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Published: February 27th 2017
Days 122 to 129 of 165
Trust us, Pip IS on this holiday too despite all the recent blog titles name checking Paul.
Another period of relentless overnight rain tried its best to put a dampener on the Napier Art Deco festival but there were still many people decked out and parading in 1930s clothing and some drop dead gorgeous period cars. The local museum has, not surprisingly, some great displays on the the 1931 earthquake and its aftermath and the rebuilding, and on art deco period objects too. This gave us a couple of hours respite from the rain.
So we spent some more time rubber necking the cars, buildings and people. There were also a couple of English steam traction engines. A Ransomes, from Ipswich, and a Ruston & Hornsby, from Lincoln. I spoke to the owner, talking of the relationship my dad and my brother Philip both had with Rustons.
On the way back to our room we took a drive around some of the many art deco homes that were built on the land that rose from the lagoon during the earthquake.
Day 124 saw us driving the Thermal Highway, ironically in
the pouring rain. Yet another of the amazingly scenic drives that NZ seems capable of delivering with some regularity. At one stage we passed an extended area of derelict huts, with rocking chairs and rusting cars outside. There was the distant sound of chainsaws in our minds. We didn't want to break down here!
We stopped briefly in the bustling lakeside town of Taupo - the skydiving capital of the world.
Whilst having coffee we had another of Pip's priceless sayings. Looking around to see the name of the cafe Pip pronounced that it was called
We arrived at our Turangi hostel and.....oh dear. What an absolute dump. We are, in NZ, mostly hostelling and are prepared and used to what that mostly means. But this place was beyond the pale. Soon after checking in we were out in the town looking for an alternative, which came in the form of a wooden unitted motel where the rooms are being refurbished. We were shown one such room, suite actually, and booked on the spot. On pulling out of the hostel, citing Pip's asthma as being set off by the dogs and cat
around the place, the owner took this quite graciously. And, true to his word, he cancelled our booking leading to a full refund via the booking agency. Generous. He didn't have to do that.
On Sunday, day 125, we woke up to some truly shocking news.....Lincoln , not in the top 4 football leagues had beaten Premier League Burnley, who become the first non-League side in quarter finals since 1914. Scores elsewhere were more familiar with Wolves being beaten by Chelsea.
And then Paul was off on another adventure, White Water Rafting for half a day, on the Tongariro river through 50 grade 3 rapids.
Fishing, something we had said we had always wanted to do. So where better than on the Tongariro which is claimed to be one of the absolute best trout fishing rivers in the world. So we hired suitable tackle and bought a selection of flies. Oh yes, we weren't doing simple float fishing. That's not allowed on this river. We were going to practice the dark art of fly fishing. 😀
6 hours later Pip had caught nothing. Paul had caught a budleia bush, several times, plus other assorted
greenery, and himself once. But no fish. So just an omelette for tea tonight. Note - you cannot buy or sell trout in NZ, it's illegal, $250k fine and/or serious jail time. Restaurants will cook your fish for you but will ask to see your fishing licence.
When we took the tackle back to the shop we recounted that we had caught nothing. The shop owner said, sagely, as I guess he has many times before "Ah. That's why they call it fishing not catching!"
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing - in a country renowned for hyperbole when it comes to describing its walks, this is called New Zealand's Greatest One Day Walk. And after our disappointment at pulling from the Milford Track, this was one walk we were determined to do. As were several hundred other trampers that day, because it is also one of NZ's most popular walks
The Crossing, as it is known, is 19.4km, across a stark and still active volcanic landscape, with no shade or cover (or water or toilets for that matter), with a 700 metre ascent and 1100 metre descent. And its other claim to fame is that it goes part
way around Mount Doom (that is, as used in the Lord Of The Rings films).
As we progressed along the track we entered into a geologist's wet dream landscape. And whilst it was low cloud and misty on the way up, as the morning progressed and we approached the first crater crossing and Mt Doom the weather brightened and cleared up giving us tremendous views of the crater, surroundings and the towering Doom. Doom is climbable, well scramble-able really. So much scree it's 2 steps up then 1 1/2 slip back. Whilst many were doing it, at 3-4 hours round trip just for that it wasn't for us.
We topped out above the Red Crater at 1886m, with the help of a section of track/climb where chains and steel cable had been placed to help the walkers. And the way down for the next km or so was, if anything, even more challenging as we scrambled and slid down more scree, cinder and ash. Looking back up that section we could not believe we had come down there. And as for those doing the walk in the other direction who had to climb up that way......
started at 07:00 and finished around 16:00. The last 3 to 4 kms seemed to drag on relentlessly. But we didn't regret a moment of it. Pip has let it nudge Heli Ice Hike out from number 2 (but still behind Great Barrier Reef).
Boy, did we ache a bit the next day. But Paul was back in adrenaline mode and had booked a 47m bungy jump, which following his canyon swing he stepped in to with very little hesitation. He did hurt his wrist though - see later.
We moved on to Rotorua, probably the smelly capital of NZ, being in the centre of a geothermal hot spot. Everywhere you look - parks, gardens, driveways, ... - there seemed to be steam venting from the ground. After a look around one such park, Craters of the Moon, we checked in for a well needed rest. The Crossing's exertions from the day before had taken it out of us.
Whilst looking at the Rotorua town map over breakfast we noticed that the free town park we were looking for was next to the town hospital. As Paul's wrist was still painful from his bungy the day before
we decided that it would be good to just have it checked over and probably properly strapped. An hour after arriving, a doctor's exam and 4 x-rays later and Paul's wrist and lower arm were being encased in a fibreglass cast. The diagnosis - a broken scaphoid bone beneath his right thumb. A clean break so should mend fine, but the cast will be on for 8 weeks, 'til mid April. So that stops planning for a tandem skydive then 😀. Whilst Pip becomes driver, cook, washer-upper, bag carrier... for the rest of the trip.
So this blog ought to be 'Paul gets (fibre)glassed!'
Written on an enormous bed in Paihia, Bay of Islands, our penultimate hostel stay (for 5 nights) in New Zealand.
And needing to do another blog almost immediately to cover our time since Paul's casting - more geothermal, Maori, Hobbit and Glowworms.
Tot: 0.047s; Tpl: 0.02s; cc: 7; qc: 23; dbt: 0.0074s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
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