A trip in a Spaceship
Trip Start Apr 14, 2010
96Trip End Apr 16, 2011
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After spending a relaxed couple of days in town with family & friends we headed north for a day’s kayaking in sunny Abel Tasman. We’d hired a 2 person kayak which Gordon insisted on sitting in the back of shouting "paddle, paddle, paddle" at Sarah whilst not doing anything himself. Grrrr.
Next stop was a crossover to the north island on an amazingly calm day and on to Martinborough where we hired a tandem bike to cycle round the excellent vineyards. Sarah got her own back for the kayak too by sitting on the back of shouting “pedal, pedal, pedal” at Gordon whilst not doing anything herself.
After stocking up on wine in Martinborough we headed west to Taranaki, a huge volcano that rises up 2,500m out of the otherwise flat countryside which we had our eye on climbing. It just cries out to be climbed and even looks cool on a map. Some Kiwis had recently gone up it carrying a couch and a barbecue but having heaved ourselves up with volcanic scree with only our daypacks we were relieved to be travelling light
Having got a taste for screeing we decided to try to perfect our skills on the Tongariro crossing so the next day headed across the country on the ‘Forgotten World Highway’. As well as being a stunning drive this took us through the tiny village of Whakamomona which protested against come changes in local council boundaries by declaring themselves a republic. Their presidents have included a goat and a poodle. Brilliant. Our luck with the New Zealand weather held in Tongariro and we woke up to a gorgeous sunny day to do the Tongariro crossing; the most popular day walk on the island. The crossing itself is really nice but just off the main route is Mount Ngauruhoe, aka Mount Doom from the Lord of the Rings films. There was really no option but to climb it and so we found ourselves scrambling up yet more volcanic scree in a Frodo style where every step up seemed to take you two back. Once again though the views back over the crossing and volcanic lakes were worth every step – as was the screeing run back down the mountain afterwards. By the time we finished the rest of the crossing we were much in need of the hot tub in our campsite!
We finished our spaceship tour with a stop in Lake Taupo and another on the west coast before heading back to Auckland to make the most of Mal’s hospitality once again
We spent our last couple of days in New Zealand with Mal and Beinn climbing no volcanoes but exploring Waiheke island and Auckland and then heading out to Mal’s utterly gorgeous batch near Kare Kare beach (of ‘The Piano’ fame apparently but none of us have seen the film) to relax, play petanque (which Mal won), backgammon (Gordon won) and cards (Gordon again, grrr).
Mal, Sal & Beinn – thanks for everything (and sorry about the car, we think the sheep came off worst!)
One of the funny things on this trip is that every time we leave somewhere that normally we’d be upset to be leaving we have our next destination to look forward and that was definitely the case as we left Kare Kare. New Zealand was absolutely brilliant; gorgeous scenery, great hiking, silly activities, getting to see friends & family, lovely clean hostels and amazing flat white coffees. But next up was a flight to Santiago and the start of the Americas leg of our trip. For the first time we’re also now going to be travelling towards the UK, rather than away. Wow.