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Transit to Takaka

Caravan Diaries 2020

sunny 22 °C

I have worked out that this is my sixth visit to Takaka, and Takaka itself has a big part to play in my evolution as a traveller. The first time I was here, I was (I think) in a car, but maybe I had come over in the bus. In any event, I was staying in a backpackers, and seeing all these people getting about in vans, and sleeping wherever they felt like. I wanted some of that and it wasn't much later that I acquired a van - Webster - and took him to Takaka, I remember sleeping at the top of the hill in him. Some years later, I was thinking about getting another van, or even a campervan, but ultimately decided on a caravan, because I'd be able to unhook and go exploring. I have now spent four summers in it.

Of course, there's a bit of a drive to get from Moana to Takaka - about six hours, according to Google. I take three days! First, I have to go to Greymouth for coffee. People give it a hard time, but I am always tempted to potter around. I'll be back this way early in the New Year so persuade myself to stay for the bare minimum - some library time, coffee and a whitebait fritter sandwich and a visit to the new Red Door bookshop. The fritter is from Sevenpenny, named in honour of a dispute over the price of beer. The brewery tried to put it up to 8 pennies, but there was a drinkers' boycott, so the brewer had to back down and put the price back to seven pennies. The fritter is rather overcooked but the bookshop is splendid. I already have many of the books for sale - always nice to find a place with matching tastes - but pick up John Lanchester's Capital for a whole $5.

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I have nowhere booked, so head north to see how far I get. The road is not particularly difficult, apart from having a poor surface, which causes the caravan to bounce a bit on the towbar. Despite the supposed lack of dithering, it is around 3:00 when I get into Reefton: no chance of lunch, so after a quick coffee I head off. Murchison has even less on offer, but I am beginning to flag and am tempted to stay. After an ice cream and a wander, I remember there's a camping ground another hour up the road, at Tapawera. It proves to be a very small camp - about 8 spots under wonderful old oak trees - in a very small town. The pub is my only option, but puts on a tasty roast lamb dinner so I'm content.

I was quite impressed with Kaiteriteri last time I was there, so have a night booked in the beach front motorcamp - it is very spacious and still far from busy, despite being less than two weeks out from Christmas. The beach has glorious golden sand, which draws me to sit on a bench overlooking the beach and read for a bit.

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Motueka is just down the road, and has a nice variety of places to eat. I may have made an error in ordering my beef jungle curry at ChocDees Thai - I know it is supposed to be hot (no coconut milk to lessen the punch), but wow, I could barely eat this version.

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I do much better at Smoking Barrell - it apparently does BBQ smoked meats, but I was drawn to the chicken and waffle, and think I had the best version ever. There was quite a bit more chicken than waffle, cheese, pickle, coriander and a hint of spice in the sauce, all very delicious.

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The Takaka Hill is one of the more daunting drives, made worse by road works on the Motueka side to repair some pretty large slips. When I came over in Old Jeep towing the caravan, by the time I got to the other side, my brakes were almost on fire. I have even found my report of that trip. This time, my concern was more about going up, as I have new brakes and have learned not to be so reliant on them going down hills. While I had no problems, my Jeep and I both felt like we needed a smoke by the time we made it over. Unfortunately, neither of us had tobacco, so I went off to Wholemeal for a coffee and watched the National Theatre production of Cyrano de Bergerac, which just happened to be showing as I arrived.

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It was a very modern production, no props at all, except for a few chairs. There's other stuff, but the bulk of the play revolves around intellectual Roxanne, beautiful dumbo Christian, and ugly (because of his big nose) but poetic Cyrano. Both men are in love with Roxane, but she only has eyes for Christian. She has standards, however: he must write her letters, but he can't, he's a dumbo. So Cyrano takes on the letter writer role, pours out his heart to her (as Christian) and Roxane falls in love all over again with the writer of the letter. There may be some variation as to how matters end - in this version of the play, Cyrano does eventually convince her that he wrote the letters and puts her to proof that she loves for the heart and mind, even if the person is ugly. The play ends leaving this up in the air.

Posted by NZBarry 11:11 Archived in New Zealand

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