When picking a spot at a campsite, there are two things I prioritize. Privacy and shade. Well, at least the best you can do for privacy given campsites are not very private. One of the things I wanted when I decided to spend so much time camping was solitude. Camping is too popular here in New Zealand for that to be possible. The campsites are all filled with Germans, French, and British people. In absence of actual solitude, I try to find what I can. On the practical side, privacy is useful when changing, when I want to do yoga, or want a little more quiet. Finding a spot where I can use my car as a wall to provide a small spot that is blocked from the rest of the campsite is ideal.
Shade is more obvious, with a preference given for shade in the afternoon and evening rather than the morning. The mornings tend to be less hot than the afternoons. A tertiary but less important emphasis is placed on finding a flat spot for my car, but being slightly uneven does not affect my ability to sleep too much. If there is a river or lake I also like to be close to the water. Having access to water to rinse out dishes or go for a swim is nice to have, but not essential. Distance to the toilet is the least important aspect of the spot.
Pulling in, the campsite stretches long in both directions along the river with plenty of trees set above the bank of the river. There are a few groups with serious setups, caravans and campers and large tents, who look to have been here for a while. Families and kids play games, dogs are laying lazily in the shade of the tents. I choose a spot a bit away from the larger groups, parking my car parallel to the river, giving me one side of the car separated from the rest of the campers, conveniently under a tree providing a welcome bit of shade in the hot afternoon sun.
I spend the rest of the day simply. I spend a good deal of time reading. Reading a real book instead of my kindle. There are a fantastic number of hospice shops in New Zealand which I regularly browse whenever I am in a town. I mostly search for passable shirts since I have only five, two of which are low quality and I want to get rid of. These stores are chock full of second hand books as well. A bargain price of two dollars has netted me ‘Under the Tuscan Sun.’ It rather suits my wanderlust ridden mind.
I continue to practice guitar. I think it will be years before I am satisfied with how well I can play, but I am improving and I look forward to putting in the work. A simple dinner of soup and noodles and a cup of tea finishes off my day, and I settle down in the back of my station wagon for the night. For all the comfort a bed provides, I missed my car.
My blisters have grown tight while I slept and stretching and flexing my feet in the morning strains them, painfully tugging at the healing blisters. Lacking any better option, I rub suntan lotion over them in hopes of providing some moisturizing for the rough, cracked skin. A quick dip in the icy river provides some invigorating energy to start the day. I have the same breakfast I have been having every day since leaving Auckland, cereal with half a banana and a peanut butter and jelly with the other half of the banana. I did not vary this even when staying at Silverford.
Checking the weather report, tomorrow is the only good weather day for the Tongariro crossing for the next week. Disgruntled with this development, I consider my blistered feet. They have had two days to heal, which is not a great amount of time. This campsite is nice and I could consider staying here for longer, but I am eager to be away to the South Island. I am distracted by thoughts throughout the morning, unable to settle in for the day. I need to make a decision.
I finally decide that I can deal with pain. A little before noon I pack my car up again and head off towards a campsite near the crossing. The decision soothes my restlessness, and confidence and purpose fill me as I head on the road. I call and book a shuttle to the beginning of the hike for a six o’clock start when I stop for gas. I want to run into as few other people as possible.
I have made and packed sandwiches and snacks for the hike, laid out my gear for the next day, and made all the preparations I could this night since I need to wake up at half-four. I gently rub at my blisters at night while laying in my car. I hope I am not doing something remarkably stupid with regards to my feet. I have good, comfortable hiking boots which I have put plenty of miles into and have never bothered me before. They have proven themselves before, but they will need to prove themselves again.