Trip Start Jun 04, 2009
79Trip End Sep 06, 2010
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Welcome to the North Island! We finally left our beloved South Island behind and although we’re in the same country I can’t help feeling like I’ve left home all over again. We arrived in Wellington off of the ferry so were thrown right into the centre of the city and yet more confusing roads and directions. Thankfully we didn’t have a repeat of the Christchurch incident and were able to locate our hostel without developing too many grey hairs. True to form, we decided to camp again despite being in the centre of the city so our little tent was surrounded by tall buildings and busy roads for the first time and we felt confident we had the cheapest bed in the capital
Wellington is incredibly windy and as my hair is just too short to tie up, but long enough to get blown into my face all day, I didn’t get to see that much of the city. What I did manage to see was very nice though, we took a walk all around the botanical gardens which are up high above the city with views out to sea. Then we managed to meander our way through the shopping district to the sea front which was lively with buskers and driftwood sculptures. We spent quite a lot of time in the Te Papa museum which is considered to be the best in New Zealand, we were assured in advance that there were lots of interactive exhibits and we found plenty of buttons to press and handles to turn to keep us entertained. Most impressive was the gigantic squid they had on display, the best way for me to describe it to you would in fact be 'gigantic’ (or ugly!).
In short Wellington was fine but it was still a city and as wonderful as New Zealand is it’s not going to win any awards for it’s architecture or cities in general so we didn’t hang around and decided to stick to what New Zealand does best and headed to Tongariro National Park to get into some volcanic activity
We arrived in the dark and set up the tent again just before the rain started, so we got an early night expecting the worst but woke up to the clouds parting and the sun peaking through. In our excitement we decided to drive up to ski resort at the top of Mt Ruapehu for the views but once we got to the top it was a complete downpour and wind was whipping at the car so we couldn’t even get out. Deciding to take matters into our own hands we stayed put and planned to sit out the weather by reading and making more travel plans. After an hour of this nonsense we decided to give up make a move to the hostel we’d be camping outside that night and of course as soon as we got down from the mountain it was a beautiful sunny day everywhere else, so we had picked the one rain cloud for miles around to go and sit under.
To make the most of the sun we drove around for a few pretty short walks and eventually saw the big cloud clear above Mt Ruepehu so attempted the drive up again. We were much luckier this time and got to scramble around on what would be the ski field in winter that now was just a rock field. We got ourselves up to a high point and had the most beautiful views of Mt Ngauruhoe aka Mt Doom from Lord of the Rings (for the duration of this entry I will refer to it as Mt Doom for obvious reasons). The clambering around the rocks entertained us for quite a while until my hobbit and Gollum impressions grew too irritating and so we made our way to the hostel for a good nights sleep before we attempted the Tongariro Crossing the next day which would get us up close and personal with Doom itself.
That night we went out to the tent at 9pm and it was already frozen solid, we unzipped it and it still stayed solid, all the cars were already frozen over too so we had a feeling it would be a cold night
The weather was beautiful with stunning blue skies and we could see we were visibly above the cloud level to add to the feeling we were somewhere very special. As we climbed again over the last peak into the Red Crater we really started to see and smell the effect of the volcanic area we were in. The Red Crater lived up to it’s name as every shade of red you can imagine was on display and the solidified lava flow acted as evidence of a previous eruption. As well as that the eerily turquoise lakes and sulphur fumes coming out of the ground added to the otherworldly atmosphere we were walking in high above the clouds. It was also an ideal walk to take Steve on the morning after cooking him a giant batch of chilli and giving him beans for breakfast, usually a recipe for disaster but that day he blended in fine with the aroma of the volcano.
The walk down from the crossing was a long and exhausting winding path down the mountain side but with stunning views in front of us to focus on I thought I could just about make it through
Lots of Love,
Amy and Skree Steve