Sunday, 8 April 2012

Over the Black Opito Bay

Opito Bay
Black Jack's Road must surely be NZ's version of Bolivia' s Road of Death, El Camino del Muerte. I asked a chatty chap at the gift shop in Hot Water beach if the road was ok for a largish camper. Whether there were any dodgy bits to look out for - unsealed sections, sharp bends, steep bits etc. All of them, was his answer. Oh, yes - and he made a sign with his hand shielding his eyes - and when it has all of the above features, there is also a huge vertical drop to the sea below.  

It doesn’t help that our campervan is a bit skitty, even on smooth tarmac. Black Jack's Road goes over 2 saddles and is unselaed in many places (our van responds by wheel spinning in these situations) and has all the road signs that we deliberately and normally choose to avoid on the map: the one with a 4WD symbol up a steep incline to show it’s bloody steep, the one telling you that your lights must be on at all times, another with a huge exclaimation mark to prompt you: do you really know what you're doing, are you qualified? Finally, unless there be a faction or new franchise, called Pirates of the Coromandel that Disney have yet, or should I say "yit" to release, a road sign with a skull and cross bones. To show what? Danger of death, should you foolishly choose to drive on this road after you have seen and not headed these warnings! Double-axled logging trucks also use it at certain points of the day, and I don’t suppose they're going to doing the reversing.

Cushla said she didn’t want to frighten me about the road, once we had arrived at the very last house in Opito Bay. We can forget about all those day trips around the Corromandel though! We’re stocked up for the week with food and I don’t think we’ll be going anywhere unless we can hitch a litft in a 4WD.

John’s family use to own most of the penninsula, when the land was farmed, and his brother still lives nearby. We popped in on his brother George and his lovely bubbly Scottish-kiwi wife, Nina one morning. "I hope you like chocolate cake?" she said to the children. Nina had made the most magnificent chocolate cake for the kids and then let Magi be mum and cut it. It's always interesteing to see how children perceive a small, medium and large slice of cake. Magi lunged in with a knife as big as her arm and cut it into quarters and then served herself first! Digs and Raz went out fishing with George in the Bay that evening and came back with a huge kahwai and Raz caught a 33cm snapper that he was really proud of.
Been reading a locally put together book by current and ex-residents of Opito Bay. Blacks Jack's Road  is referred to in it as one of the 3 most notorious roads in NZ. It used to be so narrow that 2 horses couldn’t pass by each other. Apparently there has never been a fatally on it, but a car did once carelessly fall off the side.

A Giant Horse Mussel Shell


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Miranda Gardiner said...

Thanks Sheena. Good to hear that you enjoyed my scarey road trip! best wishes, Miranda

Walt Zink said...

another cool post! glad to see you guys are still having a blast! i shared your blog on mine, also -

love the pictures, you've gotten. it gives me more of the bug to just get up and go, more often!