Mordor & Carrots

Trip Start Nov 02, 2011
Trip End May 31, 2012

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Where I stayed
Ohakune Top 10
What I did
Whanganui River Adventures
Tongariri National Park

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ohakune, town of the giant black carrot, we arrived after a few hours drive up from Paraparaumu (Pk's home) and checked into our ultra plush chalet, complete with TV included! This place was fancy; it had showers with heated towel rail and heaters in the ceiling – luxurious! First stop was the visitor’s info centre to see if we could do the Tongariro Crossing the next day, however the winds were forecast to be high so instead we booked a jet-boat trip on the Whanganui River.

We were collected bright and early the next day and driven to the river where we had hot drinks and a safety briefing. Then we all piled into the jet boat and zoom!! Nearly an hour later and we were still jet boating, I may have managed a little nap on the boat much to the amazement of my fellow passengers – how??!! Then we hiked for 40 minutes through beautiful woodland, and the sun came out as we arrived at the Bridge to Nowhere. This bridge was built to allow access through to the river, but after construction the planners decided not to go ahead with the plan, so the bridge is now just for visitors to marvel at. After lunch on the bridge we hiked back to the jet boat and zoomed back downriver. About 10 km from home, us three got dumped on the riverside and piled into a kayak (for the boys) and me into a canoe. See ya later says our guide!

I should now mention that PK doesn’t swim and both the boys were a little apprehensive about falling in. I was fine until the first rapid, then I realised just how flimsy my vessel was and started to pay a bit more attention. It took us about an hour and a half to get back to the jetty. The boys were very brave and James was a tower of strength, even though he admitted after some of the rapids had him worried! On the drive back to Ohakune with Josephine we stopped to marvel at snow-capped Mount Ruapehu glistening in the sun, and looked forward to attempting the Crossing the next day.

We awoke full of nerves and anticipation, and with sandwiches and thermos packed we checked out of our little hut. The driver arrived to pick us up and informed us there would be no crossing today due to high winds, however if we wanted he had another walk, 17 km that passed between the mountains and was less windy. As we were all packed up for a hike we agreed, and a group of 16 people set out for the walk. On arrival at the start our driver told us he would drop us just before 9am and collect us at 3pm from Whakapapa on the other side of the pass. That should give us plenty of time, apparently! This walk would take us past Mount Ngauruhoe, used as Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings. Little did we know how trek would come to resemble the movie!

At this point we started on the track, a big group separating slowly into kindred groupings with us three bringing up the rear. Safe to say about 5 minutes into the walk we all took a wrong turn. After over two hours in the wrong direction we were all questioning our route! "I don’t think Gandalf meant for us to come this way!" We had decided to stick together but at this point we peeled off with a Norwegian couple, and the others all headed in the direction they felt was best. Cross country is an understatement! We climbed through bushes, trees, and then landscape that resembled the Moon. Short version is we took over 4 hours to walk to the hut, and that should only have taken an hour and a half – whoops! We phoned the driver and said we might be a bit late, and bravely decided to continue and not turn back to the start. We had already walked 12 km and had a further 5 hours to go!

At this point we decided to become the Fellowship, with Pk as Aragorn (he had a walking stick that resembled a sword), James became Gimli (he had a beard), and I became Legolas (I had the best eyesight)!

It was a beautiful walk, the mountains and waterfalls were stunning, however come the end we had walked from 9am to 6pm straight, covering a total of 27 km (16.2 miles)! That is a new personal best for me, to say we ached would be a lie, we couldn’t move! The driver thought this all hilarious and swore to tell future walkers for months about the group that made 27 k out of 17! In addition we discovered that the other members of our group never actually made it – they headed back to the start and were collected at 2 pm.

So we still hope to do the Crossing before we leave, but next time we’ll follow the marker posts and not get lost!

- Liz
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Morgane on

Well done guys! Keep up the work out!! :) x

sarah on

Beautiful scenery. Looks like it was worth the detour! After your feet stopped hurting I bet you are glad you didn't turn back!x

smitherson on

Very worthwhile now we've finished it, but couldn't have said the same at the time! - Liz

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