After three nights staying at Old School Café Pakawau it was goodbye to the lovely Golden Bay area. We packed up the van on Monday and started on our way. With the threat of (downgraded) Cyclone Gita arriving soon bringing bad weather, we wanted to move away from the sea.
Goodbye to beautiful Golden Bay
The weather report warned of Gita bringing all sorts of events, including slips and slides, so we thought it would be wise to get up and over the Takaka Hill Road before the storm hit. Mind you, these things are sometimes unpredictable, and the cyclone could well have changed course in the next day or two, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
We are staying in Marchwood Park CAP in Motueka for the next three nights. With a power site at $20 a night we should be comfy if the weather does turn to custard. This is quite a large camp with good facilities, toilets, rubbish disposal, water, hot showers at $1 each, and a laundry.
Monday was warm and sunny, the laundry was drying nicely on the clothesline, and it was very pleasant sitting under the shade of the awning. The peace and quiet was shattered when a large noisy helicopter touched down at the air field next door. It seemed to be an Air force helicopter, and a group of people exited to go into one of the buildings. A crowd of us stood and watched, wondering what was going on. We never did find out. It must be a top secret military mission, we decided, with the details not to be disclosed to the bunch of campers over the fence.
An Air force helicopter came calling
Then it was a hive of activity in the late afternoon with campers taking their awnings down so that the predicated high winds doesn’t rip them to shreds. The heavy rain arrived on Tuesday morning, keeping most people tucked up inside their vans, with puddles soon developing everywhere. We decided to put our sun awning back up to give us some protection from the rain over the door, keeping a wary eye out for the predicted strong winds – then it would be dropped in an instance.
Rainy Tuesday morning
After lunch the rain was so heavy, noisily beating down on the caravan roof. The puddles started to join up into a rather large lake outside our van, across the roadway, and across the camping area to the side of us. Several smaller, older vans, built lower to the ground, became surrounded with water and were towed to slightly higher sites. The drain by our site couldn’t cope with the amount of water coming down, we will need gumboots to walk through al that water! Luckily the strong winds had not yet made an appearance, but we are still keeping a careful watch. And listening carefully to the weather updates each hour on the news.
And then, at 5.00pm the winds arrived. Quick as a flash, our awning and window eyebrow on the front of the van were taken down. Sudden gusts kept shaking the van, and I for one was certainly worried what the night would hold. We cooked and ate the evening meal, watched the TV news, and all the time the strong winds kept buffeting the van. Eventually as the evening drew on, the wind started to die down a bit, perhaps Gita is moving on?
What a day it’s been. Ex-Cyclone Gita has caused chaos across central New Zealand – roads closed, flights grounded and a state of emergency has been declared in Christchurch, Buller, Westland, Selwyn, Tasman, Taranaki, and Grey District. And the Takaka Hill Road road we drove over yesterday, was closed just after 4pm due to fallen trees across the highway, with slips and flooding at the turnoff to Kaiteriteri.
Let’s hope for a much better day tomorrow.