We checked the map at Martinborough and decided the secondary roads looked reasonable all the way to Castlepoint. And they were. Quiet too. And the Man of the House is at his happiest away from towns and cities and traffic and people.
The wind howled even stronger at Castlepoint. Walking across the sand bowl to the rocky outcrop the lighthouse sits on, we were pushed along by the wind so much I broke into a trot on a couple of occasions and worried about fighting my way back into the head wind. Sand blasted the backs of our legs. I was glad I had my woollen coat and beanie.
But the lighthouse is a thing of beauty and worth braving the elements for. I was just glad I wasn’t one of the NIWA guys doing water sampling. They must have been blue with cold as they stripped off their wetsuits in the face of the gale.
We warmed up back in the car with the heater on full and set sail for Palmerston North. A night in the city was called for so we turned right at Tinui and went cross country. The road was just like ours, unsealed and without much gravel to speak of but five times longer than ours. Fifty or so kilometers with a top speed of 40kmh takes a wee while but gives you ample time to enjoy the scenery. And it was ruggedly beautiful. Tough farmers in this part of the country. There was a lot of pine forest and logging truck warning signs every so often but we didn’t meet any. The only traffic we saw was an ATV with two guys on it going home at the end of the day. It wasn’t a bad drive but you might not want to do it in your flash townie car.
The next day I suggested we go home via Wanganui. It is the looooong way but we had all day to do it. It’s a beautiful old town and the river is definitely the star attraction but that west coast beach is quite spectacular too. There was still some evidence of the recent floods. We watched a massive tree float down river and out over the bar, probably on it’s way to a final resting place on the beach.
The road through Raetihi and National Park was undergoing major repairs after numerous washouts and slips. This area really took a battering. The mountains put on a show for us. We could see Taranaki hovering above the horizon in all it’s glory and Ruapehu, Ngaruhoe and Tongariro stood out in the clear cold air.
After the Man of the House had stretched his legs at Smash Palace, the wreckers yard made famous by the Bruno Lawrence movie of the same name, we continued the back country route through Broadlands, Murupara and Galatea. At Galatea we were cornered by a washed out bridge and had to turn around and go another way and again just before we got home, the Matahina Dam road was still closed after the April flood, detouring us through Te Teko. It was a very long day but we saw a lot of the central part of the island, some of it for the first time. The back roads are the way to go if you have the time.