The big day had arrived. It was time to leave my home for the past eight months – Auckland – and disappear south on a major road trip.
New Zealand is known for its majestic landscapes and I couldn’t wait to see the mountains and glaciers I was promised by the guide books.
Of course, Mount Doom (aka Mount Ngauruhoe) from Lord of the Rings was top of my ‘to do’ list.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing was just a four hour drive away and not only could we look at the legendary volcano, the option was there to actually climb it.
To say I was excited is an understatement.
We filled up on essentials for the road trip. Like, coffee, some sweets, crisps. A weird granola, yoghurt concoction thingy. All the very important things.
Oh, and of course, we did get some petrol too. Some.
Because it was only a four hour drive to the crossing, we knew we could take our time and that there would be plenty of petrol stations along the main roads. No dramas.
So off we went on our merry little way. Tunes blasting out of the radio, we were hanging out of the car windows acting like hyperactive children. Pulling over every five minutes to take photos of a particularly good-looking hill that we had just seen from a new angle.
The closer we got to Mt Tongariro, the more excitable we became. We just wanted to be there! We wanted to set up our tents and try out our little gas burner we’d bought to warm up some delicious, nutritious instant noodles. We were hardcore campers.
Spotting a supermarket, we pulled in to collect some more essentials. Coffee, more sweets, more crisps.
“Do we need any more petrol?”
“Na, I reckon we can make it. We’re so close now,”
Famous last words.
20 minutes had passed and we saw the little red light appear.
“Shall we turn around and head back?”
“Nah, there’ll be another petrol station soon,”
Our optimism was crushed when another 20 minutes had passed and there was still no sign of a petrol station.
We became pretty desperate. We had gone too far to turn back so our only option was keep going.
We approached a tractor chugging down the road in the same direction but we were too scared to stop the car in case we couldn’t get it started again.
It was beginning to get dark and we needed to be at our camp that evening as our trek was due to begin at 5.00am the next morning. We simply couldn’t afford to spend a night in the car. And there was absolutely no way I was missing our Mount Doom adventure. No way.
We made some signs with the hope of catching the tractor drivers attention. He pulled over and signalled for us to do the same.
What a spot of luck! We thought we were saved. He could give us some petrol or he would tell us that there is a petrol station one mile down the road.
He had no spare petrol and was unsure of where the nearest petrol station was.
We were really glad he had pulled us over to tell us that.. Really grateful.
Luckily, the car did start again.
We sat in silence for about 10 minutes. I was waiting for the engine to start making a funny noise or for the car to start shaking. It was surely running on the last of its fumes.
And that was when we saw it.
A road sign with a little petrol station symbol. Second exit at the roundabout.
We literally squealed with excitement!
We swung into the petrol station and filled up so vigorously, we’re lucky we didn’t end up covered in the stuff. We also bought a jerry can to fill up. You know, just in case.
How on earth we had managed to drive so far with the red light flashing, still baffles me today.
But we made it. Someone up there was definitely looking out for us that day.
So remember, if in doubt, just fill it up. It’s really not worth the stress!