A plea to Helen.....

Trip Start Jan 02, 2013
Trip End Mar 23, 2013

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Flag of New Zealand  , Wellington,
Monday, January 7, 2013

We hit the ground running! I think, if I remember correctly, I had about 27 minutes to myself late on Saturday. Neil now tells me that all this activity is actually "training" for the big event which, it transpires, is today.....

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing! Yes, Alpine, that's what I thought as well but apparently the Alpine reference relates to the type of landscape and not the location. So the "day walk" of the Alpine Crossing is 19.4 kilometres. Yes, 19.4 kilometres - over a bloody mountain!!! But the good news is that the trail is currently closed part way along so we can only do 9 kilometres. Phew! Sadly, that's 9 kilometres each way and we do have to return to where we started. He says I agreed to this. I don't recall..... Oh, and there's an additional excursion up to the top of Mount Ngauruhoe which adds 3 hours and 600 metres vertical rise for those who fancy it. No, no, definitely no! And here's a little quiz for all you readers out there - except Helen and Dan. For what is the aforementioned Mount Ngauruhoe well known? Well, it's apparently also known as Mount Doom, which I understand featured in Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit or something similar.

Oh, and for those who might be wondering. The trail is currently closed because of "volcanic activity"! The warning signs suggest that (unless you're really stupid!!) you keep out of the "2 kilometre rock throwing zone". We did!! (Post Walk Note: We've been told since our return from the mountain that at 11.45am this morning, there was quite a big "blow-out". At 11.45, we were approaching the summit but I guess we were concentrating so hard on breathing that we both missed it!)

Well we did the Crossing and we did it in fine time (though Neil may not agree). And it was fantastic, I have to say. But before I pick out the highlights, my plea to Helen. Please mate, there is absolutely NO PRESSURE to keep up this relentless pace when I get to Oz. I'm almost certain that if it continues like it has so far, after five and a half weeks with your brother, I will be more than happy to lie on a beach for a month!!! Go easy on the physical exercise and make full use of the car!!!

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is in the shadow of Mount Ruapehu, which featured in the photos of a previous entry. It's beautifully snow covered and thankfully, it being 2800 metres high, it didn't feature in todays endeavours. Instead we started at 1100 metres-ish and climbed to approx 1900 metres, walking through stunning and varied landscapes. The sun shone and the waterproofs, jumpers, emergency rations and everything else we took were surplus to requirements. I did get one hell of a sideways look though from the "guide" whose transport we had booked to get us to the start point. "You're not walking in (walking) sandals are you? Haven't you got any boots?" he sneered. "No problem", said I, "If I struggle, I'll turn round and come back". He sneered again! Well, need I have worried. No,absolutely not. For goodness's sake, they've built steps most of the way up and in between the steps there are edged pathways that wouldn't look out of place in Gill's garden! I admit to there being one or two "klinker" issues as we got up to the volcanic gravel near the top but in all honesty, it was a stroll in the park - despite the 800 metre rise which had me wheezing like a 40-a-day man. On reflection, Vic, I'm sure that Scafell Pike was a damn sight harder than this!

Anyway, I'll end by saying it was a fantastic day, my calves are now like rock and my back is wrecked for the rest of time. But well worth it and I can't wait for a nice quiet "driving day" tomorrow as we head for the ferry. I'll not try to describe the scenery today but hopefully, you'll get an idea from the attached photos...
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Jane on

Am exhausted just looking at this - hope Hel plans loads of R&R as requested. The walk I'm doing today pales into insignificance................

Helen on

So proud of you Dad. I know from experience how tough that climb is and I don't know if Neil told you but I actually broke down and cried halfway up it because I was so exhausted! They had to bribe me with muesli bars to get me to the top! The photos bring back great memories though! Glad you said that about just relaxing when you get to us, I was getting worried that I'd have to plan more exhilarating and exhausting things! But really I was just thinking of drinking cold beers on the beach each day!! So no planning necessary!!

Roberta and Mo on

Your photos are getting better and better! If it wasn't for all the obvious exertion required, we'd like to go to those places. As it is - keep sending the pics... Did you know you'd be quite this ACTIVE? Detail picture of your iron calves next please!!

Louise on

I am SO jealous...I wanted to do the Tongariro trail but David wasn't keen...well done L x

cotysmore on

Right - attempting four answers in one:

One - I am also exhasted already and I think Neil is also flagging! I also sincerely hope that Helen concentrates on the alcohol side of things..

Two - I gather your tears were half way up Mount Doom Hels. I admit to crying at the thought of climbing what looked like a vertical sided slagheap! Loads of respect to you for doing it...

Three - a little more work needed Roberta before I flash the IronMan muscles. Perhaps I'll picture Neil's or photoshop them...

Four - I think Dave had the right idea Lou. The crossing is not for the fainthearted. My breathing at times sounded like I was in a diving bell desperate for air...

Ste on

Bet you now wish he'd forgotten to pick you up at the airport!

Do you get a choice in any of these planned activities... and is it more of a choice than just "which hill shall we climb next"? You should probably do the skydive as at least it's 45 seconds of rest for the old legs.

"They had to bribe me with muesli bars!" - I wouldn't worry too much about the fitness craze making it to Sydney by early Feb.

Becks on

Thanks for making us all sick with jealousy with the stunning photos, although I have to admit that I think Day 1's ininerary would have rendered me useless for at least a week so big respect for the stamina on display (maybe your plea should have been to Neil, not Hels - "ease up, lad!")

It's what memories are made of... Keep the updates coming! x

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