February 18, 19, and 20 2014
In the morning, I had to go and check out the wool stores in Wanganui. I was still looking for some lace-weight yarn. I have to say it is nearly impossible to find lace-weight yarn, or 2 ply in New Zealand. Perhaps I’m just not looking hard enough. There is lots of 8 ply and higher, perhaps it’s the weather here? I don’t know. But it’s beginning to look a lot like I’ll have to settle for purchasing my lace-weight yarn back in Canada or making exploratory visits to the US. I also visited New Zealand’s version of Chapters/Indigo, Whitcoulls for a little souvenir shopping. Then it was time to head of on my next journey. The Forgotten World Highway. How can I NOT drive this highway with a name like that? I have to admit that I didn’t drive it all the way across. There is a 12km section that is unsealed and it is actually headed in the wrong direction for me. In the town of Stratford, I stopped for lunch, visited their i-Site, got information about the highway and headed off. I was only going as far as Whangamomona, a “Republic”, within the North Island. As you can see from the sign, it was for our own safety that we should go and BUY a passport for passage through this township, not even a VISA, but passport. So, now I am a member of the Republic.
The history of this Republic dates back to 1989 when regional council lines were redrawn and Whangamomona became a part of Manawatu-Wanganui Region. But the people of the town wanted to remain within the Taranaki Region so they decided to become a Republic and elected themselves a president. I don’t know who or what is the president as of this day, but apparently I get voting rights, via website. I say who or what, because Wikipedia indicates that the first president was a human then he was beaten by a goat, then a poodle and then a turtle.
The Whangamomona Hotel, the only hotel in the township, is also the location of the “Passport Office”. For $5 you get your own passport, with a stamp in it and all you have to supply is your own passport photo. And what’s even better, it’s good for 10 years. Sweet! Well, after making sure I would have safe passage through this township for the next 10 years, it was time for me to head off to my final destination, New Plymouth.
After “Karen, the GPS” sent me all over Westown, a suburb of New Plymouth, I finally made it to my home for the next three nights. Other than this blip, it was one of the most leisurely days ever.
The next day, I was headed out for another leisurely drive. I think I have reached a new level on my vacation. Before, everything was go, go, go. Prep for The Crossing. Prep for Mt. Doom. Prep for my first over night camping trip. But now that all of that is done, I am slowing down. But in a good way. I am not in a hurry to go anywhere. Especially when the destination is the journey. When your only plan for the day is to drive the Surf Highway SH 45, there is no rush because really, I’m already there. I just have to pick a side road and go. Or pick a township and stop. So my first stop was Cape Egmont and the lighthouse.
After watching one boat come in and one boat go out, it was back on the road. This time just driving at my leisure, up the road to the next small town. I probably irritated quite a few of the NZ drivers, but that’s what passing lanes are for and I did pull over a few times as well so people could pass. But again, the speed limit is 100, not 110. Eventually I made it to Opunake. Supposedly a true surf town. I’ll trust the guide book, since I’ve never actually been in a surf town. Here I decided to turn off and head over to Middleton Bay and enjoy the view for a bit before heading back to New Plymouth.
“Welcome to New Plymouth, where Family Violence is not Okay”
That was the sign that welcomed you into the city. It’s good to have a tag line. It’s amazing what you notice when you’re not in a hurry. Once I was away from the small towns, I decided to check out their version of Robson Street. I found Knit World and a lovely cafe called Elixir where I worked on my blog for a little bit, and it was also a nice place to escape from the heat. Pretty much after Valentines Day, the weather here has been fantastic. Hot and Sunny and a lot of breeze. Make use of sunscreen and never leave the house without a hat. It was a good day.
On my last day in New Plymouth, I headed out to Mt. Taranaki. I was headed for Dawson Falls and the ‘Goblin Forest’. Again, how can I not go to the Goblin Forest?
I was headed back to Stratford but instead of turning off to the Forgotten World Highway, I headed off in the opposite direction. It was an easy drive. In New Zealand you have the standard blue street signs, then there are the yellow signs for attractions or smaller scenic stuff and then there are the brown signs, usually the scenic stuff that the government promotes. So as soon as I saw the brown sign for Egmont National Park and Visitor Centre Plateau. I made the turn. Their signage is great. But you have to read them before turning. That’s why you should drive slowly. Plateau was the key word. I ended going to the Plateau. 1147 Km above sea level. It was not Dawson Falls. In fact Dawson Falls was an hour return hike. Say WHAAAA? That’s not right. Well at least I got a fantastic view of the Mt. Taranaki and I would’ve had a great view out to New Plymouth and of the volcanoes in Tongariro National Park, however instead there was lovely cloud covering it all. Oh well. You can’t have everything perfect all the time. So after heading back down the road, I stopped at a parking lot that was about halfway down to read some more signage, a little better. And there was a sign indicating Dawson Falls. Pointing down at an angle. I looked down the road, but it lead nowhere. So I was going to give up and head back to New Plymouth. I drove back down off the mountain and then came upon a yellow sign for Dawson Falls. And then it was like a flashback in a Sherlock Holmes episodes. I remember the simplified map that I had examined the night before. I remember there was a road from Stratford that would take me straight up the mountain but there was also a turn off to go to another road that would take me up to the mountain. I had just found the turnoff. So…I turned off and followed the yellow signs for Dawson Falls. And I am so glad I did.
The moment I stepped onto the trail towards Dawson Falls, I entered Goblin Forest. It was so beautiful. The moss and lichen covered trees were so moody and with the sun peaking through the trees, it just brought the whole forest to life. It was about a 25 min walk to Dawson Falls and then another 25 minutes back out. It is definitely worth visiting. When I got back to the hostel, Christina, the manager of the hostel was telling me that Dawson Falls did not used to be like that. I don’t know if you can see it in the photos, but there is a small trickle of a water fall right next to the big waterfall. It used to be reversed. And the flow of the water at the bottom used to be reversed as well. But there was a storm and it changed it to how it is now. Pretty Cool!
Well, that night Christina had made Taranaki cake! Basically everyone in the hostel had climbed Mt. Taranaki and so all our countries were represented via the little flags and we ended our night with cake. Sweet!
Beginning to miss you all! Luv, Aunty!