We fare welled Taihape, known as the Gumboot Capitol of the World, with a stop at the dump station and a photo stop at the big corrugated iron gumboot. The name all came about when comedian John Clark was experiencing considerable success as his Kiwi character Fred Dagg singing “The Gumboot song". It was decided to attempt to halt the traffic on State Highway One by providing a promotional activity to entice travellers to stop and see what Taihape had to offer, and the idea of Gumboot Day was born. The first Gumboot Day consisted of gumboot throwing, gumboot races, Fred Dagg look-alikes, decorated gumboots and shop window displays providing a day when town and country alike could get together and enjoy themselves whilst at the same time selling the town to the rest of New Zealand. This annual event is still very popular.
Leaving gumboots behind, we drove up SH1 to Waiouru, turned onto SH40 and travelled to Ohakune, and it’s Big Carrot. The rich volcanic soils are ideal for growing vegetables, and carrots remain the main crop. Potatoes, parsnips, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and swedes also grow very well in this area. The 7.5 metre erection, “a magnificent monolith, standing tall at the gateway to the central North Island town of Ohakune” – the famous Kiwi icon the Giant Carrot – was put in place by the Ohakune Growers Association in 1984.
The town of Ohakune comes alive in winter when the the skiers hit town. Who wouldn’t want to come here with Mt Ruapehu on the doorstep and a view like this. Even non skiers like us can appreciate the beauty of the mountain.
We are staying at the Ohakune Club with about 90 other caravans and motor homes to take part in the NZMCA “Chocolate Éclair Rally”. People rolled in yesterday afternoon and early evening, with a few more arriving this morning.
Local growers had donated two trailer loads of carrots, parsnips, potatoes and swedes and for a $5 donation we were invited to fill a supermarket bag with these goodies. We didn’t need to be told twice – I can see a whole lot of veggie soup and hearty beef casseroles being cooked up when we return home.
Did I mention the chocolate éclairs? The Chocolate Éclair shop is another Ohakune icon, and makes the world’s best chocolate éclairs, in our opinion. The shop is only open during the ski season, and people have been known to travel miles out of their way on a journey to get some of these delicacies. We were all served one of these delights for morning tea.
There's people to catch up with, the town to explore, and maybe an extra chocolate éclair to eat. Should be a good rally.