Wellington to Tangimoana
Before leaving Wellington, we drive a short distance up steep roads to view Nairn Street Cottage. This is Wellington’s oldest cottage (1857) and has been carefully restored. Unfortunately, we find it is closed until midday and we do not have the time to wait. However, the garden is open and we are able to wander around the outside of the house and examine the plants and organic fruit and vegetables. There is also a chicken coop with some of the largest chickens we have ever seen.
Today’s drive on SH1 will take us up the west coast and take approximately 2 hours. The road has the Tasman Sea on one side and the Tararua Range on the other and is a hub for agriculture. After driving 100km we stop at Levin for a coffee break. Levin is a large town with a long main street selling everything from clothing to tractors in the shops!
As we continue further north the mountains recede further inland and the coast becomes flatter. However, the scenery is very strange with small hillocks and dimples dotting the land. There are also fields of livestock including cattle, sheep and deer. Just before the town of Bulls we turn down towards the sea and the small hamlet of Tangimoana which lies on the Rangitikei River.
The hamlet is tiny with only about 200 permanent residents. Nevertheless, there is a primary school (with swimming pool), fire station, boat club and grocery/café. We are staying in a wood clapper bungalow with varandah and large garden and next door is the local shop. This seems to be the meeting place for all the locals and they have a good range of basics.
Once we’ve settled into our accommodation, I put a load of clothes in the washing machine, waiting for it to finish so it can be hung out to dry. Marcus and Mark pop into the store and then we go out to explore the area. The road to the beach ends as an unmade track and we would need a 4x4 to get right down to it. There is driftwood backed up for about 100 metres and the beach is extremely windswept. The large sign tells us how to prepare in the event of a tsunami but as the whole area would be flooded in this event I think the instruction would be just to get out of here!
Turning back, we drive to the nearby small rural town of Bulls, passing RNZAF Base Ohakea and the opencast mine. The town is named after James Bull, an English settler who established the first general store here in 1862. Our introduction to the town is the large black bulls which are placed at the boundary.
All through the town, there is signage that capitalises on the name of the town. They include Consta-bull (police station), Forgive-a-bull (church) and cure-a-bull (medical centre). This is a town of puns and has the slogan of ‘a town like no udder’. However, beyond this there is little to attract us and we turn onto SH1 and drive the 10 miles to Marton.
Marton is a larger town which services the farming region with butter, wool and flour among its products. It is also a centre for the timber industry which is why we keep passing wagons with trailers full of tree trunks. At least there is a descent sized supermarket and we are able to shop for provisions before heading back to Tangimoana.
On returning Mark and Marcus drive down to the estuary to fish whilst I am able to read, a pleasure I have little time for whilst on this trip. Well I’ve read lots of travel books but no fiction, more like a chore sometimes. Unfortunately the fishermen return with no catch so it’s the ingredients we bought in Marton then.