The central plateau is also spectacularly photogenic on a perfect spring day, with alpine peaks capped with the last of their winter’s finery framed against skies of azure blueness.
Yesterday was an opportunity to see 1,080km of the North Island’s finest spring regalia, by motorcycle, which is the only real way of travelling around our country and anywhere else in the world for that matter. Travelling by car is tediously boring. It would be just as easy to stay at home and watch a video of the same journey on a big-screen TV. On a motorcycle one is part of the scenery, unrestrained by the confines of a four-wheeled box, one is encased in whatever is the ambient temperature and able to inhale a veritable perfumery of aromas. Dinnertime in small towns is a particularly favourite aromatic experience.
Our excursion took us to pulsating Putaruru, via Rotorua, the beautiful Rangiwahia and mystical Masterton. Indeed even Rotorua can scrub up quite nicely on a good day. The homeward leg included the incomparable Puketurua, wonderful Whakamaru, radiant Raetihi and mystical Whanganui, not to mention all of the glorious highways and byways between. The Mamakus made my heart sing with the glorious vistas across the south Waikato. Poetry.
But my heart was particularly stolen by Hodderville. “Hodderville? Wear the fox hat,” as Her Majesty our queen would have advised any of her family with this destination in mind.
Another reason Hodderville spoke to me was because it reminded me of a New Zealand of an earlier age where the countryside was full of small communities, communities with names, and perhaps a school, or a hall, or a garage, or a store, or a dairy company. Perhaps even all of the above. I grew up in Taranaki, whose Hodderville equivalents would have been locations like Mangatoki, Lowgarth, or Toko. Like Hodderville, you probably won’t be able to find many of those places with Google Maps either.
These communities would have had a local hall with a Roll of Honour on the wall, paying tribute to the 20 or so local lads who had their lives tragically foreshortened in foreign fields in each of the two Great Wars. Today these locations comprise perhaps six corporate dairy farms, tops. Farm occupiers are either sharemilkers or contract workers, probably from the Philippines. Whatever community that may have once been there is long gone and the one that’s there now is only interested in milking cows until the next bigger opportunity beckons.
So Hodderville is now on my list of places to ride through again. I know that I will be hard-pressed to do it on a day as perfect as yesterday that showcased this location to its finest. But it will be well worth revisiting. Next time I may even stop and take photographs, if I haven’t succumbed to the current Go Pro trend that is fast capturing many of my biking colleagues. I recommend a visit through Hodderville highly, however people may wish to make this trip.
Attached are some photographs taken at each of yesterday’s checkpoints. Glorious prizes may be awarded to people who can correctly name all five locations – people who may not have participated in the ride itself!