Home from our Aussie adventure on Thursday and here we are taking off in the caravan on Sunday. Goodness me, it’s a hard life! We are heading up to Hamilton to get the back window of our caravan repaired, then we will be attending the annual Motorhome, Caravan and Leisure Show. We had to contend with rather strong winds to begin with, we were not clear of them till we had passed Hunterville. I hate driving in such conditions. The car radio took my mind off the horrible wind, playing all those songs we remembered from our younger days. We like to listen to the Oldies Music on Magic.
Driving up SH1 we drove past the impressive Makohine Viaduct, one of many viaducts designed by engineer Peter Seton Hay (1852–1907) in the central part of the North Island Main Trunk (NIMT) railway. We passed slowly (clickedy clack) over these viaducts on Thursday coming back from Auckland on our trip aboard the Northern Explorer train.
Lunch stop was at Taihape, a good place to pull in, with plenty of room, ablutions nearby, and a coffee cart. How about a nice hot coffee with our lunch?
Coffee at Taihape
Not much to see of Mt Ruapehu as we approached Waiouru. I know it’s there somewhere, hiding under the clouds.
Mt Ruapehu playing hide and seek
Turning onto SH49 we were soon in Ohakune, where we were stopping for the night. Oh look, there’s the Big Carrot. This roadside tribute to Ohakune's biggest crop was erected in 1984 and quickly became one of NZ’s most hugged ‘Big Things’. Carrots were first grown in the area during the 1920s by Chinese settlers, who cleared the land by hand and explosives. Ohakune now grows two-thirds of the North Island's total crop. At 7.5 metres tall, the carrot was built for a TV commercial for ANZ Bank, and then donated to the town. The area is famed for its farms and carrot production.
Ohakune, home to the Big Carrot
Our overnight stop at the Ohakune Club was peaceful, as usual, although we were surprised by the number of vans parked up. Perhaps they were all coming to the show at Hamilton as well? No, they were all keen skiers, and are semi-permanents, leaving their vans here at the club, generally traveling down at weekends to indulge in their passion. We were the only casual camper that night. Ohakune is a small town located at the southern end of the Tongariro National Park, close to the southwestern slopes of the active Mount Ruapehu, and has quite an alpine look and feel to it. It provides easy access to the nearby ski fields and ski resorts.
Staying at the Ohakune Club
And no stop at Ohakune is complete without a visit to the much loved Chocolate Éclair Shop. This establishment only opens during the ski season, and is the place to stop when you are in town over the winter. The huge chocolate éclairs are legendary!
World famous in Ohakune, the Chocolate Éclair Shop
It was a lazy start the next morning and sadly the elusive mountain was still in hiding - but I know it's there somewhere! We didn’t get away till later than we had planned, traveling up SH4 around National Park. Gemma settled down to snooze on my lap, she is back to her usual self putting the ordeal of her time in the cattery behind her. It was a relatively slow trip, as we had forgotten just how windy and hilly this road was. But never mind, the scenery was spectacular.
Heading towards Otorohanga
Passing through the little village of Owhango we spotted a sign we hadn’t seen before. We were now at Latitude 39 degrees South.
Seen at Owhango
We eventually pulled in to NZMCA Otorohanga Park, our stop for the night. There has been a lot of work done by the volunteers here since our last visit – the parking area has been expanded, and there is now water and rubbish facilities on site.