Who needs Tangiers? We've got Ohura...
I want to propose the lovely little town of Ohura, in the hinterland of the King Country, as a new locus for writers, musos, painters, and home brewers. Situated in the magical triangle between Taumaranui, Waitomo, and the wild west coast, near the centre of King Tawhiao's old 'country of the hat', Ohura owes its existence to the inexplicable decision of bureaucrats to send the railroad to New Plymouth branching off the main trunk line before Taumaranui, the town which was supposed to be the nerve centre of the whole North Island railway system.
For whatever obscure reason, the line detaches itself after Te Kuiti, wanders through fifty kilometres of hilly country, and then aligns itself with the road that runs out of Taumaranui down to the 'Naki and New Plymouth. Two service towns, Ohura and the even smaller Matiere, were built to justify the detour. Since the deregulation of rail in the '80s and the steep drop in freighting volumes, Ohura has been in decline. A small prison plugged the gap for a while, but when it was closed a few years ago the town's population shrank again. Enter the arty-farty types, lured by cheap house prices, a beautiful sheltered valley, and - the legacy of that prison - a buried fibre optic cable.
Here are some photos Skyler, Muzzlehatch and I took on Boxing Day, when we drove down to case out Ohura. You know you want to move there.