Growing up in Taranaki on a lifestyle block with a river and swimming holes, “long before lifestyle blocks were cool” home since the late ‘70’s has been Ohura about 40 km off State Highway 4, in the heart of the King Country. Moving to the Forgotten World hasn’t kept him still though, Shane has seen most of New Zealand from the drivers seat of a housetruck, and from a bike saddle. This modest artisan built his first house truck in 1986 and is now onto his third, parked, perhaps permanently, on a hill overlooking Ohura township.
“It’s so easy to just jump in the truck and roar off into the distance, I'm not running away this year though.”
ABOVE: Loving his job is Forgotten World Adventures Guide, Shane Read.
Shane has been a leadlight artist working the gypsy fair for the past 12 years. “When working at a gypsy fair you’re travelling all over the country from town to town, you work on the weekends and during the week you’ve got time to yourself, parked up alongside all these awesome DOC areas with amazing tracks.”
That’s where the bike comes in. Shane tows a custom built Gypsyvarno (tandem trailer workshop) behind his house truck and with kayak and bike on board this guy is good to go. Not so in 1998 when Ohura experienced the biggest flood the district has ever seen and Shane watched as the water rose to the axles of his home. He’s pretty relaxed about floods though, Ohura has had it’s fair share and he’s quite safe from getting those axles wet again.
Ohura has always been a bit alternative, a mix of artists, musicians and farmers, this suits Shane fine, he has seen this town rise and fall and rise again, now he gets to share it with the world as a Forgotten World Adventures (FWA) guide.
Shane says the best people to guide and the best people to learn from are people with local knowledge, nothing is scripted. “We had a lovely lady on tour who had grown up around the area, she was giving a commentary to her friends, she had lived about 4-5 miles out of Whangamomona and she said it was only once in a blue moon they would go into town and it was a big deal, that sums up how isolated it was back then.”
Chatting about New Zealand in a post-COVID-19 world, Shane says because you can't go overseas, people have had to think twice about where they're going and what they're doing. “This job has opened my eyes to where I’ve been driving through all those years.”
Asked about guiding, Shane says he likes to be able to add a personal touch - he’s worked in the mines as well as in the bush, he rode the Stratford to Okahukura line to New Plymouth to visit his folks back in the day, has tramped and ridden through this forgotten land in the middle of nowhere and he can’t wait to get back on the rails.
With a parting smile Shane exclaims ... “this is the best job in the world!!”