Next stop was Taupo, which is a cute little town next to the enormous lake Taupo. It also happens to be near the Tongariro National Park, so when the next day promised some good weather, there was no way I wouldn't do that! I woke up at 4:15 (!), met some people at my hostel that were also doing the crossing and at 7:00 we started walking (after a 1,5 hour bus ride). It was amazing. The walk started off relatively flat, in a landscape that was nothing like I had ever seen. The clouds added to the atmosphere, making it seem mystical and magical. After a while we climbed above the clouds, and what a view… and then I haven't even mentioned the green and bright blue lakes yet. It was a tough climb and we went from hot to cold to hot again, but it was all worth it. By 14:15 we reached the end of the crossing, we did it!
At Blue Duck Station, the next destination (located in the middle of nowhere without any signal), I went on a horse ride! As relaxing as this might sound to some, for me it was actually
quite scary at times. Mind you, the last time I've been on a horse was probably when I was 12, and even then I never had lessons. If you add the fact that these horses loved to walk on the edge of the road (before it went downhill) because that was the least muddy part, and you might understand why I was a little scared. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the horse riding for most of the time and was proud that I managed to complete the 2,5 hours without falling off.
In Raetihi, after a 2 hour morning hike past a waterfall in Whakapapa, I had a chill afternoon and played a life-sized connect-four with Merel, while most of the group was doing the Tongariro crossing. There wasn't much else to do in the area but the hostel was very nice.
On the Dutch Kingsday, I arrived in Wellington. Sorry to disappoint, but I did not wear orange. Also, they didn't celebrate our Kingsday in Wellington (they did in Queenstown and Auckland though!) so that day went by like any other day. I had a lot of time to explore Wellington. I went out for
dinner with Merel and Celine and went to the Art Gallery and Te Papa (an enormous museum about New Zealand’s history). I walked up “Mount” Victoria (which is really just a hill, since it's slightly under 200m in height) and took the cable car up another hill, to walk back down through the botanical gardens. I also walked around the town and past the waterside at the harbour a lot. Additionally, I went to the gym. This might sound crazy, but after 3,5 months without any sports (other than hiking), I started to crave a good workout. When my hostel turned out to have a free gym pass for members, I couldn't resist, especially when they turned out to have some dance classes available. I visited the gym 3 days in a row, since I won't have one again in the next 5,5 weeks!
Tomorrow I'm off to Auckland again; it's weird to realise that I only have a week left in New Zealand but I look forward to my next adventure!
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