The Hobbit Hole

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Leaving our accomodation at National Park this was our view. How beautiful. The first 40 km was really pleasant, more so as it was downhill!

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We stopped at various points to take photos.

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Looking back you can see the mountain in the Tongariro World Heritage Park  we had left behind. The roads were lovely and quiet today.

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We stopped at the town of Taumarunui where I had camped with friends from NZ Cycling in January, on the banks of the Whanganui river. The town boasts a strong railway and timber heritage.

Of course, I had another iced coffee!

Taumarunui also signals the start of the 150 km Forgotten Highway, built on colonel bridle paths formed in the late 19th century.

The road is a natural roller coaster, with amazingly green vegetation and interesting geology.  New Zealand Police have apparently named the road as one of the 10 worst roads in the country.

I totally disagree. It is a brilliant road to cycle, with the exception of the 12 km unsealed loose gravel section.

It is one of the most scenic roads I have ever ridden. Yes, you need to be careful as there are big drop offs….but Europe is full of those!

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One of the highlights was Tangarakau Gorge. The gorge road is all unsealed and appears to have received a recent  spread of lots of gravel, making it really tricky to ride on.

We overtook a younger Dutch couple, also touring, who were really battling this section.

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Half way along the Gorge is the bridge, where there is a long drop loo, and where the tourists all stop. I was running low on water again, so Tony kindly went down to the river to fill the spare bottle.

The sign below signalled that we were in the Taranaki region. Great area that I also visited in January.

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Jazzed up loo!

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After leaving the base of the Gorge we battled a further 7 km of gravel. I wished I could do a quick bike swap and use my Specialized Rockhopper Pro, currently residing in Auckland. We will be repatriating this bike to Australia upon our return.

Sealed road never felt so good. Chaos loomed ahead….

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Another highlight of the Forgotten Highway is the historic Moki Tunnel.  Remember this road has two lanes….you can see me about to enter the  Moki tunnel in the photo below.

It is about 140 metres long, void of lights except the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. Note the name above the tunnel entrance…the hobbit hole!

I pedalled as fast as I could through, hoping no cars would enter ahead, otherwise I would be off my bike and back flat to the tunnel wall. I quickly ripped the sunglasses off my head too!! 😂

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This is what the other end of the tunnel looked like…you can ‘see the light’.

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Moving along there were more rolling, lush, green hills.

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Finally after 130 km riding we arrived at our destination, which has supposedly ceded from New Zealand as a result of a dispute. You can have your passport stamped for NZ$2, but we did not bother.

One sharp turn…

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Then the Republic sign….

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…and here it is,Whangamomona! Bustling town…not!

Great accomodation is new units constructed by the hotel, with this being our views.

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The accomodation is twice the price of our average for all other nights…no wifi, no mobile coverage, no tv…but true country chillaxed feel like nowhere else.

We caught up with a local Tracey who three weeks ago opened up a curio gift shop “Dolly Gray” boasting craft items imported from New Zealand. She had a brilliant rocking chairs, but I reckon the freight would cost more than the chairs.

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This was my purchase. The wood is kauri and hand made by a 92 year old man from New Plymouth using dental tools. I thought it very sweet. The old guy even hand  makes the boxes.

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Day 8 of this touring trip rates as one of the best routes ever. Brilliant, and as a well known Aussie used to say ‘ do yourself a favour’! If you cycle, get on down here and do this!

Sorry this blog was delayed. No wifi does that!!

OOroo!!

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6 thoughts on “The Hobbit Hole

  1. Peter Coveney

    On the way down to do my first Taranaki Round the Mountain race I took the bike off the car and rode the road from the end of the gravel to the pub at Whangamomona. Went through that tunnel but clean forgot to remove my sunglasses. Too scared to let go of the bars I just rode in blind hope I didnt collect either wall. Lesson learned.

    Like

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