It was time to depart from sunny Hastings and head for home. We packed up, filled up the water, emptied the waste, and got on our way. The countryside looked lush and green, probably from all that rain we had been having lately. Stopping in Woodville, I was most impressed when Robin pulled up behind Dr Ropata’s caravan, with that immortal saying displayed on the back.
You really need to be a Shortland Street fan to appreciate this. Shortland Street is a long running Kiwi TV soapie, set in a fictional hospital. The very first episode spawns the most famous line in the show's history: "You're not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata," spoken by Nurse Carrie to Dr Hone Ropata (Temuera Morrison). "This line was almost removed from the original script because it was so ridiculous," said the founding producer "but we left it in at the last minute, and the rest, as they say, is history."
“You’re not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata”
Sadly, Dr Ropata wasn’t towing the caravan. The vintage caravan was built by Auckland Caravan Company way back when, and the new owners had purchased it two years ago, with the famous quote firmly in place. And there the sign stays, we were told. It is quite a distinctive little van, with pointy front windows, and lantern windows along the top. The owners even allowed us a little peep inside.
After that bit of excitement, we hit the road again and debated where to stop for lunch. And decided on Ferry Reserve, at the beginning of the Manawatu Gorge. As we carefully drove down the narrow one way entrance road, towing our van behind us, a young woman jumped in her car and started driving up towards us. Where she thought she was going to pass was beyond us. Might has Right, so she had to back down, get her little car off the road and onto the grass, and leave the way clear for us – silly girl!
Let's go here for lunch
We had never stopped here before, and there was plenty of undulating ground, but it looked a little rough and possibly too soft. So we stayed on the hard and pulled over onto one of the handy parking bays.
Lunch at Ferry Reserve
The Manawatu River was rushing by, and we did wonder about the caravan parked quite close to the river’s edge. There was no car beside it, perhaps the caravan was bogged down?
Lonely caravan parked by the Manawatu River
From the reserve we had views of two bridges. The first more modern bridge heads towards the Bridge Café in Balance. And yes, of course we have dined there previously.
The bridge to Balance over the Manawatu River
And to start the journey through the Manawatu Gorge, traffic crosses this lovely curvy bridge over the river.
As we did, waiting for a break in the traffic before heading through the gorge. The road is narrow, the area is prone to slippages, and there were road works taking place. We spotted a workman, lifted up high in a basket, goodness knows what he is doing up there. The road was down to one lane only at this time, so we waited for the “go” signal before heading on our way.
Workman on the hill
Safely through the gorge (I always give a sigh of relief) we continued on our way as the rain came bucketing down. It’s always Murphy’s Law, isn’t it, to put the caravan away and unpack it in the rain? Luckily by the time we arrived home, the precipitation was down to a drizzle. We had a great time away, but it’s always good to come back home.