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Published: October 18th 2010
Everyone who went on the same plane.
Here we are in lake Taupo. The drive was long but nice, the further south we went the more it felt like I was driving into the interior of BC!
The night before we left was a pretty rough one, we decided to stay a second night at the Lion’s Den, but they were already booked up, They had a spot for a tent and said we could stay in that for very cheap so we went for it, only problem being that we didn’t have a mattress and the hostel only had one for us. Who ends up on the ground? Me. Though I was sleeping on a blanket so I figured it would be ok. Three in the morning rolls around and I’m freezing, the blanket isn’t insulating me from the ground at all! I had to go to my car and grab my sleeping bag liner and toque! I did get to sleep after that but I was pretty sore and the drive down did take several hours.
I was amazed how much it looked like home the further south we got, I’ve got some pictures so you can see for yourself (and you can verify
Much smaller than it looks
that I actually am in another country because all the traffic is on the wrong side of the road). The climate here is cooler and much more to my liking than in Coromandel which was getting into the high 20’s in the day. I haven’t had a chance to go fishing yet as it is too windy, and we haven’t been able to go on the Tongoriro crossing because it’s closed due to bad weather, but that should change Friday or Saturday.
I did get a chance to do a skydive a few days ago! I only opted for the jump from 12,000 feet as opposed to the 15,000 feet since it was $100 cheaper (coming to $249NZ in total) and skipped out on the DVD which was another $100 and something. I was the last guy on the plane and was therefore the first one off, me and the tandem instructor didn’t even have a seat on the bench, but were seated on the floor of the plane next to the garage style rolling door.
I was actually surprisingly calm the entire time, from getting picked up at the hostel to actually 20 minute climbing to 12,000
feet, but I did feel a little bit anxious when the door (the one I was sitting not 1 inch from) opened for the first time. I say first time because when it opened we were given the red light just before we were going to go because there was too much cloud in the way and we could therefore not see our landing area. So we shut the door and had to circle for another 5 minutes before we could attempt again. The second time went off without a hitch, he tapped me on the shoulder and I swung my legs out of the aircraft from the floor where I was sitting and before I knew it I was plummeting through the clouds!
From 12,000 feet you have 40 seconds of free fall before they pull the main parachute (a tiny stabilizing chute it pulled shortly after exiting the plane) but it felt more like 10 seconds! I’ve been told by other travelers that it is difficult to breathe immediately after jumping because the air is moving passed you so quickly, so I took a couple good breaths in the plane before we went, but it really wasn’t
all that difficult so long as you used your mouth to breathe. After the freefall and the parachute opened, I was given the control lines for the sail and was allowed to spin us in a few circles, he then told me to bring us above a farm building next to the airfield and then to bring us toward the landing site. He took control for the actual landing, but the fact that I was able to steer where we were going for a few minutes was very cool. All in all it was an awesome experience that I would be more than happy to do again!
We did the Tongariro Alpine Crossing yesterday which was a hell of a hike. It’s only 19.6 kilometres long, but we climb to the summit (1967meters above sea level ) of Mount Tongariro after climbing up the dreaded Devil’s steps and going through the South Crater, up Red Crater to the top. At the top we could see the Emerald Lakes, so called because of the vivid greeny blue colour of the water due to their high mineral content. To
our right was Mount Ngauruhoe (AKA Mount Doom!) partially covered in snow and because it was spring and the snow was wet it was off limits. Following the Emerald Lakes was the huge Blue Lake (though it was still covered in ice so we couldn’t really see how blue it was!) and the highest point on the North Crater.
We were buffeted by extreme winds at the summit as well as the high point of the North Crater, making everyone pull their jackets, gloves, scarves, and toques on, if only for the few minutes required to get into the leeward side of the mountain where we shed it just as quickly because of the hot sun. The walk down the other side was much gentler with a long gradual zigzag path to where the land levelled out a bit more close to Ketetahi Hot Springs. The rest of the way was a straight shot over 3.5 kilometres to the pickup area. The 2 other hikers I was walking with (a girl from Germany and a guy from Switzerland) completed the walk in 6 and a half hours, which is pretty damn good because the average suggested time it takes
is between 7 and 8 hours!
You can see from the pictures, but it’s almost hard to believe that you’re on the same planet, let alone the same 20 kilometre walking track when you see the plant life in the different areas. Soda Springs starts off scrubland with sparse hardy bushes and mosses, Devil’s Steps were dotted with dry grasses and mosses, the South Crater had lichens and the odd clump of grass, and the summit was almost completely devoid of life! After making it over the lip of the North Crater (which was half full of snow) we’re greeted with an amazing view of the lake, forest, and farmland, though there was only scrubland bush and grasses immediately around us. After we descended passed the hot springs we found ourselves in semitropical jungle!
Taupo really has it all and even though I was only able to see a small fraction of it, I’m glad I spent the time here!
Off to Napier tomorrow though I don’t plan on spending the night there, I think I’ll get to Palmerston North or even Wellington if time permits (though it may not as we want to stop by Huka
Falls before we leave Taupo, so probably not).
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