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15.11.2019 Tiny places, huge stories. Yesterday we left Taumarunui and carried on via State Highway 43. The speed limit on NZ highways is 100 km/h, and not all of them are as busy as the name suggests. SH 43 is a special case: It is so extremely quiet and runs through such a rural piece of land that it has been given the byname 'Forgotten World Highway'. Cycling through hilly farmland and forests, past remote farms and along abandoned railway tracks, we really felt that this road lives up to its name. In the evening, we reached Ohura, and at first glance it seemed like a ghost town with its abandoned houses, empty shops and deserted places up and down the main street. Closing mines and mills as well as a flood once caused a huge drop in the town's population numbers, but when we met John, Ohura resident and our host for the night, we learned that there is still life in this place. John is a 79-year-old retired oil rig worker, adventurer and bicycle lover who lives on a property full of small huts and sheds, and just like his home, he is full of stories. He owns an entire fleet of vehicles, with ten bikes, a DIY house truck, and our place for the night: a purple bus fully equipped with a kitchen, sofa, heating stove, shower, double bed and sun deck – a 'tiny living' dream come true! Today, John accompanied us on one of his triple hybrid bikes (equipped with a battery and a German Sachs motor) to our next destination, a town called Whangamomona. Faced with similar problems as Ohura, and a highly unpopular reorganisation of administrative zones, one day the inhabitants of this town met in the only pub to declare themselves an independent republic. Although it is politically irrelevant, 30 years later this republic still exists and we can now proudly show the official entry stamps in our passports. Its citizens celebrate Republic Day and elect a new president every other year – with the list of past and present presidents comprising several men, a goat, a poodle and a woman. Crazy Kiwis! #scoutbound #newzealand #neuseeland #whangamomona #ohura #forgottenworldhighway #vanlife #tinyliving #camping #warmshowers #couchsurfing #scouts #dpsg #cyclinglife #biketouring

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