Thursday, November 19, 2009

Turangi to Raglan

It rained off and on all last night and in the morning there were still gray clouds and showers lingering. We lazed around the camper, relaxing with the rain slowing our pace, and once it seemed to just be a misty drizzle, left the marina area where we camped for the river. We thought since we still had the pole and had to buy the flies, we might as well try our luck fly-fishing again. Unfortunately, after barely a half hour on the river, the rain came back with a vengeance and forced us to call it quits.

The downpour lasted most of the morning, with the gray clouds seemingly stretching on forever. On our way out from the river we stopped by the Turangi National Trout Center, since it was hyped up in all of our guide books, to see if we could watch someone who really knows how to fly-fish. The visitor's center was closed for construction, but we did see the hatchery and where they raise the trout for a pond where they teach children to fish. They also keep this stock of trout in case anything should happen to deplete the rivers and lake. The baby fish just looked like little tadpoles and scattered when we came near the tanks to take a closer look.

With the rain still falling, we decided to turn in our rod and head out of town to our next stop, the infamous surf town of Raglan. The drive took a few hours, but on "major" roads by New Zealand standards (still only one lane) and we stopped for a nice lunch at a roadside cafe. It was modern and open with all exposed wood and magazines strewn around for people while sipping their coffee.

We did drive right past Waitomo Caves, which is supposedly a huge attraction here, but it sounded like to even see the caves at all, you would have to sign up for one of the many pricey tours. Some of these sounded short, like the glow-worm boat cruise, while others lasted 8 hours, full of repelling and wading and swimming and spelunking. They also offer the unique "black water rafting" where you hop in your inner-tube with headlamps and raft down the pitch black underwater river, complete with some small waterfalls. We figured if we wanted to backtrack the hour or so to see them if the weather was bad, we could.

The town of Raglan is probably the hippest little surf town we have visited so far with art galleries, cafes and small bars, and of course, a lot of surf shops. We drove around and checked the world-famous breaks, even though we had read the surf report in the morning that stated things were blown-out and messy. It was still a little messy and a good 5-7 feet, so we watched and checked out the paddle-out spot and saw the after work crowd scramble to get out in the water. We had to find a "real" campsite, called a holiday park in New Zealand, as there was no freedom camping allowed and no Department of Conservation sites which is our first choice. This little eco-camp, as they call themselves, is $30 to park in a gravel lot with some toilets nearby. Since they didn't even have laundry, we drove into town and did the wash in Raglan before going out for fish 'n chips which Erich had been craving all day.

We'll see how it looks in the morning with the weather and the winds, and hopefully this front will be done passing through tonight. Today is the first officially bad weather day we've even had here with the gray rains, usually it seems to clear up mid-morning.

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