Sunday, June 24, 2012

Forgotten World Highway trip 24 June 2012

Sunday, June 24, 2012
oldbearnews editorAfter breakfast and having listened to a lot of rain from 3 am onwards hitting the roof, we hit the road, having decided give the native bushwalk a miss and to travel to New Plymouth via Waiouru / Tangiwai / Oakune / Rarimu spiral / Tauramanui. Hoping that we would have better wetter, but given the forcast and the fact that this is still New Zealands Westcoast (just up further north) - it did not look promising.

From Tauramanui - made famous by it's song from hmmm 50's??  we decided to go a more or less direct route which turned out to be State Highway 43 – a road to be travelled on, a scenic road, a road to be enjoyed – a road also named ‘The Forgotten World – highway’!  This road is not for the fainthearted And here is why:
  • You never know if there still is a road ahead, after a bend (road slips or wash outs)
  • Wild goats and pigs and sometimes sheep even, liberally use the road
  • A road-sign at the beginning of the drive –>  “Nz highest crash rate for Motorbikes on this road”  WARNING
  • Where after a good down-poor you may have to doge rocks the size of a basketball or larger lying on the road (suprising you as you come round a corner)
  • The medium strip suddenly shifts across your bonet and becomes the side strip (I kid you not)
  • The road narrows to a single line and becomes shingle for 15+ km
  • A hand hewn tunnel (very tall and narrow) with room for just ONE vehicle going either way!!
  • Where your hands never stay in same position on steering wheel as you constantly go around corners / bends
  • Where you think you may need to see a ciropraticioner at the end of the trip (road very uneven and bumpy – hard on body and spine)
  • Where you likely see more one-way bridges then on-coming road-users
  • Where you can climb up a saddle on steep rising hills and next minute you are on the bottom of a narrow gorge only to climb again. (5 saddles in all)
  • Where there is no petrol station for 150 km (so you need to do some mental caculations on milage left with your tank so much full)
  • Where there is no living soul for 50 km
  • Where you can see nature re-claiming its stake (when you can see rich deep green moss growing on the tarmac seal - you know it is not a well travelled Road.
Check these out  ---> Further travel notes include: Waiouru – blink and you missed it driving past - has a nice Army museum so we believe.  Mamabear not to keen and go and see guns and things . . . Tangiwai – a sobering place where NZ’s worst railway disaster happened on a Christmas eve day. (and the Queen happened to be in our country in that year - and gave what turned out to be her ONLY ever Christmas speech away from UK) Oakune – where we just had to take a picture and think of a certain 'giggles' (and was overrun by whole heap of young people who where obviously enjoying the winter sport on Mount Ruapehu). Further near the Carrot was this trunk - a nice Totara tree - seeded in 1300 AD and well some 700 years later, when the local sawmiller decided that this would make a good tree to log and mill- ONLY to find that it was too large to put through his sawmill - so he just left it lying round!! Crying shame!! Criminal even.
Rarimu spiral – Part of NZ’s  Main trunk (railway) line that had to climb many, many meters in a very confined space – and literally spiral climbedup to the plateu behind and carries on! One day I shall catch a train from Wellington to Auckland and see for myself.  If you know what you are looking for you can see the power posts in the green hill . . . .      Tauramanui – famous because of its song from the 50’s – and quit a large hub! Had lunch there – and saw 3 Intercity busses.  The town services a large farming / forestry / tourist community.
New Plymouth – found a motel and took 30min stroll in town – trying to find the local I-site and find out what we can do / see / experience given the continuing precipitation. It was closed by the  time we got there – missed by 5 min!!  Saw many possible eating places – including a (chinese) teddybear eatery / take away!!  Back to Motel unit to see the news (there have been some earth-rockings in Chch) before heading out again for tea at the local Cobb & Co - a more traditional fare! 
 Thats the closest we got to see Mt Ruapehu! You just have to visualize the snow topped crater rim and ski-tracks and well whatever else the mountain has to offer.  We may well have to come back here when the weather is a tad better!!
 A local artist was putting together soem driftwood and here is one of his many creations.  Turns out there will be many more on display along the highways or near towns etc.  We saw a dinosaur near the Rarimu spiral  and something or other being put up at Tauramanui (which was still under cover).  This 'little' Kiwi is well over 2 meters tall.
The entrance to Rarimu - we just had to snap this sign!!  Someone certainly has a sense of humor - or is deadly serious!! Wonder where the children are roaming . . . . . .   bear print

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