Friday, 4 January 2008

The Journey Home: How Driving Should Be

I drove home from Taupo - 150 k drive usually taking about two and a half hours - along SH5 which is the principal road from this area towards Auckland. Like all roads outside the main cities it is a single carriageway with one lane in either direction. On steep hills there are passing lanes at intervals. They can occasionally be frustrating when someone decides to potter along at 60 kph for kilometre after kilometre. The highest speed allowed on any road is 100 kph. The majority of New Zealand's road system winds round, through or over one geological feature or another ie they are rarely straight for very long. The road out of Taupo does, however, have a few straight stretches until it reaches The Ranges. The photos show the road before the Ranges. After that taking photos was not so easy!

It is, on the whole, an absolutely wonderful road for a sports car like the MX5 where grip and handling are more of an element than power (the Nighthawk is far more powerful and can accelerate much faster).

When I returned on Thursday in the late afternoon I had expected a lot of traffic - it is the middle of the holiday period. The road was deserted. I travelled the whole distance and only encountered a couple of vehicles going in my direction.

It was the hottest day so far so I had the hood down the whole way and didn't even need to wear a bodywarmer.

I stopped twice to take photos and the whole journey took just less than two hours and I didn't break the speed limit at all.

In fact the journey can be summarised as being the very essence of what owning a small open-topped sports car is all about. Wonderfully exhilarating.

State Highway 5: Leaving Taupo
Taupo is now 30 k behind me
Gosh! There's a station (farm) ahead
One of the four watering holes between Taupo and Napier
- all but one of which are within 40 k of Taupo
The Ranges in sight

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