We drove for much of the day, after a quick second chat with John the sheep farmer. We headed toward the mid-southwestern coast and Opunake beach. We will spend our last three nights here in the shadow of Mt. Taranaki, also known as the Lonely Mountain. The tentative plan (which seems to change hourly) indicates that tomorrow we will do more "class work" in the morning after breakfast and head to a dairy farm for the afternoon. Hopefully we will get to hike up Taranaki on Saturday before we leave. It is an active, but quiescent stratovolcano known for it's near symmetry and resemblance to Mt. Fiji. (Fun fact: it was the back drop for The Last Samurai.) From wikipedia: "When Taranaki conceals himself with rainclouds, he is said to be crying for his lost love, and during spectacular sunsets, he is said to be displaying himself to her. In turn, Tongariro's eruptions are said to be a warning to Taranaki not to return."
I followed a bit of the Opunake Walkway for one of our free hours today. It was indescribably wonderful to walk in silence for a bit. I chatted with some cows, climbed a lookout tower in very strong winds, and crossed a bridge through a garden-like ravine. The pastureland/prairie runs into the sea here. It is perfect. Where else in the world can I find this? I want to go to there too.