Who doesn’t like a Sunday Drive?
Tucked away from plain view on New Zealand’s North Island, highway 43 quietly lives up to its name. The route covers a grand total of 148 kilometres between the townships of Taumarunui and Stratford. Here, streams disappear into dense forests, plummeting waterfalls are swallowed by steep grass-covered hills and just about everything else is swallowed by the sheep.
This is a place seemingly untouched by modernity. Old farmsteads abound with their dilapidated fencing and sheep roam the hillsides without so much as a worry. Food is plenty, water is readily available and human activity is at a minimum.
If I were to place one word on the resume of this road, it would be “fantastical”. There are few locations around the world where you wouldn’t be surprised to see a dragon fly overhead, and this is one of them. It’s a route which provokes the imagination into conjuring up all manner of fantasy–a place that restores a childlike wonder and contentedness to the mind.
As you exit the forgotten world and return to the more stressful real one, Mount Taranaki/Egmont rises up in the distance. This is not your typical mountain, and if you’ve planned your day well, you should be driving into the sunset-cast silhouette of the approaching volcano.
It’s worthwhile to take an extra day to enjoy what Taranaki has to offer. Hiking opportunities abound through the densely forested slopes of the volcano, and to the west, Cape Egmont’s Lighthouse juts out from the earth almost as conspicuously as the mountain behind it, making for a great (albeit often-taken) photograph.