We left the Bay of Islands and headed down the highway to Auckland. Nothing too much to report here. I was hoping to see Officer Dave from that very lame Motorway Madness reality show on TV, but he must have been off booking someone else in another location. The most significant thing about today was that the hotel, in which we stayed near the Ellerslie Racecouse had a blackout and we had to find our way to the bar through a maze of dark corridors and fire escapes.
On the next day, we proceeded south, staying in a town with an unpronouncable Maori name and on the following morning decided to see if it was worth while visiting Mt Ruepahue – the active volvano in the centre of the north island. It seemed very overcast and as we headed toards it in the Rocket, we were very doubtful as to whether we would get any sort of view at all. However, as time went by and as we rounded another corner on the windy road, the mountain appeared in all its snowcapped glory, free of cloud and as a spectacle to behold. We drove up the road as far as we could to the ski village and did a couple of small walks to a lookout and a little waterfall and then decided to had further soiuth towards New Plymouth.
We took Highway 43 which is locally known as the Forgotten Heritage Highway, It really poasses some old historical areas, but we decided that that it was appropriately named as we had soon forgotten how long we had been on this very windy and tortuous road, how many corners we had come around, as well as forgetting how far we really had to travel. However, we exited the forgotten part of oour journey (it was reall very scenic) just in time to reach the information cente in Straford to find some accommodation for the night.
The people at the InZid I-Sites are indeed very helpful. They recommended a mountain chalet on the slopes of Mt Taranaki which was run by a woman who had emigrated from Switzerland and married a local man who ran a guest house furhter up the mountain and who also was a skilled artist. The chalet was her orgoinal home and on the coffee table was a book about her husband (Keith Anderson) and his life. It was a very inspiring story and we felt really privelidged to be able to share in something of her life. We took the opportunity for a quick chat over a delightful breakfast that we had the ‘Mountain House’ on the following morning and our perceptions of this very interesting lady (Bertha) as an adventurous achiever were well and trulyconfirmed.
The final part of our trip was to drive back to Wellington, stay overnight and catch the plane home. We arrived back in Melbourne at 1730 on Janaury 21.