finally stopped as we were driving down to Wellington and by the time we got there, it was back to blue skies and warm temperatures again.

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