Dont. Look. Back...
30th April 2009
Think rain, coldness and a 4.20am start. That was us, and Nev, this morning...and the start of our adventure over to the North Island. We had booked our ferry crossing the day we had arrived in NZ, planning to catch the best sunrise of our trip as we crossed the Cook Strait heading for Wellington. At the time it was the perfect plan, but we hadn't factored in any rain (which was kind of silly as it rains A LOT in this country!) or cloud, and so instead of a glorious sunrise, we made do with spooky, misty mountains and freezing fingers as we tried to take some half decent photos. Despite the weather however, sailing through the maze-like Marlborough sounds was amazing; even if you hadn't planned visiting the other island this is a trip worth taking! On reaching the windy city of Wellington, 3 hours later, we were excited to be here and headed to the nearest campervan park, 15 minutes drive from the city. It was interesting being back in a city, and actually being amongst traffic gave both us and Nev a shock! Being so far out of the centre we decided to drive
Looking out over the Marlborough sounds.
back into town that morning and do some sleepy-eyed exploring. The weather forecast wasn't going to be great for the next few days so we planned around this factor and spent the rest of the day re-energising regularly on Cuba St and Courtney Pl before bedding down for the night nice and early.
1st May 2009
Not waking up in the four o'clock hour was the first bonus of the day, and so we slept in, made ourselves a big breakfast and stocked up on supplies for a day back in the city centre. This time we took a local bus and took advantage of the unexpected sunny morning by walking up through the Botanical Gardens before making our way back down via the cable car. Back on the streets again we headed to the renowned Te Papa Museum where we met a colossal squid, experienced an earth quake and ate some great chocolate mousse! This museum is the pride of Wellington, and is a great place to get a feel for some Maori culture. Its a very 'hands on' museum, which basically meant we spent alot of time playing with cool exhibitions! The fuelage from our breakfast had
Overlooking the city from the cable car.
begun to run out at this point though and so we headed back to Cuba street for some cheap eats before making our way up towards the Westpac stadium where we would be watching the Hurricanes (Wellington) v Blues (Auckland) in a Super 14's match. Very excited about this, and with some huge chocolate bars in hand, we put on the layers to watch the Blues get a lesson on how to play rugby! Final score; Hurricanes 45 - 27 Blues. Crunchie Bar; big.
2nd May 2009
Having the benefit of writing this on reflection, today was maybe not our best decision/route planning. We really want to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing which is strictly dictated by the weather. Assuming we would have two days before we could contemplate doing it, we decided to head 5 hours north east to the Art Deco town of Napier, thinking that a few days here before heading slightly(!) back on ourselves made perfect sense. The drive was long, but surprisingly picturesque. We had thought that upon leaving the South Island we were heading for culture as opposed to scenery. We were wrong. If the South Island is on illegal substances then the
Eating the biggest Crunchie in the world at the Westpac Stadium.
North is defintiely on steroids. High winding roads led us through tree covered hills, and through long flat valleys full of colour. We arrived around 4pm and were about to have a wander around the town when we noticed that nothing - literally nothing - was open. Saturday afternoon and everyone had gone home leaving us with not much to do! We took a few snaps of the architecture famed here but we didn't last long as the clouds were looming and it was cold. We did stop at the local i-site though where we were told that we would have to get a move on if we wanted to walk the crossing as the weather would be getting progressively worse as the week went on; we had two days to get to Tongariro and do the 8 hour day trek. It looked like Napier would have to be for another trip. We headed to the camp site, cooked ourselves a curry and then crashed. It would be an anxious next couple of days.
3rd May 2009
Knowing that it would be another full days driving, we woke early-ish and stocked up on supplies for our walk the next
Combining the old and the new in the Art Deco Capital.
day. Fuelled up we headed onwards towards central Northland, and Lake Taupo. Lake Taupo is NZ's largest lake and sits in the crater of a volcano that erupted hundreds of thousands of years ago, and is naturally a very beautiful place (its also the trout fishing capital of the world!) We hung out in the town for a while before driving a further 70km around the shores of the lake into Tongariro National Park where we would be sleeping. We immediately felt the cold of the increased altitude and turned to Nevs heating system to keep us warm.
4th May 2009
Knowing how important todays weather would be to us, we nervously drew back the curtains of Nev this morning, and we were greeted by frost. It could have been worse! After wedging in a breakfast of nearly half a loafs worth of toast, we put on our warmest clothes and were on a little yellow bus heading to Mangatepopo Valley; the start (for us) of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a 19.4km trek up and across the volcanic range which consists of Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe, the latter perhaps better known now as 'Mount Doom' from the Lord
On The Road
of the Rings trilogy. A gentle start took us over old lava flows of past eruptions with great views looking up at Mt Ngauruhoe, a perfect cone shaped volcanoe! We then climbed around 600m to the south crater, where we began to feel a real change in temperature...as we headed up further toward the red crater and, ultimately, the summit, the driving wind (we later learnt it was blowing 30-40 knots) became almost unbearable on any exposed skin. Over icy terrain, and walking into the wind, we forced our way to the summit (Hayley leaning at a 45 degree angle!), where we were rewarded with amazing views in every direction, though the most spectacular sight was looking directly over the ridge into the huge Red Crater. Despite the beauty of where we were stood, the icy wind was too much for us and we headed sharply off of the peak and, slipping and sliding over the ash(?) like terrain, headed down toward the Emerald lakes. This is a collection of small beautiful coloured pools, tainted emerald by thermal ground, but emitting a horrendous sulphur smell! Maybe not the best spot for lunch! From here it was a further 10km or
On The Road
DC capturing the magic!
so of traversing down and around the trail, until 6 hours later, we were finished! One of the best one day hikes we've done. Last week we were on a glacier, this week on a volcanoe; You've gotta love this country!!
And so we keep moving! Even though we are coming to the end of our trip we are gonna keep the adventures coming thick and fast! Still lots to do....
D and H
Tot: 2.217s; Tpl: 0.108s; cc: 9; qc: 56; dbt: 0.0773s; 2; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb