Leaving the Forgotten World Highway turns out to be a culture shock.
This morning I was woken by the sound of a rooster crowing. The last time that happened was in Nong Khai – a year and half ago! It’s quiet at Whangamomona. The word means valley of plenty. And it’s easy to see how it gets that name, nestled as it is between two large hills.
We were the only guests in the hotel last night. But later in the week they’ll have a full house. Sometimes, during the height of the tourist season, they’re booked out. So, if you’re ever planning to stay there, it does pay to phone ahead – there are very few accommodation alternatives in this part of the country.
On this second part of the highway there weren’t so many places to explore, at least not the sort that suit quick dashes from car to point of interest and back again. Yes – it’s still raining. It rains a lot over here, in the Taranaki.
We reached Stratford in time for lunch. No one would ever describe Stratford as large or bustling. But arriving in town was similar to the sensation of disembarking from a long haul flight. We were disoriented. Suddenly we had to share the road with cars that expected to travel at 100k an hour, and there were more than one or two of them at a time; our phones were going crazy, ( we were back in the land of reception); and we had to make decisions about where to go and what to do instead of simply following our noses along the road. We dealt with the phone calls and the emails, found a cafe, some accommodation and headed for the hills. Up Mt Taranaki. Unfortunately no photos of the volcano, not yet. It’s still raining (And snowing – it’s freezing!)
All that rain makes for a lot of green!
Tomorrow, we’re heading for the beach. Opunake here we come!