Friday 1st May
What a day!!!! The Tongariro Alpine Crossing! A crispy cold fresh cloudless day! We couldn’t have had it better for this time of year! The track is 19.4 km long (one way) and rises from 1100m to 1900m, and then drops down to 700m at the end. The scenery is nothing short of staggering, let alone the fact that we’re walking on an active volcano with sulphurous plumes of gas venting out of the sides. Up on top it was bitterly cold with a strong wind and sub zero temperatures. The views were magnificent, and it is quite rightly described as New Zealand’s best one day walking trail. We did it in just over 6hrs including stops which was pretty good going. Anne, who’s done this trek with Steve, had offered to pay for my entire year away if I didn’t like it! Well Anne, your money’s safe! And thanks for insisting we did it. It was superb!
Afterwards, we drove down to the thermal pools at Tokaanu, and hired a private pool just to ourselves. No bathing costumes required! The hot water was just what we needed to soothe our limbs. We’ve since parked up in a nearby marina for the night with a great outlook over the calm waters of Lake Taupo, and this is where we’ll stay the night. In fact we’re so tired we can barely move! Charlotte’s already resting in bed and it’s only 5pm! Who’s going to cook my dinner???!
Charlotte has suggested that I write a blog about how lovely she is and why she’s so special to me – so here’s an example of Charlotte’s “specialness” today: she was carrying two bottles of water for the walk, a litre bottle and a 1.5 litre bottle. Both in the same bag. She actually said that she’d drink from the 1.5 litre bottle first as that would make her bag lighter than drinking from the litre bottle!! Blonde!!!!! I sometimes wonder……
We’re only a few days away from crossing to the South Island now. We’re going to head down the west coast first (after a small detour to Cloudy Bay vineyard, one of our all time favourite wines), so feel free to send us more tips Steve! Your advice has been spot on so far! We’ve got another 4 weeks in the van to do it in, and then a week after that to stay somewhere before we fly back to Auckland.
Saturday 2nd May
A couple of times in South America we thought we could hear gunfire and explosions. Today though, we were genuinely woken up by the staccato burst of shotguns and rifles! (I would have preferred to have been woken by trifles). Aha! The brave,fearless duck hunters! All around the lake were these strangely camouflaged men, courageously taking on the unarmed ducks with only 12 bores for assistance! I couldn’t help thinking of Elmer Fudd. Mind you, I had to keep a very low profile, as with my hair style (maybe style is too strong a word??) I could easily have been mistaken for the Blonde Crested Teal, and with Charlotte’s bottom quacking every few minutes we could have been in grave danger!
Our secluded spot at Tokaanu Marina had become very popular over night, as there were now 7 campers in there! Or maybe we had inadvertently spent the night in Tokaanu’s hottest dogging spot? I could have sworn I saw Pest there……..
We had a long drive today but through fantastic scenery as always, including passing the skiing area where Mordor from Lord of The Rings was filmed.
Wanganui gave us the chance to do more laundry (why is it that for every 1 item of washing I have, Charlotte has 43??) at Undies Laundromat, and while that was going on we had bacon sandwiches, and gave the van a good clean. Followed by another big shop at Pak n Save (predicative text brings this up as Pakistan n Save, which appeals to my childish humour), beer stocks replenished, and away to our overnight spot at Waverley Beach. This was in a car park at the end of a dirt track, on the cliff top over looking the black-sanded beach. Once again we were the only people around, back to normality! Beach, waves and seclusion! What could be better!
It’s a year ago today that I ran Geneva Marathon! Good luck to my friends Rachael and Nigel who take it on today! You’ll love it! Honest!!
Also, we made a very good decision today – we’ve extended the van rental by a week, so we’ve now got 5 more weeks travelling in the South Island! What a life!! 😄😄😄