Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Ghostly Adventures

By Jen.

Since about Thanksgiving, we have been working hard to catch up on posts so that instead of being 6-8 weeks off, we would only be about 1-2 weeks off. We have finally reached that point. So, look forward to NOT being inundated with back-to-back long posts!

We passed the remains of an old bathhouse leaving the Croesus Track. I was entertained by the picture.

After the Croesus Track, I was ready for a break. So we stayed in Greymouth for a day and worked on taxes. Then we had a decision to make: should we go to Nelson via the West Coast/Kahurangi NP or via Molesworth Station. Checking the weather, we decided on the latter. And, in typical fashion, we decided to make some scenic stops on the way. The first of which was Waiuta, a mining ghost town south of Reefton in Victoria Forest Park.

Not much left of the town; most of it was disassembled and transported to another location when the mine closed following the collapse of the Blackwater Shaft.

This town was the site of the Blackwater Mines with 2 shafts, including the deepest shaft in NZ at 879.5m (2885 ft).

Prohibition Shaft and Mill were located on top of a hill overlooking the valley and town.



One of the houses remained in place for visitors to see.

I loved the stove!

After that the foray into the ghost town, we hit the road again, heading towards Molesworth. Shortly after getting back on pavement, the van started vibrating/making noise. I told Jonathan that something was wrong with the van and he needed to pull over. He hadn’t noticed anything, but he trusted me and did so immediately. As I went to make sure there was nothing loose in the cabin to make the noise, Jonathan did a survey of the outside. Sure enough, my guess of the back right tire was confirmed!

The tire delaminated and went out of round, but still held air.



But, Jonathan was able to change out the tire even quicker than I was able to whip out an email, and we were back on the road again. However, since Molesworth is known as a rough track and a remote destination, we did not want to go there without a spare. Instead, we revised our plans to head directly to Nelson, where we could get our tires replaced (it was definitely time). It was a good thing we did, as about 70 km out from Nelson, I noticed that familiar vibration again and told Jonathan we had a problem, probably the back left this time. Upon pulling over, we discovered the same thing had happened to the other side, less than 200 km later that day!





We now had an issue, though; we didn’t have a spare. I checked my phone, which verified what I already knew: no reception. I checked the map and discovered we were but a kilometer or two from a small settlement, so Jonathan limped the vehicle there. We saw a house with laundry hanging, so we thought we would give them a try. As we approached the homestead and called, an intimidating dog of rotweiler/mastif mix came barking and growling at us. We stopped and the dog simply snuffled at us and then looked liked it wanted petted. Rather than risk the ire of the dog, we decided to call out to the owner instead. Fortunately, the owner was out pulling in the laundry and heard us. We asked if we could use her landline, and she didn’t even ask us any question (must happen a lot) before letting us in to do so. We called our contacts in Nelson and explained the situation, and after some debate decided the best option was to try and get one of our roadside-assistance programs to help us out. We decided to try AA first, as AAA would be the go-to answer in the States, and we had a reciprocal agreement with them. After forever on the phone, they said they would call us back and let us know if they could find anyone that was capable of towing us into Nelson, as we had a large (over 3500kg) vehicle. We waited nearly an hour for the call back and learned more about our host and the settlement. Glenhope was built up as a major rail station for the west coast railway that was a stimulus project during the Depression. Sadly, when the Depression ended, they stopped worked on the railway as well. We could see the station building across the field behind her house. Her house itself was the old first-aid building, and she was in the process of renovating it. She said she had found some entertaining medicines under the floors.

The old railway station.


After an hour, we finally received a call back from AA. They had found someone and the cost would $974, and AA would cover $100 of that. I said “Thanks, but no thanks; we will figure something else out.” Earlier, our host had said we could catch a ride with her into work the next morning, so we took her up on that. She had to be there super early, so we we were up by 5am to be ready with the spare by 530am for the ride in. She kindly dropped us off at our friends’ place in Nelson, and they graciously drove us to the tyre place when they opened. Our friends even supplied an old tyre to put on our rim so that we could drive the van to Nelson, while the new tyres were being ordered. Then drove us back to the van so we could execute that plan. I must say that the people in New Zealand have been extremely friendly and helpful. Every time we go into someone’s house here, even when we are imposing on them unexpectedly, they offer us the use of the toilet, shower, and washing machine; always much appreciated when living in a van.

Putting on the loaner spare.

While we waited, Jonathan did some maintenance on the van, fixing a vacuum leak, a transmission leak, and a fuel leak. The next morning, our tyres had arrived, and we could safely drive the van again!

A chocolate kiwi on sale for Easter!

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