It was rather chilly parked up at Ohakune overnight – thank goodness for the gas heater and fluffy winter sheets to keep us warm. Our elderly cat Muffy really feels the cold these days, and spent the night burrowing under the bedclothes, climbing out again and loudly complaining, before snuggling down again. And so it was repeated, time after time - she does tend to get disturbed and wants us awake to tend to her needs! Never mind, we made it through the night, and awoke to a bright and sunny, although a little chilly, morning.
Parked at Ohakune Club
We drove up SH4 and under the Makatote Viaduct, pulling off at the handy parking area close by to take a few photos. Work is being done on this amazing structure, and KiwiRail together with TBS Farnsworth are partnering together to refurbish and strengthen the historic viaduct.
A plaque erected by the Institute of Professional Engineers NZ recognizes the Makatoke Viaduct as an important part of New Zealand’s engineering heritage. One of a family of viaducts carrying the North Island Main Trunk, Makatoke was completed in 1908. During construction transporting steel from the manufacturer in Christchurch was highly impractical so a workshop was built on site. Other equipment was shipped from Christchurch to Wanganui, barged up the river to Pipiriki, then transported by bullock and horse teams to the Makatoke site. This was the last structure on the line to be completed.
Pylons of the viaduct wrapped in covering
Information Board standing behind plaque by Institute of Professional Engineers
Continuing on our way, we drove through the tiny ghost settlement of Erua, formerly the site of a busy saw milling operation many years ago. Our stay for the next two nights is to be at National Park Village, a busy bustling place in the ski season, and for those wanting to make the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
It’s a bit chilly up here on the central plateau at this altitude, so we decided to spend the next couple of nights on power, and pulled into The Park Hotel, which also had caravan sites on offer. These days, most sites are made for small tourist camper vans, not for large sturdy NZ built caravans and a big tow car. After a lot of manoeuvring, backing up, and almost jack knifing the caravan, we decided that it just wasn’t going to work. Robin went to the office to explain the predicament and ask for a refund, as the sites the sites were just too small for us.
No room to get in and out with a caravan
So it was on to “Plan B” and we drove around to the Plateau Lodge. After the management heard our tale of woe with our previous parking concerns, they advised us to make sure we would fit on site before paying the fee. These sites, although quite narrow, were a little easier to get on and finally we were settled and plugged into power. No room for a car on site, or to put an awning out. Like a lot of camps in tourist areas, they mostly only cater for tourist camper vans. The outlook is pleasant and the ablution block looks brand new.
Plateau Lodge, National Park
After a drive around the local area we relaxed back in the van with a cuppa. The evening should be interesting – we are meeting up with a group of Lions! More later.