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Published: February 23rd 2016
Sun: From Rotorua to Turangi
I was up before 7am but we didn't check out until 8:15am because those biohazardous race gear smothered in sweat and dirt had to be dried before they can be packed, sigh. Already-spotty bus to the city is even less frequent on Sunday morning, double sigh. We walked 3-4km into town with our luggages. Thank god for V's new Hoka he got at the expo. My planter fasciitis had developed into a sure injury. The pairI ran in was too foul/dangerous to touch and my flip flop was too painful for the injury.
Yep, we walked all the way to Third place cafe for a breakfast with the lake view. We thoroughly enjoyed another solid flat white, date scone and v's bfast sandwich on the terrace with the view. It was a gorgeous day. Yes, you've heard it right. Yesterday's rain dump seemed like one bad nightmare. We went for a nice stroll along the lake. Woop, it's lunch time already :p. We were at Fat Dog by 11:30am. In NZ, we definitely had to try bacon egg pie. It's this thick sheet pie filled with loads of bacon and eggs! So filling. One
Random hot spots in Rotorua. They are smoking!
more thing to do before leaving Rotorua: Brew at Eat Streat to claim our Croucher beer that we missed post-race.
Our bus to Turangi left at 1:50pm. With 40min break in Taupo, we arrived at 4:30pm. Turangi seemed like more of our speed than Taupo - good pick. Our Turangi hostel was tucked away in the residential area and the quirkiest.The owner was very chill and friendly. But not just whatever because his motto was carpediem. He checked us in with a sandwich in one hand. He was so so upset that we'd booked the shuttle to tomorrow's hiking. In the huge lot, every available space was painted and stuff was hanging everywhere. We made a quick visit to the supermarket for dinner and tomorrow's hiking snack to get ready for one of NZ great walks! Monday: Tongariro Alpine Crossing
I went out of my way yesterday to call Adventure HQ to confirm the shuttle to and from the trailhead. He said 5:50am at the hostel, perfect.
At 6:15am, 4 of us were still waiting for a bus and getting worried. The hostel boss looked irritated by them already. He said they're always late and sometimes
they don't even show up...wait what?! Finally, a bus was spotted down the road without turning into our street...fail! Packed 70s short bus took off for the trailhead...wait, not so fast. The bus pulled into a depot, still in Turangi. The driver said we have to switch onto a bigger bus. At the depot, she looked like she was losing it. She was not upset, just losing it. She kept putting gear into rear instead of 1. Once she made in onto the road, hoof, she was going 100mph (or so it felt), chugging down Mountain Dew!! Ok, we're late but safety first please!!
Our bus load joined a bunch more bus loads. Hikers were tracing the track in continuous dots. This never thinned out throughout, btw.
Start was a bit chilly under the fog. Once we got on the other side of the grassy field, we were surrounded by the black rocky formation and dense spider web colony. Once we reached Soda Spring waterfall, trail took a sharp incline. Going over that hump, we were dropped into the view of Mt Doom, made famous by Lord of the Rings. An epic sight. Mountain seems simple but it's
dark and doomy. That's when V and I met Caballo Moreno, so I'll call him, as opposed to Caballo Blanco from "Born to Run". Naresh to be exact. He commented on our Ultimate Direction pack. This happened in Auckland by a non-runner off the street. But this guy, Caballo Moreno is legit. He's attempted Barkley marathon. Nuff said. He does through hikes, runs and bikes in sandals, snow and not. He hasn't had permanent address for 2yrs now. He's lived in the valley during his working days. Never ran Western States for 3 unlucky lotteries. Let the man run it!
Passing Mt Doom, trail splits for a side trip to Tongariro summit. We should have enough time for this. It's a "side trip" but not trivial. It climbs up for decently long time. Some parts were pretty steep. We had a good view of Mt Doom from above just in time before the cloud rolled in, completely covering the view. By the time we reached the summit, to which we had to scramble boulders, Mt Doom was completely covered behind the cloud. We stopped here for munchies. After all, we worked hard for this.
Back on the main
Rare bird on shore
Rotorua (a local lady told us it's rare to see them so close)
track, the trail headed straight down to the Emerald Lakes. This was simply epic! As we slid down the sandy path, the view of the Emerald Lakes changed faces. So amazing! Water was musky blue green, contrasting the dark volcanic sand, glowing under the sun. We really lucked out with the weather! Water was nice and warm.
After the Emerald Lakes, it's a long path in the open field that snakes down to the end. We powered it and reached the end at 2:45pm, in time for the 3pm bus. Nice. We can get to dinner sooner. Right. The bus came a little late but that was nothing compared to what was about to happen. How naïve of me to think that they were gonna leave this uneventful. Just as everyone sat on the return bus, the driver broke out the bad news. Bus is overheating and we'll have to wait for a replacement bus. Somebody will have to go to the depot in Turangi and drive it up here. Oh boy, this will take some time. Anything goes at this point. Whatever, just get us back safely please. We finally left the trailhead at 3:50pm.
Tot: 4.236s; Tpl: 0.062s; cc: 18; qc: 72; dbt: 0.0708s; 3; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb