Mangaweka, Mokai, Utiku


Mangaweka would be nowhere-at-all if it wasn’t for an old aeroplane positioned beside a former garage. Neither is in operation at present – the whole lot fails on so many safety counts it doesn’t bear thinking about – but it used to be that ‘plane and ‘international airport’ were a cafe that served appallingly bad food to people desperate for a stop on the long Highway 1 drive. There’s talk of bringing it all back to life, but it doesn’t look hopeful.

Mokai (‘Gravity’) Canyon

In the same area is some wonderful gorge scenery including Mokai Canyon, the site of the ‘Gravity Canyon’ bungee jump. I did this jump in 2007 but the operation was so badly-run that there weren’t any photographs taken, just a really bad video recording. And like everything in Mangaweka, the bungee jump has gone out of business too.

Utiku (The Wool Company)

At Utiku there’s only one thing. Their main interest is in selling a vast range of lovely clothing to all the tourists who come through. But keep your courage up and you can persuade them to sell you some of their wonderful hanked yarn.