Mt Egmont looms behind dairy cows grazing in a paddock. Photo / Mark Mitchell
We drove down SH2, past Inglewood and Stratford, stopping at Eltham, home of the Mainland Cheese Shop. In fact, last time we called in, we were greeted by a couple of fire engines and the factory staff pouring out of the doors. This visit was much quieter, thank goodness. The cheese is not a great deal cheaper than the prices you can pay in the supermarkets, so we always look for the specials. And we found some, a lovely big piece of blue cheese, (love that smelly blue cheese)some parmesan, so nice on pizzas and in cheese sauces, and keeps for ages, plus a big bag of Swiss cheese. That should last us for a while.
Since the 1880s dairy farming has been the basis of Taranaki’s economy, and has made a major contribution to the region’s economy. Due to amalgamation and automation, the many small farms and factories of the 20th century have been replaced by much larger farms and a single massive milk-processing plant, Fonterra. With a a moist, temperate climate and deep, free-draining, fertile, volcanic ash soils, the area is particularly well suited to dairy farming. We drove past many paddocks with grass cut all ready to be packed into silage bags for winter feed.
Our stop for the night was at the Wanganui East Club. We were joined by a motor-home later in the afternoon, so we weren’t all on our lonesome this time.