|Heading away from Te Wera the road twists and turns along the course of the valley until we reach the next saddle. Here we climb out of one valley and over into the next one, it offers a spectacular view over the surrounding countryside and we stop often for pictures. Some of the hills were too steep to climb like this or the resulting track was so impassable in winter when this was an unsealed road that tunnels were dug through them. We pass through one of these called Moki tunnel unofficially known as hobbit hole. These single lane narrow tunnels were hewn out of the sandstone with picks and shovels, you can still see the marks in the soft rock. This one has some props in the roof but many around here don’t, the builders shaped the roofs to a point which gives them strength and reduces the need for reinforcement. This pointed roof also gives the tunnels their elfin appearance hence the nickname.
Beyond here we get to Whangamomona probably the most famous town on the 43. There is a much photographed pub here and a small village.
In 1989 following unpopular local border changes the district declared itself an independent republic and elections are held to vote for their president.
There has been an interesting collection of presidents as follows:
Ian Kjestrup (1989-1999)
Billy Gumboot the Goat (1999-2001)
Tai the Poodle (2003-2004)
Murt “Murtle the Turtle” Kennard (2005-present)
You can get a passport for the republic from the pub and a T shirt to prove you made it.