Back to the Tasman Sea

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15/01/08
Hi gang! Wow, another day has gone by, can you believe it? I just heard that some of you are wondering where all the posts went. Well, don’t worry. As you can see, I’ve been keeping up with my end of the bargain, but the NZ Internet it not living up to its potential yet! Hee hee. At any rate, I, your humble scribe, am still hard at work. Both on the road and off the road, so I bring you yet another story in the life of ActiveSteve, even though you haven’t seen any for days on end 🙂 Today I was heading from Raukawa Fall, the YMCA camp, down to Wanganui, a shortish 60km ride taking me to the Tasman Sea, and closer on the route to the south Island. As mentioned earlier, I’ve booked a return bus trip to New Plymouth from here, in order that I may check out the Eastern Coast of the North Island, and Mount Taranaki in general. This is not in any sort of violation, as I’ll still be biking from north to south on my trip, but otherwise, I would have to spend at least 4 days (2 up, 2 back) just to check out that town, and I wasn’t about to do that. Anyway, read on for a little bit about today and Wanganui.

Once again, we were treated to blue skies as we woke up. We’ve really been spoiled of late it seems. There is word of sour weather further south, like Wellington, but it hasn’t materialized up in Wanganui yet, so I’m sitting here in a stifling room in a hostel as I type this up for you. The ride today was yet again a predominantly downhill day, but let me tell you, it wasn’t without its little challenges in the shape of several short, steep climbs. Have a gander at some of the map pics, and you’ll see. Oh, and BTW Kevin, I did figure out how to make them show up chronologically, so from now on, the drop-down list will be in order of pictures taken. Nice, eh? The scenery along the way was nothing short of great from my perspective. There were lots of stunning hills, and glimpses into true rural NZ life, such as a sheep shearing station.

Of course, with a sheep shearing station comes sheep trucks. And with sheep trucks? Well, sheep smells of course. I’ve decided the nasty part of these trucks is the pungent odour of sheep urine that seems to hang in the air even once the truck has moved on. Too much information for you? Tough. I have to live with it, so I’m putting the mental smell-o-memory into your head too. Since Ralph and I were heading directly through rural areas, there were no services at all along the way today. We thought there would be a little breakfast in a place called Kakatahi, but the most we found of that village was a school. Oh well, press on was the only option. As usual, Ralph had the energy to burn on the uphills, so I told him to go ahead. This left me with a bit of solitude for a bit.

As a result, I opted to take a little break on a river bridge for a little bit before the last big climb of the day. Well, as I pedaled up the hill, who should I spot, but Ralph waiting for me at one of the scenery stop-spots. I felt bad, as I’m sure he had waited quite some time. Oh well, we have to ride our own paces, even if we are traveling sort of together. I was feeling pretty bagged today, and Ralph was also fighting a bit of a cold, so I was in no hurry, given that we weren’t going that far. It was a bit of a gamble, as I had no reservations, but it worked out just fine.

Once in Wanganui, I got all settled in to my room, and made arrangements for the next several days. After that, it was time for a stroll into town to check out the ‘nui. All in all, a pleasant place as far as I can tell. They seem to be doing okay for the tourists here, and have lots of options for food and lodging, as well as sights to see, in spite of just being a pretty small spot. I visited two museums of note. For my brother in law Patrick, I went to a restoration sight for a tram, which ironically is being overseen by a chap who was born in Smith’s Falls, then moved to Florida, fought in the Vietnam war, then ended up in NZ. Now, he’s the project manager for restoring Old No. 12 tramway, the first tram in NZ. He has a website, which I’ll pass along to Patrick at some point. Slow work, but pretty neat.

The second museum was a paddle steamer restoration, which was the first Paddle Steamer in NZ, and one of the few remaining in operation in the world. It had actually been sitting on the bottom of a bog for 40 years before being risen and fully restored to its former glory. It was quite impressive to survey all the photos of the work. I’m no big transportation buff, but I certainly appreciated both of these projects undertaken by ‘locals’ to boost the tourism in the region.

My other stop was a war memorial atop a hill. One way to get up? Take an elevator which is reached via a 200m tunnel into the hill, then a 66m elevator ride for 1NZD. Pretty spiffy. At the top, you’re treated to great views of the entire town, as well as views all the way to the South Island, Tongariro National Park, and Mount Taranaki on clear days. Unfortunately, it wasn’t super-clear today, but at least I could see all the town, which was neat. Tonight, I’m thinking of taking in a movie just for kicks, since my bus isn’t until later tomorrow morning, and I feel like some fresh popped popcorn! That’s it for me for now. Hope all is well in Canada, and keep those comments coming 😉

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