[Taranaki] The Forgotten Highway

After a night of rest at an awesome holiday park in Harewa after departing the Taranki, today we stopped briefly at Stratford, saw the glockenspiel on mute (they say that there are sounds usually, but for some reason it wasn't performing right today), and took off on the Forgotten Highway - SH 43.

Initially I had no intention of going down this long and "forgotten" road. The only time I've ever heard friends mentioned it, they said it was long and long and long, and they I should only attempt to drive down it if I really feel like it ... whatever that means.

I had the idea of a really abandoned trail, gray and rusting, even the skies should be gloomy, with mines and tunnels and broken down barns everywhere. It would have terrified me like ghost movies. It would have been quiet and creepy, and somewhere along the road we might see (or think that we'd seen) a mad farmer with a chainsaw and a wicked grin standing eerily on the side of the road ... 

(I now regret writing this when we are at a completely dark campsite with nothing but the light from the laptop screen shining ... I'm seriously scaring myself ...)

But anyways, that was not the case at all.

[Although I did still think this kind of effect really suits this Forgotten World]

Today was bright and sunny with lively wisps of clouds draped all over the skies. The hills were fresh green and singing, rolling and alive with stock - all kinds of cows and sheep and horse, chewing away without a care in the world. 

We crossed streams and rivers, turbulent with clear flowing water. We passed rail tracks with people enjoying their touristic rail trail. A plane swooped in and out of the valleys above us, enjoying their view from above.

Whangamomona Hotel was brimming with life, the bartender and guests visiting all seemed like they were having a good time, hanging around as if they have all the time in the world. (Now that I think about it ... it was really like stumbling upon yesteryear.)

Upon several of the valley saddles and lookout points, we savored the greenery and landscapes all around us. From one point, we could still see the Taranaki, just partially veiled by some passing clouds, as if saying his last goodbye to us as we headed towards the east. Later on, we saw the Big Three - Tongariro, Ngaruahoe, and most of all, Ruapehu glowing in the distance, their tips still shimmering with snow under the sun.

We shared the road with so little other vehicles that I can almost remember every car that passed us. When we stopped and enjoyed the view would honk at us as they drove passed, otherwise they would greet us with a the most subtle wave by merely raising a finger as passing when we were both driving.

At one point, we came across a lost sheep wandering on the road. It must have gotten out of its fence somehow, and two other sheep were bleating at it from the other side, as if saying "Oh my god! How did you get out there? Come back! There's something coming up behind you right now!" And we just drifted behind it, it was the most amusing thing.

[This was one of the most unusual thing along the way also!]

True, there were challenging twists and turns along the way, but I overcame all of them with much skill (and luck)! My driving experience must have upped by so many levels today!

And finally, we came across a campsite right by the Whanganui River, where there's a group of people camping out here tonight, they had just left Taumaranui this morning, went for a swim (or should I say, fall) in the river, and will be continuing their way down this "Great Walk" tomorrow. 

I was soooo intrigued by their adventure and lack of experience, encouraging me to try it out too maybe, once I get to Taumaranui, I'll check with the visitor centers there! 

Goodbye Taranaki! Hello King Country!

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