51 weeks later, I’ve packed my things and should now be at Auckland Airport, awaiting my departure from New Zealand. Australia is next on the docket. I’ll be landing in Melbourne and finding my way from there. I don’t have a specific plan or itinerary for when I get there. I’ll just figure it out as I go.
New Zealand has been a great home for the past year. There are quite a few things I’ll miss about it. But, my desire to keep travelling is still strong, so I’ll keep on going.
Here are some of the things I’ll miss when I leave New Zealand:
Upon reaching Taumaranui, my ‘travels’ in New Zealand were officially complete – I had gotten back into familiar territory and had no plans to see or go anywhere I hadn’t already been before. But that isn’t to say my time in New Zealand was done just yet. Oh no, I still had several weeks to fill, so I did something akin to a ‘highlights’ tour on my way back to Auckland.
First, was a visit to one of my former WWOOF hosts, Rosemary, who had moved from Helensville to a new plot of land in the Whanganui/Tongariro area. She had just finished building a brand new home on a big plot of land, so I detoured out there to spend a few days helping around the house.
Having finished my time in New Plymouth, I headed back towards the interior of the North Island, via Highway 43, or the ‘Forgotten World Highway’. H43 runs from Stratford, near Taranaki, to the interior town of Taumaranui, lying on the northern stretch of the Whanganui River.
The Forgotten World is known as one of the quietest stretches of main highway in New Zealand, winding it’s way through a remote, very sparsely populated stretch of land.
With tramping on Taranaki now behind me, I set my sights on finishing up more of the Coastal Walkway. It was a relatively fine afternoon in New Plymouth (if a bit chilly) when I set out from the far north end of the track, an area called ‘Bell Block’. The track here had a decidedly different feel to it.
Given that the ocean is just a short drive away, Mt. Taranaki’s presence is quite awe-inspiring. At slightly more than 2,500 meters, it rears up quickly and sharply to one of the most conical peaks in the world. All of it makes for a great scene, if the weather allows you to see it. Thankfully for me, I got one day in New Plymouth that I could see everything clearly.
The city of New Plymouth has a few notable features, the most prominent being Mt. Taranaki, which towers behind the city despite being many miles away. I had to wait a few days for the weather to clear a bit before I could even see it though, but I finally got a few glimpses of the volcano as I walked towards another New Plymouth highlight.
Driving from Wanganui to the West Coast city of New Plymouth, one is presented with several options. The shortest drive cuts through the interior region east of Mt. Taranaki, through the town of Stratford. However, the more scenic drive follows Highway 45, the so called ‘Surf Highway’.
1. a winding path or course
2. a turn or winding of a stream
The Whanganui River definitely meanders. Driving alongside the Whanganui River Road, one is treated to a series of winding turns as the river makes it’s way from the central area of the North Island to the city of Wanganui, and the ocean beyond. It was here that I found myself travelling on a semi-sunny winter’s day.