After a rainy night in Piopio we squelched around in the mud at the Domain and departed this pretty little village. Sadly, the bad weather put us off exploring but we would be quite happy to return for another visit. Traveling along SH3 towards New Plymouth, the road took us along the Totoroa Gorge and past magnificent rocky outcrops.
Cliffs in Totoroa Gorge
We drove past the the little speck of a place called Mahoenui which has a hidden secret. In 1962 a population of giant weta were discovered in remnant patches of tawa forest at Mahoenui in the southern King Country. More weta were found on farmland reverting to gorse in 1987. The Department of Conservation (DOC) purchased the land at Mahoenui where giant weta was discovered and turned it into a reserve. The vegetation in the reserve is mainly gorse. While gorse is considered a pest throughout New Zealand, in this reserve it's an important plant as it provides protection from predators such as rats, hedgehogs and possums. Without this protection, the weta is highly vulnerable to introduced predators. Wild goats browsing on the gorse help to maintain its regrowth and are important in protecting the weta, and this is the only reserve in the country where gorse and goats are protected.
Continuing along, and with the Awakino Gorge Road Tunnel coming up quick around one of the many corners, I had my camera primed and ready. And there it was, quick, snap a photo before it’s too late.
Awakino Gorge Tunnel
Once through the gorge the country opened up to show this line of trees on the ridge, looking rather like a crest of feathers to me.
Trees on the sky-line
Then up and over the hill at Mokau, famous for the delicacy, whitebait. Coming down the hill we see the curving Mokau river bridge. One of these days we would like to take a trip on the Mokau River Cruise.
Bridge spanning the Mokau River
We weren’t finished with the hills and drove over Mt Messenger, and through another small tunnel.
Mt Messenger Tunnel
After a quick lunch stop, we continued on our way, and arrived at our stop for the next two nights, Rosandra Retreat. We are parked up behind the tennis court. This is a nice peaceful place with rural views.
We are almost parked under the shadow of Mt Egmont – such a beautiful view from our camp site. As they say in these parts, if you can’t see the mountain, it’s raining, and if you can see the mountain, it’s going to rain soon. Seems that we were lucky to get a glimpse of Mt Egmont between showers.