Solo, Part One: Obscure Route

Featuring lots of driving and weird rocks.

Day 1

Date: Monday 18 July 2016

Driving time: 4 hours

Route: Auckland to Raglan to Te Kuiti

I went to Raglan to watch people surf. Now I want to learn how to surf too! See the tiny surfer?

surfers at Manu Bay in Raglan

Then I stayed the night near Te Kuiti, in a super quiet hostel on a hill outside of town… I was the only backpacker. There were a couple of middle age folks drinking in the common area… I didn’t hang out there very long. 😐

Te Kuiti

Day 2

Date: Tuesday 19 July 2016

Driving time: 5.5 hours

Route: Te Kuiti to Mapara Scenic Reserve, back through Te Kuiti to Waitomo, over to Marokopa, down to Tongaporutu, down to New Plymouth

After hearing the marvelous kokako at Mapara Scenic Reserve, I went on a “tunnels walk.”


I’m walking along through the rainforest, and it’s all very nice. There are signs pointing me in the direction of a “natural bridge” so I follow them. Eventually I get to a sign that says “cave” or something like that, but I assume it’s some dinky little boring cave so I go past it to a plaque up ahead. I’m waiting for the “natural bridge”! As I turn around to continue, a family comes up from the “cave” entrance and so I kind of wait to let them pass. However the mom must have thought I was walking the other way, cuz she says “it’s really cool down there” or something like that. So I’m like “ok maybe it’s not boring” and I head down the stairs to check out the “cave.” And at the bottom it’s super awesome and there’s a river rushing down below and it’s a huge cavern! At some point I figure out that the cave is the natural bridge that all the signs were pointing to. Yay!

Ruakuri Tunnels cave that I almost missed

So then I drive along a super twisty road, and find a Fence of Boots at the entrance to some other park.

the entrance to Tawarau Tramping Tracks

At another natural bridge scenic reserve, I find some groovy black rock.

rock at Mangapohue Natural Bridge Scenic Reserve

Then I drive back to the main highway, taking the most obscure route ever, through wilderness and near-abandoned pastures, and most of the time worrying that a tree has fallen across the road and no one knows yet because no one ever takes this road. I think I saw a total of 3 cars the whole 36 miles. Well at least there was a pony on the road, and some sheep too, to keep me company.

cool-looking crag on the Obscure Route
another cool-looking crag, just at the end of the Obscure Route

So finally I made it to Tongaporutu at low tide, in time to walk out to the beach and gawk at the Elephant Rock, Three Sisters, and other weird geological features.

Depending on recent storms and waves and tides, the sands shift and reveal unusual rock sculptures from time to time. Sweet as!



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