“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ....Oscar Wilde

Monday 18 July 2011

New Zealand Road Trip.....The Forgotten World Highway

Yesterday was a fun packed day.....
We had asked advice for what we should do if we hired a car, and were given numerous idea's. The one that took our fancy was driving from New Plymouth in a large circle through Egmont Village, Inglewood, Stratford, Whangamomona, Tahu, Ohura, Ahititi, and back to New Plymouth. That doesn't sound too far, but let me tell you, we were gone about seven hours....only just making it back as the sun set.
People said it would be like travelling back 300 years and in parts it was.
When we mentioned our intentions to anyone, from the taxi driver, hotel staff, car hire staff, everyone's reaction seemed to be the same...."that's quite a drive" with a twist of the mouth.
I became uneasy and suggested we'd better take supplies with us, and stopped off to obtain water, crisps (for salt), Fruit (sugar) and Chocolate - just because!
I can now understand what everyone was apprehensive about. It was a little hairy in parts but truly a spectacular route with fantastic scenery. Some unfortunately on hairpin bends, that we just couldn't stop to shoot....much to my annoyance, and no matter how much I pleaded and promised I'd be quick. So you just have to take my word for it....but if your a novice driver or not a confident one, then perhaps this route wouldn't be for you. A good part of the trip wasn't even on tarmac! Just gravel with lots of fallen rocks from the mountainside, which kept you alert.
But then the road was called 'The Forgotten Highway'.....

Fasten your safety belts....Off we go.....
I couldn't resist another pic of Mount Taranaki as we started our journey....

It reminded me a little of Table Mountain...ever changing with the clouds rolling in and out.
No two minutes giving the same view.

There she is in the distance....
I suddenly became aware of being watched whilst taking this photo and turned to the side....
She was so well disguised, I never noticed her initially. She also had her kid with her, but didn't hang around - off they went down the mountainside.
I was astounded to see so many cattle on the mountainside too. I never thought cattle were good climbers, only ever seeing them on flat pastures.
Here's the information notices which I'm hoping you may be able to read. I know I could type the facts, but then I am away on holiday and some of their black and white historical photographs are priceless - such hard times and incredible characters.

An here's how it looks today....it weaves through the valley and you cross the tracks numerous times.

Then look what we spotted....wild turkeys
Turkeys were introduced to New Zealand around the 1890s. In those days, until around the 1950s, most farms raised a few pigs and had a mob of turkeys along with “chooks” and ducks to give a greater self sufficiency than is apparent on most farms today.

The turkeys were half domesticated and half wild in that the mobs were allowed to roam free but were occasionally fed maize. The chore of rounding up the mob to feed them usually fell to the younger members of the family. In this way the turkeys were prevented from wandering too far and prevented a range war with neighbours who could not resist shooting turkeys that strayed over the boundary. “Shooting each other’s turkeys” has become enshrined in the local patois and now means simply fighting with one’s neighbours.
We also saw Falcon's, and Harrier's...

And here's another 'wild turkey'....
(This photo may not stay once he see's this post)
I don't condone this type of behaviour normally, but I have to admit I was rather jealous at this stage of the journey. We hadn't seen a building, car or in fact another person for hours.....needs must and all that!
Maybe a 'shewee' might be a good idea. Note to self for future reference.

Then on to Whangamomona....
The first settlers arrived in 1895 with the town proper established some 2 years later. Growth of the town was seriously affected by the loss of 51 men (including the smaller nearby settlements of Kohuratahi and Tahora) in the First World War and a major flood in 1924. The town recovered with arrival of the railway line in 1933 and electrification in 1959. However the town went into decline again and the school closed in 1979, the post office 9 years later.
Whangamomona is actually a Republic and you can obtain a passport for a few dollars, at the Passport Office....at the end of the Hotel bar!

A little more history....

Ian Kjestrup (1989-1999)
After being put on the ballot without his knowledge, he became the first elected President. Served 10 years
Billy Gumboot the Goat (1999-2001)
First elected animal. He won election by eating the other challengers ballots. He died in office after serving for 18 months.
Tai the Poodle (2003-2004)
Tai retired after an assassination attempt left him a nervous wreck.
Murt "Murtle the Turtle" Kennard (2005-present)
The local garage owner fought off strong competition from former president Kjestrup and a cross-dresser called "Miriam" to become the 4th President. He was re-elected in 2009 by one vote. He was re-elected again in 2011 by a landslide.
On the day we arrived the Mustang's had rolled into town....
Off again after a little refreshment and light relief.....especially for me!
We came across a sight of how I envisaged New Zealand.
It was facinating to watch this farmer and his faithful workers (three dogs) rounding up the sheep.

It was amazing....the dogs took turns in barking and with each bark they slowly moved the sheep towards the pens. As soon as the last sheep entered the pen, the dogs were instantly quiet and immediately sat at their masters feet, waiting for their next instruction.....Oh Muffy, you've got a lot to learn.
I did have a little laugh to myself at the Jack Russell, who's obviously above all that.... just sitting watching until the end, then he strolled off to the farm house, no doubt for a little snack.
He's to the far left of this photo.

More information.....this time about the Moki Tunnel

This tunnel below isn't the Moki Tunnel....we were in that before we knew it and taking a photo was the last thing on my mind. We suddenly realised we didn't know where the lights where for that matter....eek.
Let me throw in a safety notice here....if you're hiring a car, make sure that you check, where all the bells and whistles are located ie lights in particular. You never know, when a dark tunnel may be lurking....we were oblivious to the tunnel until we actually entered it...then I commented we really needed lights...but my O.H. then shouted back...."I don't know where they are?" ARGHHhh... he was concentrating so much on just keeping the car absolutely straight. I just held my breath. O.H. just headed towards the light at the end of the tunnel.....Thankfully we never came across another vehicle coming in the opposite direction. Not sure what we'd have done then, or who would have had to reverse.
Have a look at this youtube link to give you some idea of what the tunnel is like to travel through....

Yep, we stopped as soon as we came out and checked for the lights.  
Apparently there were supposed to be five of these tunnels, but I think after the first one the plans may have been filed in the 'too hard basket' I certainly don't blame them.
Here's a smaller one that didn't need lights.

Well, I must get on with the day....catch you later.

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