Leaving mist shrouded Whakapapa behind we travelled south of National Park Village on SH4. Here the road passed under the impressive Matatote Viaduct, the last and highest of a group of structures built in the classic North American steel trestle pattern. All these had a series of towers supporting Pratt trusses spanning up to 30 metres each. Makatote Viaduct is 262 metres long and 79 metres high. Constructed by J & A Anderson Ltd, the company built a factory in 1906 just north of the site to fabricate all the steel members needed for the viaduct, which was powered by a wood-burning boiler and steam engine. A water turbine drove the stone crusher and concrete mixer. A cableway had been erected on the centreline of the viaduct. Steel fabrication began and the last girder was placed on 4 June, 1908, following which the cableway could be dismantled to permit completion of earthworks up to the abutments and subsequent rail track laying. The rail track across it was completed on 3 August, 1908.
Then we travelled over the Parapara Road from Raetahi to Wanganui. According to Mr Google: “the Paraparas are rugged limestone hills north of Wanganui town. State highway 4 is a very tortuous road running through the hills and often suffers flood damage in many places”. We came across .a couple of instances where the rain had dislodged the soft rock on the hill sides onto the road, and a road crew was busy clearing up a slip.
We stopped along the road at the Raukawa Falls Lookout. Raukawa Falls is located on the Mangawhero River and visible from an official lookout platform.
The road goes up and down, up and down, one hill after another. We towed the caravans quite safely, it’s just a matter of careful driving and keeping the speed down. Not quite as scary as we had been told, and it obviously needs a lot of maintenance to keep it clear over winter. It is a beautiful and scenic road, but has always been prone to landslides in wet weather.
Our stop for the night was the Wanganui East Club, where we parked up as directed on the edge of the large car park. And where better to enjoy 4zees but in the club bar. One of the local blokes approached Robin and asked if our two vans had just come across the Paraparas. He recognised us as he was one of the road maintence crew clearing up after a slip.
With the railway line right next door, there was a little bit of noise during the night as trains moved around the track. Fortified by bacon and eggs for breakfast the next day, it was time to pack up again for the last time, and make our way home. It had been another great road trip, travelling 491kms over 7 days, stopping at Taihape, Ohakune, Whakapapa, and Wanganui.