Surf Highway

Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Friday, March 2, 2007

- Satellite image of Mt Taranaki

The term 'out in the sticks' really doesn't cut it here.

We wanted to take some time to check out Mount Taranaki - the lone volcano - but sod's law stepped in promptly and turned on the taps for the whole duration.

'We're in drought,' said the old man, 'Hasn't rained here for over six weeks, until today. Had everyone jumping for joy this morning..'

What we did get to see were the two shadowy inclines of distant land defining a slow and steady climb to the summit. It looked much smaller than I'd imagined, and the puffs of cloud shrouding the cone moved round just enough to match our pace as we sped along the clock face coastal highway for a better look. We didn't get it.

There's a cracking little camp in Opunake down by the beach, albeit a funny old place. You'd think they haven't seen a new face around here in a loooong time. That said, the whole area has a strange feeling about it. Sure, it's been a long day and we've covered some miles leaving us weary lost and deluded, but this place feels as removed and remote as we've encountered yet.

The whole west coast around Taranaki moves round in a near perfect semi-circle from the south right round to the north. The sealed road that follows the coastline round is known as Surf Highway and branches off every few kilometres or so for beach access or mountain access. This whole mass of land is sparsely inhabited and as you quietly rotate around the clock, Mt Taranaki maintains its dominating presence in your side window. It's all very imposing.

Back down at the beach camp we got pitched and ritualled and took a couple of exports down to the beach, which again had a strange absence about it that we couldn't quite put our finger on and probably had something to do with the next random occurrence, which took place only moments later. That is, the reaching of a highly unexpected decision..
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