Cyclone Wilma Blog 135


In the wee small hours the ground shudders and there is a loud noise, is it an earthquake? lying still it happens again, this time we notice it co-insides with a large lorry passing. Our campground is right next to the main road and the lorries start out at 3 or 4 in the morning. Problem solved we put our earplugs in and sleep until 8am.
It is a shame we can’t remain here for the weekend and enjoy the hot rod show but time is beginning to run short for the north island and there is still lots to see. Our heading is the east cape but first we pack up and chat to the hot rod guys, then we go and photograph the old prison next to the campground, it has murals drawn on the windows and looks pretty cool.
Heading out of town we want to go via the well known view point on the top of the penisular as it is a cracking day and the view will be good, we miss the turning and end up in an industrial business area and start to turn around. A car goes by the woman driving is waving madly and hooting so we stop. The woman runs up to the bike and says- “Hi I’m a reporter for the Gisbourne Herald and you guys look like a story… have you got a minute”. After agreeing to meet at the look out point she zooms off to get a photgrapher and we head off to lunch on the point. We have barely made the sarnies when they return so we conduct our interview whilst munching lunch then ride up to the top for some photos overlooking the bay at a spot called “Young Nicks Head” named after the lad on Cooks ship who first sighted land here.
Tropical Cyclone Wilma is expected to brush this coast sometime this evening so we are torn between getting on a bit and enjoying the riding or traveling too far up the cape and getting too exposed. We find ourselves in Tolaga bay around 4pm and after walking up the long wharf and back we decide to camp in the site here. The next camp is way up and more exposed and we are loathed to free camp tonight with what is expected. The rain has begun by the time we start to pitch up which we do in record time. There are a few other hardy souls in tents but the rest have pinched all the cabins. We join some campers under a covered area and have a very social dinner. We enjoy stir fried chicken, bean sprouts and veg, a little later we are invited into Hugh and Dawn’s tent for coffee and a chat. We met with Hugh earlier when we were walking along the wharf. We enjoy a pleasant evening chatting and wish each other a safe night, the storm guys are all in we just have to hope for the best.
We manage to sleep through most of the night but at 5am one of the pegs pulls out in the wind (it is in sandy soil so not unexpected). Kev braves the elements the wind is strong enough to buffet the pole inside, he returns shortly “we have to bale now”, the wind isn’t our problem but the encroaching flood will be. We suspected we would be in for a rough night so I had deliberately packed everything unnecessary away. The wind has changed direction and is truely howling Kev is virtually holding the tent up as another peg pulls out. I hurriedly get dressed into full bike gear and waterproofs and swap places with Kev, it is all I can do to stand up against the side of the tent it is buffetting so violently. Now both dressed Kev gets the still dry sleeping bags away, the floor is squelchy underfoot we don’t have long. Once the tent door is open the wind is trying to whip everything away, we hastily make a pile on higher ground. Just able to see in the gloomy morning light we get the tent down safely and start to ferry our belongings to the camps kitchen. Hugh comes over to help they were also woken by their tent flapping and something falling over. Safely in the kitchen more bedraggled souls appear. We are lucky two tents have had the poles snap then spear the outer skin and ripped. In the kitchen we make the most of it and join Hugh and his family in making breakfast before we lend a hand to another tent about to break. By 8.15am the wind changes direction and in half-hour the rains have stopped and sun is back out in full force.
We erect the tent and lay the airbed out to dry and by the time we are showered it is all dry, looking round the site there is little evidence of the water and floods of earlier.  The sun is fierce now it will be another scorcher, we have been unlucky in that this is the wettest January for some while but we have had many hot dry days as well and generally fronts blow through reasonably quickly.
It has been good to get everything dry and we are relieved that nothing was damaged. The wind is beginning to calm down a lot and with it all packed back on the bike we decide to have lunch here before heading off towards the east cape and the lighthouse.
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