Mount Taranaki/Egmont 5th January Blog 124


We wake early as Kev wants to finish off the jetting on the bike. It is just as well as the farmers wife is out for an early morning ride on her horse. He stops and is really wary of this strange tipi and bike in his way. I stroke his nose to calm him and have a quick chat to the farmers wife to assure her we will leave no trace, she wishes us well and resumes her ride. I catch up on some clothes washing in the river whilst Kev finishes off the bike.
It is not an early start after all these chores. We are following highway 3 which weaves in and out round the coast it is quite busy in places as it is a main highway. We take lunch in a picnic spot by the coast’s edge overlooking the sea before riding round to the next bay.
The three sisters the sign announces, these are three rocks visible only at low tide when you can wade out to view them just round the penisular. The tide is well and truely in at the moment so we just have to satisfy ourselves with the magnificent view.
We continue on towards New Plymouth stopping 16kms out of town at a sign to Black Beach.
This turns out to be a dead end with a holiday park (campground) at the end. It is absolutely heaving and our first taste of holiday crowds in NZ.  Part of the reason we headed west first from Auckland is that people warned us that most people head east to the Coromandel area over Christmas and the west would be a lot quieter. We find the black beach and take some photos. On the way out we take a slight detour to the camps kitchen to fill up our water bottles. The bike has caused quite a stir here and a small crowd gathers instantly, Kev fields the questions while I replenish our water supply. Once in New Plymouth we stock up on food and fuel but don’t linger in town.
We choose a wiggly route out of town hugging the base of Mount Taranaki (or Egmont both names are correct it has two, the first Maori, the second European) We wind our way along a narrow twisty road that seems only just reclaimed from the bush, you get the impression that left for a month it would encroach the road and swallow it back again.
We are thankful for the shade today, although the roof does a stirling job it has been a scorcher of a day and now at 3-4pm it is at it’s hottest.
Emerging from the bush we find ourselves in undulating farmland and soon the majestic Mount Taranaki/Egmont is a feature on our left. It is a magnificent site rising from the surrounding farmland with a slight dusting of snow on the summit. In fact it is so picture perfect it was used in the film ‘The Last Samurai’ to represent Mount Fuji in Japan (they look very similar). Keeping the mountain to our left we follow round it’s base detouring off to visit the lighthouse on the west cape.
Here we encounter some fellow travellers from Germany. They bought a plain van and after kitting it out to become a mobile home they are now touring NZ. We chat a while and exchange stories. It is beautiful here but there is nowhere to camp so after photos we turn inland.
Spotting a picnic area we stop. There are tall trees sheilding it from the road. We make the most of the tables and cook our evening meal. I am not too keen on sleeping here as the road is close and the lorries thunder by also because it is sheltered it has been used once to often as a toilet for my liking. Kev relents and we set off to search for something better, an hour later and just as it’s getting dark we give up and return there is nothing else. After ensuring the tent is far enough away from the ‘toilet’ we turn in for the night.
The wind has picked up and it looks like rain.
Waking early next morning the wind is almost gale force we struggle to put the tent away without damage. Resuming our route around the mountain we are unfortunately heading towards rain. It starts as drizzle but soon builds to full on storm. Someone is killed climbing Mount Taranaki almost every year, the weather around it is fickle and it’s summit trail steep and exposed. Yesterday we were in bright sunshine and just riding to the other side of the mountain and climbing slightly has resulted in a massive change in the weather and temperature.
We decide on a detour to Dawson Falls in the hope it will be more sheltered in the trees, there is a slight reprieve until we climb up higher when it lets us have it. The road ends at the visitor center and apart from a lone car and campervan the place is deserted. We sprint for shelter in the entrance lobby as it’s now lashing down with rain and blowing a gale, it is enclosed on three sides and I suggest to Kev he ride the bike up here so we can have coffee and breakfast in the dry. After looking at the path he reckons it’s possible. Once the guzz is is safely in her new car port we have brekkie. I dig out the sweatshirts as well. We are just clearing up when the receptionist arrives to open up, she laughs and says well that’s a first I’ve never seen one of these here before, can I take a photo for my husband, he rides a Triumph. On finding it is only 9am we walk around the visitors center and have a chat to the receptionist who assures us it is not raining in Stratford where we are headed.
We tog up and brave the elements it gradually eases and we arrive at Stratford in the dry. We pop into Stratford Engineering to buy a front wheel bearing which Kev hopes to fit on route in the next couple of days (he suspects ours is shot to bits as it feels a bit like the front wheel is steering itself.) After stocking up on food and fuel and having a look around the town we head out on highway 43. The forgotten world highway the sign states as we pause underneath for a photo.
We stop in a small village called Douglas for lunch. Once a thriving community now reduced to a handfull of houses. Packing away the lunch things the bike quite unexpectedly keels over. The side stand bracket has snapped. The repair in Kazakhstan has held up pretty well but it has broken across the bolthole in the same spot.
We decide to take the sensible option and return to Stratford to continue along this route with no side stand would be a pain.
Our first stop is to a camp site in town, the rain we rode through earlier is catching up so we enquire about cabin prices, we decide to take one as they are quite cheap. I unload and ferry the bags the bags in whilst Kev waits on the bike. We turn the bike back towards town, Stratford is a nice town and everything we need is here so its not such a problem.

  1. #1 by Jane on January 27, 2011 - 10:30 am

    Good to hear from you guys again. Sounds like the weather in NZ is as unpredictable as here! After the coldest December on record it’s been 14º and wet in January and now is bitterly cold and windy again with forecast snow, my poor plants don’t know what to do. Have fun. Love Jane x

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