KEA Adventure in the Snow
We have just returned from an unexpected adventure whilst on a motorhome holiday and thought you might be interested. We had booked a motorhome for 6 nights and were planning to spend 3 nights in sunny Napier (about 6 hrs drive south of Auckland).
The first night in Mount Maunganui was great, but the second day started out raining, we got slightly lost and it took us 3 hours to get to Taupo and we finally left Taupo at 2pm for the 2 hour drive to Napier. Unbeknown to us (and everyone else) the weather had taken a sudden turn for the worst and the drive up the winding mountain got hairy as it started to snow quite heavily. We saw other cars sliding out and just hoped that we were nearly through the worst of it as there was nowhere to turn around the big motorhome (and we didn't know the road, so didn't realise the road was only going to get worse). After about an hour we came across a policeman who told us the road ahead was closed and people were stuck and we had to turn back to Taupo. We turned back, but only got about 3km when we had to stop as all the cars ahead were at a standstill. Another motorist told us that a truck had jack-knifed ahead, and they wouldn't be able to clear it that day, so we would probably be stuck all night, or possibly two nights until it stopped snowing!
This was quite alarming, but at least we had the comfort of the motorhome and food and blankets and a toilet! The poor people stuck in their cars would have been freezing and so uncomfortable. Anyway, we heard there was a woman stuck in a car with her 7 week old baby and 5 year old son, so took her in with us. I don't know how she would have gone if she had to stay in her car, I think we were meant to get stuck there to help her out. The baby was bottle fed, and she only had 3 or 4 bottles, so we hoped these would last. Fortunately, he was a great baby and slept and drank and was no trouble. Tim even boiled up some snow, and then sieved it through a tea towel and boiled it again so we had clean water if needed. We suggested she keep a bottle close to her body so it was warm for middle of the night feeds. This worked beautifully.
It was about 3pm when we got stopped, and we all tried to get some sleep from when it got dark at about 8pm. Lucy and I didn't get much, but Tim and Max slept soundly for about 5 hours which was good. At 3am there was a knock on the door, and the Taupo 4WD club had managed to get a 4WD up past all the trucks and cars and were able to rescue 6 people at a time. We didn't know it at the time, but there were about 300 people stuck up there (on the Taupo side) and 300 on the Napier side. They had declared a Civil Defence Emergency the afternoon before and were actually rescuing people from 11pm but we were the furthest away from Taupo, so they didn't get to us till 3am. Fortunately, they took Natalie and her kids then, and said they'd take people in order of need, so we relaxed and tried to go back to sleep. Tim approached another car and invited in some more people to sleep in the bed vacated by Natalie and they were shiveringly grateful. We were finally taken out at about 8am and taken to an inn halfway down the hill, then bussed into Taupo. We spent the day and night in a warm, comfortable motel and then the day after that, Tim was taken back up the mountain in an army unimog around 2PM on Tuesday to retrieve the motorhome. He said there were cars strewn all over the road and it was surreal. We never made it to Napier, but got to know the area around Taupo pretty well! Maybe one day we'll fly to Napier instead!!!
New Zealand is certainly giving us some unforgettable memories.
Rose, Tim, Lucy and Max.