A real cosy Kiwi retreat!

Trip Start Nov 28, 2011
Trip End Apr 09, 2013

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Where I stayed
Tony's lovely house!
What I did
An Elevator in a Mountain!

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Monday, November 12, 2012

What a most scenic drive we had coming down from the Tongariro National Park to Whanganui over the SH4. We are leaving the highlands behind, as well as the center of the northern island, and are now heading towards sea level. Starting in Ohakune after our hike, weather was changing and rain came in. The SH4 is a challenging and sometimes dangerous road, lots of sharp corners, deep and steep cliffs and winding so we took it slowly. We made it safely into Whanganui, the city where Tony is living in.

We met Tony on our flight from Auckland to Brisbane, back in August, when we headed from French Polynesia to family in Brisbane. Tony is a 60+ men who has a son living in Brisbane and his daughter in Palmerston North, back then he was flying for the first time in his live. Pretty good of you, tony! As he was sitting next to Maria, she helped him sorting out with all the buttons and inflight information. During the flight we were chatting with him and telling about our journey so far. When we landed in Brisbane, he gave us his information and invited us over when we made it to Whanganui. We had to come.

As we now reached Whanganui, it was time to meet him again. We already informed him a few days ago, about our plans and our plan to visit him. Tony was really happy to have us over and so it happened that we arrived on a rainy Sunday afternoon at his place. A warm bed in a warm – open fire – house instead of a 5 millimeter iso-mattress and a sleeping bag in a tent is what we really enjoyed considering the weather outside! We chatted all evening over a delicious dinner – Barbeque (on his self-made grill) about his trip in Australia and our journey so far! Tony had enjoyed the flight so much back in august that he is now considering what his next destination would be, isn't that great??!! We also got the change to do our laundry and dry it at the fire place!

The next morning, it still rains, rains, rains,…….. Tony offered us an extra day! Yeag, we would love to do that! Rain and camping in New Zealand is not always a good option so we are glad with this extra day. We even made it to the tower from where you had a perfect 360 degree view over Whanganui and its surroundings. Maria decided to bake some Dutch pastries – the Appelflap! So we walked into town to do the necessary groceries. On our way, we took a special elevator to bring us to the ground floor. This historic elevator has been operated by the same family for decades and the woman who now operates the elevator already did it for 23 years! What a commitment! We must admit that it was a beautiful adventure although it doesn’t sound that exciting! After the underground tunnel, we arrived just in front of the bridge over the water into the city center. We promised ourselves that we would take on our way back the steep stairs! Once back at Tony, Maria taught Tony how to make the Dutch specialty. So after our dinner that night – again a delicious Barbie! – we had an awesome dessert! Times flies when having a great time! So after two nights, it was time to pack our little – cleaned – Sirion and say goodbye to Tony! Again Tony, from this platform, thank you so much for your hospitality and when you are around, you are always welcome (but you know that, right?)!

From Whanganui, we are now driving to Palmerston North (North, because in the south you have the real Palmerston) to collect our Lord of the Ring location guide. With this book, you can find almost every place/scene where the trilogy has been shot. As we are also on our way to the national park of the Pitangirou Pinnacles – on the south shores of the northern island – we found this place also in the location guide where the scene "riding through the valley of the death" was taken. So it is true, you can find almost every location. Although some locations are difficult to reach therefore they are only accessible by helicopter.

So the Pinnacles, what does that mean? Well, we did not know to expect but as we were making our way up to the lookout on this area, it became clear. High, washed out and formed by the elements of the earth - sandstone pillars stood upright, down in the valley. Our loop track brought us over the steep climbs down to the base of the Pinnacles. Look at the pictures and you might find back some look-a-like Moai’s from Rapa Nui (Easter Island). At this place, we could imagine the scenes shot nine years ago. We walked back via the river bed stream to the DOC Campsite. We just arrived in time for a great, great sunset evening with a real bonfire! That night, back in our tent, a small animal – we think it could be a mouse or a possum – kept us awake for a long time of the night. Pretty weird it was having something cawling aeound the tent while you're in there. But all was good after all and it sometimes seems worse than it is ;) 

After a long cold and wet night – really Tony, your place was much better – we quickly put down our tent and drank a warm cup of coffee (made on our (n)ever lasting gas burner). Today, we have to drop off our great Daihatsu Sirion in Wellington. Before doing so, we had a list about what to do. First we would drop off our luggage in our hostel – hostel Cambridge – for tonight and then onwards to the studios of Weta Caves.

To read more about the Weta Caves – and you will – wait for our next entry as we reveal the secrets of the Lord of the Rings and more Hobbits!
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