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Published: February 3rd 2011
Thursday 25th November 2010 (Waitomo – Taupo)
Walking around more caves in the morning helped to wake us up and after a long day on the bus we arrived at the Huka Falls which had an immense force as the water ploughed over the edge and created a really beautiful sight.
Joanne was picked up for her Skydive, and managed to get Richard a space to watch. They showed the group a video and we all decided to jump from 15,000ft (even Sharon who was petrified). As Joanne had sky-dived before she decided against the pricy photo/video package and enjoyed the jump even more for just taking in the experience and the views instead of staring at a photographer for the whole of the free-fall. Back on the ground her trusty photographer (Richard) and videographer (Joe) were getting all of the action too.
Another adrenalin buzz out of the way we took a walk from the hostel to a natural hot spring. There were other people there already so we had to sit where the hot flow met the cold river, which was a really strange sensation.
In the evening we joined ‘the gang’ for a few
drinks at the element bar, but had to leave before long as we had a 5am wake up call. Friday 26th November 2010 (Taupo)
An early pick-up must have put the majority of our bus off the hike across the famous Tongariro crossing today as there were only a handful of us on the bus. When we arrived we were joined by our American friend Joe as the three of us wanted to attempt an additional pass up to Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom from the Lord of the Rings) which would leave us pushed for time to get back for the last bus back. Quick march up the never ending staircase, we turned a corner and saw several walkers taking a multitude of tracks to the top of the mountain... We (stupidly) chose to follow the closest one as it was steeper, but we figured we were fit enough to combat it. Unfortunately, it turned out the steepness wasn’t the problem, but the fact this side of the mountain was lose scree - for every 3 steps up we’d slip back 2, and at one point Joanne couldn’t get a grip on anything and just kept slipping down the
mountainside until Richard who was thankfully below caught her.
After an hour we’d barely made any progress so we decided to traverse across to the harder looking molten rock... It took us a while, but once across (much to our relief) we bounded up to the top in a flash. There was a small ledge at the top, but not enough for Richard to feel comfortable before the 100m vertical drop into the volcano, so he fretted while Joanne leant over the edge taking photos.
Getting down from Mount Doom proved to be significantly easier, with all of us developing a slide technique down the scree, however we were all surprised to see a man with a baby in a rucksack on his back - not sure it’s something we’d risk with a child. From here we continued across the large open crater until reaching our last big climb of the day. At the top we were treated to a unique view over the valley with deep red walls which looked like they belonged on Mars. There were some geothermal pools bubbling away and the usual smell of rotten eggs and just past here we reached a wide
open lake that had filled another volcano crater.
In the evening we ventured out of the hostel bar although only as far as the Irish bar opposite! There was a live band who were really good and the drinks flowed. We got back to our room quite late and crept in as to not wake our new roomy who was doing the Tongariro crossing the next day, but he wasn’t there. Richard went to the bathroom and exclaimed to Joanne that we probably wouldn’t be seeing him for a while after spotting an empty packet of pills, the blue variety, on the side (not sure why someone in their early 20s would need such help!) Sure enough he woke us up with the lights flashing on at 5am when he returned for his gear ahead of the hike.
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