Trip Start Jan 16, 2008
Trip End Jul 28, 2008

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Saturday, July 12, 2008

Unfortunately, 12 July was one of the worst days, in terms of weather, of our entire trip. Torrential rain and strong winds dominated proceedings as we headed north into the volcanic heart of NZ.
Out of Palmerston North, we stopped for breakfast in Cheltenham - a tiny, rural village whose highlights were a general store, a hotel and a rest area!?!
As we reached Tongariro National Park the weather somehow seemed to get even worse! Visibility was less than 500 metres so any views of the surrounding volcanoes were out of the question. The visitor's centre at Whakapapa Village was at least dry and had interesting information on how the area had been formed. Eager to try and walk the famous Tongariro Crossing we found the track required crampons, ice axes and avalanche equipment, as well as learning that 11 people had had to be rescued this year alone! We probably wisely opted against taking this challenge on...
Back on the road we continued up to the massive volcanic caldera that is now Lake Taupo. The Huka Falls provided a pleasant afternoon stroll particularly as there was a group of Gap Year yobs enjoying a cheeky jet boat ride on the river. I unsuccessfully attempted to convince Kim into a tandem bungy jump. I think you may well have heard her screams back in England if we had gone ahead with it...
Quite amazingly, I managed to convince two girls to accompany me to the pub that evening so I could watch the All Blacks v South Africa in the Tri Nations! I'm not quite sure how I managed it, but it was quite satisfying to see the Kiwis lose...they really don't take losing at rugby too graciously!! Bit of a shame they keep bottling it in World Cups then...
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