It was goodbye to the Clydesdales and our charming hosts and we set of down SH39 to skirt around the southern end of Otorohanga, and joined up with SH3. Driving through the Awakino Gorge, we came across what our road atlas quaintly calls a “road tunnel” – another feat of engineering hewn out of solid rock many years ago.
Stopping for lunch at Mokau, we briefly flirted with the idea of whitebait fritters for lunch from the famous whitebait cafe. But no, we saved our money and parked down by the edge of the river, making do with a sandwich and cuppa in the caravan instead, watching all the traffic hurtle across the curved bridge.
Driving along the coast for a while, the road then took us up and over Mt Messenger. Another road tunnel – this one complete with a workman standing guard. Maybe he knew we were coming and was a one man welcoming committee?
Along the coast some more and we soon reached New Plymouth. Coming to New Plymouth is always a bit of a home-coming to Robin, as his family moved here from the Hutt Valley when he was 8 years old. Consequently he did most of his schooling here, and as a teenager spent summers surfing and life saving at the beach. We are staying at the new NZMCA park at Huatoki Domain for two nights. No other campers here so we are in splendid isolation.