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Published: April 8th 2011
Imagine preparing for a 5 day back country camping trip. What would you take for meals? Generally the hardest meal to plan for is lunch. Breakfasts are usually oatmeal, and suppers we've defaulted to ready-made prepackaged dehydrated meals (at home we do our own dehydrating so we can be more creative). For the last several back country trips we've done here in NZ, we ate flavoured tuna and crackers for lunch. So by default that's what we planned to do this time around. On Day 1, halfway through his can of tuna, Jordan looked up at Kathie and said, "Ugh, I can't eat this anymore...". Kathie followed that with "me neither..." What do we do now? Thankfully Kathie is a great planner and had a couple of emergency packets of mac and cheese. Yay for hot lunches!
Okay, on to the actual trip. We hiked the Tongariro Northern Circuit which is one of New Zealand's "great walks". It is about 50km and is normally done in 3-4 days, but we decided to take our time and do it in 5. The second day of the track is also known as the Tongariro Crossing which is promoted as the best one
day hike in NZ. This meant sharing the trail with 600+ day walkers and it's not even peak season. This section of the trail is the busiest hike we've done outside of China and brought back memories of Hua Shan. In any event, we had gorgeous weather for the entire 5 days and despite the crowds doing the crossing, it came pretty close to living up to the hype. There are no trees so the views are spectacular from every angle. It's a completely different landscape from what we're used to. The volcanic features are amazing, particularly the red crater and emerald lakes. Oh, and yes, Ngauruhoe is Mt. Doom. I don't think any other movies have done more for a country than Lord of the Rings has done for NZ.
Next we drove west towards Taranaki with the intention of hiking the other volcanic cone that we could see in the distance from Tongariro. They have a saying in the region about Taranaki: "If you can see the mountain, it's going to rain. If you can't see the mountain, it's raining." 100% true. Our first stop in the area was Opunake (which by a total coincidence is where
Cape Egmont Lighthouse
With Taranaki in the background.
Jordan's Dad taught at the high school for 3 years back in the '60s). We went to Cape Egmont to see the sunset on the lighthouse with the mountain in the background. That first day we had nice views of the mountian and a pretty sunset. That was the last we saw of Mt Taranaki/Egmont and down came the rain. We spent lots of time and petrol driving circles around the mountain trying to see some of the other sights in the area hoping to wait out the weather. The highlight was probably the Three sisters (only two of which remain) along the White Cliffs walkway. Eventually we gave up and headed north to Raglan for a two day break.
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