for on this occasion King Sol was favouring us with his attendance.
Later, turning left (north) at the intersection we headed for New Zealand‘s most historic site, Waitangi, just a mile or two from the junction. Being a poor hand at describing scenic or historic localities I will not attempt to describe the tremendous thrill of pulling up outside the Treaty House; walking through the bush-lined path to the wide expanse of the Waitangi reserve, a ﬂat, carefully kept lawn area overlooking the bay, from the centre of which grows a mighty sailing ship mast, with its cross spar stretching out above; of wandering through the Treaty House museum; or gazing in awe on the tremendously long canoe which reputedly brought the ﬁrst Maoris to New Zealand. History is not one of my great loves, but I, and the rest of us, were thoroughly glad that we had come to this spot where that historic signing of the treaty had occurred back in 1840.
Later we motored back to the “Anchorage” restaurant, which appeared to be an extension of the Waitangi Hotel, and ate a grand lunch (after first inspecting the spacious bar facilities of the hotel itself). This restaurant is situated in just one of the many beautiful and restful spots that line the shoreline here, and its wide landscape windows allow an uninterrupted view of the sea and surrounding land. Even at this time of year, there were the graceful sailing boats skimming along the wave tops, and there were the deep sea fishing launches cleaving through the water with high powered ease. To be anywhere within 50 miles of the Bay of Islands and not take the detour in is madness, for it is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque and historical areas of this country.
Leaving the “Anchorage” we drove back around the bay and on into Paihia where we hoped to spend the night. First of all we sought out the camp which we had selected from an examination of our A.A. Motel and Camp Guide booklet. At the camp the proprietor, in answer to our question if we could get across to Russell, the sight of the famous flag pole incident, told us that not only could we get our cars across, but that the new ferry at Opua, five or six miles further round the coast, would accommodate the caravan as well. With an eye to the taking of our movie ﬁlm we decided then and there that we would take the caravan across and back that afternoon
After taking a quick look at the caravan sites we headed off around the loop road towards Opua. According to the map, the southern section of the loop was supposed to be just the same as the northern section along which we had already come – an excellent tar-sealed road which branches off the main road at Pakaraka and leads seaward into Paihia.
From there the road continues in a curve back out to the highway joining it at Kawakawa. However, just a half a mile from Paihia the tar-sealed surface gave way to metal. And what metal! Whoever was responsible for selecting the grade of metal that went on that particular stretch of road must own a bulldozer. It was laid on about six inches thick, consisting in the main of chunks rather than chips. Conseguently [Consequently], when we rounded a corner and started up a relatively light grade, we were in trouble. From top gear, to second, to low and then, at five miles per hour we busily went nowhere.
The question then occurred to me that if we now stopped and applied the brakes, would we stay still or commence to sledge down the hill backwards? This thought did not appeal to me one little bit. In fact it scared the living daylights out of me. Still, we couldn‘t just sit there digging our way into the road, so I applied both the foot and hand brakes and prayed. Thankfully we stayed put. About then our luck ran further out still, it started to drizzle with rain. Looking in the roadscope I noticed that Bruce’s Puegoet [Peugeot] had stopped right behind me so there was nothing else for it but for Margaret to get out in the rain and acquaint our companions with the state of affairs. Nothing on earth would have persuaded me to abandon my desperate stranglehold on the handbrake – it’s a wonder I didn’t yank it of altogether.
Bruce, as calm as ever, ambled up beside the driver‘s-side window and made one or two suggestions which I wasn’t quite in the mood to accept, such as: “What are you parked here in the middle of the road for?” and: “Why don’t you, buy a decent car?”
“Why don’t you get your tin can out from behind me? I’m just liable to get tired of hanging onto this brake and back clean over the top of you,” was my less than friendly reply.
Having dispensed with the pleasantries I suggested that the two girls better hot foot it for the fore and aft bends in the road, “otherwise someone is likely to come charging down around the corner and slide straight into us.” This piece of strategy was complied with, which was just as well, for no sooner had Margaret H. made the corner up top than a bus appeared on the scene. At Margaret’s frantic signals he slowed down and judiciously came to a stop well clear of us.
Bruce then drove the Puegoet [Peugeot] up front, hitched a tow rope between us, and acted as anchor-man as I gingerly began the tortuous business of backing down the hill and around the corner onto the ﬂat. Control was a little difﬁcult to say the least, but we
Photo caption – We stop at Waitangi alongside the monument commemorating the centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Photo caption – A vast expanse of lawn fronting the Waitangi Treaty House.