Trip Start Mar 06, 2013
Trip End Apr 04, 2013

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Where I stayed
Ibis Hamilton Tainui
Read my review - 1/5 stars
What I did
Mt Ruapeho
Mt. Tongariro

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Sunday, March 24, 2013

Today dawned as another stunning day. Severe clear, with the exception of Mt. Terenaki which seems to generate its own weather.  We were all lined up for the bus in good order, everyone refreshed from having a day off.  Doedo had arranged that we would fly the first leg in formation with a lovely red Cessna, Jon would take some pictures. Due to a bit of confusion on the airline ramp at the fuel pump last night we were not allowed to fuel. By the time we made it to the pumps ETU and our flashy red Cessna, ZK-WSJ were the last to depart the field. This was lucky for us because the Former Minister of Transport, now Mayor of New Plymouth, only showed up to waive farewell to the last 4 stragglers off the field.
Our route for the morning would take us by active volcanoes including Mt. Tongariro, the one we saw emitting puffs of smoke when we drove by it at the beginning of our trip.  We made our departure from New Plymouth, formed up with Safari #31 (ZK-WSJ) and headed off for Mt. Ruapehu, our first goal. This volcano looks pretty much like a generic peak, large, multifaceted and with small glaciers. Apparently it harbors a lake with high sulfuric acid content that has a habit of splashing about and getting people excited. Its neighbors are Mt. Ngauruhoe, formed like the most classic of volcanoes, and the smoldering ruin on Mt. Tongariro which quite literally blew its top off. 
The photo shoot at Mt. Ruapeho was a success. We've got some nice shots of them and they of us. Afterwards, in order to not be the last arrival for lunch, we headed up to Taumarunui. Outfitted with one grass field, and therefore no runway markings, we only got a little bit turned around before relying on the compass to help sort out the right direction. The Aero Club at this lovely grass field did a fine job of hosting us for lunch. Doedo found good evidence that there has been no weather at this field for some time: the 'weather rock' was hanging at the end of its rope, dry and bound up in cobwebs. Clearly there has not even been a decent wind here for some time.
After lunch on a sunny grass field, we were greeted by  the Mayor who made special introductions of the 'foreign' teams. Due to a communication issue this was at first on the Aussie teams. But she made a special personal greeting to us Yanks later.
The afternoon flight goal was to Hamilton. We chose to forego the competition route again and to return to the volcanoes for a little more exploring. Mt. Ruapeho was no longer basking in the sun but Mt. Ngauruhoe was spectacular in it's 'throw in a couple virgins' volcano perfection. The drama was completed by Mt. Tongariro puffing steam. If we had had a soundtrack of heavy drum beats it would have been perfect!
From there we dashed up to Hamilton to make our 2 -3 pm arrival window.  Since all 32 aircraft were to arrive within this window there was quite the traffic jam. To make things more interesting, everyone was being asked to hold over Cambridge.  We picked an altitude we didn't hear anyone else admitting to and made our circles as well. Eventually we were cleared for the Mystery Creek arrival and we headed for Hamilton.  A few minutes later we were taxiing through the grass towards well marshaled fuel & parking, managed by the Waikato Aero Club. 
The club has a great clubhouse on the airfield complete with a bar and food. Everyone enjoyed hanging out at the end of the afternoon before heading off to the hotels for a brief rest before dinner. We spent the time swapping photos with Richard & Denise from Safari #31. 
After dinner we made some plans for tomorrow's flight which will take us into Whenuapai, the Air Force base near Auckland and then for the afternoon we'll make a tour of Northland. 
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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George on

What's your Safari number?

Gretchen on

Boy, does this bring back a lot of memories! Holding over Cambridge, the Mystery Creek Arrival, and the Waikato Aero Club. I forgot to ask you to say hello to Roger for me (he's the chief pilot). Glad they treated all of you to a good time.

Richard on

Thanks for your company during safari, its been great ,have a safe trip home with great memories, will meet again soon ,home at the cowshed now,come visit some time in the future,
luv R & D

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