New Zealand IX
Trip Start Oct 18, 2005
21Trip End Dec 15, 2005
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As we drove to Turangi, in our newer non-crappy Toyota Corolla, we saw some awesome looking volcanos to the left; Ruapehu, Tongariro, and Ngauruhoe. Very cool! We arrived in Turangi just in time to get a room, get a happy hour beer, and determine the next course of action. The weather report was favorable do to the Tongariro Crossing, which is the most walked of all the walks in New Zealand
Day 47: We were up bright and early to catch the bus for the 17 kilometer Tongariro Crossing (about 10.5 miles or so). We departed the bus at about 8:30, and we were told that the first bus would leave the other end at 4:15. It started out as a nice, easy, pleasant hike through high desert land and volcanic rock. As we got higher, however, it turned into a foggy, windy, steep walk. Oh, no! We were afraid we would do all this climbing up and not get to see anything. We passed by the Red Crater in complete fog. On the way down from there, however, the clouds broke just enough to offer a glimpse of the Emerald Lakes. Great! Since there is absolutely no incentive to hurry (remember the bus won't leave until 4:15), we just sat there, had lunch, and waited out the fog. It was well worth it! Once some of the clouds cleared, the views were outstanding!
As we were leaving the Emerald Lakes we ran into Sabastian and Kathrin, the German people we had gone kayaking with at Abel Tasman. What a small tourist world! It was great to catch up with them over a beer later that night!
Day 48: We left Turangi for Rotorua, and we stopped to see a few sights around Taupo along the way, including Lake Taupo, Huka Falls, and Craters of the Moon
Here are a few things to note about Rotorua. First, this is probably the best place to get a flavor of the Maori culture, at least as a tourist. There are all sorts of shows and demonstrations in Rotorua. Next, since it is in the middle of a large thermal area, the whole town smells like a big fart. At least that's what Janell kept saying (every ten minutes or so). Finally, it is the adventure capital of the North Island. You can go bungy jumping, sky diving, white water rafting, giant swinging, and of course, zorbing.
Zorbing was invented by a farmer that wanted an easy way to cross a large stream on his property without getting wet. He came up with a huge plastic ball that you can get into and move by walking and pushing on it with your hands
Day 49: The main activity for the day was the Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland. This is a park where you can see all sorts of different thermally related pools, springs, geysers, and boiling mud. It is actually very similar to Yellowstone. The first thing we checked out was the geyser that goes off every day at 10:15 (with a little help from the park people). We got there at about 10:25, so it wasn't quite as impressive as when it first goes off. Janell's disappointed face matched her comment of "It looks like someone's science project." Anyway, the boiling mud was much more impressive. It looked like chocolate cake batter, but neither of us wanted to taste it. The walk through the park was one of those things that are hard to describe words, except "Man, this place stinks, but it sure is pretty!" You'll just have to check out some of the pictures.
Finally, we made it to the last stop in New Zealand...Auckland.