Tonga..The Off Road Kart and Dirt Shirts

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Tue 15 Jul 2008 07:51

Well Much to my great irritation it seems that once again we have been let down by Mailasail and this Blog was not posted!! So here for your edification it is!



The rest of the Tonga and Fiji up dates will follow over the next two days!!!!!



As mentioned in the previous blog, we had some shopping to do on our return to Neiafu. First to fill up the Air Cylinder. Got this done at Beluga Diving for a princely cost of £0.40! Next we stopped off at the Coconut Bar, which doubles as an Internet café as well as having a laundry with a good reputation. This is important because some rally yachts had very bad experiences with other laundries.  Next door was Vava’u Divers. They have a really neat air cylinder in miniature that was packed full of O rings. Just the job. They also have some really cool shirts…so I indulged! It turned out that the lady dive instructor running the shop was from Hampshire. She has been outside the UK now for 11 years and said the only thing she missed about it was Heinz Baked Beans,,,,,,,,,,,,So the next day Jennie had the idea of coming back with two tins for her!! She was so excited by this she said “she was feeling weak at the knees at the prospect of eating them!”

This was great, because she then felt compelled to give me a huge discount on a carved bone pendant necklace I fancied, of a whales tail!! So everyone was happy!! (COW BONE BY THE WAY)


We had also been told about a shop called “Tropical Tease”. They “do” all manner of Polo shirts, Tee shirts etc. But, they are famous for the Tonga Dirt Shirts……………




Happy Anahi’s modelling the Tonga Dirt Shirts 


These shirts are dyed using local red clay. As we discovered shortly after this, it really does make a great dye….or perhaps stain………….

The “dirts” and other items that Cynthia  could do, either as standard or to bespoke order became so popular with the rally group, that we virtually cleaned out all of her stock. A real collectors item.


So we had decided to “tour” the Island of Vava’u by off road safari Kart. All 34 km of it with 10km by road and the rest by dirt tracks cut through the landscape to enable us to get to some of the most spectacular scenery on the Island and to meet the people and see some wildlife.


  Before the start….still clean!


Parts of the course are very challenging. In fact on one part of the course, we were the only cart out of six that did not need to be towed out of a mud hole!! I guess the years of Land Rover driving experience and the off road course I did paid off!




At one point, when we were the last kart in line, we were confronted by a huge dip in the track, filled with water. All the other karts had “crabbed” around the side. We had no idea how deep it was, but I made an executive decision and drove straight thru’ the middle, creating our very own personal Tsunami!! We were now very wet, but a little less muddy………………..


This was a simply hilarious expedition. Best fun you can have with your cloths on in Tonga!!


  Crew a little Muddy!


On the way round we stopped a few times for photo opportunities. One of these was in a most spectacular cove, with sheer cliff faces that rose straight out of the sea. Flying around there ware a colony of Fruit Bats, or Flying Foxes as thy are sometimes known. This was a complete surprise and it was a real joy to watch the aerobatic display they laid on for us.


  Fruit Bat over the sea


WE also visited a resort, in a stunning bay with a wild beach………….


  No its not a Spanish resort….just cyclone modified


This is all that is left after a Cyclone came thru’ the island. The cyclone hit the Hotel resort two days before it was due to open to its first guests. The owner was not insured…………………..Rather Bizarrely, He still tends the gardens and there were freshly planted shrubs in the grounds…………


At the end of having all this fun, especially trying to keep the Kart on the track, we were exhausted.


So we returned to the boat for a thorough scrub up and change before going off to the Mango for lobster.


They never did manage to get the name of our boat correct. But it was very nice that they always made a card with you “boat name” decorated with small flowers and leaves.


  The new “Tongan” name for Zipadedoda


Once again it was stunning meal, followed by live Rugby on a wide screen TV. England getting royally roggered by the All Blacks once again. Fun night with great banter as we were surrounded by Kiwi’s!!


Next up, we headed off to Hunga Island on the west side of Vava’u. This is a totally “must do” if you ever come to Vava’u, Tonga.