It’s been a little bit hectic adjusting to commuting and the real world again after lockdown, so the Forgotten World was just that, forgotten, for a while. Despite some work and life readjustment pains, Pohokura has never been far from my mind, though. It was the last real getaway we had, besides a couple nights in Martinborough, and I’m so glad we were able to make the trip when we did.
Now, let’s get back into it! On our last full day at the lovely Mill House, our host had offered to show us to an old milling tunnel on the property (Mill House, get it?). Of course we couldn’t resist a guided hike to a private historic site, complete with plenty of farm animals for Higgs to bark at along the way. After about thirty minutes of walking through farmland and then some fairly dense bush that we never could’ve navigated on our own, we came upon the tunnel.
It had a perfect cooling off spot for small doggos just outside the entrance, which was handy on a pretty warm morning. Luckily, the tunnel itself was nice and cool.
Built in 1924, it was used to transport logs and was hand-hewn by just a few people. In the end, it didn’t get much use, which seems like so much effort gone to waste.
We spent a good bit of time slowly wandering through to the other side and back, admiring the carved walls and avoiding the stream meandering along the floor of the tunnel. Amanda, the farm owner, pointed out some crayfish that live in the wet tunnel, evolved to have transparent shells since they’re never exposed to sunlight. Overhead, we could see glowworms in the crevices when we averted our flashlights. This tunnel in the middle of the bush, abandoned for almost a century, has become its own little incredible ecosystem.
What an incredible experience! How many Airbnbs can offer something like this on their property? We got to see some really cool historic landmarks on the Forgotten World Highway, but this might have been one of the best just because it was completely off the beaten path and entirely unexpected. The fact that not many people are lucky enough to see it makes it even more special.
While we were admiring the tunnel, Amanda told us that a local couple got married in front of the entrance, somewhere near where we posed for this photo. Hey, why not?
We emerged from the bush on the trek back downhill without seeing much, but we had seen a goat on our way up which Higgs had a great time chasing out of sight. Of course, he had no chance of actually catching it, but I’m sure it was one of many highlights of the trip for him.
Amanda had to coax this slightly lost white cow out of the way while a certain Vallhund got overly excited. There’s definitely a reason he was on leash.
Back at the house, we said a huge thank you to Amanda for the experience, and we spent a relaxing afternoon on the deck, sipping beers and reading. I decided to get some photos of the beautiful house while I had some time on my hands.
The saloon doors into the toilet were especially interesting. And I could really get used to this view from our bed…
Kitten became braver as time went on, and eventually she and Higgs just ignored one another.
Beautiful handpicked flowers were everywhere, which was such a nice, thoughtful touch.
In the late afternoon, we decided to go for a wander along the train tracks. They’re no longer in use, except by the rail carts of Forgotten World Adventures, which only run at a certain time and don’t go fast (think golf carts on rails).
Somebody wants to say hello to the livestock again!
In one direction, we reached a bridge with oddly placed boards that weren’t great for a Vallhund’s short legs, so we turned around and headed the other way. That’s better! King of the tracks.
Perfect time of day for a photo shoot with my son.
You can’t beat golden hour in the hills, and nothing says NZ quite like the classic one-lane bridge.
And it was back to home sweet home!
We had a lovely relaxing last night at the house, knowing we had a few hours to drive the next morning back to Welly, hoping to beat the holiday traffic. I’d highly recommend the Mill House to anyone who ever happens to drive the Forgotten World Highway. You can do it in a day, but it’s much nicer to stay a while and spend some time enjoying the amazing atmosphere of the place. There aren’t a lot of places to stay, and Pohokura is a good stopping point. Plus, you can’t beat the price at $130 a night for a house that sleeps up to 8. I swear I’m not trying to sound like a sales rep; it’s just that good!
After saying a fond farewell to our little slice of paradise the next morning, along with Kitten (wherever she’d gone off to) and all the farm animals, we hit the road to drive the remaining 51 km of the Forgotten World Highway to Stratford. We knew we were getting close to the end when we started glimpsing the majestic lonely mountain, Mount Taranaki.
From Stratford, where State Highway 43 officially ends, it was south to Wellington and back to the real world, traffic and responsibilities beyond sitting on the porch in the sunshine with a good book. However, even if they call it the Forgotten World, it’s one adventure we won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
Hopefully I’ll have plenty of NZ blogs to come, now that we can travel around the country again. I’m heading up the coast to Waikanae in a couple weeks, then to Castlepoint with Andy at the end of August and to Gisborne with some friends in October, so I’ll be sure to bring my camera along. I hope everyone is staying safe and sane during these uncertain times!