I was stressing a bit about this because I’d heard so many different opinions on how bad the road is, how to take it really quietly and so on.
I left Taurumunui about 9am and was on the road. The early part of it was easy with it all being sealed but what amazing landscapes and how they changed. From rolling hills with the wide river at the start, it changed to valleys and hills and then bush.
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I needn’t have worried as the road was pretty good. I was only doing 60-70k odd for most of the way which was just about right for Rafe and it was an easy run.
I stopped to have a look at Joshua Morgan’s grave at Tangarakau Gorge. He was in charge of the Survey team that set up the road through the Gorge but he died aged 35 in the bush of Peronitis. His widow went on to live until she was 85 in Auckland and she is buried with him in the gorge.
The 12k’s odd of unsealed road in the middle I found quite slippery. I think most of it was done at about 40 odd k. The Moki tunnel was fun too. There are lots of side tracks off the main road so it pays to get the brochure before you start from I site in Taurumunui or Straford depending on where you start from. There are roads off to waterfalls, other wee settlements and the bridge to somewhere which is a concrete bridge built in the middle of nowhere and others.
To get to Whangamomona took about 2 hours from Taumarunui allowing for the odd stop for piccies and a look at Joshua’s grave.
Amazing countryside and well worth doing as you’ll see from the piccies. After a night of checking out the town, I was up bright an early and hit the trail again.
The road through to Straford was much easier being all sealed. There were two or three more saddles to go over. At the Strathmore Saddle, I stopped at the top and checked into the Internet and caught up with emails etc. From the top you could see Mt Taranaki in one direction and looking the other way, you could see Mts Ruapehu and Tongariro.
The secret is the advice I was given by a few, was take your time and don’t rush it. This is a trip which is well worth doing.