It was goodbye to DeBretts Taupo and all the Lions fans in rental campers following the rugby games around the country. They were moving on to Auckland and we were heading south. It was a beautiful blue sky day, just perfect for a day’s drive. This is the view from the motor camp just before we headed out. Mt Ruapehu on the left and Mt Ngauruhoe on the right, seen away in the distance across Lake Taupo. And it appears that I snapped a bird, didn’t see that through the viewfinder.
Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe as viewed from our camp site
There were road works galore along the busy Desert Road and we were stopped several times by the work gangs. This group of workers were laying fresh asphalt.
Just another stop on this busy road
Those two mountains again – snapped while travelling on the Desert Road
Waiouru is always a good place to break the journey, so we stopped there for lunch. But what on earth was happening to the National Army Museum building? Seems that the contractors are building a new entranceway so the museum was closed up tight.
National Army Museum at Waiouru
Heading south again we turned off at Mangaweka to take the Manawatu Scenic Route. First we crossed the Mangaweka bridge over the Rangitikei River. This lovely old truss bridge was built way back in 1904.
Over the Rangitikei River
Then we drove along a bluff lined with papa rock cliffs. This soft sandstone crumbles away in the rain and workmen were busy tidying up the small rockslides.
White papa rock cliffs
Up hill and down dale we go, eventually reaching our destination of Rangiwahia. Our stop for the night is the Rangiwahia Domain – a great little place to stay, with power and toilets available.
Staying here for the night
Geoff and Eileen parked on the grass inside the Domain, and we opt to stay outside on the hard beside the memorial. Luckily our power cord was long enough to reach the caravan hot point.
Overnight stay at Rangiwahia Domain
According to the signage, Rangiwahia means “piercing the sky”, or “opening in the heavens”. This is because the site was a natural clearing of about 100 acres amongst the tall trees of virgin forest when the first settlers arrived. The pioneers faced the mammoth job of cutting down huge trees, which were used for building houses. Sheep farming and dairy cattle became established, and the area was also excellent for growing potatoes. A bustling village was soon established, several hotels, a Post Office, butchery, saddlery and blacksmith, a butter factory, boarding houses, a school and three churches. Sadly, all long gone now, even the school has closed and the buildings recently removed.
Map of the area
These days, Rangiwahia is a quiet, sleepy little place. Sheep contentedly munch grass in the paddock behind us, and chickens are cluck-clucking over the road. It is a tiny speck on the map, in rural heartland, and we are grateful to have the opportunity to camp overnight at the Domain.