We had planned to do a trip to the Far North after a week at home, but our trip had to be foreshortened when David’s cataract operation was delayed until 21 March. We could still do the trip, we thought, so off we set to Taranaki to stay in Waitara Holiday Park which my sister Dee, her husband, son and daughter in law are running now.
While there, we had sought their advice on where to break the trip to be well-positioned to get north of Auckland; and were all set to follow that. But in the shower that morning, I realised that I wasn’t looking forward to so much driving over the next couple of weeks as the distances to be covered would mean that we’d be travelling every day and rushing around – inevitably missing things, not being able to stop at the brown signs and having to stick to a timetable.
So I asked David if he’d mind if we left the Far North until after we come back from the UK, and on this trip just go as far as Tauranga. He was fine with that, so we decided to head that way via the Forgotten World Highway from Stratford. The weather was so beautiful and the mountain was totally clear of cloud, so there was another change of destination and we headed up to the carpark at Dawson Falls, did a walk to Wilkie's Pools (across the swing bridge ...), had an icecream at the cafe, decided not to eat dinner at the Lodge, and stayed in the carpark for the night. For FREE!!!
It was such a gift to be able to park there.
As a Taranaki person (I lived there from aged 2.5 to 17) I am a bit obsessed with this mountain ... When I was at Woodleigh School (primary), the view of the mountain from our playground was amazing, but it was ubiquitous and I don't remember noticing or remarking on it. Somehow though, it got into my bloodstream, and when I left home, I missed both it and the sea - especially as I moved to Hamilton, an inland city with neither a substantial mountain (I don't count Pirongia, sorry) nor the sea.
|The view to and across the Taranaki Bight.|
|Easy to see the tree-line - I am not sure what the height is where the trees stop, but I will get my on-site researcher (pictured) to find that out, in case I am asked by anyone ...|
|The path to Wilkie's Pools is wheelchair- and pushchair-accessible, and is very well made and maintained. DOC people are great at this stuff.|
|Fantham's Peak is out of sight but the summit of Taranaki is clear|
|Not easy to see, but to the right of the power pole is Mt Ruapehu which is in the middle of the North Island.|
|This is the view from the Public Dump Station in Stratford. Fence staples needs replacing, but hey ...|
In the late afternoon, up in the carpark, while I was sitting outside enjoying the sunshine, David had the maps out and was comparing distances and travel times that resulted in a further change of plan (I sense a pattern here – again …) – we decided that we would come back via the Forgotten World Highway (always my preference as the mountain is in view on the way west) and travel up via North Taranaki.
So off we went heading on our way to another place suggested by Dee and Murray, on the banks of the Waikato River. But as we came through Onaero, I thought of the still 3-4 hours of driving, and decided I would far rather stop at Tongaporutu. So there we stopped – not just for one night, but for two!
|This was the last of about 10 photos of the approaching sunset - be pleased I spared you those.|
|Mel with his new friend, Moosli who lives with Kevin and Marilyn from Egmont Village. Lovely people!|
|The river mouth - next stop Australia ...|
|That water is so smooth that it is slippery when skiing.|
I think it is safe to say that I am obsessed with Tongaporutu, as well as with the mountain.
Jim and Judy called in on their way back from Auckland and Hamilton, to have dinner and bring emergency supplies of chardonnay - I had run out the night before and was reduced to drinking riesling - shock horror!